|> SEVENTEEN STITCHES LATER|
> I WAS STANDING OUTSIDE IN
> THE HOSPITAL’S SMOKING SECTION
> I was watching the sun rise over a lake though the lake was on the
> other side of the building. If you were in the parking lot to my left
> you would’ve be able to see it. But I was busy smoking my filtered
> cigarette and watching the traffic on the highway in front of me.
> Having nothing better to do with my right hand – seeing I was in
> public and they had laws about that kind of thing – (besides, I used
> my left hand for that) I took off the bandage on my forehead and began
> counting my stitches to make sure the doctor hadn’t ripped me off. He
> hadn’t. They were all there. Maybe even a few more, but those bumps
> could’ve been scratches. I didn’t have a mirror and the people beside
> me didn’t seem to share my enthusiasm.
> “You act as if you’ve never seen blood before,” I said to a woman who
> was standing beside me. “Come on, I just want to know. You can count,
> can’t you?” She must’ve been in a hurry because she walked away pretty
> fast. I heard her talking to another man near the entrance and it
> sounded like she said something in the lines of: “You just can’t go
> anywhere these days...” And I think the man said: “Tell me about it.”
> I guess they were talking about the litter on the floor because the
> woman was pointing in my direction. She must’ve been showing the man a
> candy wrapper that was on the ground beside my feet.
> I used to remember a time when everybody wanted to play the doctor.
> They even had books for people like that.My mother had one. I guess
> they were all in bad moods. Maybe someone they knew was dying on the
> second floor of the hospital; or something like that. They didn’t have
> to take it out on me. I was just curious, concerned about my
> appearance. There was a very big difference between seventeen stitches
> and nineteen stitches. I seemed to be the only person there who cared
> about that kind of thing.
> When the cigarette was smoked I walked back into the hospital and
> played with the vending machines in the entrance. I had no money so
> instead I kicked the machine every time someone walked by to give the
> impression that it had stolen my change. In doing that I hoped that
> someone would have a heart and buy me some candy. No one did. I wasn’t
> really hungry anyway. But it was something to do. It didn’t take too
> much to amuse me seeing that I had been in the hospital’s waiting room
> all night, hungover and slightly nauseous from the smell of the place,
> not having a clue how I had gotten there.
> My next idea was to pretend that I was talking to someone on the pay
> phone beside the candy machines. “Look Walter,” I said to my invisible
> friend on the line, “I just don’t think it would be any fun to do
> that.” I wasn’t in a very creative mood and no one was around to
> listen to me so I hung up and called for an ambulance.
> When the fun had run out in doing that I walked back outside to the
> bus stop and pretended to be waiting. The annoying thing about doing
> that was that I had to leave every time a bus showed up. So instead I
> hid one of my boots in a nearby garbage can. Whenever someone walked
> by I put on a confused look on my face and pretended to be looking for
> my boot that had vanished into thin air. That didn’t last very long
> because it was November and my foot was beginning to get cold. So when
> I put my boot back on I pretended that I didn’t know how to tie up my
> shoelace and I asked the people who walked by if they could help me.
> No one wanted to so I eventually had to do it myself.
> I didn’t know what the hell had happened, but for some reason I woke
> up in the bus shelter with a sore elbow. I must have fallen asleep, I
> thought to myself. I asked the security guard who had kicked me awake
> for the time and he told me that it was almost noon. Then he told me
> that if I wanted to sleep I should do it at home. I guess he assumed
> that everyone had a home to sleep in. I was about to tell him that I
> didn’t have a home,but sixty- five year old men who worked as security
> guards in redneck mining cities in Northern Ontario hospitals weren’t
> usually too interested about that kind of thing. So instead I stood up
> and started walking toward the downtown area, not having a reason,
> just walking away. It seemed like a nice day and I didn’t have
> anywhere else to go. Maybe the crowds would give me a sign. At that
> point, anything seemed possible.
> After walking around the shopping mall for an hour and masturbating in
> the public washroom I began to get really bored. “Now what?” I said to
> myself, not expecting an answer. So I decided (or more likely ended
> up) to go to the park. Cool grass. Shade. I was really tired. No one
> bothered me except for a few stupid children who couldn’t seem to stop
> laughing. But when I showed them the stitches on my forehead, they ran
> away screaming. I guess threatening to end their pathetic lives also
> helped. When their father arrived, I showed him my stitches, thinking
> he would also run away like the children had done. I must have
> miscalculated my assumptions because instead of running away he
> punched me in the face. I would’ve probably been in pain, but I was
> unconscious before I hit the ground. Easy sleep, I said to myself as I
> was falling.
> When I awoke it was almost supper time. I wasn’t hungry so I found
> myself a bench and watched the idiot townspeople walk by with their
> idiot dogs and their idiot minds. But yet again, boredom began to
> creep into my brain. I found an old razor blade that I always kept
> hidden in my boot for emergency purposes and decided to take out my
> stitches. No reason. It just seemed like something to do. I couldn’t
> think of any other way to amuse myself. This should be fun, I said to
> no one. How creative of me to have thought of it.
