By DOREEN VILLANUEVA
I like working in the ER—you meet idiots there. Real idiots, living proof of Darwin’s Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection. Idiots die early. They come on Sundays, soaked in adrenaline. That is until they decided to squeeze behind a truck’s blind spot. I understand motorcycle riders because I was one. And then there was Jose.
He lay there, with limbs that would make Hannibal Lecter drool, scraped to the bone, crimson, squirting with a hint of rust. His elaborate riding gear did not fend off the injuries. His gauntlet’s plastic armor was embedded in his knuckles. Removing its retention straps would break his left wrist. The ballistic mesh jacket, fused with his flesh wounds, was the only thing that kept his skin intact. His body was bruised like a war hero yet his face was that of a mannequin, an angel. His brain, oh his brain, all rationality gone within a second’s thrill.
He would call for Sarah every time he woke. The doctor asked me, the only female nurse he could find, to calm him. He didn’t just hold my hand as some patients would. He clung to my neck sobbing. He wasn’t wailing in pain. He was apologizing. Somewhere between the painkiller-induced deliriums, he kept trying to get up, but he couldn’t budge. Only his neck would slightly move. Sarah, he said again. Get him to the X-ray, the doctor said. Our hospital didn’t have enough gurneys to transfer him so I carried him across the corridor. He wept, terrified. His tears soaked my hospital scrubs.
I soothed him until Sarah appeared. I let her hold him. He quieted in her arms. She stroked his fine back, with each movement a tear. He rested on her round stomach where, sleeping inside, was his child, yet another one of those who would be born without a father.