Life's a bitch sometimes.
You Can't Always Get What You Want
“Alright, now hold your head still and follow the light with your eyes for me. That’s it. Okay, now to the right. Uh-huh. Look up. Good. Down. Good. Can you roll your eyes once for me? Thank you.” Gerard sat nervously picking the edges of his nails as the doctor looked at Egan. He couldn’t help it, it was an unfortunate nervous tic. Some people hum, some tap their foot. Gerard, he pulled the skin off the tips of his fingers. Hospitals scared the fuck out of him. Hospitals were like warehouses full of needles. Always someone looking to take your blood, whether they wanted to test it or give it to some wretched soul who didn’t have enough of his own. Hospitals were places where you housed the ill and stored the recently deceased in one-size-fits-all mini refrigerators. Hospitals were creepy. Hospitals were beyond creepy. He was nowhere near as freaked out as he usually was when he was in a medical facility, though. Egan was alive and moving and smiling at him and these thoughts filled him a joyful buoyancy. This counteracted with the extreme fear, dulling it down to nervous twitches. Just then Egan looked over and caught his eye and his heart leapt. Lately she was having that effect on him more and more.
“Okay, grip my hand like you’re shaking it. Now squeeze. Harder. Alright. Raise both arms. Rotate backwards. Forwards.” He said things like this as she obeyed the commands. So far it seemed like it was going pretty well.
“Alright. So it looks like you are doing just fine. You remember who you are and what you’re here for, so no memory loss. All your basic and fine motor skills sharp. In my opinion, you’re good to go just as soon as the blood work comes back.” The nice doctor man whom they didn’t know the name of beamed at them and walked out.
They do that from time to time, doctors. They up and leave you sitting in an examining room, sometimes half-dressed, and they never bother to tell you where they’re going. It makes one anxious.
The room was quiet once he left. Out in the hall they could hear the squeaks of nurses’ shoes and rolling cart wheels, people greeting each other. A phone rang and someone answered it. Egan was up on an examining table, making her taller than Gerard when he was sitting. She looked down and swung her legs. Gerard renewed his violent attack on his cuticle skin. Finally, mercifully, thankfully, the doctor returned and told them they could leave. “Just sign out with the nurse at the front desk, she’ll give you further instructions, general things to watch for to make sure she doesn’t have a concussion and make a follow up appointment. It was nice to meet the two of you.” He walked out of the room again. He had quite a talent for that, sweeping impressively out with the slipstream of his departure rustling his shirt quite nicely. They made their way to the front desk where a sunny nurse greeted them and asked for their names.
“You wanna spell that for me please?”
“Alright, here we go. So here’s your pain medication for the bump—it’ll hurt for a few days—and if you’ll just—“
“Oh, nope, can’t give her that Gayla” said another nurse examining a chart near the desk.
“Why not?” The other nurse handed Gayla the chart. “Oh, I see. I’m sorry ma’am, it doesn’t look like we can give you any pain medication. The most that will be good for you to take right now is baby aspirin. I’m sorry.” She said again. Egan could guess what made them take back the small reddish bottle. She knew somewhere on that chart there was a denotation reading ‘Opiate addiction risk. Low addiction risk medications only.’ or something like that.
“Okay, I’ll remember that. Thanks.” Egan turned to leave, her face feeling peculiar, like it was sunburned but not hurting just yet.
“Wait! You need to sign out! And you need these forms too—“ the nurse called after her, but Egan didn’t care. She just had an inescapable need to escape. She made it through the automatic doors—both sets of them—and hit the pick-up/drop-off area in front. She decided to sit on the curb and wait for Gerard’s appearance as she hadn’t the foggiest idea where the car was. She rested her head on her knees and tried not to be ashamed of what had just happened. She remained this way for some time. Presently, she could feel thumps reverberating rapidly through the pavement and drawing nearer to her. Then she was knocked sideways. She felt two hard things that felt like legs collide with her side, then a sharp crack echoed through her head and it was black again. “Fuck” was all she managed to say before she was unable to say anything else.