> I must have cut myself a few times doing that because I could feel the
> blood starting to leak into my eyes. When I was sure that I had gotten
> them all, I laid down on the sidewalk and waited for someone to walk
> by. Naturally, someone did. And soon enough I heard the ambulance
> coming. When the paramedics arrived I told them that someone had
> pushed me then hit me in the head with a baseball bat.” That’s not
> gonna work a second time,buddy,” one of them said to me. I heard the
> other one say something like: “Where do all these fucks come from?
> Jesus Christ!” For some reason or another, they weren’t as friendly
> with me as they had been the first time. I assumed they were tired, so
> I didn’t hold it against them. They must work long hours, I thought to
> myself. That’s probably it. Totally understandable. After all, I was a
> very reasonable person.
> I also remembered the ambulance ride being more fun the first time
> around and the drivers comforting me when I had told them what had
> happened. This time, I was strapped to a chair and every time I tried
> to make conversation with them they told me to shut up and that I was
> in big trouble. I assumed they were talking about the scars I would
> have for having taken out my stitches. I was going to tell them that
> the only reason I did that was because I was bored, but I didn’t think
> ambulance drivers knew about that kind of thing and probably wouldn’t
> When I arrived at the hospital two men dressed in police uniforms were
> waiting to speak with me. “All this for me? You shouldn’t have,” I
> said to one of them. I guess they weren’t too interested in hearing me
> speak because the next thing I knew I was running thru someone’s
> backyard and jumping over a tall, steel fence. Some people behind me
> were yelling something, but I was too much in a hurry to hear what
> they were saying. It sounded something like: “Get back here, you crazy
> fuck.” I guess they were in bad moods like the paramedics were.
> I caught my breath after taking a break near a trail in the woods and
> began walking toward the downtown area again. It was almost dark and I
> thought that maybe I would be able to find something to do if I tried
> really hard. Everyone seems to be in a bad mood today, except for me,
> I thought to myself. Maybe it’s my lucky day.
> Walking down the street I noticed that everyone was giving me funny
> looks, but I didn’t think much of it because they always did that. To
> be safe from infection, I washed my forehead in a ditch with an old
> sock I had found earlier. It stung a little because the water was
> really cold. I knew that old sock would come in handy, I thought to
> Once or twice a police car drove by me, but they didn’t recognize me.
> I assumed that it was because I was wearing a hat that I had stolen
> from a kid who was playing street hockey. I also had a bottle of
> whiskey I had found near a homeless person who was either asleep or
> dead. It was almost full so I was happy with my find. That almost
> never happens to me, I said to myself.
> I didn’t know how I had gotten there, or if it was really happening,
> but the next thing I knew I was in a forest in front of a large camp
> fire. There were at least a dozen people dancing around it, naked
> except for black arm bands. This can’t be real, I said to myself. I
> backed up and found a log to sit on as I took a drink from my bottle.
> All of a sudden I looked up and everyone was staring at me. I was no
> longer wearing my hat so I thought that they were looking at my
> forehead. “Pretty neat, don’t you think?” I said to the group. I guess
> they weren’t too interested in what I had to say because right in
> front of my eyes they turned into blinding balls of light and floated
> up toward the sky. Now I know this can’t be happening, I said to
> myself. No fucking way.
> So there I was, in the middle of a forest, not a clue how I had gotten
> there, and having just witnessed a bunch of people turning into stars.
> It was then that I realized that I had been deprived of sleep and that
> I needed it badly. So I closed my eyes and drifted off in seconds.
> When I awoke I was in a movie theatre and the credits were rolling.
> “Sir, you can’t stay here. You have to go. The movie’s over,” a man in
> a suit was saying to me. I was about to hit him until I realized that
> I was in a theatre and the man speaking to me wasn’t a police officer.
> “Relax. I’m going, you fuck,” I said.
> Walking out of there I looked up at the clock on the wall and saw that
> it was nearly nine. “What the fuck?” I said to no one. Not having any
> clue what was going on, I walked back to the park to try and figure
> out what to do. First, I tried to retrace my steps. All I knew was
> that I had awakened in a hospital some time the night before. After
> trying to clear my mind for an hour I decided that the best thing to
> do was to take a short nap and try again later when my head was
> working better. It made sense to me. I was so tired. All I wanted was
> I didn’t know what the hell had happened, but the next thing I knew I
> was in the back seat of my friend Salter’s car and he was saying
> something to me. I was leaning up against a full case of beer. There
> was also two bottles of scotch and a carton of cigarettes laying on
> the seat beside me. The floor of the car was littered with trash and
> all I could smell was cigarette smoke and exhaust fumes. “Where the
> fuck did you go?” he asked. “You were supposed to call me when you got
> out of the hospital.” I guess he knew that I didn’t have an answer for
> him because he just laughed and turned up the music. I asked him if he
> knew how I had managed to get seventeen stitches in my forehead, but
> he just laughed at me some more and said: “I know, and today’s only
> Saturday. Did you see Dalton anywhere? He seems to have disappeared
> The End