Every once in a while you meet someone whose talent is such that you have to stop and say “Wow!” Mike Landolfi is such a person. Although he’s not a full-time author, Mike enjoys putting pen to paper to create the occasional short story. If you stop and think about it, when is the last time you read a really good short story? It’s probably been a while. We all remember O’Henry as the master of the genre, but can you name another as quickly? I doubt it. So, it is with great pleasure that I present to you a guest post by Mike Landolf. Here is one of his latest short stories.
Lucky Writer (A Hospital Story) by Louis Michael Landolfi
Fiction rolls through the doorway almost daily. You wouldn’t believe the things people do to assure themselves a place on the operating table. And I can’t believe what we find under the sheets sometimes. At 2 AM, my pager erupted—jackhammer vibrations and a fire house alarm at full volume. The text read: Code Trauma—STAT—911! I barely had time to put on gloves. The doors burst open. The stretcher shot through as though propelled by battlefield medics with their dying sergeant onboard. The patient’s face was masked by crimson bandages. He was accompanied by ER nurses, two cops, and a teenaged girl in handcuffs.
“Face eating contest.”
“Face eating contest,” the nurse repeated.
The cop yanked the hand cuffs hard, forcing the girl to step forward. “Tell ‘em!” he barked. Through tears and sobs and a psychedelic fog she mumbled something.
“I can’t understand you,” I said. She just looked at the floor and sobbed harder. The cop said, “They were partying—beer, crystal meth. Then this guy’s buddy brought out some Purple Wave to make it more interesting.”
“Sir, it’s those bath salts. You can get it at head shops—even gas stations. It’s like LSD or something. Kids are getting real messed up with it and violent.”
“OK. Ooh, that’s nasty stuff.”
“Yes sir, and then they started fighting—and according to another witness—biting each other. But most of this happened when the friend’s pit bull joined in.”
“Oh my! Where’s the other guy?” The cops looked at each other, and the girl wailed even louder.
“Sir, we left him back at the scene. He didn’t make it.”
I turned my attention to the patient. He was lying flat on the stretcher, moaning. His entire face was wrapped in blood-soaked gauze, a pool of blood under his head instead of a pillow. “Alright, what’s under the dressings?” I asked the nurse.
“A bloody mess. His face is totally mangled and he’s lost a lot of blood. We had to tie him down ’cause he wouldn’t let us touch him. Acting like an animal—doesn’t even have an IV.” The vital sign monitor showed that his heart rate was very high, his blood pressure too low, and his oxygen level was critically low.
“Room one. Come on.”
In the room, I gave the patient a shot of ketamine to put him out. Then, I shoved a large-bore IV in his vein while my helper gave him oxygen. After I placed a breathing tube into his lungs, we started to unwrap his face. Blood poured. “He’s gonna bleed to death!” a nurse shouted. “He’s going into shock,” added the doctor.
“It’s lookin’ bad,” I said. “He might code! I’ll give some Epi!” I gave the epinephrine and ripped open his shirt so we could do chest compressions or shock him if necessary. To my surprise he had an old Superman tattoo on his chest—exactly like the ones that my brother and I have—and in the same place—right over his heart. OH MY GOD! My mind reeled and I got faint. Is this my brother? The face is so torn up that it’s unrecognizable. The monitors all alarmed at the same time and all of the wave forms went flat. “Start CPR, get the code cart and shock him. I’ll give more epi!” I ordered.
The nurse started pressing on the guy’s chest and his arm fell out from under the sheet. I saw a ring—his wedding ring. It was just like mine. The alarms kept screaming and got louder and louder—impossibly loud. I slapped at the sound, silenced the alarm clock, and awakened drenched in sweat.
About the Author
For the record, Mike (as he prefers to be called) and I met at the Hendersonville, NC library, where we read aloud along with other local authors once a month. When I asked if I could use one of his short stories for my blog, he said “Sure.” When asked for his bio, here is what he gave me (in his own words). I think you’ll enjoy what he has to say.
“In 1959, when I was two, I got tired of Atlanta and moved my parents to Asheville, N.C. I survived catholic grade school and showed up at Asheville High for a few weeks. I majored in skipping school and partying on the Blue Ridge Parkway. I knew everything by seventeen so, I quit high school and joined the Marine Corps. After three meritorious promotions and a couple of narrow escapes, I rejoined civilian life, went to college and in 1998, became a nurse anesthetist [accounting for the subject matter of this story]. These days, I still live an untamed life. I’m older, probably no wiser, but certainly more handsome than ever. I relive my feral past by writing about it and I exercise my mind by fabricating wild tales that could be true. I can’t be reached by phone or email. Send the sheriff.”
“Remember when you were young? You shone like the sun. Shine on you crazy diamond.” — Pink Floyd
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NOTE: Joe Perrone Jr is the author of the highly-successful Matt Davis Mystery Series: As the Twig is Bent, Opening Day (a 2012 Indie B.R.A.G. medallion winner), Twice Bitten, and Broken Promises. All four are available in paperback and E-book from Amazon.com. As the Twig is Bent and Opening Day are also in audiobook from Audible.com, with Twice Bitten and Broken Promises currently in production. If humor is your cup of tea, consider Joe’s rip-roaring, coming-of-age novel, Escaping Innocence: A Story of Awakening, set in the tumultuous Sixties. It, too, is available in print, E-book, and audio book editions.