I’ve been waiting in this waiting room for what seems like days. It’s almost my turn to be seen and yet it feels like it isn’t. The nurse has already done the pre-exam checkups, all clear. She’s cleaned me up and got me all set, and now I’m waiting for her to call my name. It has been a crazy couple of days and I am glad the doctor could see me on such short notice, but this wait is inhumane. Granite the doctor has had a busy day too. There must have been at least four people seen since I have arrived and another five or six since then. This doctor must be really good to see this many people in one day and many of us on short notice. I wonder how much longer I have to wait though. It’s freezing in here and the music is terrible. That’s how all waiting rooms are though. There’s never anything interesting to watch or read and if there is ever any music it is never good. It’s always some simple piano notes with no lyrics. It couldn’t possibly be anything current or even pleasing to the ears. Not that the music nowadays could be considered good, but anything is better than this. I’d take some golden oldies at this point. Anything but this horrible sound combined with the ticking of the clock. I must be going insane from the sounds. I can’t believe someone was paid to create this torture. If I could move my foot I’d probably tap it to the beat out of boredom, but I can’t which only makes all of this even worse. The other people in the room seem to be as bored as me. I can’t really see what they are doing thanks to the rather dim waiting area. The doctor must be sensitive to light or something. God, I am just full of complaints today. I usually don’t complain this much, but I’m what some people call a mover and a shaker. If I’m not moving I’m either sleeping or dead. I hear the nurse shout next up is Skinner. That’s me Alan Skinner top medical supplies salesman in the district three years running. Last year alone I was the third highest salesman for the whole company. This year I hope to be number one. No, I don’t hope. I will be number one. Always selling is what my wife says. In and out of here I hope. I’ve got things to do and people to sell too. My favorite part of selling is the power of closing the deal and knowing I sold my customers the best products on the market. I enjoyed my job, which is probably a good thing since I have been doing it for twenty years now. When the nurse enters the waiting room to collect me no one moves or says anything.
She comes over to me and starts wheeling me into the exam room. It becomes brighter as she pushes me closer to the room. The exam room is nearly blinding as she pushes me to the center of the room. She pushes me right under the brightest light I have ever seen. Must be from all the time in the dim waiting room, but this room is so bright. Maybe he should turn the light down or I won’t even be able to see his face. He starts the examination right away by taking off my white sheet. His head blocks the light but only for a second or two. He feels around my rib cage. No hello, no how are you doing today Mr. Skinner just right to business. He must be in a hurry, which I don’t mind, but there’s never a reason to be rude. His hands feel very warm on my chest after all that time in the waiting room. When he finally finds what he is looking for he takes his saw off his side table and zips through my chest as if he is pulling a zipper down a jacket. He tries to comfort me by saying, “I hope that didn’t hurt too much.” His words are welcome after that rude excuses for an introduction, but I didn’t feel a thing. He takes out another tool. The extractor or the rib cracker 2000 as we call it at work. Top of the line model none the less. Placing it between the ribs is all he has to do as the tool does the rest. Separating my rib cage with ease. It felt nice to feel air touch my lungs once again. The doctor pokes around the outside of my lungs before cutting each one out. He places each lung gently into the metal tray next to him. He turns his body towards his side table and begins to inspect my lungs by looking all around the outside of them. He cuts into my lungs like they were a nice family meal. He tells the nurse that it looks like he was a smoker, but he must have quit at least ten years ago. Impressive I quit seven years ago for health reasons I try to tell him, but he only ignores me. His bedside manner leaves something to be desired. “Did you feel that?” The doctor asks the nurse. She shakes her head no, He moves on with my exam. He takes a dark mass that I believe is my liver. Placing it on his table he cuts pieces of it out. Checking each section as he does. “Not much damage to his liver. He was a light drinker if at all,” the doctor says. Each thing he says the nurse takes notes on her clipboard. The doctor continues, “His Kidneys look good for his age, no ulcers in his stomach lining, but there appears to be some sort of obstruction inside his esophagus.” The doctor cuts open the esophagus, “A piece of baked chicken. He died of after the chicken got stuck in his trachea.” “How sad,” the nurse shakes her head in disbelief, “It’s so sad there are so many people out there that don’t know the Heimlich maneuver. What about his heart doctor?” “Wouldn’t hurt to look, but I’m positive he died from asphyxiation.” The doctor takes my heart from my chest. A bloody fist of an organ and places it in a fresh metal tray on his side table. After dissecting the bloody red mass he says, “The left and right ventricles along with his right atrium look fine enough given his age and weight. The left atrium, however, looks to have taken a lot of damage over the years.” The nurse continues her notes. “What does it mean doctor?” I ask, but the words seem to fall on deaf ears. “Is there anything in his pre-exam report about him complaining of chest pains just before collapsing?” The doctor asks. “No there’s nothing about that,” the nurse answers. “Well, I’m going to stick with my original assessment that he died from affixation. Given the evidence, I can’t tell if he had a mild heart attack because of the stress of choking or the other way around. Either way, this man would have died tonight. “I’m right here,” I try to say. “How can I be dead if I am right here,” I scream. The doctor’s words sink in as I try to get up off the gurney to no avail. My body begins to heat up. I feel as if I have been set on fire. The confusion sets in deeper. I can’t be getting cremated. I didn’t ask for this. It’s not making any sense. I try to close my eyes, but I can’t. My vision starts to blur from the fiery pain that is consuming my body. “I wonder what set this whole incident in motion,” I can hear the doctor say what feels like miles away. Then just as quick as it came the pain washes away. I was no longer lying but rather floating next to the doctor. He looks right through me as he talks, “Who’s next?” The nurse puts my clipboard down and picks up another, “A Jonathan Murdock, self-inflicted gunshot to the head. There seems to be a lot of those lately.” Like a hangover the pain and the memories of my death come flooding back in to what can only be described as my “mind,” as I am neither here nor there anymore. I try to scream again more to see if I can than anything else. I find that I can’t once again. “Did you feel that? That cold chill feeling I felt from before. I just felt it again,” the doctor tells the nurse. The memories get clearer as I reach the door. I reach to push the door forward, but my hand goes right through it. Old habits die hard I guess. The nurse says, “I did feel something just now.” “This place can really,” I miss the last part of what he was about to say as I walk through the door. The memories won’t leave my mind. My life flashes in bits and pieces like a migraine that has no cure. Frustration and anger settle in with the confusion and yet I feel nothing at all. Passing through each building, each sign, and each person as I make my way in a straight line. Images of my children smiling, my friends cheering me on in grade school, my mother crying as I get married, and her. My wife’s face comes and goes with each happy image. Then it is as though it has been clear all along. I don’t know where I am, but I know where I am going, home. I remember the sequence of events that led to my sudden death, and it is as though I know nothing else. I want my revenge.
