CHAPTER TWELVE: You Picked Orange, by SSK
“And The Insanity Just Keeps Ramping Up...”
If this woman had climbed up the wall, skittered across the ceiling, wrapped a prehensile tail around the light fixtures, and hung from them, I would not have been more astonished.
I turned around, looked at her hard, ferrety face and asked, “What did you say?”
“Uh oh,” said the look on Ferret's face, “I've been caught.” So, naturally, she did what all toddlers do when asked if they've gotten into the chocolate candy and, patently having smeared it all over their faces, they disavow any knowledge of such chocolate theft: she denied saying it.
Her genius answer to my four word question, though, was just that: she denied saying anything. If I, for some reason, had had my ears full of toffee or had been just this late on the uptake, she might have gotten away with the Counting Coup. But no: I heard what I had heard, she had no other, fake responses she might have pulled out of her ass, like what she had actually said was, “Oh, liver my brick with some pie in it.”
(No, really. Read it a few times.)
Ergo, the fall back position for our Miss Martha: off with the defence team, and trot out the offensive line-up. (At least her face was reddening, as if she were filling up with boiling water.) She said, “I'm just so tired of you crying, Sam! It's like you're begging for attention... or....”
Yep. I did it. A full on Jim Carrey, but the object of MY fury and terror was now covered with half a box of salad.
With ranch dressing.
I began to scream. I screamed, “Are you so self-absorbed that you have absolutely no consideration for my feelings? Are you so thrilled with yourself that you think you can tell me how to feel and when to feel and that black people 'don't know their place' and that I have an ass so fat you'd need a skip loader to haul me out of a recliner?”
I wasn't quiet, nor was I babbling. I was saying exactly what I was saying, just, you know, screaming it into her now pretty concerned ferrety face.
I knew we were being watched. I could actually feel dozens of eyes on us, dozens of forks halfway to mouths while their holders were staring at the Insane Jew From Los Angeles.
I dropped the salad box, and shrieked, once more, at her stupid, beady little eyes: “My husband of 23 years is upstairs fighting for his life, and you think it's just fine to tell his wife to 'shut up with the crying'??”
I began to stride away, but stopped in mid stride, which you might think would lessen the impact of the “striding” but, surprisingly, since I had whipped around to face her, one last time, I caught her with that pouty, rodent look again, only this time she was picking Romaine off her glasses.
I pointed my finger at her nose and said, “If you so much as see me, anywhere in this TOWN, you will run, and I stress the word 'run' away from me because there's a good chance I will kill you.”
Again, no babbling. I was clear and concise, and quiet. Very quiet. I definitely got my point across. She had gone pale and shivery, and what with sliced mushroom and banana peppers festooning her shoulders, she was a pathetic sight.
I cared not one jot or tittle.
I stormed, and stormed is the perfect word here, out of the cafe, and made my way back to the ICU; I also have some pretty clear memories of non-combatants I passed in the hallways, one second looking smiley and friendly, then the next second actually flattening themselves against the walls, as if they were seeing a 5'4” tall Godzilla plowing past and were hoping with all their might that I, Godzilla East, would give them a miss.
I did. I got to the ICU, having come around the back way (the one Miss Smiley Lady had showed me), came through the doors and stood there, panting. The effect I had on the RN staff was kind of like the Wave at baseball games, only this was horrified concern rippling through the room. Several of them shot over to me, grabbed me and put me in a chair.
One of them wanted to call a Code Blue, no, really, she did. But the Charge nurse noticed that I was breathing and upright, and said, “Let's wait on that. Sam, what happened??”
Every ear in the place swiveled towards me. I wanted to recite the precise series of insult, petty bullshit and razor-sharp hurtful words that Martha had commited, but my brain had just found, nay, latched onto yet another memory, from the day before, about three hours after K was admitted to ICU: Martha and her two sisters had dragged me across the street from the hospital (which was built in the 1830's, I think [no, really], of local red stone and, being from SoCal, I was impressed with the stolidity of the structure: you tend to notice that kind of stuff when you live in earthquake country... where was I... oh, right) to a small food stand that sold tacos, with meat, and salad, with meat, and meat, dipped in meat, and meat deep fat fried in meat.
I was a vegetarian.
I allowed myself to get hijacked to this Mecca of dead animals because I was in no shape to fight back. The aunts and Martha ordered some meat in a meat pocket with some meat to go, and then asked what I wanted. I said, “Water”. They ordered me a meat platter. The platter was made of meat.
