By Cindy and Walt
Friday morning broke cold and rainy. The rain I soon discovered was frozen rain. Which most likely meant that I would lose power any minute. I took advantage of the power while I had it to heat the bathroom. I couldn’t even take a shower without power. The small pump which moved the hot water to the shower head would not work. I imagined I could get pretty smelly if the electricity was off for any amount of time.
I would have heat thanks to the wood stove, and water thanks to the pumping system used for all water delivery. Well, if the power didn’t go off in Roaring Gap, the county water system would work. I looked at my two five gallon water bottles I kept just in case there was a break in the line which had happened. I had refilled the bottle I used for drinking water after the break was repaired. I made sure the water in the unsealed bottle was still fit to drink before I considered myself prepared for the power outage.
I put my cell phone on the charger even though it wasn’t low. I also placed the laptop and the tablet onto their chargers. That’s when I realized the desktop was a little more vulnerable than the other two devices. That being the case I saved everything to the backup exterior hard drive I had bought with the computer.
I had absolutely no intention of going out on the bike in the freezing rain. I also had no intention of moving my car.
After my shower, and the changing into my fleece running suit with no bra of course, I checked the small chest freezer. I could lose some food if a long power outage occurred. I filled several plastic bottles from the recycle can with water, then placed them into the freezer. They made a false bottom in the freezer taking up about half the space.
Mostly I had bread items in the freezer so they would just get stale nothing to be alarmed about. I had already tossed the out of date refrigerator items, so it was pretty bare. I did have plenty of canned food, so I probably would be fine for the couple of days it would take to at least get the roads open. Then I could drive to the McDonalds at the plaza at the very least.
If Joan did make it to the Store on the bad roads, it would be a miracle. Son of a bitch I really did hope she would make it. I waited on pins and needles till she called just before noon. “I am so sorry Rose, but Mark isn’t going to make the drive to his parents house. He says the roads are too bad to go over the mountain. He also said he is also afraid to leave Cathy and me just in case the power is interrupted. You have no idea how sorry I am,” she said.
“I doubt you are any sorrier than I am,” I replied.
“Don’t be upset with me Rose, maybe we can still go shopping tomorrow. Mark will probably baby sit for me while we go,” Joan suggested.
“Sure why not,” I asked. “Give me a call if you can work it out. If not, I probably will be gone by ten. I am sure the roads will be clear by that time.”
The power went out just after 5 PM. I had been expecting it all day, so I was as prepared as I could possibly have been. I heated some frozen Mac & Cheese on the wood stove along with a can of beans. I ate my beans with the Mac and Cheese with a fancy roll. It was actually quite good. I did have to thaw the roll a little on the stove. The stove made the bread a little crispy but that was a good thing I decided.
I went to bed early, well early for me. The power was out and so was the Internet connection. I supposed the phone line was down since it was through the Phone Company. I had nothing else to do so I went to bed. Since I wasn’t exhausted, I relived the last two months over and over.
I saw Ari’s face in my sleep as he said, “You cunt, you are not going to shoot me with that big gun.” Then I saw his chest explode. I had seen it almost every night since I killed him. I also saw myself walk over and look down at him while the virus and clone programs ran on his computer.
On TV and in the movie people always speak to the dead bodies it seemed. I found that I had nothing to say. I just looked down on him and knew that I was free. I had no idea, if he could have tracked me down, but he sure as hell can’t do it now, I thought.
I didn’t wake up panicked any more, so I supposed that I was improving. I was sorry I had to kill Ari but did I regret it? Hell no. I owed him and he threatened to send someone after me if I ever left him. I was just protecting myself. It might not have been Morris or Porter’s first rule for me, but it sure as hell was mine.
When I woke early on Saturday morning it was dark in the Store, but it was reasonably warm. The first thing I did was to go to the stove to add some wood scraps and open the draft bells. While the fire caught up, I went to the bathroom to start the gas fire ring. The water would still take a half hour to heat. I went back to sit by the stove. It took only a few minutes before I could add some serious split logs to the fire.
Everything was still down, so I did everything by the light from those new flashlights I had around the house. The light had multiple LED bulbs and gave off a light that was bright enough but it was also a funky color.
I decided I would try to get breakfast somewhere. Ordinarily my first choice would have been Helen’s but I figured I had a better chance at the plaza by the interstate highway. Most days even though I left the house before the sun rose, there was enough light so that I could make out the road. I debated with myself about taking the truck, but decided I needed the exercise. Besides the only danger in biking came from the automobile drivers who were less than thrilled to share the road. I didn’t expect there to be any of those with the road being crap.