I was having lunch with my boss. We were discussing my future at the company. He offered me a raise and a promotion. If I was to take it I would have been, I could have been a regional manager of another branch. The meeting was going well and I remember things. Jokes, smiles, laughing, having a good time, and there she was sitting across from us at the restaurant. My wife wasn’t at home, but sitting at the restaurant having lunch with someone I didn’t know. Someone I couldn’t see. All I saw was their hair, his hair. I followed her arm with my eyes. In her hand, she was holding his. Everything began to move in slow motion. The streets are busy even this late at night. People walking through me as if I’, not there, and I’m not. I’ve stopped looking both ways as I cross the street. A sense of freedom I have never felt. I have no fear anymore. My thoughts slip back to my death. I can’t see the man clearly and honestly I don’t remember looking. Transfixed on my wife and her actions that day. Holding his hand, leaning in for a kiss, and her smile. God that smile, a smile I hadn’t seen in years. Has it really been that long since I have seen her smile like that? The rushing anger, the sudden jealousy, the slow creeping numbness of my left arm as I stand up. I try to ignore the obvious, I try to say something, but my heart would not have it. My chest tightens as I look down to my boss and I try once again to say something. With all that was happening, I had forgotten about the grilled chicken with lemon zest still in my mouth as I inhaled. The comedy of errors only grew as no one around me knew what was happening. Holding my chest and unable to breathe my vision begins to fade, my mind screaming breathe damn, and the impending feeling of doom as I fall to the floor. I hear voices in the darkness, distant, unclear. The darkness doesn’t last long. I’m still on the restaurant floor, but now I’m being rolled out on a stretcher. “Am I okay?” I remember asking, but no one answers as the white sheet drapes over my face. How am I seeing this? This must be a joke I think. It has to be. I feel them loading me into the ambulance. The feel of the engine as the vehicle is shifted into gear. There were no sirens, there was no rush to the wheels, so I must be fine I remember thinking. I’m only going for a follow-up, a checkup.
Outside on the streets and away from my head, I float in the direction I believe is home. Each person I pass has no idea how close to death they really are. I try to focus on something else besides my anger, but I can’t seem to let go of the pain. Passing by my neighbor’s homes with their manicured lawns and false pretense perfect lives all I feel is pain. I arrive at my home. The one that I paid for with my soul for her, for my family. All she has to do is read the will. There is a car I don’t recognize in my driveway. How long have I been dead? A day? Maybe two? Didn’t take her long to move me out and move him in. I pass my stuff sitting out with the trash. Memories I once had, but no longer need. Either it must be trash night or my kids don’t care as much as her. Passing through my red front door I can see the dining room from the hall. All those greasy dinners come back to my mind except now they seem more like plots to kill me than anything else. Who lets another person eat their weight in beef every night while they eat a salad? I float up my stairs to the second floor. Not even halfway up the stairs, I can hear her moans. Moans she hasn’t made for me in what seems like forever or if ever. I pass through my daughter’s door first only to be greeted by emptiness. I pass through her wall into my son’s room only to find the same. She must have sent our perfect children to her mother’s so she could “grieve.” Her moans pierce through the walls of the second floor. Leaving my son’s room and going into our private bath I make my way closer. A used condom lies on the floor next to the trash can. I storm into my master bedroom the emotion last in the circumstance. My wife begging for more. “Harder, harder,” she moans. I want to scream again. I want to tear her face off with the sound of my voice. I want to destroy her like she destroyed me. “Whore,” I scream with everything that I have and everything I am not. My words drown out her moaning and begging. My scream comes with a chill so cold I can see their breath. The man stops mid thrust, “What the hell was that?” They both turn to look at my direction. A blank stare comes across their faces. Again I scream breaking the silence. The look of horror and shame on their faces is indescribable, but it makes me feel warm inside. “It’s my husband,” she screams. “That’s right your husband you whore,” I scream with another wave of cold air. Somehow they can now see me, but only for a second. The man slips out of my wife as he falls to the floor. My wife stares at me from all fours a condom dangling from her poisonous cunt. “Something that obviously doesn’t mean anything to you,” I continue. My former self-flashing in and out of existence. My wife tries to cover herself up as if a stranger has walked into the room. The man begins to weep, “Sorry, I’m so sorry man.” “You don’t even know the meaning of sorry yet,” I scream. “Get the hell out of my house.” He runs naked to the bedroom door and out down the stairs. I don’t hear the front door slam and I don’t much care. I turn my face to my darling wife, “And as for you. There won’t be much left of you to even be sorry.” The bedroom door slams from the strength of my words and her screams fill the evening air. Maybe being dead won’t be such a bad thing after all.