Pen

The Best of Times Short Story Competition


Autumn 2010 Results




Flat-Line

Copyright © Deirdre Oliver 2010


Day 1 –

Felt seedy - vague discomfort - Elvira nagged me to go to quack – hates me saying that but bloke’s name’s Clap – rhymes.

Day 2 –

Seedier – headache – feet tingle - once paralysed – felt like feet stuck to floor - looked for superglue tube – couldn’t find it - Elvira said drunk – yes - but normally stagger not stick.

Day 3 –

Had to go to Clap – feet stuck while sober - caught him ushering old lady out – he pinched her bum – she went puce – thought she’d belt him and die - instead giggled and patted his hand - silly cow - it only encourages him.

He was singing when I walked in – did an ECG – flat-line - felt pulse – said okay, you’re not dead – yet – didn’t need to pay $40.00 to hear that – then he said - Guess what? - said can’t.

He pointed at the ECG machine – said with that result you’ll be dead very soon - started singing 'At the end of the day…' – stupid prick – he’s manic again.

Asked what I have – said HIV-AIDS – waved a finger under my nose - "who’s been a naughty boy then? HIV House for you – immediately – that might give you a couple more days - or it might not – have a go anyway."

Day 4 –

Fronted at HIV House - brown brick 1970’s horrible – huge back door exit – sign said 'Hearses Parking Only' - tall sniffy nurse with giant arse looked straight at my groin – only looked up to fill out form – I crossed legs – didn’t help.

Into green gown – same colour as dog vomit after eating grass – young female doctor warmed stethoscope between large breasts – diverting – fantasised about being her stethoscope. She checked everything – lingered at groin – thought might get lucky – didn’t – left me watching ECG screen – flat-line – I checked pulse – still there.

Girl doctor came back with older man – very thick glasses - looked like eyes stuck to glass, not face - checked ECG – flat-line – asked did she take pulse - she said oops – all right, I said - I did – still going.

Doctor wrote copy of all screens on paper – took out calculator – added up - told me scored ten out of sixty - be dead in ten minutes – gave me list of undertakers.

Asked small, square nurse with plastic toupé to buy diary at hospital shop – I said you’d better be quick.

Got diary – same colour as gown - started writing very fast.

Nurse came with trolley, toe tag - plastic body bag – checked ECG – flat-line – started to unzip body bag – told her I was still alive – she left in huff.

Tea – lentils and lettuce.

Day 5 –

Good night – stoned on pain killers – no pain but who cares – still alive this morning – still flat-line – taken to scan room – very ugly man pushing trolley - fantasised about young girl doctor – groin stirred - been celibate for a while – Elvira has problem.

Told scan examined dozen slices of body - asked if claustrophobic – didn’t wait for answer – machine whirred – felt like in ham slicer – any minute blade would come down and slice - 'shave or normal'.

Scan woman sprayed very loud, wet sneeze – told her had HIV AIDS - didn’t need her germs – might kill me – she said too late anyway - asked name – looked at scan – snapped, "he’s the wrong one - get him out of here." – felt rejected – young female doctor wouldn’t have done that even if did forget pulse.

Trolley pusher checked watch – said, "Shit!" – took off – I said shit – swung round corner – pulled up suddenly - I fell off - bared all to squadron of geriatrics with wheelie walking frames – all looked at groin – stirrings disappeared.

Climbed back onto trolley – wheelies all smiled and slowly parted – felt like Moses – looked back at smiling faces - glad to do good turn.

Trolley pusher ran – wild ride – wanted to get me to test room before died.

Nurses without chins took blood from arm, neck, groin – lingered – no stirrings. Blood put in different colour tubes – some had flowers on them – made nurses feel fresh they said – didn’t do it for me – suggested try deodorant – not happy with that - not much fire left in blood anyway – thought maybe AIDS all in bottles now.

Nurse suggested undertaker she knew.

Tea- Brussel sprouts with curds.

Day 6 –

Another stoned night – lovely - checked ECG – flat-line - still not dead – new doctor read list of tests:

1. Fomentation rate – (something about brewing - prefer beer)

2. Paralysis factor - (still?)

3. Hieroglyphic status – (don’t understand)

4. Alcoholia levels - (not enough)

5. Excitation rate - (better if more alcohol - or girl doctor)

6. Elevations – general and specific –

a. Toe level

b. Pelvic sway timing – (mmmmmm)

c. Chest/neck rate – (checking for female doctor)

d. Groin level – (all lingered – crossed legs)

e. Groin activity – (not since geriatrics)

7. Sex (yes)

8. Gargantuan regulator – (superior)

9. Mother’s maiden name

Results:

Doctor said – wrong diagnosis – really got small cell cancer - asked what small cells – said all of them – asked about cure – none – checked heart rate machine – still flat-line – I checked pulse – still there – "Not for long," doctor said.

Technician came with multi-cord tester – Fomentation Measure – asked what’s that – told measures fomentation. Three metre strip of paper collected at bottom of machine – technician went – came back with coffee and donut – read printout – I asked for coffee and donut – he said waste - won’t live long enough to finish it.

Technician looked at very end of printout – nodded – screwed up paper and shoved into bin – left.

Tea – minced oats and whey.

Day 7 –

Still not dead – got up – got mobile phone – three pacemakers went down - rang Allen and Unwin – maybe publish diary - topic: 'Last Days' - they wanted first option.

Nurse with trolley, toe tags, body bag came back – checked ECG – still flat-line –tried to take off gown – hung on to it – said not dead – she went in huff again.

Doctor came – had 300 pages test results – asked if chosen undertaker – read results for four hours – needs voice lessons.

Tea - brains on rye – special treat – carrot blancmange.

Day 8 –

Woken by Allen and Unwin – no pain-killers last night – disappointed not stoned – doctor said waste - ECG still flat-line – told Allen and Unwin might die – they said that’s good – dead authors sell better.

Specialist came – not small cell cancer – what then – didn’t know.

Said felt well – he said not possible – we’ll find it in the end.

I left.

Finally home - Elvira sitting on couch talking to man in black suit showing her funeral brochures – he’s massaging her breast.

Snatched brochures, ripped them up and threw them at Elvira - then packed bags and went.

Tea - Dozen oysters Naturelle, Filet Mignon, chocolate Soufflé - Bollinger.

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Bio:
I have written two and a half books, a sit com, three screenplays, and sundry short stories. Some of these are not funny. I have had quite a few short story awards here and overseas. I have had two plays produced, one in the 'Short and Sweet Festival' (Sydney, 2008), and a longer work in last year’s 'Fringe Festival'. I am currently working on two new full length plays, re-writing a third, studying 'Myths and Symbols' at the CAE and writing a collection of very short illustrated stories about life in the suburbs from a dog’s point of view. I live alone with my cat, Lily, and a computer that I don't understand. (I don't understand the cat either.)