Heartwarming Hostage Situation

by Gabriel Ricard

Doctors and other assorted medical personnel
are moving in and out of the cafeteria
with varying degrees of arrogance,
exhaustion,
and the sincerity to do more
than the current limits of control
for what most people consider reasonably kind.
He imagines for fun that the next seven
who walk in,
pretty much one right after another,
are each carrying a piece of his wife.
And it’s not a big deal,
because the total of her was about eighty-two pounds,
when that Southern Baptist nurse told him
that his wife was going to be with Christ before long.
He didn’t throw the nurse out the window,
but he’s been thinking for a while
that it might not have been a bad idea.
Especially if god is the kind of being
that will take one of His or Her own,
in exchange for someone who was so casual
in her spirituality,
a lot of people just assumed she was a Unitarian.
That nurse has not shown up in this cafeteria,
and that’s probably best for everyone
who is aware of the gall involved,
and for everyone who instead believes Christ
should stay so firmly entrenched in Christmas,
everything starts to feel like a wacky, heartwarming
hostage situation.
He drinks coffee that may as well take
years to get to his stomach. He flexes his free hand,
as though a certain range and number of gestures
will bring her back for the third final five minutes
he asked for earlier,
and should have gotten.
The nurse isn’t fucking welcome here.
Southern Baptists lack the courage to hold onto a quarter-pound
of the flesh of someone who faced abortion protesters,
someone else’s vindictive older brother,
or a car that breaks down
in the middle of four or five waking nightmares.
He wants to get up,
and he thinks that it’s a good time to leave,
but he can’t go until
he’s absolutely sure
that every possible reality
has had a chance to come by,
look for him in the last places
he would think to be,
before leaving in a quiet, apologetic hurry.
Or if the nurse shows up.
A religious argument might be good,
right about now.

 

Artist: Julia Geiser

Gabriel Ricard writes, edits, and occasionally acts. He is a columnist with both Drunk Monkeys and Cultured Vultures. His books are available from Moran Press, Alien Buddha Press, and Kleft Jaw Press. He lives with his wife and assortment of deranged ferrets on Long Island.