Microfiction – 040/365

What is this about?


Time: The present
Act I, Scene 1

Emergency room lobby at Community Hospital at night. The main counter is empty. A man and a woman sit at opposite ends of the waiting area thumbing through magazines One dressed in all black, the other in all white. Occasionally the hospital intercom goes off, paging a doctor. The one in black gets up and paces, looking toward the wide double-door entry as if expecting someone. All is quiet until a buzzer sounds on the nurse’s console. A few moments later, it buzzes again.

Nurse: (walking in from offstage to behind the counter. She sighs before keying the microphone as the buzzer rings a third time) Yes, Mrs. Hadley?

Mrs. Hadley: (off stage) Nurse, this is the third time I’ve called for you. Now, if you don’t help me to the toilet right now, you’re going to have one heck of a mess on your hands!

Nurse: (rubbing her eyes) I’m trying to get to you as fast as I can Mrs. Hadley (the buzzer rings again), I’m the only nurse on the floor right now and I’ve been very busy. Can you try to use the bedpan?

Mrs. Hadley: (insulted) Absolutely not!

Intercom: Dr. Reiss to ICU. Stat. Dr. Reiss to ICU. Stat.

Nurse: (wincing) Alright Mrs. Hadley. Hang on. I’m on my way.

She exits as the buzzer rings again and sirens in the distance grow louder as they approach the hospital. The woman, dressed in black, stands up and stares at the entry doors. The sirens rise to full volume and then cut off abruptly as the ambulance pulls up just outside the door. A commotion begins outside as the paramedics pull a stretcher from the back of the vehicle.

Black: (indirectly to White still seated) He’s here.

White casually sets down the magazine on the table next to him and slowly strolls to one side of the doors. Black strolls to the other side of the doors and stands watching patiently.

Black: This one’s mine, you know.

The commotion grows louder. The sound of an authoritative woman’s voice is heard offstage as they approach the doors.

White: (smiling) We’ll see.

The doors burst open, blocking White and Black from view as Lynn Worthy enters followed by Evan Worthy on the stretcher being pushed and pulled by the paramedics. Blood has saturated the stretcher around his face and his clothes. His face is swathed in blood soaked bandages, and he lies still as the paramedics wheel him into the lobby.

Lynn: Hurry up! Can’t you move any faster?

The paramedics push him up to the counter, and as the doors close, Black and White have disappeared.

Lynn: (Standing at counter, she slams her palm on the table and wheels around) Hello? Is there anyone here? Hello!!?? Godammit! Where the hell is everybody!

Paramedic No.1: Calm down, ma’am. I’ll find the nurse. (To the other paramedic) You stay with the patient. (He exits)

Lynn: (turning on the young man as he crosses offstage) Calm down? Calm down?? (Yelling after him as he exits) You expect me to calm down? Marvelous advice there babyface. My son may be dying and you want me to calm down after we bring him to a hospital that just happens to be oh so inconveniently deserted! Fantastic! Thank you so much!(She pauses and turns on the second paramedic) What about you kiddo? Any wonderful words of wisdom from you?

Paramedic No.2: (busying himself with paperwork on clipboard, looks up) Me? No ma’am.

Lynn: Well this is a fucking hospital, right? (The paramedic nods and busies himself further with the paperwork) Then if this is a fucking hospital, where are the fucking doctors!?

Paramedic No.2: (looking up) Ma’am, if you’ll just—.

Lynn: If I’ll just what? Quiet down? (Yelling) Quiet down!! Really! Am I disturbing you? Will my quieting down make it easier for you to complete your fucking oh-so-important paperwork while my oh-so-unimportant son bleeds to death all over your shiny new, oh-so-important stretcher? Gosh, I’m sorry. How fucking thoughtless of me!

Intercom: Dr. Dufresne to Pediatrics. Dr. Dufresne to pediatrics.

Paramedic No.2: (Dropping the clipboard to his side, staring at Lynn, shaking his head). You’re yelling is not helping the situation. You’re not helping your son.

Lynn: (walking right up to the paramedic, voice dropping low, almost a whisper) Well let me ask you a question . . . (looks at name tag) Paramedic Thompson. Do you have children?

Paramedic No.2: I have a three year old.

Lynn: Boy or girl?

Paramedic No.2: Girl.

Lynn: Well tell me Paramedic Thompson, if in the middle of the night you answered the door and found some stranger telling you your son was—

Paramedic No.2: (going back to paper work) Daughter.