Egan was awake again. No one knew she was awake. She was bored. And so she was listening to a heated discussion taking place outside her door.
“Frank, you fucking idiot. How the hell do you run into someone who just woke up from cracking their head and make them crack their head again?”
“Entirely by accident.”
“Now is not the time for humor.”
“Just trying to lighten the mood.”
“Jesus Gerard. Take a minute and breathe. They said she’ll be fine, she didn’t even hit her head that hard this time! She’s just still a little susceptible to fainting spells is all…” Egan heard a squeak and imagined Frank kicking absently at the ground. She’d had enough of listening she decided. Time to join the party. Now, how to gain the attention of the unknowing morons directly outside the door? Well, she wasn’t using the bedpan at this particular moment.
They both came running. When they saw the still shivering metal pan next to the bed, Frank grinned and giggled. “It’s a bedpan” he said quietly to himself, and continued to giggle. Gerard crossed his arms and asked “Couldn’t you have been more original?” Egan smiled widely at him and he scowled, determined not to let her make him smile back. When it became too much for him, he excused himself muttering about needing to find coffee.
“So…How’s it hangin’?” Frank asked in an overtly innocent way.
“I was doing alright until some moron ran into me.”
“I apologize for that. I’m really sorry.”
“Sure, sure, I can see the remorse written all over your face.”
“You wouldn’t be so vindictive if you knew why I knocked into you.”
“I’m all ears.”
“I was running as fast as I could to come and see you in the hospital. I wanted to make sure you didn’t bite it.”
“Always such an eloquent speaker. How your vocabulary does thrill me.”
“I express my genuine concern over you, a possibly critically ill albeit sarcastic friend, and you respond with more sarcasm? Unbelievable.” He gathered himself for a moment and went on. “So I was rushing to your side to be with you in your critical condition, and I was hurrying so fast I didn’t happen to notice that you were sitting outside, not laid up in a hospital bed clinging to the last vestiges of life in your body as I expected. And I tripped over you. Thanks a whole lot by the way. My elbow’s bruised now. Lookit.” He held up a greenish elbow for her to see. “Look at that. Blooming like an effing daisy. It was half that size nine minutes ago.”
“You knocked me out by hitting my recently damaged head against pavement very hard, risking me concussions and brain damage. I win.”
“S’pose so” he mumbled. His eyes lit up and he was grinning and bouncing once more when he remembered something. “Wanna see what I got you to make you feel better?”
“Presents?” Egan squealed breathlessly. Five minutes and she was already acting like she was five. Frank had that effect on her. “Showmeshowmeshowme!” Frank left the room briefly and returned with a balloon cluster, a bouquet of flowers, a card, a stuffed animal of indeterminable species and various other small things. He dumped them all on the bed at Egan’s feet and she got to work examining them at once. She picked up the card first.
“Congratulations on the birth of your baby boy. May the blessings of the Lord rest upon his shoulders. May he learn and know the Scriptures and ever keep their teachings.” Then there were Hebrew symbols she couldn’t understand. She raised a questioning eyebrow in Frank’s direction.
“The point was to provide comic relief. Obviously you are not Jewish. So shalom.”
“Mazel tov. What’s next?”
“The balloons I think.”
She leaned over and grabbed the strings and yanked them down to eye level.
“’Quadruple heart bypasses suck. Get better soon!’ Frank, why exactly do you think I’m here? “
“I told you this is for comic relief. And also they didn’t have many other choices.”
“I can see how heart bypass balloons might not be flying off the shelves.” She picked up the stuffed animal of indeterminable species. Upon closer inspection, it seemed to be a hybrid reindeer-moose-elk-caribou. It was cuddly soft brown velveteen and it was adorable. Egan hugged and coddled it like it was a baby and Frank looked on in disapproval.
“What, hugging it? No!”
“Yes! Stop it!”
“Why? What have you got against my hybrid horned mammal?”
