In 2013, OriginalTitle will be presenting her interpretations of contemporary short stories in whatever way such interpretations happen to emerge as a result of the inspiration on Writer’s ClubKL.
This week’s featured short story is “Emergency,” by Denis Johnson and can be read here (the page numbers are slightly out of order. After reading the first two pages, scroll to the last page and read back up to read it in the proper order.)
Hot and red, pulsing in metallic spikes through every nerve right at the top of my leg where cartilage joins it to the rest of my body. Or at least that’s how it felt. I’m sure they can see it. Them, with their shiny tools and note-ridden charts. But they won’t admit it. Instead they twist it all the way around, knee-in, then knee-out and poke at the flesh like I can’t feel it, but I can feel it worse than I ever felt anything. They laugh. Ok. They don’t laugh, but it seems like there’s a whole chorus of nurses dressed in white singing around me, clicking their heels as they laugh their hospital breath onto my face. They see it and won’t do anything to prevent me from feeling it. So I have found several prescriptions of my own in various drawers, deep pockets and tiny dixie cups.
He comes in, this recent one, Mr. Smock, all smiles with stethoscope slung round his thick, wrinkled neck. ”Nice hair,” he says, notices that at least. I took all the powdered cherry drink packets out of the cafeteria and dyed my hair pink with one leg propped on the length of the bathtub, one of the floor and my head in the sink while the night shift nurse snuck a cigarette out the back door and made out with her motorcycle boyfriend. I stuck my tongue out at Smock. I want to believe it was my form of protest, but I think it just started to feel thick in my mouth. It needed out. ”We’ve checked it all out. There’s nothing wrong with your hip. Unless you’d like us to just go ahead and replace the whole kit and caboodle.” HA. HA. He says, or I say.
I agreed to it. Just to show them. I knew there was something. I wasn’t faking. If they hacked me open they would see it. Red and sharp, cutting me off from the inside at the top of the leg each second they say they don’t see it, each twist of the leg they use to prove they don’t see it. I started it off with a scalpel from Smock’s deeper pocket. One long, thin cut and I could already see a bit of it to pull it out. The nurse woke me up when it was over. I was in a new room, a white room. With brown bracelets and a big, white bandage over the affected area. They didn’t take it out completely. I could tell. I yelled for Smock.
He comes in. No stethoscope. No wrinkles. No thick neck.
“You didn’t fix it.” I said.
He walks over slow. Stirs powder into water until it’s cherry pink. He hands it to me.
“The problem is not in your hip. It’s in your heart.”
This flash fiction was inspired by the short story of the week. Read OriginalTitle’s interpretation of “Emergency” by Denis Johnson at Writer’s Club KL!