Lynn: (pausing) . . . daughter was bleeding all over Hudson Blvd. after crashing her motorcycle into a car one block away from your house and you went to the scene and found your son—daughter!— with her face torn off and gushing blood all over the place . . . how would you react? If that happened to you, don’t you think you might be a little bit less than calm during those moments? Don’t you think you might be a little bit angry at the robotic paramedics who couldn’t give a shit? Don’t you think you just might want to kill the asshole that turned his car in front of your little girl without checking his mirror? Don’t you think you might be just a hair bit terrified that your entire reason for living might be dying?

Paramedic No.2: (drops clipboard to his side) Look ma’am, I can understand why your so upset. I really can. It’s a horrible thing that’s happened to your son, but I just don’t think your hysterics are helping either of you. (He starts to bring clipboard back up)

Lynn: (knocks clipboard out of his hands, it falls to the ground. He starts to back up and she grabs him by the collar and pulls him close) Well I’ll tell you what Mr. Thompson. You’d better do something that will be helpful to Evan right now, such as go find a goddam doctor, or I swear I’ll show you hysterics that’ll leave you needing a stretcher more than my son.

Paramedic No.2: (backing away, but Lynn hangs on like a terrier) Jesus lady! Let go of me!

Lynn: (pushing him against the wall, growling) Find my son a doctor!

Paramedic No.2: I can’t leave the patient for Christ’s sake!

Lynn: (freezing as the paramedic strains to free himself from her grasp, she begins to giggle which develops quickly into loud, pained laughter) Oh, that’s a good one—can’t leave the patient. (More laughter which stops abruptly) And why is that Paramedic Thompson? Is that because you are responsible for his life? (She squares off on him as if to attack and he bends down and clumsily picks up the clipboard, using it as a shield) Or his death?

Intercom: Will a Mr. Benson please report to the second floor nurse’s station. Mr. Benson to the second floor nurses station.

Lynn whirls at the sound of the intercom and the Paramedic exhales loudly as she charges past Evan to the counter as yet another buzzer goes off. After a moment she yanks a microphone up to the counter and fiddles with the buttons.

Lynn: (yelling) Pricks! One and all! (She glances at Paramedic No.2 who remains in the corner clutching the shield to his chest, then down at Evan before turning back to the microphone)Oh my dear God! Please don’t let my boy die. PLEASE DON’T LET MY EVAN DIE! (Pause) Dammit! How do you work this fucking thing!

Evan stirs on the stretcher and his hand reaches out around him until he brushes her arm. She jumps and turns, dropping the microphone onto the counter, causing it to make a loud feedback noise. She stares at her son, dropping down on her knees and clasping his hand in both of hers.

Lynn: What is it sweetheart? I’m right here Evan.

Evan: Mom?

Lynn: Right here.

Evan: (long pause) Do you think you could keep it down? I’m trying to relax here. I’ve had a pretty rough day.

Lynn laughs quietly and drops her head onto his shoulder. The paramedic relaxes a little.

Lynn: Okay.

Evan: And quit beating up on the paramedics, okay?

Lynn: (frowning up at the paramedic still in the corner) Okay. (The paramedic relaxes some more) For now. (The paramedic straightens up quickly and walks over to the waiting area checking the clipboard again.

Evan: (after a long silence) I went and did it, didn’t I?

Lynn: (looking him over from head to toe) Yep tiger, you sure did. Are you in a lot of pain?

Evan: Not really. How long have we been at the hospital.

Lynn: Just a few minutes. We’re trying to find a doctor. (She looks over at the Paramedic whose eyes widen before he quickly moves offstage to find a doctor) Don’t try to talk sweety. Just rest there, okay?

Evan: ‘kay.

Lynn: But don’t fall asleep!

Evan: I won’t mom.

Lynn: Alright. I’m right here if you need me. (She stands and turns back to the microphone and the buzzer at the desk goes off again. She pushes another button on the base and the microphone makes a slight feedback sound again)

Evan: And mom?

Lynn: What is it sweety?

Evan: (quietly but firmly) I am not going to die.

Lynn stares down at her son and grabs his hand again as tears well up in her eyes.

Lynn: (Pause) Not if I can help it.

Reaching for the microphone, she pushes a button on the base and speaks into it calmly but firmly.

Lynn: Your attention please, this is the emergency room. Is there a doctor in the house?

The lights go dark as two paramedics rush in with a doctor, the floor nurse and another nurse.