Thursday, May 20, 2010

Bleeding to Death on the Bus (heavily anthologized)

I wrote this story almost 4 years ago, but I really enjoyed reading it again so I thought I'd pull it off Myspace where it's been moldering, unread, for quite some time now.
Apologies to those who have already read it and didn't like it the first time.

The kid's looking at me like I've got leprosy.
"What do you mean 'damn'? How bad is it?" I ask, trying to keep the hysteria out of my voice.
"Man you've got a hole in you chin!" The kid lets me down gentley.
"Fuck." At this point it's all I've got. It's all I know: fuck. "Fuck."
I'm about an hour subway ride from home out in the middle of nowhere sitting on a bench trying to keep my blood from running all over the place. My shirt is covered with gore and hair from my unshaven face. Well, unshaven until now when the concrete did it for me. Taking just a little extra and only in one place. I've got no map or anything so I hardly know how to get home despite the fact that I did a bang up job of getting down here. Also, when your bleeding as much as I am now your thoughts tend to jumble around a little. The blood splatters down on your shirt making new red lines in the cloth. On your shoes the blood coagulates in the dust and forms little beads. When it hits the sidewalk blood looks so remarkablely red and opaque that it has all the visual power of a bright yellow wasp or one of those poison dart frogs, bouncing around the rain forest like fire globules. Stop signs are dramaticaly red for a reason, the color makes you pay attention. It's a warning and right now I've got warning spalshed all over me, from my chin down to my shoes.
"Do you know where there's a hospital?" Suddenly it occures to me that I should probably get moving.
"It's like a BIG hole, man" I've apperently impressed the kid with my injury but as flattered as I am I'm starting to get a little nervous. I lift the edge of my voice a little higher.
"No man, I have no idea."
This kid's been a great help. I'm starting to walk away when he suddenly snaps to.
"Those guys might though," he says pointing to a group of surly looking kids in the corner of the park.
Immediatley I'm walking up to the kids trying to control my steps afraid I might fall again. Everything feels numb. My finger tips are tingling. A trail of blood is following me around the park.
"Hey guys," I butt into their conversation trying to look as relaxed as possible, you know like I bust myself open everyday.
"Do you know where there might be a hospital around here?"
"Not really." The surliest looking one says without even looking up. And I can't help but to think about grabbing him, shaking my head and screaming like Tyler Durden did to his boss in Fight Club, flinging my blood all over the place, mostly on him.
'Not really?'
What kind of shit is that either you know or you don't. Look at me for shit sake. Do I look like I only kinda' need a hospital?
Another one takes sympathy on me, or maybe he just doesn't want any blood dripped on his new Emerica shoes.
"I think there's on on Valenica, like Valencia and 19th."
Ok that's enough I have a vague idea where that might be and I don't want to stand around anymore leaking like a faucet. I thank the guys and skate off in the direction I came.But the skating is slow under my wobbly feet. One of my shoes is all ripped up and the blood pouring down my shirt is taking my concentration away from everything else. After about three blocks it's all hills and I've got to get off and start walking. The kid's words keep echoing through my mind.
"There's like a big hole. Your chin. Big Hole"
It just keeps playing over and over again. making the injury in my mind worse with each repitition . By the time I'm out of the hills I'm seeing half of my face hanging off. I start thinking about debilitating scars and and amputations. My mind is abuzz with staples and stiches. If I do get out of this I'm going to end up looking like Frankenstein's monster. All the while my shirt is growing darker and darker with the blood its taking on.
After about 10 blocks of intermitant skating and running I begin to realize I realy have no guarantee there's going to be a hospital at the end of this road. Those kids didn't sound very sure and it seems like I would've seen a sign by now.
I'm back to that again now. Cursing my self for my exteme penury that won't even allow me to get a cab at a time like this. I've got blood all over myself but I can't stop thinking about how expensive cab rides are. It's a good thing I've got insurence or I probably wouldn't even go to the hospital.
After about half and hour of searching I'm moving up the lower Mission. I see a man at the bus stop who looks like he might know where things like hospitals are and, hesitating no longer I ask him.
"Well what kinda' hospital you looking for? There's quite a few. They got St. Luke's up on Chavez St. there's the General on...wait where's the General again? I can never seem to remember that one or maybe you want a clinic there's a shit load of 'em around here."

