Friday, September 20, 2013

"Surgery"--Week 5. Adult memoir.

In the parking lot after our workout at Champions. I open my car door. Instead of coming over to say goodby, she goes to her car, speaks over the roof of my car and over the roof of her car. She seems a long way off. "I went to the doctor yesterday. I have to go in today for more tests."
We're alone in the hot tub. She lets her legs slide over my mine. The bubble maker bounces her up and down, up and down.

In the sauna. She leans over, exposing most of her breasts over the bikini top. "Take a good look, buddy boy," she says. "Last chance."
In the hospital lobby. She sits down next to me, shakes her head. Gets out of her seat and climbs onto my lap. "Security," I say.

"Fuck 'em." she says, and she turns her face into my shoulder.

The hospital social worker asks about her family and as she names them, she begins crying.
The patients go into a changing room. The fifteen or twenty friends and relatives wait. A few of us try to read newspapers. We are called out after a few minutes and there are the patients now in hospital johnnies. Each patient has a nurse escort him or her to a cot. Friends and relatives tag along behind. There are no windows here. 40 beds, perhaps, each holding someone who'll be operated on in the next few hours.

A doctor with a Russian accent appears and picks up her paperwork. She says, "I thought you'd never come."

The doctor raises his eyebrows. She says, "We have to stop meeting like this."

He gets it. "Ah, I will send the nurse away now! Just you and me, together at last."

She is laughing and then, without any transition, is crying.
I'm on Huntington Avenue, walking away from the hospitals. I look toward the Richardson House where I was born. I have never in my life been so glad to be outside, in the open air, and walking. At about the time her surgery is scheduled, I am three miles away in Jake Wirth's ordering sauerbraten and beer. Another never: never has anything tasted so good. I am so glad to be alive. So ashamed. So glad.


  1. Capturing a hard day.

  2. I found myself holding my breath when I got to the end. Kudos.

  3. What timing. I already had an idea in my head that is in little bits and pieces like this. We'll see how it goes.

    I'm not sure I could have finished your piece if it had been much longer than this. I had breast cancer myself, and this cuts a bit too close to the bone, if you'll excuse the reference.

  4. I liked it myself and can see that the linked vignettes are already being imitated--and imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, they say.

    I shouldn't tell you this next part. I should tell you that nothing good ever is written without agony and endless rewrites. In truth, I offered to take a live 162 for an instructor one day and wrote this while the students were also writing. It took about 12 minutes and has had only a few afterthought changes. I'm a great believer in inspiration and serendipity.