After I layered up, I headed the bike onto the county road at the end of my drive. I rode the mile and a half out to the state road. When I got to the state road I turned on my blinking light and the almost useless headlight, then headed toward the plaza. The state road was much better than the county road. They had both been plowed, but the traffic was heavier on the state road, so the ice stayed broken and then the sun melted it. The problem was if any wet spots refreeze when the sun went down and the traffic stopped after midnight.
I know all about that now, but I really had no experience with that early Saturday morning, when the sun wasn’t up yet. The headlight from the bike tried to light the road without a lot of success. I tried to keep the bike from sliding on the ice patches I encountered now and then. It all worked pretty well until the power company van came around a curve and blinded me with his headlights. I tried to recover my vision, but the bike spun out from under me even before he got to me.
As luck would have it, I slid into the side of the van and bounced off. Then I went down on the hard road with a lot of additional momentum. I know these things because some one told me later. I had no memory beyond the head light in my eyes. Fortunately for me the driver stopped. An hour in that cold would not have helped me at all.
I have no idea what he did to me before the Ambulance arrived, and I didn’t care. He was a hero to me. He called the paramedics and the police. He stayed with me in the cold to be sure no one ran over me or tried to move me. Once the cops and the paramedic arrived someone put me on a backboard and also a collar around my neck. I knew nothing about it.
I became conscious in the emergency room of the University Medical Center in College Hill. “So you decided to join us?” a young male doctor asked.
“Yeah,” was all I could manage before I drifted off again.
The next time I awoke it seemed much later. Maybe because I was no longer in the Emergency Room but in a private room. I felt like crap, but it wasn’t because I was in pain. I was just dopey. I tried to move and then I was in pain, lots of pain.
I had gotten over the pain in my ribs from Ari’s beatings, but the pain was back. I was afraid that it was some kind of fucking karma. A woman with a clipboard came into the room. I had been experimenting and found the only way I didn’t hurt was to remain perfectly still. That being the case, I didn’t even move my head.
“Are you Rose Seabold?” she asked.
“Yeah who the fuck are you,” I asked. I really wasn’t feeling much like trying for patient of the year honors.
“I’m Carol from the Admitting office. I just need to ask you some questions and have you sign some forms,” She stated confidently.
“Lady I don’t give a fuck who you are. I don’t feel like talking at the moment I’m in a lot of pain. If you want to put me on the curb because I can’t answer your questions, then have at it,” I said.
“I can come back later,” she said.
“That’s a hell of an idea,” I said.
While Carol tried to interrogate me a women in scrubs came into the room. “Miss Seabold we need to talk,” she said. “My name is Sara I’m the Hospitalist. I’m here to explain things and help you make informed decisions.”
“Tell me how bad it is,” I demanded.
“You broke some ribs one of them punctured your lung. It was touch and go for a while, but we were able to re-inflate your lung without surgery. The broken ribs we also managed to stabilize without invasive surgery. You also have a broken collar bone. That is what we need to talk about,” she said.
“Sara, that is a beautiful name,” I said. “What was it originally.”
“Sara, I was born in Philadelphia,” she said.
“Sorry that is not a Philadelphia accent,” I demanded.
“My family is from India. They only spoke their native language at home. It was hard not to pick up the accent,” she explained. “Now about your collar bone.”
“What do you recommend?” I asked.
“Frankly there are several courses of action. I can have an orthopedic surgeon consult. It is not life threatening so you will have to make financial arrangements. In other words if you talk to Carol, she can get all the information and relieve you of all the details.”
“Everything always comes down to the money doesn’t it?” I asked.
“I’m afraid no one likes to work without being paid,” she said.
“If we work it out so the surgeon can do his thing, how long will I need to be here?” I asked.
“If you don’t have any complications from the surgery on the collar bone, I wouldn’t think no more than a couple of days after they do it,” Sara said.
“How long was I out?” I asked.
“It’s 8 PM now so you can work it out,” she said.
“Did you guys get my cell phone?” I asked.
“I’m sure the ward clerk has it,” she said.
“I need to make a call or two then we can arrange everything. Just get started with all you can to get me out of here just as soon as possible,” I demanded.
When the cell phone arrived, I called Carlos. “Carlos, I have had an accident. I’m in the hospital down in College Hill. I need you to go into my house and bring me the laptop in my desk drawer and the tablet there as well. Can you do that for me?” I asked.
“Of course Senorita, what happened?” he asked.
“It seems you can’t do much steering of a bicycle when the road is black ice,” I said.
“I will be there first thing in the morning. I can drop it by on the way to mass will that be alright?” he asked.
“That will be fine,” I said. “Oh could you stop by the supermarket and get me a copy of the globe tabloid.”
“Absolutely Nita will be happy to get it for you,” he said.
After Carlos, I called Joan on her cell phone. I got her voice mail. “Hey girl, I’m just keeping you up to date. I will probably miss our lab appointment on Monday. I had a bike accident and I’m in the hospital. Sorry to miss it,” I said into the phone.
