Sleep really wasn’t what I needed. I needed perspective. Sleep scared the daylights out of me, even though I knew my experiences weren’t about being awake or asleep. It was different than that.
Outside the hospital window, life looked pretty good, at least what of it I could see. People coming and going from the hospital – most tapping away on their handheld computers, pulling in and pulling out of parking spaces, meeting and greeting with professional handshakes or familiar taps on the shoulder. Maybe it was because I was still in shock, or because my awareness was heightened in general, but the sky looked beautifully blue, with the most picturesque fluffy white clouds slowly drifting by.
A little bird landed on the windowsill. I felt a wave of panic at first, expecting it to say something or gesture in a way that would send me back to the weird purgatory. But instead, it looked around in a happily ordinary, birdlike fashion, dropped a birdlike dollop of birdshit on the sill, then flitted off. Just like normal, all perfectly lovely.
The hospital bed was a little too industrial to be comfy and, of course, I was bound which isn’t comfortable at all. But for a beat, I felt kind of safe and stable. Jeremy was trolling the hallways for cute nurses; he’d already made friends with the foodservice girl and secured for us two little pudding cups each. Then I think he went after the balloon girl, who wanted nothing to do with him. She clearly had balloons to deliver, and wasn’t about to let him slow her down. Once I saw him leaning over the counter toward the floor nurse, bobbing on his toes, trying to gain an extra inch of proximity.
Between sorties, J poked into the room, probably just to see if I was still there, or still of this world, still in this dimension, still tuned into the here-and-now channel. Once, he peeked into the room as I was counting the little holes in the acoustic ceiling tiles. I guess my eyes rolling around like that gave him a start, and he lunged forward, yelling my name.
“Wha’?” I asked, glancing over. Being bound made any movement more difficult. Well, yeah.
“What the hell? Your eyes were all weird.”
I told him, “I was counting the holes in the ceiling tiles.”
He stopped and looked at me. “You are one weird motherfucker.”
“There’s nothing else to do … I’m tied down, there’s no TV, what the hell …”
“Gotta make your own fun,” he smiled, relieved. Speaking of which, I got us dates …”
“I hope they don’t mind staying in, because I’m sure the hell not going anywhere …” and I rattled my restraints.
He grinned broadly. “Oh … we’re staying in all right. We’ll will be staying well past visiting hours are over, long after the night nurses have made their rounds, maybe even until it’s time for a late night sponge bath …”
“You’re not bringing … um … ladies in …,” I asked.
“My friend,” Jeremy said, “I can’t say whether they’re ladies or not, but we don’t have to bring them in. They’re already in. Tonight you will be under the care of your own private nurse.”
I closed my eyes for a moment and felt a delightful and familiar stirring. It’d been a long, long time since I’d been with a private nurse. Even if it was a chaste little date—which, knowing J and his taste in women, was unlikely—I was giddy just with thought of being in the company of a woman who was real, alive and safe.