The Waiting Room
Friday, February 28, 2014
She strolled into the room sporting a significant lateral lisp and a pronounced southern drawl. She was wearing a Piggly Wiggly sweatshirt, carrying a Big Mack in one hand, a 20 oz. Mountain Dew in the other. She plopped herself into a chair next to an old man, put her burger and drink in the chair across from where she was sitting and spoke; "is momma 'n 'em comin'?" The words slid casually off the side of her tongue with the sound of escaping air like steam from a leaky radiator. Wriggling out of her sweatshirt, a pair of un-tethered breasts draped like over ripe eggplants on each side of a sumptuous belly sheathed in a yellowed Daffy Duck tee shirt. The old man, through the heavy nasal accent of one with a cleft lip, answered "n'ey said n'ey'd me here nu-recly." She picked the burger up, took a bite and washed it down with a gulp of Mountain Dew.
On the other side of the room a well groomed gentleman sits with his family. His grey hair yellowed and greasy is plastered to his head. He's been sitting by his wife's bed for several days waiting for her to get well enough for surgery. His daughter and son in law keep him occupied. While they wait, several family friends gather about. He speaks with a north western accent, maybe from Wisconsin or somewhere like that. He tends to lean on his "o's." He says "hoose" when he talks about his house. There's a small couch across from him where the daughter is draped, her head on one armrest, her legs hanging from the knee across the other. They talk among themselves in hushed tones with an anxiety that is almost electric filling the pauses. "They tell us you can get along fine with a large section of your colon gone" he explains. The daughter, who is either drugged, is in pain or is dealing with who knows what problems of her own speaks in slurred tones. She's lost fifty pounds since she went off the prescription she was taking. Her eyes are red and weepy. They console one another in strings of those churchy cliches; "bless her heart, she's really been through it." "We're all prayin' hard for her you know." "If it's the Lord's will she's gonna be just fine."
In the center of the room, sitting by himself at the end of a long row of empty chairs, an elderly man who doesn't really seem to know quite what's going on, has appointed himself as the waiting room telephone operator. Each time the phone rings he picks up and begins the conversation; "uh, no I'm with the Donovan family... what was that name again? Smuthers?... is there a Smothers...no, wait... Smithers...is the Smithers family here?" He is obviously confused and deeply worried for his wife who has been in surgery for quite some time. They've been together for fifty-seven years. He would be lost without her. No one talks to him, no one sits with him he is there all alone and part of his body is in another room, barely holding onto life.
And there I sit, my back against the wall, watching and waiting. I too am alone. The love of my life is laying naked on a stainless steel operating table surrounded by men and women with needles, scalpels, tubes, wires, drills and metal pins trying to put a bone back together that was shattered by a careless driver. I try to occupy myself by musing over the other people in the room. I don't really want to think about what's going on in that operating room. I don't want to play the scenarios of what if this or what if that. I just want her back all in one piece; warm blooded, heart pumping, flesh and blood. I want that smiling, laughing, thinking, loving, feisty, woman to get in the car with me and go home. She's been in there a long time.