And now... hold onto your hats, chickie poos: after we took seats at a picnic table nearby, me sipping my water, pushing my deluxe dead cow thing away...
…. Martha opened her mouth. Guess what fell out? If you said “Something disrespectful, to you, the LA Jew?” give yourself a cookie. Martha actually said, “You know, Sam, I realize that you don't believe in our Lord and Saviour, but the chapel here has a wonderful picture of Him and when I went in there last year when Dodo had her hammertoe surgery, His Glorious visage gave me comfort and courage. You should go. I'm sure He will help you.”
I reached under the picnic bench table, and pulled; dammit, the thing was bolted onto the seats. Because, if it hadn't been our Miz Martha would have gotten a knotty pine enema.
Dodo piped up here, too, as did her sister, let's call her “Mamie” (I gotta keep track of these names or people who really do have these names and this exact situation with a Jew from L.A... oh, screw it, who am I kidding. This kind of crap only happens to me). They re-affirmed Martha's admonition that I march my pagan self into their beautifully appointed Chapel of the Guy Who Always Looks Like The Jesus from “Super Star” and just bathe in his picture and come away “healed”.
(And yes, I really wanted to ask if the picture was a Polaroid, because out of the four of us at that table, I was the only one who had actually been to Israel, lived there, and saw what Semites actually looked like, and it wasn't Ted Neely.)
As it was, had I not been full of angry bees and with the physical strength of a doily, I settled for standing up and walking away from the Table of Excruciates, and back to The Left Side.
Flash forward to the next night, where the RN's have me seated at their station, crying my eyes out and trying to explain why I had left the ICU a fairly stable human being, but was now a pile of blathering mucous.
Ever have a two year old try to tell you a joke? “And then... um... and so then..... um.... and there was... um.... and then.... a man walked.... can I have a cookie?”
I wanted a cookie. But I wanted a gigantic cookie filled with Xanax. Fortunately, the RN's got the gist of my crying and burbling; what with their working with people who babble and grimble and jabber all day, they were fluent in “incomprehensible”, which I had finally become. The Jesus remark dissing my own religion, the “can't haul your ass out of the recliner”, the shocking assertion about black people, the hovering by K's left side, his hand caught up in her wrinkly, Gollum claw, leering at me and spewing “Guess who's hand he's holding now??”
Essentially, Martha had made me go “Ka-blooey”. I was in need of a giant mental tidy.
The RN's listened to my blubbering tale, then told me they were taking me to the ER. I agreed (even though it meant leaving Kimit again, and needing to call a neighbor to pick me up, as they wouldn't let me drive once they'd given me anti-anxiety medication).
Two RN's walked me downstairs to the ER. But before they did, before I could even get my trembling legs under me to make the trip, I saw Martha once more. She had come in the front, marched down the other side of the unit, nipped into K's cubicle and grabbed her own purse, and boy howdy, did she dash for the exit; looked like a wolverine with directions to the dead elk.
And I didn't see her again until they tried to sell Kimit to a human warehouse I graciously call “Hellcare”.
So the nurses took me to the ER, and I was “evaluated” by some other people, who diagnosed me with “stress”. No shit! Their answer to my screaming, shrieking, clothes rending behaviour because of this “stress” was two Xanax, 0.5 mg each, and a scrip for ten more.
Yeah. 6 milligrams of Xanax, all told. That'll do the trick. I felt like I'd been dumped into a cement truck and given a good thousand twirls, and they gave me 2 Xanax. Geniuses. Jinkies. Oh, and they also wouldn't let me have the Xanax unless a second party agreed to come to the hospital to pick me up, as Xanax (for everyone else in the world but me) makes you sleepy and goofy and lighter than air and you can see Brigadoon.
By the way, this is the First Law of Risk Management: make sure the patient isn't discharged with 1 entire milligram of a substance that she made extremely clear didn't relieve stress and she'd prefer Valium, but the new Valium was now Xanax, and I'll stop now else we get stuck in one of those torqued letter 8's for the rest of time explaining Valium versus Xanax.
So I called my neighbor, the wondrous Kitty. She sent her husband to pick me up
So, I was driven home, made myself a gin and tonic the size of a Shetland pony, drank it, and at 7 a.m. the next morning the same neighbor drove me back to the hospital.
Little did I know that by that third day, the fight to keep Kimit either in ICU, or transferred to the sister hospital to undergo real, actually helpful therapies, or simply warehoused in a healthcare facility which, I was utterly positive, would be a mistake on par with Napoleon invading Russia, was being staged.
Because they had come up with a fourth, "compromise", idea.