I'm in a different room, a bigger one. Everyone's wearing those blue mushroom caps - people lying on gurneys, blinking and looking around, people in scrubs, walking by, a few gathered at a desk, talking about...food. "Have you tried their fries? Dude, they are a-mazing. They put like this seasoning on them?"
Bastards. I haven't eaten since yesterday. Not that I'm hungry. But still.
I guess they're all done, it's all over. I don't feel so bad, except. Oh, wait a second, here it comes.
Holy shit. I've never felt anything like this before, not even after the last surgery. But maybe people don't remember pain very well. Plus I had that morphine button before. I clutched that beautiful button in my hand all night. Push the button, push the button, good button.
I don't have a button now.
"Mghlapth," I say. I'm not sure what I was going for there, or if anyone could have heard me, but a nurse appears, looking down at me.
"Do you need something?"
"Hurts," I say.
"Brant?" she says, sweetly, "Need some Demerol here."
Brant moves fast, needle in hand, he or nurse or someone shoots something into the tube that's stuck into my hand.
I feel wonderful. Bless you, nurse. Bless you Brant. This warm wave just washes over me and cuddles me up and I feel a big loopy grin spread itself all over my mug. There's pain there, somewhere, but I just don't care, I don't care, tra la. I look around. Nobody close to my left, but to my right is a guy - a kid, maybe 19 or 20 - on a gurney like mine, big padding on one shoulder.
He rolls his head around, and flashes me a Demerol grin.
"What're you in for?" We are moments away from being old buddies.
"Fltjopblablepepoipwit shoulder," he says, beaming. "Shit hurts, man."
I nod, sagely. Nurses crowd around him for a minute, a curtain is pulled, but I hear him chatting away back there, to whoever is hovering around.
"...I'm a dancer, see, a ballet dancer," he's saying. The nurses disperse, until there's just one.
"Did I hear you say you were a ballet dancer?" Damn, I'm chatty. It's suddenly terribly important, this conversation. The nurse standing over him smiles at me - is it indulgently? and pulls back the curtain so he can roll his head around again and look at me.
"Yup," He nods, his head moving against the pillow, "I'm with the San Francisco Ballet."
"No shit," I say, "In the book I'm writing, my main character is a ballet dancer."
"Wow. Really?" he says. I doubt he would be this enthusiastic without the drugs.
"Yeah! It's called Hoodoo - working title - and," I want to tell him more. How this is no A Very Young Dancer sort of book. How it's actually really dark and creepy and twisted and all tied up with God and visions and I know he'd get it, we're Demerol buddies, after all, but they're wheeling me away.
"Hey," he says, "look me up on the site, SFBallet.org, I'm there!" He looks up at the nurse, "She's writing a book with a ballet dancer!"
"'s called Hoodoo..." I raise my hand, waving goodbye, as I disappear through the door.