“I haven’t got anything against the horned mammal. I got it cause I thought it was bad ass. And now you’re turning it sissy!”
“Oh hush. I’m transferring the love I would have given my baby--had I had one to prompt the purchase and presentation of that lovely Judaic card—to my hybrid. It’s a mommy thing. You wouldn’t understand.”
“Neither would you. You’re not a mommy.”
“I am now.” Egan rocked the hybrid a little while, stroking it’s head while Frank flipped through the channels on the TV in her room. She hummed softly the lullaby Gerard had sung while she was blacked out. For a while the only sound was her muted voice.
“I’ve always wanted to be a mom. I’ve always wanted a little baby, as long as I can remember.” She murmured quietly. For once Frank made the choice to shut up and listen. “But it’s best if I don’t have one.”
“I’d be bad for a baby. I mean, do I look like a mom to you? That child would never bring friends home or let me come to soccer games or Meet the Teacher nights. And look at what I’ve done. People who are meant to have babies don’t do those kinds of things. I’m just not mommy material.” Frank marveled at the way she could explain so calmly why a dream she’d had all her life could never be realized. “Besides, you want a baby, you gotta find a baby daddy. And far as I can see, I haven’t got one of those.”
“You could always do the artificial thing.”
“Nah. That’s too…too impersonal. That’s not how I would want to raise my baby. My baby would have a dad too.”
“You know, Gerard wants a baby too. Someday, when we’re not busy with music and touring and stuff.”
She sighed and shrugged her shoulders a little. “I think it needs a name.” she said, patting the hybrid between the antlers. “What should it be called?”
“My suggestion would be Marcello.”
“Where would you even come up with something like that?”
“I suppose it is.”
“How about Harry Potter?”
“I’d prefer something more original.”
“That’s just stupid.”
“What did I say about originality? Were you listening?”
“Picky, picky. You could spell it like F-R-A-N-K-E. That’d be original.”
“Know what, I’ll pick out the name myself.”
“No, no, I wanna help. Um……………..RADAR!”
“Fuck yes!” It was perfect. Was there a better name out there than Radar? No. No there was not.
Egan was in the neo-natal care section of the hospital. She’d been informed she would be staying for two days to once again make sure there was no damage to her brain, so she’d made up her mind to explore and keep herself entertained. Currently she was holding Radar and looking through the large window into the nursery. All the newborns lying there looked like little miracles to her. Everything about them was miraculous. The way they came about, the way they entered into this world, they way they could recognize their mother by her scent, they way their eyes could change color, everything.
As she looked, a nurse working inside came out and asked if she would like to hold her baby. She must have taken Egan’s open mouthed gape for the glow for new motherhood because when Egan didn’t respond she asked which one was hers. At this point Egan found her voice and with great difficulty told the nurse that none were hers. She was just looking at them. The nurse looked at her with an expression like pity in her eyes and nodded knowingly. She returned to the nursery and Egan continued to watch the tiny babies longingly. She rubbed her eyes and turned to shuffle back to her room with Radar. She found herself face to face with Gerard. How did he even do that?
“Hey.” He said.
“Hey yourself.” She replied and sniffed.
“You alright?” Egan nodded her head and bit her lip, arms crossed tight over Radar, refusing to look him in the eyes. It took her a while to make her voice steady enough to answer.
“I just wish I was standing here under different circumstances……I wish I could have told her one of them was mine. And I don’t think I’ll ever be able to” Unlike with Frank, she didn’t seem to have to explain with Gerard. He understood. Something about him inherently knowing what she meant made her sadder.
“I want a baby too.” She looked him in the eye, face red, mouth puckered, chin quivering and eyes watering. It was killing her right now how much she wanted what she couldn’t have. Gerard understood that too. And again he let her cry, not trying to pull a sensitive boy deal and wipe away her tears with his thumb. But when she stretched her arms, one still attached to Radar, around his waist, he hugged back, hugging as tight and fierce and she had the night in the tattoo shop when he was sick. He hugged her tighter as she shook from the crying, trying to let her know she was okay.