Part 5 August 4, 2013Posted by Sobek in News.
On the first morning, the sun rose over the Adriatic Sea and its rays flowed warmly into the streets of Pescara, eight miles to the east of Chieti. As it rose, it bathed a majestic morning with the hope of a new day. Anyone who saw it must certainly have believed such a beautiful morning could only bode well for anyone touched by its light.
But Peter didn’t see any of that. The large picture window to his right faced the west, toward the long valley. Instead, he woke up to Ilaria standing by his bed with a plastic cup, demanding a sample.
“Fill this,” she said.
“I said fill this.”
She smiled a devilish grin, but the tone of her voice allowed for no resistance.
“Good morning to you, too,” he blearily answered.
“The doctor says he needs a sample, so you need to fill this.”
Peter rolled from his right side onto his back, then slid up so he was leaning against the head board of the bed. “Can you give me a couple of minutes to get dressed?”
“You don’t need to be dressed to pee. Trust me.”
“Whatever. Can you just give me a few minutes?”
“No. Hospital regulations. Once you’ve been notified that we need a sample, you need to provide one promptly so you can’t tamper with it.”
“Tamper … why on earth would I tamper with my own sample? I want you guys to figure out what’s wrong with me so you can fix it.”
“The rules are the rules. I don’t make them, I just follow them.”
“Fine. Where’s the bathroom?”
“I need to collect the sample here, to make sure you don’t tamper with it.”
“In front of all these people?”
“Stop being such a baby. None of them can see you; this is the eye ward. They’re all bandaged up. Now quit stalling and give me a sample.”
“Not all of them are bandaged. Look at that guy; he’s staring right at me. Only his left eye is covered.”
There was a seventy-year old man, wrinkled and covered in liver spots, staring at Peter with a huge grin on his face.
“I’m not interested in your excuses, I’m interested in your compliance. Now I need a sample, and you’re either going to give me one the easy way, or the hard way. If I have to call in the brute squad, you won’t like it.” Her smile didn’t fade for even a moment throughout the brief conversation.
“Fine,” Peter grouched, and he rolled back onto his right side to preserve at least some modicum of privacy. As he did so, Ilaria walked around the foot of Peter’s bed so she could keep her view of the proceedings.
“Can’t you at least look away for a second?”
“Hospital regulations. I have to make sure you don’t tamper with the sample.”
“Tamper how? What exactly do you think I’m planning on doing? Do you actually have people smuggling in bags of chicken urine when they go to the hospital?”
Ilaria, never taking her gaze off of Peter for a moment, took a few steps over to the bed to Peter’s left and pulled the nylon cord which set a distant bell buzzing. Peter was still going:
“Do you seriously expect people to have emergency spoons and dinner and bags of piss lying around in case they have to go to the hospital in the middle of the night? Who does that? Your stupid rules are stupid. All I’m asking for is a little privacy, and you’re … oh, crap.”
The brute squad had arrived. These two nuns were probably part bulldog: short, squat, with deep jowls, thick like linebackers. One even had a snaggletooth poking up from her lower jaw to complete the image. They moved with purpose, intensity, and an ominous thud from each footfall which shook the floor.
“He’s giving you a problem?” asked one. She was holding a series of leather straps designed to be looped into the rails on either side of the bed.
“No! I’m not giving her any problems, I’m just saying that I’d like a little…”
“He said the stupid rules are stupid,” Ilaria said sweetly.
“You come into our hospital and then complain about our rules?” They were nearly at the bed, their beefy arms swinging menacingly. One fished a metal catheter out of her apron.
“No! The, uh, the rules are fine. I didn’t mean to insult anyone. Listen, how about if I just do the sample thing and we all go on with our day, huh?”
The brute squad paused. Their scowl lines had scowl lines in them.
“Thank you sisters, I think we’ll be fine,” Ilaria concluded. They gave Peter one last, hard stare, then turned and grumbled their way out of the room.
Ilaria held the sample cup up with three delicate fingers and arched her eyebrow triumphantly.
Peter grudgingly took the cup. He rolled onto his side again. Ilaria walked back to the foot of his bed, but at least this way none of the other patients could see.
So he got ready to fill the cup, but found he couldn’t do it.
Come on, Peter, relax. Sure, she’s staring right at you, but you need to relax and unclench a little bit so you can get this over with. Crap, she’s grinning at you. Focus! Don’t think about her. Pretend you’re alone in the room. Pretend she’s not just standing there, looking at your penis. This really isn’t working. Okay, think about something else. Think about something happy. Um, waterfalls, lots of water rushing down, water water everywhere. Crap. Crappity crap crap crapola. Um, think about rivers of water, torrential rain, tropical rainstorms, rain in a tropical rainforest.
Ilaria was barely concealing a laugh at the look of panic on Peter’s face.
Peter could feel the pressure in his bladder building up, gathering force but stuck. He needed to pee; he would have peed by now anyway if Ilaria hadn’t come in here with her sample cup and her ridiculous regulations.
“Having a little trouble, there?” taunted Ilaria. “You need to hurry up so I can get around to some more people.”
If he could only get a few drops out, just the very beginning of a stream, the rest would flow uninterrupted, and the whole situation would be over. Just squeeze out a couple of drops!
“If you don’t fill that thing in ten seconds, I’m calling for a catheter and we’ll get this over and done with.”
Peter looked out the picture window. It was thickly coated in dirt and grime and hadn’t been washed since it the hospital was built. The lower city of Chieti Scalo was down in the valley, humming along at a relaxed pace. He could dimly make out an intersection where the light was red and traffic had backed up. He imagined himself down there, sitting in traffic, listening to the Italians honking and waving their arms out of the windows, ignoring lanes, pedestrians and on-coming traffic, angry at the numbskulls in front who were too timid to venture into the intersection in spite of the light. Then the signal went green, and the drivers screeched madly forward like a shotgun blast, flowing into the intersection and the street beyond.
And as Peter got lost in this vision, he relaxed, and he filled the sample cup.
Maybe he had been a little too relaxed, because he peed all over his hands. Worse, the sample cup was much smaller than Peter’s bladder. “Hey, uh, I need something else, so I can finish up…”
In a single, practiced movement, Ilaria scooped up and capped the sample cup and slapped on a label sticker. She beamed at Peter. “That wasn’t so hard, was it? Nice dick, by the way. Are you a Jew?”
“What? No, I, a lot of Americans are circumcised.”
“So I’ve heard. Why do you do that?” But without waiting for an answer, she spun on her heels and walked out into the hallway. He heard her voice calling to him as she walked away, “I hope you don’t give me this much trouble when I come back for the semen sample.”
Peter was left in his bed, facing the picture window, with urine all over his hands and pinching himself shut until he could find something else to pee in. There was nothing near him but a little tray that could be wheeled next to his bed, but nothing on it, the IV bag and the stand, and a metal chair with his jeans and shirt in a crumpled pile. He looked over his shoulder at the rest of the room, and the first thing he saw was the seventy-year-old man, still grinning at him.