Exerpt from the short story: Doctor
Hudson was dreaming. There was pain, but it was distant and vague, as if it were cushioned in cotton. He tried to open his eyes, but his lids were heavy. An image of the bottle from the night before materialized on the back of his eyelids. He saw his trembling hand reach for it, raise it to his lips. Cheap stuff, but a homeless man down on his luck couldn’t afford to be particular. Memories struggled up from the blackness of sleep. He recalled stumbling to the tunnels for the night, being turned away by the threatening presence of a gang. Where did he go then? As his mind gradually cleared,Hudson remembered lurching down the shadowy city streets, leaning against a lamppost as the chill October breeze penetrated his thin clothes. But, he could recall no more.
His eyes opened into slits, the bright light an agony in his brain. Carefully, he turned his head from side to side, waiting for his vision to focus. Details sharpened. The bed under him was soft, the pillowcase beneath his cheek cool cotton. He was in a room. White walls, white shades at the windows, an IV drip at his bedside. The slow beep of a monitor somewhere over his shoulder. Hospital then, he decided. He must be sick, probably alcohol poisoning.Hudson groaned.
He wanted to roll over to his side, but he could not move. His pulse picked up. The beeping sound increased in intensity. Raising his head, he found his forehead met an obstacle. He was strapped to the bed! Struggling produced no results; his body was held fast.
The door creaked opened and a white-coated figure with a clipboard entered his field of vision. With his stringy gray hair, round eyeglasses and lazy expression, the man looked more like an aging lovechild than a medical professional.
“John Doe! You’re awake.” His voice was jovial.
“My name’sHudson,”Hudsoncroaked, his throat parched.
“You’ll always be John Doe to me.” The man sang.Hudsonfelt a tinge of worry.
“What happened, Doctor?”
“Doctor. Now, I like the sound of that.” The hippie smiled and closed his eyes for a moment, then sighed. “However, I’m technically just an orderly. But you may call me Doctor. I welcome you to my humble home.”
“Home? Not a hospital?”
“Don’t worry. You’re in a much better place than you were last night. Last night you were a worthless drunk. But today, you are a valuable specimen. And this is practically a hospital, very well-equipped. In fact, you’ve already had a bit of surgery. Let me loosen your head strap so you can see.” Doctor laid the clipboard aside and fussed with the buckle nearHudson’s head. The monitor registered a burst inHudson’s pulse rate.
“Go ahead. Take a look.” Doctor gestured toward the lower half of the bed.Hudsonlifted his head and looked down. Under a brilliant white sheet, he noted the outline of his torso and pelvis. But where his legs ought to be, the sheet was flat. The monitor went wild with frantic beeping.
“My legs!” Hudson began to thrash in earnest now, but he was so weak, his movements were small and impotent under the tight control of his restraints. “Oh, lord! What happened to me?”
Copyright 2010 Wodke Hawkinson. All rights reserved.
Keyboard photo by Petr Kratochvil
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