Saturday, November 9, 2013

Day 9. NaNoWriMo and NaBloPoMo

She seemed abnormally pleased to learn she had gotten what she wanted.  Like perhaps she was too invested in whether Joan decided to come to the hospital or not.  Joan remembered that some programs paid by the service, so maybe Khaki got a nice little bonus for bringing someone in.  She climbed into the back of the ambulance and onto the stretcher, which she imagined was probably against policy, but she had been thrown around enough for one day.  Khaki climbed in and sat next to her on the bench seat.  From her place lying on the stretcher, Joan could see directly up her nose.  It seemed like an overly intimate act to engage in, seeing inside someone, even just her nose.  Joan looked away.  She felt the ambulance driver release the brake and then slowly they started moving.

They didn’t speak on the way to the hospital. Every once in a while Khaki would look down at Joan and smile.  Or smile more.  Her initial smile didn’t really change.  It just expanded to different parts of her face.  Joan closed her eyes and tried to enjoy the silence.

The trip was too short.  When they arrived, Joan attempted to get off the ambulance herself, but unlike at the bridge, the hospital staff wasn’t laissez faire about much of anything, including how patients entered.  She was immediately surrounded by several staff members who suggested, physically and wordlessly, that she sit in wheelchair.  They wheeled her back to a small room with a clear door that automatically opened when they approached.  There was a high, hard bed in the corner and two chairs that Joan noticed were bolted to the floor.  Aside from those three pieces of furniture, the room was empty.  It was also cold.

They asked her to change into a gown, which she refused since she couldn’t determine how she would do so without flashing the entirety of the emergency department through the clear plastic door.  Her refusal sparked a flurry of side-eyes and eventual shrugs from the more senior staff.   

A young woman came in and asked for her identification.  Joan explained that her phone and purse were all locked in her car but that she should be in the system because she worked for Behavioral Networks. 

“Oops, yep, I see you,” the girl remarked.  “Sorry about that.  Can I take your picture for our system?  The one we have here looks old.”  Joan nodded and a flash went off from an indeterminate source in the room.  It reminded her of when the old picture had been taken.  It had to have been over five years ago.  She had started working at BN and was so excited to finally have a full-time job.  She remembered how happy she looked in the picture.  Now it was gone. 

“Do you automatically overwrite the old photos?”  Joan asked.

“Only for users like me.  Your old photo is still archived on the main server.”

“Good.  I would hate to lose the old photo.  I looked so happy and now I’m going to look like a crazy person who just got pulled off a bridge.”

The girl laughed.  “Most people do.  At least you have an excuse.”

Joan thought about how correct that statement was, how many times she was waiting for a new client, looking at the system I.D., only to have a total stranger appear.  She had always chalked it up to being bad with faces.  Everyone looked alike to her.

Need to play catch up?  Read the rest.

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