Everybody's been sick with the flu, Charlie doesn't have a belly button any more, and there's a dead woman living in my basement.
Tami's mother's ashes are stored with Tami's stuff down there.
Saturday morning the doorbell rang at five in the morning. "Who's there?" I demanded; Charlie was asleep on a pallet on the floor. Nobody responded; maybe it was Tami's mom. I went grumpily back to bed.
I couldn't get back to sleep. So I got up and started the coffeepot about five thirty or six.
Charlie woke up about nine; I'd already eaten breakfast and started the dishwasher. She complained of stomach pains.
I put Braveheart in the DVD player. About the time the British soldier tried to rape Wallace's wife, Charlie got up to go to the bathroom and doubled over in pain. "It hurts from my neck down", she said. I wanted to take her to the hospital, but she would have none of it.
An hour later she said "you win, lets go to the hospital, I can't breathe!"
Shit, she was having a heart attack. I hurredly put my shoes on. "Call an ambulance", she said.
I dialed 911 and asked for an ambulance. "I think my friend is having a heart attack", I urgently told the dispatcher. The fire truck showed up within a minute and a half, as the fire house is right down the street from my house.
Yes, in Springfield, whenever you call an ambulance, a fire truck shows up. "Sure is handy having a firehouse down the street," I said to one of the firemen.
They carried their gear in - oxygen, heart monitor, defilibrator. They hooked her up checking vital signs, and the ambulance came maybe five or ten minutes later. They put her on a gurney, and I told her I'd meet her at the hospital.
I got there before the ambulance did. Yes, I care about Charlie.
I went back to the treatment room in ER with them, where they had her hooked to Star Trek machines kind of like the ones Dr. McCoy had, only Bones didn't have wires and tubes hooked to his patients. "Damn it, Jim," I can imagine him saying if his patients had wires and tubes in them, "I'm a doctor, not an engineer!"
Amy called, and I told her about Charlie. She said she'd have Connor drop her off at the hospital.
By then the Star Trek machines had told the medical people that Charlie wasn't having a heart attack, and they suspected a gall bladder problem. Amy, who was once a nurse at that very hospital, showed up and said she, too, thought it was a gall bladder because she'd had a gall bladder operation before and the symptoms were exactly the same.
She went out to my car roll a cigarette, as you can't smoke on the hospital grounds, and while she was out there they came to take Charlie, who was still in severe pain despite the drugs that the nurse said were four times as powerful as morphine, to get an ultrasound of her gall bladder. We were in the ultrasound room for quite a while as the technition tried to get a good picture. Amy was in the treatment room when we got back.
"Where were you guys? I've been here an hour!" She exclaimed. I told her, and said something about being hungry. She said she was hungry, too, and "I need a drink!"
Of course she needed a drink. She is Amy, after all. I told Charlie we'd be back, and we went to get some lunch. We picked up burritos at a convineince store and went to my house, where I had beer; Amy would of course rather have cheap rotgut whiskey but beer would have to do.
We ate our burritos and drank a beer and she said she wanted to see Tami about some sort of business deal. We went to Tami's boyfriend's house, where Tami gave me a ham and some reefer she'd stolen from her boyfriend. She must like me, which is scary, seeing as how she is Lucy Furr.
We told her about Charlie, so she went with us to visit her in the ER. She was there about half an hour and she and Amy left with Jim, a friend of ours who's about my dad's age. I went back to see Charlie again.
A few hours later they said that her gall bladder was OK and they were going to do a CT scan. While they were doing that I went to Felber's for a beer, and down the street to Alan's to give him the news about Charlie. She called and said they were going to operate, so I went straight back to the hospital. He went with me, and he was of course drunk, as usual.
Don't go to the hospital drunk.
As we were driving there, Amy called from Jim's and said "come get me". I told her I coudn't, "they're going to operate on Charlie".
The doctor came with their plans for her and asked her if it was OK for us to be there. It was, of course. "She's my next ex-wife", Alan said. "She lives with me," I told the doctor, who got a puzzled look over the remarks. He explained what they were doing, what they were looking for and what could possibly happen, from a keyhole incision to possibly a long incision to even worse, depending on what they found. The "worst" woud have been cancer. This troubled me greatly, as I'd just lost Linda to cancer in February. I stayed quiet, listening to the doctor, but Alan kept drunkenly interrupting and misunderstanding, as he was drunk and talking too much to pay attention.
"Get him out of here," Charlie ordered. "Come on, Alan," I said. I walked him outside where he could smoke. He was crying like a baby. "My little buddy!" he sobbed. "Oh God... poor little Charlie!"
I got him calmed down somewhat. We went back in as they had her prepped for surgery, and followed the gurney to the OR. As it would be a while I called Jim's to see if Amy was still there and wanted a ride. "No", he said, "she walked down to her friend's house." That would be Plumber's, so we went by there. "Yeah, she was here but she left to go back to Connor's". Alan and I went back to Alan's house, where he got a half dozen beers and a half pint of brandy. We went back to the hospital to wait for her to get out of surgery.
Alan got lost somewhere walking around the grounds, and I didn't see him until the next morning.