The man continues to drone on seemingly oblivious to the severity of my situation, as if he sees blood streaked guys around all the time. I finally cut him short and ask which hopital is closest.
"Well," He begins seeming kind of offended at my impertenence. "Well this bus here'll take you right to one of 'em." He gestures to a bus coming, about a block down the street.
"Thanks," I tell him fumbling for my change hoping I have enough for one of the costly San Francisco buses.
The Number 17 Valencia pulls up in front of me and I wait for everyone else to get on so I can speak to the driver.
The bus is packed. The seats are all filled and the people standing are all packed in like sardines. The windows are all up and the air inside is stiffeling, at least 20 degrees warmer than it is outside.
When I reach the bus driver he's yelling in Spanish for everyone to move back further,despite the fact that everyone is already shoulder to shoulder, even head to head, childern and elderly people are squashed in the middle of the crowd. I don't know what these people are breathing but it isn't air. I think air technically has to have some oxygen left in it and there's none what so ever in here.
"Dude, you got like a hole in you chin!" Ahh fuck. The kid's words again. Why did I ever ask him what it looked like? I should have just gotten up and walked out of the park to the donut shop down the steet and asked one of those nice old folks how bad the wound looked. Shit, they probably would've offered to drive me to the hospital too. Instead I...
"Come on kid get moving!" Oh shit almost forgot what I'm doing must be the loss of blood. the bus drivers scowling at me, either because I havn't payed my fare yet or because I look like I just robbed a liquor store and didn't quite make it out before the shotgun went off.
"Hey are you going by a hospital?" I stammer, no time for formalities now.
"Which one?" He asks looking at me from under his bus driver visor. A green plastic thing that makes his face look even less inviting.
"Anyone." I'm getting tired of this run around so I answer blankly hoping he'll get the point.
"Well if you get off at 16th and walk about 8 and 1/3rd blocks clockwise from the five-way intersection there's another bus that'll be coming by, you don't want that one but you want the one after it. you take that to..."
This seriously went on for about 10 minutes. Someone in the back starts to yell, babies are beginning to cry.
"You got that?" he asks, almost pleased as if hes been enjoying the convoluted directions hes been giving.
"No," I tell him. But I'll try." I don't know what else to say.
"It's easy!" He tells me closing the door and slamming down the gas. Sending my stumbling toward the back, blood and all.
As the stops go by I begin to notice that no one is actualy getting off the bus. Riders get on but none get off, there is no counter measure and within a few short moments I am engulfed by the crowd. They swarm around me edging by, stepping over the seats, hanging from the safety bars and crawling beneath the seats. Normally I wouldn't mind but I'still bleeding all over
the damn place! Doesn't anyone notice? I've got my shirt brought up around my chest trying to catch all the blood that seems loosened by the warm, fetid bus air. My shirt, is sticky with blood, it's all over my hands and running down my chest. A man is standing right in front of me with a brand new white button-up shirt on. The bus rocks and sways going over the bumps and around the bends. I am doing everything I can to stay far away from that white shirt, straining my muscles to compensate for the movements of the bus. I hear someone near me say 'Sangria.' I look up but no one is looking over at me. I'm trying to hold the bar with one hand and mop my face with my shirt with the other. The bus stops again, more people get on and the guy with the white shirt is even closer to me now. I notice a few mothers pushing there kids past me, quickly. A group of kids are learing at me. My skateboard falls and when I reach down to steady it five or six drops of blood splash on the floor. I pretend not to notice but I'm afraid that they've splashed on someone. The bus is getting hotter by the minute more
people get on. I feel like I'm saturated in blood, light headed, beginning to wonder why the hell I got on this damn bus.
"It's like a HOLE, dude!" Shut up, kid. I hardly even care anymore. I'm resigned to dying on this bus now, The Number 17 Valencia. I'll fall down, collapse in a pool of my own blood and these people probably won't even notice, if they do they won't care, probably just take my wallet or something.
"Hey Hospital Guy?" The bus driver is suddenly yelling at me over the din of the 3 thousand people on the bus.
"Hospital Guy, get off here ok?"
"Thanks" I stammer out shaking with excitment of finally getting off this terrible bus.
"Yeah," he adds. "Get off here and get on the bus behind us."
Great another bus probably packed even tighter than this one, everybody wearing brand new white shirts.
When I go to get off the bus everyone clears a path for me. I almost feel gratefull that they finally seemed to have noticed.
The next bus is almost empty. The bus driver is very cordial and there's even a place to sit. After about five minutes she nforms me that we've reached the hospital.
I walk in, check in, wait in the waiting room, still bleeding all over myself.
The nurse calls my name and I follow her to the preliminary room.She runs through all basics asking me how it happened, where it happened etc. while taking my blood pressure. I've got gauze packed in the wound now and I'm waiting for here to tell me they'll have to amputate or do a graft.
She doesn't say anything so I ask.
She looks at me, smiling like nurses do. "Oh you'll probably just need a few stiches, nothing major."
I practically collapse in relief.
"We'll have to do something though," she smiles " I mean you've got like a big hole in you chin."

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