FP322 – Emergency
Welcome to Flash Pulp, episode three hundred and twenty-two.
This week’s episodes are brought to you by The Way of the Buffalo podcast
Flash Pulp is an experiment in broadcasting fresh pulp stories in the modern age – three to ten minutes of fiction brought to you Monday, Wednesday and Friday evenings.
Tonight we join Grady Pitts inside a downtown hospital.
Written by J.R.D. Skinner
Art and Narration by Opopanax
and Audio produced by Jessica May
As the storm drifted by outside, Grady Pitts shifted in a futile effort to restore feeling in the lower half of his body. He’d held his position for three hours, and his legs had long moved past pins-and-needles and into general numbness.
To the left of the bench-row of plastic chairs he was watching a couple of twenty-somethings fretting their way through paperwork while their infant daughter wailed from inside her bright pink car seat. Her mother was rifling a thick purse as the father used his non-writing hand to ineffectually rock the bassinet by its carrying arm.
Grady wondered if maybe the girl had a pea up her nose. Decades earlier, when he was five and his brother was three, he’d shoved a frozen pea deep in his nostril, and, to Pitts’ ear, the girl’s shrill complaint sounded almost identical to his sibling’s terrified cry.
There was a terse exchange between the parents, concluded by a “you said you were going to bring it” from Mom that was too loud to be concealed beneath CNN’s constant muttering, and the woman turned a furious gaze on the room, seeming to dare others to note the disturbance.
Pitts wheeled away and attempted to look as if he hadn’t been staring by generally facing the television mounted on the wall.
There was a big man in dirty mechanic’s overalls sitting beneath the screen, and Pitts’ focus soon drifted to the frayed-edged blue towel wrapped around his right wrist. Blood had soaked through the cloth, and a spatter of drops had mixed with the oil stains on his pant legs. Despite the apparent severity of the injury, the fellow’s face was calm – almost bored – and Grady began to scrutinize his distant state of mind.
Had narcotics caused the man’s accident?
The flow increased from a drip to a steady stream of pooling red, at which point Grady could no longer watch.
Where were the nurses? Why wasn’t the line moving?
There was nothing for it but to keep waiting.
Now trapped between the squabbling parents and the leaking mechanic, Pitts took to counting the ceiling tiles, shuffling a nearby stack of magazines, then, finally, simply staring at the back of the head of the blond woman one row over from his own.
At first Grady believed she was napping, and that the gentle bob and roll of her shoulders was simply the result of snoring, but he was soon convinced she was actually weeping silently. He considered moving to her side and asking if he might be of assistance – at the worst perhaps talking would ease her wait – but he forgot the idea when she was approached by a man he assumed to be her husband.
He wore a gray polo shirt, and the the majority of his face had been removed by some unknown violence, though a sliver of the detached bone remained protruding from the gore of his exposed brain. He appeared impatient for a man on the cusp of death, but Pitts found his own attention drawn to a pulsing within the naked gray matter.
After a few moments a tutting aimed in his direction pulled him away from his morbid fascination, and he turned to see that an orderly in white was beckoning.
“Finally,” said Grady, “bout time I get service.”
Before he could rise, however, the hospital worker frowned and said, “you can’t be here, Mr. Pitts. This is an emergency room, not a bus stop, and your muttering is scaring the patients. If you’re in need of help speak with the shrink at the shelter, because there’s nothing we can do for you here.”
Thus dismissed, Grady collected his tattered ball cap and grocery bags. The rain had briefly broken, and he was eager to be free of the sickness surrounding him.
Flash Pulp is presented by http://skinner.fm, and is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 Unported License.
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