Some prisons we can run away from; others we seek.
Among the many horribly mangled people I met those nights at the hospital, there was this guy who almost blew his left hand up with fireworks. No matter how many “accidents” happen here, people keep trying the same risky maneuver. This guys was the typical rugged mother fucker who did not even need anesthesia to have the horrible wounds washed, scratched, and stitched with the same aesthetic quality kids apply to an iguana after extracting her eggs.
He came to the hospital wearing only long green pants. His torso and feet revealed a tough guy used to hard labor, fights, and cheap rum. He did not complain about his injuries, except for an occasional grimace. He shared the skinny bed without sheets with a woman who looked like his partner. She did not look as rough as him, but was not the delicate type either.
I did not have any intention of getting close to him or to any other patient. I was too busy cursing my guts out for having to bear such a burden. I’d never been friends of hospital, but “revolutionary” hospital are hell at the deepest level. After a couple of days, you end up running into patients everywhere, especially the stinky places they called bathrooms or the areas where a cigarette or a coffee give you the impression you’re still human, alive.
I ended up talking more than once with this guy. I lent him my phone. He tried three times to contact someone to let him know he was in the ER. The person never answer back. I guess he was on his own. I tried to invite him something to eat or drink. He seemed broke, famished. He settled for cigarettes. His hand was a mess. He damaged most fingers and the medical apprentices at this shit hole were just playing butcher with him, or so he thought.
“They want to operate,” he said. “But I’m ready to go home.”
“You’ll lose your hand,” I told him. “It will be useless unless someone tries to join those ligaments.”
“They know shit. I’d rather lose my hand. I’m ready,” he repeated. “Who knows how long they’ll make me stay and how much money I’ll have to waste. I can’t stay here any longer,” he said with a sense of nostalgia that made him look vulnerable for the first time since we had met.
“Why the urgency?” I asked.
“My birds,” he said. “I have so many. They’ll die if I don’t go back.”
We used to have birds when I was little. I could relate to the practice, the joy, the responsibility.
“How many do you have?” I asked
“I lost count, he said. Think about any kind, I have it. The rarest, most gorgeous, most musical ones, I have them.”
“I guess they have you too,” I said distractedly.
“They sure do. I don’t need to hands to take care of them. I’m ready,” he repeated.
We escaped from the hospital before him, but I knew he’d fulfill his promise. Some prisons we can run away from; others we seek.
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