My next call was to Jeremy and Alice. “Alice,” I said, when she answered.
“Yes Rose,” she said.
“I just wanted to let you know that I’m in the hospital. I had a bike wreck and will be out of action for a couple of days.”
“How bad were you hurt,” Jeremy said taking over the conversation.
“Seems I punctured a lung, and broke a collar bone, the three layers of clothing kept the road rash to a minimum I’m told.”
“We will be there tomorrow do you want anything?” he asked.
“I think they are going to take care of everything. At least I hope so,” I said.
I had a message with a number for Mission or Morris whoever was controlling me at the time. I dialed it and said, “I had an accident and need my insurance information. I will have the laptop tomorrow night. I’m in the University Medical Center at College Hill. Let me know the insurance info, so I can pass it on.”
All of the calls exhausted me. I fell asleep again. When I awoke, some member of the staff was putting a tray on one of those bed tables.
“Do you want your head elevated,” she asked in a voice thick with a Caribbean accent.
“Sure,” when I tried to change my position so as to handle the silverware better, I found out how bad I was injured. I swear I had tears in my eyes. The pain had cut through the Morphine, and kicked my ass. I was sick on my stomach from the pain. I couldn’t even look at the food because I wanted to throw up.
I fought back the urge, but I still didn’t want to think about food. When the hospital worker came in to take the tray I asked, “Could you crank the bed down please?”
In her Island accent she said, “Of course.”
Next thing I remember was the nurse asking, “I know you didn’t touch your breakfast. Would you like a coke and a piece of toast.”
“The coke with ice sounds good,” I whispered weakly. The coke made me feel a lot better. I was ready to try some toast. “I think I’m ready for that toast.”
“Toast how disgusting. You should be having a chocolate donut,” Liam said.
The woman had passed him on her way to get the toast for me. “Where the fuck were you?” I asked.
“You aren’t the only person in need you know,” he said. “Of course you do seem to be in the most need at the moment.”
“Yeah, I do feel like shit,” I said as the hospital staff member brought me two pieces of cold toast. That shit was really good and it settled my stomach. Of course Liam was gone when she came into the room with the toast. All she knew was what she heard.
My first visitor was Carlos with my communication gear and my Globe tabloid. After he delivered everything he and Nita left after telling me that they would pray for me. I told them I appreciated it.
The fifth line of the code I wrote the CC gang gave the date of the paper which I was using. The rest of the line meant nothing. I explained what happened in the rest of the email message. Then I sent it to the Church Camp’s secret email.
Since I had already called for my insurance information from the SBI, I didn’t need to make any further notification. It was 1 PM when Jeremy and Alice showed up. They didn’t stay long. “Jeremy hates hospitals,” Alice explained.
“I hate them too Jeremy. I am even more appreciative for the visit knowing that you feel the same as me.” They left after a very short visit. They did ask if there was anything they could do.
“I don’t know of anything I need to be honest,” I said.
A few minutes later I refused lunch but accepted graham crackers and ginger ale from the floor person. I had no idea what her position was with the hospital. She seemed to do a little of everything.
About an hour later Jose came though the door. “Damn Jose, you shouldn’t be here,” I said.
“Why not, we are friends aren’t we?” he asked.
“Of course we are,” I admitted.
“This is what friends do,” he said.
“How did you get here,” I asked.
“I rode my scooter,” he said.
“Jose, it’s thirty miles here. Did you do it in this cold, on that scooter of yours?” I asked.
“Sure, it was only an hour,” he informed me.
“It is going to be dark early. You better get your ass home before dark, or I’ll kick your ass when I get out of here.”
He was still visiting and talking about school and his family when Joan showed up. “Joan I want you to meet my new boyfriend. This is Jose. Jose this is Professor Joan Bradshaw. Jose rode his moped all the way here from Farmer’s Grove,” I said.
“You are kidding me. It’s cold as Rose’s smile out there,” Joan said with a great smile. Jose was not quite sure how to take it. “You know I have my husband’s old four wheel drive pickup. If you can load the scooter onto it, I will drive you home. At least it will keep you out of the cold.”
“Kid you should take her up on that offer. Joan is gorgeous,” I said with a smile.
“See what I mean. She knows I am married, and she makes a comment like that anyway. So cold,” she said with a laugh. That time Jose laughed as well. “Jose do you drink coffee yet?”
“Yes of course Mrs. Bradshaw,” he said.
“Good in exchange for the ride home, how about you go to the cafeteria and get all three of us a cup of coffee.” She handed him a ten dollar bill. He left immediately.
As soon as he was gone she came to the bed and very carefully kissed me with a passion that did not require any hard contact. “You bitch, you have no idea how pissed I am that I can’t kiss you back,” I said.
