Walking up the stairs from the parking lot started her blood pumping, and helped bring the day ahead into focus as the doors slid open. A large poster attached to th door encouraged passersby to donate blood TODAY. Just inside the threshold was a freestanding hand sanitizer like the ones you see everywhere since the bird flu hit the news.
Dr. Kennedy approached her from the opposite end of the hall as he headed off shift. “Hi Nancy how are you?” He asked with a smile. “If I told you, you’d be shocked’ . She responded with a flirtatious shrug, reached up and touched her hair, smiled knowingly and continued down the winding hallway.
Those landscapes are calming, she thought, as she headed towards the ER. I wonder who painted them? Punching the handicapped plate with a closed fist, the staff at the desk all glanced up simultaneously as she hurried into the room.
“Number Two is prepped and ready to go” Danny said, as she stowed her bag in the bottom locker. “Anything I should know about?” She scanned the beds to see how many were filled. “No, it’s a normal night’ She walked over to the door to the waiting room, and took a quick look through the glass to find it was already over capacity.
Her mood changed in an instant, as she steeled herself to face the whining and crying of the patients bearing cuts, and scratches, and ailments that would only require rest, sleep and over-the-counter meds. It always irritated her that the others, the ones she became a nurse to help, were forced to sit and wait for their turn because of this crowd. Those were the souls who were seriously in pain or facing diagnoses that would change their lives forever.
Then she saw him. Oh my God, it’s Tom. That morning, years ago (how many? At least 10), since she left him, still asleep at the Rancho Santa Fe Inn. He had called out of the blue the night before, only two days after she moved into her new house. She was sitting in the loft watching TV when the phone rang, and he invited her to join him and some other music industry types for dinner.
She had met Tom years ago, 20 years at least- at a music trade show in Chicago when he was the sales rep for a music magazine, which he now published. They had a very romantic couple of days in the windy city- horse drawn carriage to Rush Street, White Sox game at Cominski (sp) field, and a late night club where local musicians gather after hours. With the show ast McCormack place, the population of musicians had grown dramatically over the last few days.
Nancy had talked to Tom for years on the phone and seldom gave him a second thought until she met him face to face during the show. At that time she was Ad Manager for a musical instrument manufacturer. They fell in love (or lust) instantly during Yamaha’s introduction of “midi” technology.and were inseparable for the next few days outside of working the show. He was sharing a suite with several of his co-workers, so they spent their nights in her room at the Ambassador hotel. When the show was over and they returned home they tried to keep it up, although I live in LA and he lived in northern California. We’d trade off weekends, flying up on Saturday morning and coming home late Sunday nights.
Her first dose of reality was finding out that he was also dealing drugs. Their time together became increasingly more erratic and he began being careless of who he was bringing home. One night some guy he didn’t know followed them home, and walked in, with all the “drug” scales and paraphernalia in plain sight..
Nancy was no angel either but she was always a light weight as far as drugs were concerned. It was only when she was dating someone who smoked a little that she indulged. Too young to think much about it. Just having fun.
One Saturday morning, when I was heading up to visit, our whole group had been up all night partying, and they all decided they would drive all the way to John Wayne airport at the crack of dawn, and drop me off for my flight. Road trip!
When we got there, somehow I had left the house without shoes. Nothing was open at that time of the morning, even at the airport, so we all got out and went through the trash bins and found some flip flops that actually fit. I guess I wore them all weekend since I don’t recall buying other shoes up north. At the time we all thought it was hilarious.
Tom was hosting a BBQ for friends from work, mostly musician types, and I was taking a nap. I heard the noises signalling the arrival of the first of their guests so I cleaned up and headed towards the back door, not really feeling like a party again after last night.
As I reached for the knob I saw Tom, beer in hand, standing by the BBQ with a can of lighter fluid, feeding a continuous stream of the flammable concoction into the already smoldering briquettes. She could tell by his eyes he was wired, and had a feeling this was going to be a long night.
A couple of years ago I had been at a party when “lit drinks”: were popular. These were cocktails that were various colored liqueurs layered into a tall glass off the back of a spoon, usually finished with cream and then lit with a match so they came to you flaming and you were supposed to drink them down before the flame went out. I can still picture one girl, someone I didn’t know, who panicked and ended up missing her mouth and setting her cheek and her hair on fire. Someone jumped on her and rolled her on the ground, while we waited for the paramedics. It was horrifying!
So here I am, walking into a scene where someone is playing chicken with fire, and I freaked. Tom was already pissed off at me because it was obvious I had not stayed home the night before, and was looking a little raggedy in front of his friends. “Get out, he said, under his breath, I’m through.
We've all been there. I can still remember every detail of running out of the front door, and heading down the street. I made it about a block before collapsing on a curb and launching into some serious crying.
Sitting on the street, in a suburb south of San Francisco, with no car, no money, no ID , with a plane ticket and wallet sitting inside a house she had just been asked to leave, and where had no friends..
©2010 Sharon J Corrigan