Rolling down hospital hallways, drunk on tequila and beer, laptop bag clutched in hand like some suitcase filled with contraband diamonds. The light glaring off mica floors and hand sanitizers. Nurses in pastel colors, the moans of the solitary damned. The night outside ever window, the orange street lights by the thousands, the distant sky scrapers, the blank expanses of ocean and inter-coastal.
I pause by every open doorway. Stare inside. Emaciated figures wrapped in hospital linens. Mouths open, eyes staring in desperation. Hollow moans and the stale hiss of bodies giving up the ghost. Moving on. Walking as if I have a place to go. Taking random turns. Moving on. Room 438. Room 423. Room 431.
A door ajar. Pause and peer inside. Two hospital beds, articulated, and stretched starched sheets. Empty otherwise, a haven, a place to find respite. I slip inside, close the door till it’s but ajar, and find a seat in the corner. Walled in by bed and window. I sit and pull out my laptop. Pause at the pass of every body past the cracked door, expecting eviction at any moment. But I’m allowed to stay, respite found in this empty cell.
How many people have lain in this empty room, agonized and still, bodies yawning in pain, empty pits filling with the desolation of encroaching entropy. I’m a witness to this vacuous solitude, but who knows what scenes these walls might have witnessed but the night before last.
It’s just barely past midnight. Down random hallways Grace stays with her father, watching over him. I’m here in case she needs me, hidden and ensconced, safe from the brittle and difficult chairs of the waiting room. A phone call away in case of an emergency, a mad dash away down the hall.
I’m here, sitting in the dark. Hidden. Surrounded by the soundless echoes of other’s pain. Now what. What comes next. Here to wait. To pass the night. Alone but for thought and memory. Me and my glowing, luminescent laptop screen. Who knows what the night shall bring. I’m here, awaiting, alone and as ready as I can get. Tequila and beer burning in my veins. Here comes the night. Bring it on.