“I can wait,” she said.
“Good,” was my reply.
She was still sitting on the edge of the bed when Jose returned. When she stood the bed shook and I groaned in pain. “Damn Joan, be careful that hurt,” I said.
“Poor baby,” she said. I was sure that Jose saw something in how Joan and I interacted with each other. He definitely wasn’t that innocent. A moment later she turned to Jose. “I guess we better be going.”
“So Rose is there anything I can do for you,” Jose asked.
“Yes tell your dad to turn the water off in the Store. I forgot to tell him when he was here,” I said.
When the kitchen people brought dinner I ate it. I was on a soft food diet so it was vegetable soup and mashed potatoes. There were other things on the plate, but I didn’t touch them. Shortly after I ate I fell asleep and slept off and on till Monday morning.
Monday morning I slept late for me. It was 8 AM when I woke. My first thought was I feel like shit. I also felt the need to urinate but I couldn’t get up, or even lean forward. After a few seconds I realized that I had a catheter in place, so I didn’t have to go anywhere.
“I’m Doctor Evers,” the very large man said. “I’m going to be doing your shoulder repair.” While he spoke, he showed me an X-ray. “See the break there. You are going to need a plate and some screws in there.”
“So do I have to go to Home Depot, or do you furnish the hardware?” I asked.
He looked at me a long few seconds then said, “Gee I haven’t heard that one since last week.”
“I see, so I guess you won’t be giving me laughing gas,” I said.
“No nothing like that,” he said.
“So when are you going to do it?” I asked.
“We got an operating room booked for today at 3 PM. So don’t eat or drink anything else today,” he added.
“I guess you have clearance from my insurance company,” I asked.
“I’m not sure, but the office said to schedule it, so I did,” he said.
“Well, I’ll see you at three I guess,” I said with a smile.
“If you behave yourself, you should be getting better soon. Hell this afternoon as a matter of fact,” Evers said.
“Easy on the scarring please I’m a part time stripper,” I said with a laugh. He didn’t have to know that I was serious.
“Hell the scar will make you more appealing. You know Barbie with a history,” he said. “But most of all this is too big for keyhole, but I’ll do my best with the stitches.”
“Good I’m not very good with the zombie make up shit,” I laughed again. That time Evers did as well.
Shortly after he left I went back to sleep. Carol from the admitting office came into the room some time later and woke me. “So are you ready to do this now?”
“No, but I have the insurance information for you,” I said. “If you hand me the laptop over there?”
“We got that in an email yesterday. Your boss pulled it up on a Sunday, most impressive,” she said.
“Well some of us have friends in low places,” I said with a smile. “So if you have the insurance what do you need?”
“Frankly, You do not seem to be in the medical system at all,” she said. “We need your medical records to proceed.”
“Now that is going to be a problem. I don’t have any records,” I said.
“I know you had breast augmentation, so you have to have had a doctor for that,” she said.
I was about to get hoisted on my own 36d petard, I thought. “The augmentation was a gift. It was done at a clinic in Canada. That’s why it isn’t in the system,” I lied. The boob job had never been discussed.
“So what was the name of the clinic?” she asked.
“To be honest if I ever knew it, I have forgotten,” I said.
“It’s also a little strange that your insurance provider is on the government’s approved list but doesn’t seem to have a history with this system. In other words it is pretty much unknown to us. They say you have a $1,000 co-pay. After you make the $1,000 deposit they will pay the rest. It is also strange that we collect all the charges then disperse the funds. I have never seen anything like it,” she explained.
“You are talking gibberish. So you are telling me I need to pay you one thousand dollars before Evers the knife can go to work?” I asked. I considered that my stupid tax. You know, the cost of a stupid decision.
After a few seconds of staring at each other she said, “Yes, if you have a way to pay it up front it would be appreciated. I know you weren’t expecting this and couldn’t have planned for it, so I’m here to help you work it out.”
I thought about it a second then said, “If you find out where my personal items are, I’ll give you my debit card.”
She went right to the one drawer in the small chest with a lock. She opened it and removed my money clip with the built in card holder. I expected her to make some comment but she simply waited. I tried to sit up but it was too painful. “Just take that fucking card out and process it as a credit card. You can call it in and put a hold on your payment,” I said.
“I received most of your personal information from your employer, so we are good to go. Just one more question, who do we notify if things go wrong, not that we expect that to happen?”
“Notify God, everyone else can kiss my ass,” I said.
Joan called so I had to explain about the surgery. “I’m going to be out of it all evening, so you don’t need to come here.” I said.
“I don’t even need to do anything for you?” she asked. Then added, “I will be there after Jose’s school is out.”
“What the hell are you talking about?”