382. Accidentally Fourth Street

A hispanic-looking dude with a goatee was in my face. It seemed more likely to me that he was an EMT than an angel. Among other things, he had a flashlight and was lacking in wings. Okay, fine. I closed my eyes again.

“Wait wait, hold on a second,” he said, as if it were important I stay awake long enough to sign a release form or something. But no, he was just being matter-of-fact. “You stay awake until we’re sure you don’t have a concussion.”

“People with concussions aren’t allowed to sleep?” I said groggily. “How do they ever get better, then?”

He spoke more seriously. “You stay awake if you don’t want to go to sleep and maybe not wake up.”

“Okay. But wait, do I have a concussion?”

He shined the flashlight directly into my eyes. “Do you remember hitting your head?”

“I don’t remember what I hit it on, but there was a lot going on at the time.”

“But you do remember being in an accident.”

“Well, if you call diving headlong into my lead singer and then falling off the stage an accident, yeah.”

“Yeah, you remember it.” He shined the light in my eyes again. “I’m starting to think you don’t have a concussion but you should probably act as if you do just in case.” He rattled off a bunch of stuff about symptoms to watch for and said an M.D. should probably still look at me, and that I should get a head X-ray.

That’s when I realized the ambulance was moving. I looked around. “What about Ziggy?”

“Let’s just worry about you,” he said, and checked my pulse or something.

“But he…”

“Calm down. We weren’t the only crew on scene. Anyone else who was hurt is getting taken care of.”

“But I…”

“Your manager’s up front with the driver. Sit back and enjoy the bus ride, all right?”

They decided to triage me as if I’d been in a car accident, looking for contusions and fractures, or so I overhead them say when they wheeled me into the emergency department. “Not your typical ‘slip and fall,'” one of them said. They did the head X-ray first. The table was metal and cold and my clothes were still damp with sweat. They eventually encouraged me to get out of the clothes so they could check the rest of me (without the X-ray machine) for broken bones. I was pronounced “banged up” but otherwise all right, except for the possibility I’d cracked my skull. They gave me an ice pack for said skull.

What ensued then was a very long, dull wait. Now that I had nothing life-threatening happening to me, I was of low concern to them, and let me tell you, a New York City ER is nothing like that little hospital in Pensacola or wherever we were when the explosion happened. I was sitting there in a chair behind a curtain, the ice pack long since having gotten warm, while people ran past with gurneys calling for blood transfusions and yelling about gunshot wounds.

“Just another Saturday night!” I heard one person say jokingly to another as they hurried past.

I wondered why Carynne hadn’t come to see me. They’d separated us when they took me to X-ray and I hadn’t seen her since. Since I wasn’t tied down or on an IV or anything I eventually put my jeans back on–the wait had been long enough that my clothes were dry. I stuck my head out and went to the nurse who seemed to be in charge and asked if I could give her back the ice pack and if it was all the same to her, could I wait in the waiting room instead of back here? At least they might have some magazines to read out there or something.

She gave me another ice pack and checked what my wrist tag said, then asked me to go sit back down in my chair. Maybe that was just how they treated people with head injuries, I don’t know. I went and sat back down, bored and frustrated but not quite energetic enough to make a stink. But with nothing else to think about what I had been doing for the past couple of hours was obsess about Ziggy and then try to stop obsessing about him. Where was he? Was he all right and that’s why he wasn’t here? Or was he here somewhere and I missed him? I thought over what had happened. He might have landed on top of me. I wasn’t sure.

I wondered if the fans were still camped outside the hotel, and if they were freaking out. Somehow thinking about other people freaking out helped keep me from doing it myself.

Then suddenly Carynne yanked back the curtain. She was livid. “Are you okay?” she demanded.

“I’m under the impression that’s what I’m waiting to find out,” I said. “They didn’t tell you anything?”

“They won’t tell me squat,” she said, “because I’m not next of kin or family or anything and I don’t have any kind of proof who we are. They won’t let Jonathan in, either.”

“Jonathan’s here?”

“Yeah. Oh, I’m so angry. They were really dicky to him! Same reasons only laced with… even more stupidity.”

I was sure she meant anti-gay stupidity. “So how’d you get in here now?”

“The nurse we were arguing with went on break. I lied to the new one and told her I was your girlfriend and voila, they were happy to bend the fucking rules all of a sudden.” She looked like she wanted to take a baseball bat to some expensive medical equipment. “Anyway. Do they think you actually fractured your skull? And if you did, what will they do about it?”

“Tell me not to play any rugby?” I guessed. “I don’t know. You’d think they’d want to get me out of here so I stop taking up a space.” As it was I was in a chair, not a bed, but still. “What happens if we walk out of here? They bill our insurance or something?”

“I guess.” She huffed. “I’ll go ask. I don’t know how long it takes to get X-ray results. I always thought it took 24 hours? They’re obviously not going to have you sit here that long. Maybe they’re just waiting for an M.D. to sign off on you.”

She left. I was pretty sure if she came back with bad news I could still discharge myself by walking out under my own power, though. I looked around for my things, then realized I didn’t have any things. If they took me straight from the stage I had nothing, no ID, nothing. There was a guitar pick in my pocket. That was it.

Carynne hadn’t mentioned Ziggy at all, and that calmed me down a lot, too. If the biggest worry on her mind was that some hospital worker was being a dick to Jonathan, everything was probably fine.

Well, okay, “fine” is a relative term. But you know what I mean.


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