Table of Contents

+ Add to Library

Previous Next

Chapter 5

  • Once the messy business of negotiating EU healthcare for foreign nationals ha_een sorted out with the EMTs and the Casualty Intake triage, once they’d bot_een digested and shat out by a dozen diagnostic devices from X-rays to MRIs,
  • once the harried house officers had impersonally prodded them and presente_hem both with hardcopy FAQs for their various injuries (second-degree burns,
  • mild shock for Art; pelvic dislocation, minor kidney bruising, broken femur,
  • whiplash, concussion and mandible trauma for Linda), they found themselves i_djacent beds in the recovery room, which bustled as though it, too, wer_orking on GMT-5, busy as a 9PM restaurant on a Saturday night.
  • Art had an IV taped to the inside of his left arm, dripping saline and tranqs,
  • making him logy and challenging his circadians. Still, he was the more mobil_f the two, as Linda was swaddled in smartcasts that both immobilized her an_assaged her, all the while osmosing transdermal antiinflammatories an_ainkillers. He tottered the two steps to the chair at her bedside and shoo_er hand again.
  • “Don’t take this the wrong way, but you look like hell,” he said.
  • She smiled. Her jaw made an audible pop. “Get a picture, will you? It’ll b_ood in court.”
  • He chuckled.
  • “No, seriously. Get a picture.”
  • So he took out his comm and snapped a couple pix, including one wit_ightvision filters on to compensate for the dimmed recovery room lighting.
  • “You’re a cool customer, you know that?” he said, as he tucked his camer_way.
  • “Not so cool. This is all a coping strategy. I’m pretty shook up, you want t_now the truth. I could have died.”
  • “What were you doing on the street at three AM anyway?”
  • “I was upset, so I took a walk, thought I’d get something to eat or a beer o_omething.”
  • “You haven’t been here long, huh?”
  • She laughed, and it turned into a groan. “What the hell is wrong with th_nglish, anyway? The sun sets and the city rolls up its streets. It’s not lik_hey’ve got this great tradition of staying home and surfing cable o_nything.”
  • “They’re all snug in their beds, farting away their lentil roasts.”
  • “That’s it! You can’t get a steak here to save your life. Mad cows, all of
  • ’em. If I see one more gray soy sausage, I’m going to kill the waitress an_at her.”
  • “You just need to get hooked up,” he said. “Once we’re out of here, I’ll tak_ou out for a genuine blood pudding, roast beef and oily chips. I know _lace.”
  • “I’m drooling. Can I borrow your phone again? Uh, I think you’re going to hav_o dial for me.”
  • “That’s OK. Give me the number.”
  • She did, and he cradled his comm to her head. He was close enough to her tha_e could hear the tinny, distinctive ringing of a namerican circuit at th_ther end. He heard her shallow breathing, heard her jaw creak. He smelled he_hampoo, a free-polymer new-car smell, smelled a hint of her sweat. A cor_tood out on her neck, merging in an elegant vee with her collarbone, an arro_ointing at the swell of her breast under her paper gown.
  • “Toby, it’s Linda.”
  • A munchkin voice chittered down the line.
  • “Shut up, OK. Shut up. Shut. I’m in the hospital.” More chipmunk. “Got hit b_ car. I’ll be OK. No. Shut up. I’ll be fine. I’ll send you the FAQs. I jus_anted to say… ” She heaved a sigh, closed her eyes. “You know what I wante_o say. Sorry, all right? Sorry it came to this. You’ll be OK. I’ll be OK. _ust didn’t want to leave you hanging.” She sounded groggy, but there was _ob there, too. “I can’t talk long. I’m on a shitload of dope. Yes, it’s goo_ope. I’ll call you later. I don’t know when I’m coming back, but we’ll sor_t out there, all right? OK. Shut up. OK. You too.”
  • She looked up at Art. “My boyfriend. Ex-boyfriend. Not sure who’s leaving wh_t this point. Thanks.” She closed her eyes. Her eyelids were mauve, a tracer_f pink veins. She snored softly.
  • Art set an alarm that would wake him up in time to meet his lawyer, folded u_is comm and crawled back into bed. His circadians swelled and crashed agains_he sides of his skull, and before he knew it, he was out.