Thursday, August 30, 2012
This is part five.
To see the beginning,
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Roscoe was rotating his hat in his hands one inch at a time. The T.V. was blaring a game show to a full waiting room. No one was watching the jumping people or the screaming crowd. Maybe he should just go. He had told the E.M.T.'s what happened, no one felt the need to involve the police, but something kept him, something always kept him. He was one of those people that always got involved. He had been a medic in Nam and even though he arrived near the end, he had seen a lot of things. He had developed a reflex to take care of people. He had a gift for reading the injured and knowing what was wrong. He could talk to them and calm them down. After he got back to the world he couldn't be one of those people that drove by car accidents. He had training, he knew how to help, and so he did. Sometimes his wife Lilly, would get mad. She wished he could just drive by the wrecks. She said he collected people. He gave a little girl C.P.R. at a car accident and saved her life. She wrote him for years and came to the house to show him her college diploma. He saved a man down the street, by giving him a shot, after he was stung by a bee. Every time that man killed a deer or smoked fish he brought some to their house. When the old man died, Roscoe joked that they'd starve to death, now that he was gone. It went on and on. Roscoe stopped to fix cars, change flats and sometimes to find out there was nothing he could do. It was not a choice, it was who he was, he could help and so he did. Whatever gift he thought he had, abandoned him when he found this woman. She had surprised him, half naked like she was. He chastised himself for making it worse for her. He felt badly she had been embarrassed on top of being hurt so badly.
The rain was really coming down now. The double doors swung open and the sweeping sheets of water blew hard under the car port, that shielded folks getting dropped by cars and ambulances. He sometimes would feel the urge to go help people in the door but, there were plenty of people working and no one needed him. Roscoe did what he could; he rotated his hat, watched the rain and the folks that found trouble, just like he had. He just wanted to go for a drive. He just wanted to avoid this day, and get through the night, without being too sad about Lilly. He lost her today, twenty eight years ago. August 21st was the hard day to get through every year, worse than her birthday, and worse than their anniversary. It was even worse than the damn holidays that started on Thanksgiving and kept coming till Easter. Then summer would arrive and July forth and the dread of the coming August. Maybe God put this woman in his path to help get him through, but this hospital was filled with reminders; yelling doctors, hurt people, white sheets, nurses and blood. It was Nam, it was the day he lost Lilly, it was everything in his life that he wanted to avoid all in one room and all on the hardest day.
He rotated his hat and the doors swung open. Two men with no shoes shuffled in, one with his hand wrapped in a towel, in obvious pain. He fought the urge to get up as nurse rushed toward them and ushered them to the back. Lilly would be tapping his arm to remind him it was okay and not to get up and help. She just had a way. She lived every moment in a state of patience. She saw all that was going on around her and waited for need to come to her. Mostly she was patient, patient enough to let people work things out, and find their own way. She watched Roscoe with a quiet fascination at the way he moved through the world. He found people to collect in the strangest places. He was a mess, but he was never dull. He never meant to get involved, it just seemed to happen. Lord he missed her. She was such a comfort. On rainy days like this they would get out the candles weather they needed to or not. She hated when the power went out. They would light them all around the room and turn off the lights. She hated that pop when the power cut off. It was a little thing they did. It was a ritual he loved. It was a small thing he was glad to do, because it made her feel better. She would let out a a breath of relief when they were done, and then she would settle and look out the window. Her face would relax and she would become that young woman he had met years before. He never tired of that moment and he never tired of that face. She was then and she would always be his angel, in the light of the candles. He would watch her as she watched the rain and he would wait. He would wait till the rain ended, blow out the candles and put them away. He loved every moment of it. He wished he could light candles for her now, in this rain, but all he could do was twirl his hat and wait.
There was a water fall coming off the edge of the carport entrance to the emergency room. Even people with umbrellas were getting soaked as they passed through it to get help. They would drop their heads, then lift them up out of the rain with that look of hurried desperation. They would turn their heads from one side of the waiting room to the other, trying to figure out where to go. Roscoe watched the cab pull up and the frantic girl that climbed out. She fished in her purse, looked around her and in the back seat of the car, like she had lost something. He watched, and finally got up, to walked to her, through the double doors.
"I can't find my wallet!"
She said into the cab as the pony tailed driver looked out the windshield and tapped his fingers on the wheel. She rubbed her hands over her pockets and and looked around confused.
"You probably forgot it in the rush to get here. I'm Roscoe, whats your name?"
"Kerry, Kerry Nichols, I, I...."
"Are you hurt Kerry?"
"No my Mother she fell and they called me....."
Her shoulders dropped as if she had given up. Is was that moment when a person realizes they don't know what to do next.
Roscoe pulled out a gold money clip with the word "Germany" on it and a small painted mountain scene behind it. He walked over to the cab driver and they spoke for a minute. Roscoe peeled off a few bills and paid the man. He closed her door and put his hand on her back.
"Lets get out of this rain and see about your Mother."
She felt her entire body relax and suddenly was aware of all the tension she was under. She a let out a rattled sigh and clutched her purse to her chest, as they walked to the front desk.
"There you go. You're going to be alright now."
Roscoe returned to his seat and resumed rotating his hat. He watched Kerry talk to the lady at the desk and he smiled to himself. He always felt better when he could help. Kerry was being led away by someone from the hospital and as she passed Roscoe she reached out to touch his hands.
"Thank you, so much Roscoe? I'll pay you back."
Kerry said as she passed.
"No, No, don't you worry about all that. Go see your Momma, you're alright now."
A doctor rounded the corner and began to speak into the room.
"Who is waiting for Gretna Arnold?"
Roscoe and Kerry said in unison.