by Ben Pierce
My first ever story of this sort. Wanna review,be my guest. Don't wanna review, thats cool too. I probably won't much care anyway. I have already written almost 13,ooo words though.Mostly,its just what the name says.Too much thinking!And rest assured,I will post all of it, even if none of you reads it :p
So here I go!
They say believing is hard. What they don't know is, not believing is harder. How can one go on if one does not believe? In something larger? Bigger? I had to know it. I had to know why I was here, in this place worse than a hellhole. Why did we have to deal with blood and gore like this if there was no greater plan? And if there was a greater plan, what was it? And why was it necessary for all this loss of life and limb, not to mention, my sanity, to get that bigger plan in motion. And what purpose did that plan serve? The only guy I could ask these questions had no answers. I knew it because I had heard him cry and beg for answers from his Guy himself. That was when I knew that there were no answers. We were subject to the whims of idiots in DC and Pentagon and Korea and Kremlin. That was all there was to it . It was all a power play. Nothing more, nothing less. Reds wanted to claim this land and Blues, usually known as the West/Good guys could not let this bully claim their turf.
The bottom line was simple. Kids died in the name of principles and good-governance and red-menace and whatnot. And I stood in their blood,while more of it filled my boots, stained my socks and left me numb from neck down. If only I could stop thinking! If only the numbness reached a little above my neck too.
"Clamp", I repeated myself. Today just wasn't my day. I drew short straw when it came to nurse on my table. She was green as it was. And the messy bulk of flesh and bones and blood I was trying to put back together into one Private Hendricks did not help her. He had probably swallowed a live grenade, right before it exploded.
"Hurry up, miss! The kid cannot wait for you to get your act together. Damnit! He probably swallowed a live grenade. After pulling the pin out".
"How bad is it", I heard BJ's mumble from behind his mask.
"Whole right side is a jigsaw puzzle. No! Two puzzles. Both missing half their pieces!"
"Why can't you stop dramatizing and just give a straight answer, for once". BJ spoke, rather testily.
I looked up. This was a new development. That cool, calm exterior was finally breaking. It HAD to get to him. Nobody was perfect. Nobody was that good. It got us all. And BJ was no exception. And now that I heard the strain in his voice, I just realized, again, how bad all this really had to be for him to break. He looked up too. And when he saw me looking at him, averted his gaze. Something was bothering him. Something from home. Maybe Peg had to change the tire of her car. Or maybe Erin was teething? Something inconsequential, I was sure.
'Kid,you are getting rottener by the day', I told myself. The bitterness of what I just thought amazed me. I was a known malcontent when it came to war. My bitterness was stuff of legend. But it was never directed towards my friend. And even less so, his family, which was my surrogate family too. They kept him sane and he kept me sane.
"His right side is blown. Right lobe of liver is shredded. So is the right kidney. Most of it anyway. Adrenal is gone completely. And the diaphragm had a large enough hole in it to let me put my fist through, not to mention some shredded liver. I had to do a lobectomy on right lung as well. Its a colossal mess".
"SUCTION", I yelled as a small fragment I was trying to remove from behind one of the smaller arteries gave me the slip and nicked it. Blood was in my face but I probably picked a good time to close my eyes, which was not what I could say about that nurse.
My hand reached down as I put pressure on the little spurter while the nurse got suction going.
"Margaret, give me an experienced nurse. This has already gone longer than I wanted and I don't have any patience left"
I was feeling the need to go to little boys' room. Good news was, mess tent or the cook, or both perhaps, had finally managed to kill my appetite completely. I had stopped feeling hungry anymore. That was good when you had to stay at your work station for as many hours as we did. Needing water or coffee was another matter. My last cuppa was right before I started working on Hendricks. My kidneys usually knew when to start or stop working. But still, a man's gotta pee when a man's gotta pee. And this seemed very much like another hour before I could even begin to close. Part of the ileum needed resection. Too many holes, just like my socks. I could feel the swishy, slushy, squishy feeling from all the blood inside my boots by now. And it was congealing. Reminded me of Jello, only when you use too much water and it becomes runny?
NO, I could not think about it. He also needed a right hemicolectomy. I briefly considered the idea of ileocolic anastomosis versus transverse colostomy and an ileostomy. Both seemed equally hard and long.
I finally decided to exteriorize the gut.
"Fuck!", I silently swore.
The new nurse was not as painfully inept as the previous ones. But I knew I was going to have a long, hard talk with Margaret after I was done. She ought to know better than sending a rookie when so much was at stake.
Maybe I will take my post-op shower in my boots and underwear. But then, what was the point? I would never get the blood out of my boots. And even if I did, which I knew I wouldn't, it would be the same tomorrow. Or who knows,tonight? I was rambling in my thought, I could feel it!
"Klinger, get somebody to get me a cup of engine oil from mess", a faint attempt at humor.
"Pierce, you tired? Need help?", I heard Potter's drawl.
"No colonel. I am just fine and dandy. Just need to oil my hinges though. They might be losing their magic touch", I replied. I knew how tired he himself was. If he could catch a break, he would not get cranky. I liked my COs un-cranked. Made up for better mornings. And evenings.
I wondered how BJ never got his shoes dirty. His shoes had the same clean look they had when he got here, despite the dirt and blood. Maybe the sheer size made little drops inconsequential? And what about Frank? And his shoes.
"Doctor!", I suddenly heard the nurse calling me.
"What?", I asked.
"Nothing. I thought you nodded off".
"Oh!", that was all I could say. She may have been right. I wouldn't know. I knew it was my mistake too. Not so much as trying to prove my invincibility, I was more afraid of the fact that if I took a break, I won't be able to come back. Not tonight anyway.
And thats when the inevitable nasal whine entered my ear.
"The Invincible Pierce nodding off? Like ordinary interns. What, pray tell, is the world coming to"? The smugness. Too bad I was a card carrying pacifist.
"Shut up Frank"! That was all I was going to say, being neck deep in this kid's gut,l egs crossed to fight one urge while trying not to topple into this kids guts. I had already given up eating liver, as it was. And to think I had spent five years of residency digging into guts and gore and blood. That never stopped me from being a total carnivore.
"Aaah, the big surgeon is not feeling very witty right now, is he", followed by his annoying snicker. I am sure he calls it something polysyllabic, like a cackle. Or a giggle. It never stopped reminding me of a hyena with bronchitis, no matter what he called his high pitched ...laugh, I suppose. It annoyed me. Always did.But right now, more than ever.
"Frank. Drop it. I am not in the mood!", I hoped he got the message though it seemed liked an unlikely possibility for him to take a hint.
"What happened Pierce? You are not feeling the pressure now, are you", he droned on, as expected.
"DROP IT FRANK! I AM NOT IN THE MOOD. SO JUST... SHUT UP Alright?!?", this time, I tried to be more firm.He got the hint. I smiled. This was good. I was getting better at this.Now if only BJ and Margaret stay away from me after this session. Maybe I was hoping for too much.
"Finished! Keep him hydrated with Ringer's, 150mls/hr for next 6 hrs and then 100ml/hr. And transfuse two units of whole blood. Tell the duty nurse to give me an update every 30mins. And also, get his liver function tests along with BUN/Creatinine and 'lytes along with complete blood count after 4 hours. Bring in the next patient. I will be back in 5". And with that announcement , I fled the scene to the nearest latrine. Which was taken.
"What the hell!",I decided to use bushes instead.