Imagine a hospital entrance.
The Emergency room was sheltered by two sliding doors. The doors were automatic; the first door slid closed after I crossed the threshold, but before I could step close enough to the second door to activate its slide open. In this tiny enclosure I feel trapped. It’s 106 outside and I shiver under a green wool blanket draped over my shoulders.
I watch as two orderlies wheel a gurney toward the doors I’m facing. The white sheet, streaked with blood, does not lie flat against the gurney. The cold air streams from inside the hospital as the orderlies move through the first door without acknowledging me. The outside door slides open, the heat and cold collide around me, and I wonder how far the drive to the morgue is, how long before my dad is off that gurney.
A nurse follows the gurney with a wheelchair. I wonder why they need a wheelchair for a person who’s just died when the nurse stops and says, “Sit down, we need to get you into one of the exam rooms.”
“No thanks,” I say as I walk toward the curtained room where I hear Matty and Glenn.
“Don’t let them do it Matty,” Glenn says.
“It’s alright Glenn, I won’t let them do anything,” Matty replies.
As I pull the curtain back the nurse glides the wheelchair against the back of my knees and a doctor pulls me into the chair by the shoulders.
Before the pull me back and begin to wheel me to the X-Ray room I hear another doctor explaining that the catheter has to be inserted so they can be certain Glenn’s not bleeding internally.
For the second time in the last two hours Matty becomes enraged at an adult. Before anyone can react my fourteen-year-old brother has got the doctor by the forearms and is crying, “Leave him alone, can’t you fucking tell he’s been through enough already.”
For thirty-five years I’ve cried over the laugh, my tentative, nervous laugh, as I looked over my shoulder and watched a nurse and two doctors pulling Matty away from the doctor with the catheter.