I fell assleep waiting for Charlie's surgery to get done. The phone woke me up, they told me what room she was in and I went up to see... a Borg.
She was laid out with cables and tubes and wires going every which way, a mask over her mouth and and plastic bag coming from her nose. Machinerey was tracing lines and displaying numbers and beeping, my now-assimilated friend laying there looking every bit the Star Trek Borg. She couldn't speak, barely could move. I sat with her for maybe an hour, and went home to bed. It was about one thirty in the morning.
I woke up about nine and started drinking coffee. Alan called, asking how Charlie was and would I hook his DVD and VCR up for him.
I ate some ham and eggs, rolled a joint out of the pot Tami had stolen for me from her boyfriend, and left for Alan's. I hooked his gear up for him and said I was headed to the hospital. He didn't want to go; either he needed to drink or he was afraid to go up there, or maybe both. I still didn't know what they'd done to Charlie, how bad she was, or what was wrong with her.
She was asleep when I got up there, so I pulled up a chair and just sat with her. She stirred and woke up after I was there for fifteen minutes or so. She could talk, barely, in a croaking voice.
She'd had a hole in her intestine, so now she had a nine inch gaping, open gash in her belly stuffed with gauze and covered with a bandage. She was understandably bitchy; it was obvious she was in terrible pain, which the morphine dispenser tubed into her arm with the button for her to press when she needed drugs not helping her a lot.
I drank a lot of coffee.
Late that afternoon I was hungry, and left for Felber's, where they were having a pot luck dinner and Easter egg hunt.
This wasn't an easter egg hunt for kids - the eggs had beer, shots, mixed drinks, six packs, etc. It was pretty much fun, and I found my three egg limit. Inside were a bottle of beer, a mixed drink, and a six pack. John called asking for a ride, and he gave me enough reefer to roll another joint. I'd only smoked half the one I'd rolled in the morning.
I went to Alan's with the news about Charlie. "Do you want the good news or the bad news first?" I asked. "Oh God, she's gonna die!" he said.
"No, that's the good news. She's gonna be ok. But she ain't ok now, she's in really bad shape." I described her condition, and fortified against seeing Charlie the Borg he went up there with me.
She'd wanted me to bring a hair brush and a notebook and stuff, and berated me for forgetting it. Scornfully scolded me. I left and got her stuff, and rather than thanking me when I got back berated me more.
Around eight I said I needed to go home as I had work the next morning. "You can't", she said. "You have to be here when they change my dressing, 'cause you're gonna have to do it when I get out of here."
"Ok," I sighed, getting tired of her scorn and abuse. I'd spent the whole weekend at the hospital with her and she'd spent the whole time treating me like a red haired stepchild. You would have thought we were married she treated me so bad.
About twenty past eight Alan said he was going down for a cigarette. "He's chicken", Charlie said. "He doesn't want to see it."
The doctor came in to change the dressing. Charlie opened a velcro corset she had around her abdomen, revealing a very large bandage, which the doctor carefully took off. Charlie bitched at me about being too close.
Under the bandage was an open eight inch long gash, pointed at the top a couple inches below her breast and round at the bottom where her belly button used to be, open more than a half inch wide. Alan looked pale. When the doctor was done repacking gause back into the wound and explaining everything, I told her I'd have to go as it was bedtime and I hadn't had dinner yet. "Wait a minute" she said, "I need to talk to you."
She laid there for five more minutes and I repeated that I hadn't had dinner and I had to get up in the morning so I was going. She went off, calling me a selfish, uncaring, impatient asshole. I tried to talk and she wouldn't let me, saying "go on, just get out of here".
"OK" I said, and put on my coat. She said "Oh, you're just leaving, are you?"
I took my coat back off and sat back down.
"Go on, just leave," she said.
"I've had enough of this shit!" I'm afraid I got a little loud. "I've been here for you at this damned hospital all weekend and you've done nothing but abuse me. Nobody else's been here for you but you don't treat them like that!"
"Just go!" she demanded.
I went to leave. "Wait a minute" Alan said.
"Nope, I'm leaving. If you want a ride you better come on."
He tried calling as I was halfway home. I didn't answer. I went home, ate, smoked my roach and watched a little DS9 before going to bed.
The phone kept waking me up, but I left it in my pocket and didn't get up to answer it. When I got up it said there were nine missed calls, one new number - the hospital.
Alan called as I was drinking coffee, making sure I was OK. He'd seen how I'd been treated and how upset I finally let her get me. When I got to work there was a message from Charlie on my answering machine. "You son of a bitch, you can't even answer your goddamned phone!"
It's going to take months for her to heal.
Still pissed off and needing a break I didn't go up to the hospital the next day, but watched TV at home instead. Tuesday I visited for a short while, and was up there for at least two hours a night the rest of the week. I bought minutes for her phone, a red rose, and other stuff, but the nicer I was to her the more hateful she was to me. She'd been hateful to everyone.
Patty called and said she was visiting for the next two months. Charlie got out of the hospital and moved in with John and Jennifer. Tami's at Alan's, and finally I got some peace.
It's going to be a pleasant summer.