The Call

An extended care facility. It is evening and the room is dimly lit. The view is of the side of a bed with the side rails up. A very old Asian man has propped himself up. He is in a hospital gown and a sweatshirt. His facial skin is waxy and white, the eyes sunken but agitated. He is missing one leg above the right knee. The man is shaking the bed rails with all of his limited strength.

A woman in black slacks and a beige cardigan, with a cross at her neck is standing to the side holding a bible. She is trying to calm the old man.

MR. FONG     I want out of the cage!

NATALIE        I’m sorry, Mr. Fong, I don’t understand what you want me to do.

MR. FONG     Get me out of the cage!

NATALIE        Please lay back down, Mr. Fong.

MR. FONG     Nurse, I want out… I want out.

NATALIE        Oh, I…I see. I’m not the nurse, Mr. Fong, I can’t… I can’t let you out.

MR. FONG      I want rice… I want rice! Can you get me rice?

NATALIE        I can call the nurse and she could…

Mr. Fong lays back down and starts to rock his head, left to right, moaning loudly.

MR. FONG     Uuuuuuuuuuhhhnn uuuuuuuuuuuhhhnn-aaaah

NATALIE        It’s okay, it’s okay, Mr. Fong! I’ll see what I can do. Please lay down.

MR. FONG     Uuuuuuuuuuhhhnn…

NATALIE       Oh, I don’t know…

MR. FONG     Uuuuuuuuuuhhhnn…

NATALIE       There, squeeze my hand… I’ll rock with you…uuuuuuuuuuhhhnn-aaah. I’ll stay here.

MR. FONG     Uuuuuuuuuuhhhnn-aaah

NATALIE       That’s it…rest now. I’ll get you some rice.

* * * * *

Fifteen minutes later. Natalie stands in front of a nurses station down the hall. A nurse in blue scrubs is standing behind the desk.

KATHY          How was he, Natalie?

NATALIE      Uhm…that’s not in the manual— We managed…together. He’s sleeping now.

KATHY          I couldn’t do what you do.

NATALIE      He wants some rice. Can we get him some?

KATHY          Yes, I’ll call down to food services.

NATALIE      Does he have any family?

KATHY          No, not that we know of. No one has been to see him since he came to us. He’s ninety-five, maybe he outlived them all.

NATALIE      How long do you think?

KATHY          He has gangrene. A day or two, at the most.

NATALIE      Kathy, can you do me a favor?

KATHY          Of course.

NATALIE      Can I be the last entry on his chart?

KATHY          I guess so. Why?

NATALIE      I think that the last entry on Mr. Fong’s exit should be something kind and spiritual rather than those few words of science…

KATHY          Oh, I see. I get that… Sure, Natalie, I’ll let you know.

NATALIE      Thanks, Kathy. Good night.

KATHY          Good night, Natalie.

About troysherdahl

A blue-collar bohemian with a penchant for fine words and dirty jeans.
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