Dad Goes to the Hospital

3 Jul

From my pocket comes the sound of Ice-T falling down a flight of stairs. I look at my phone. I have a text.

“Your father is in the hospital,” it says. It’s from my mom.

“Why is dad in the hospital? Is dad a doctor now?” I ask. “Is he building them a deck?”

My mother doesn’t respond.

I go to the hospital to see what kind of deck my dad is building and if it has an awning or not.

“Looking for Mike Irion,” I say to the nurse at the triage station. “Looks like me, but he’s building a deck and has a goatee.”

“Are you a relative?” the woman asks me. Her hair is stringy and poorly held together by an intricate system of bobby pins, hair clips, and sweat.

Parenthood has taught me that family is a difficult thing to define,” I say, smiling into the camera.

“Are you a relative, though? Are you his family?”

“I am.”

She lets me through. As I walk down the hall, I hear the sounds of those in pain.

I look for a doctor to ask of the whereabouts of my father, but can find none. The nurse’s station is empty. Strange. I begin opening doors to random rooms.

I open the door to room 305. In it is a solitary old man on a solitary bed, a cabinet, an IV unit, a heart monitor. The room is bereft of any decorative element. I see the dry erase board that lists the physician on duty. I walk to the board.

“Hello?” the old man on the bed asks. His voice is like balsa wood. “Are you the doctor?”

I turn to him.

“No. No doctors.”

I drop the marker. Under “Physician on Duty,” I have erased the former name there and replaced it with one word: “Chaos.”

“What? Who are you? What have you done?” The old man asks. I try to think of something smart, but all I can do is wave and then walk out.

I continue looking for my father. I find a nurse and she directs me to a nurse’s station with people at it. They look him up and tell me he’s in room 432. I head that way, and by that way I mean a direction. I have no idea where I’m going. I start calling out for papa, but there is no reaction. Apparently that’s something that happens a lot in the hospital.

I poke my head in another door. There is an older Jamaican woman laying on her side and when I walk in she turns to look at me.

“Can I hep you?” she asks.

“I don’t know if I can help anyone,” I respond.

She sits up. The color leaves her face.

“Who ah you? Ah you evahl?”

“Ah, no. I not evahl.”

“Who you ah, den?” she asks, her eyes scanning me cannily. “Are you he who’s gahn to tek me to dat next place? Like ah bus drivah?”

“No, I on ‘olliday,” I respond.

“Some spot you pick fo’ yo ‘olliday,” she says, smiling, looking away for a moment. For a moment, she winces. “Pain, pain bad. Bad.”

“I don’t have nahting to do wit these things.”

“Make it go away,” she says. “Take me to dat next place.”

“It not yo’ tyme yet.”

“Well mehk it tyme, den.”

“I cyan’t, sistah. You cyan’t fool wit deez tings.”

“Oh, but da pain go troo and troo. When will it be my tyme, mistah?” her eyes are wet and her lower lip quivering. I lean down to her ear. In the few seconds between my upright position and me being bent over her ear, I try to think of something poignant to say, something brilliant and comforting, perhaps from a film. I cup my hands around my mouth.

In a low, raspy, British accent, I say “The fire rises,” then turn to leave. I have just watched The Dark Knight Rises and am in a very strange place emotionally. I consider writing “Christopher Nolan” on her Physician board, but don’t. I’ve done enough here. I give her a hearty wink.

“Ma’am,” I say. “You will surely die, but not yet. For life is long and it only gets longer. But do not fret. Because dying is something men have done since the beginning of time and will continue to do until the end of time. Your pain is temporary, but its respite will last forever. Perhaps you will be healed, even, and know the joy of health, if only for a short time more–the joy of the sun’s warmth as it hits your arm through a car window, that glorious sound of fall leaves sliding across concrete, the shine in someone’s eyes when you make them laugh. Yes, I am afraid of dying, but I know I will l–” just then a single note issues from her heart monitor and she is dead. I turn and leave.

I find my father. He has something called a kidney stone. I tell the nurse that for Irion men, all of our organs are made of stone, and I don’t understand what the problem is, but she doesn’t like that or agree with the science behind it. I call her a name and tell her that listen if you think you’re so smart why don’t you cut me open and look at my heart because it feels like it’s made of stone for damn sure and she gets out a scalpel and I fart because I’m scared and say maybe I should just go and then I go and I tell my dad I love him and he tells me to let the dogs in when I get home and I do.

Love,

Kyle

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