The next morning, 11:45 a.m.
Once again, I'm stuck staying over. Major bar fight in York nearby. 30 patrons.
Bunch of loser local guys.
Remind me again why I like my job.
I finally sign out. But I have one more thing to do before I head home and (hopefully) make it to my sofa.
I head as fast as my rather oversized feet will carry me to the med-surg floor. Releases are generally between ten and twelve.
I pray they're running late.
I race to Ringo's room.
The cleaning crew is there.
I begin to feel dizzy and nauseous.
At the nurses' station, Sheryl is there. "Sheryl, Ringo Langly. When was he released?"
"Oh, we got him out of here first thing. He was itching to go."
I feel the tears sting my eyes.
"Did he leave a message or anything?"
"No. He was with the old guy and another one, younger guy. They seemed like they were in a hurry."
I knew it. It was too good to be true.
"Deb, you okay?" She takes my arm.
"Uh...I just...need some sleep."
I am, of course, about as far from okay as one can get.
I drive home on autopilot (luckily, I have had a lot of practice. You try driving when you've been awake for 72 hours at a crack). After struggling with the iced-over lock-the temperature has dropped into single digits-I stagger into my living room and fall on to the sofa.
Where I cry and cry and cry, until there is nothing left.
The alarm goes off at 5:30 p.m., prodding me to get up and do it again.
I feel beyond lifeless. And it's not just exhaustion.
It's been days since I checked my e-mail. I really should. My mother is probably thinking I died.
Does inside count?
AOHell announces that I have 147 new messages. Probably largely spam. I delete a number of them unread.
There is an address on one of them I don't recognize. Probably some creep trying to tell me his sexual problems. Med students get weirdos like that all the time.
It's from Blondie@wastedminds.com
I don't know anyone by that name.
Before I delete it, sheer curiosity forces me to open it.
It's a very short note.
"Deb-come play doctor with me?" R.
That's funny, I don't remember giving him
my email address...