He heard her in the hall. He didn’t know it was her. He just heard someone fidget with the gown and the gloves. The red sign on his door warned visitors before they came in; no one warned him she was his visitor.
“Hey babe,” she whispered as she walked into his room.
He quickly pulled the hose out of his nostrils and swung his legs off the bed and sat straight. He dropped his hands to his sides and bowed his head. “Oh fuck!” He leaked his humiliation.
She bent and kissed him on the top of his head. “How’re you feeling?”
He scrunched his eyes closed and swallowed his top lip with his bottom. “How did you hear I was here?”
“We know the same people.” She walked to the window and sat on the sofa below it.
He stood up and pulled the gown together with his fist. On his index finger on his left hand he had an oxygen monitor. On the back of his right hand he had an IV. He stood like a marionette tethered to machines. He held the gown closed while he walked around the bed and sat on the edge. “I’m okay. How are you?”
He relaxed. “You don’t need to be. Acute renal failure. Sounds worse than it is.”
“That sounds like something to worry about.”
He took his arm and swung the IV pole out of his peripheral vision. He dropped his hands into his lap. “I don’t know what to say.”
“Why am I dressed for surgery?” she pinched her gown and dropped it.
“Oh I had MRSA in my foot. They’re just cautious.”
She stood up and gently turned his forearm. She looked down at the black and blue and green bruise. “Baby, what happened?”
He looked up at her. Their eyes met and he turned to face the sink on the wall at his left. “Something’s going on with my veins. I dunno. They can’t get a Goddamned IV to work.”
She bent and wrapped her arms around him and pulled him to her.
He pulled away. “Not yet.”
She straightened and returned to the sofa. She took her index finger and pulled a tear from the corner of her eye. She started to laugh. She mixed the sounds of sorrow and silliness. “You still have good legs!”
He laughed. “I do.”
A nurse knocked and walked in with a pill cup. He made their introductions. He took the pills and chased them with a sip.
“I saw it.”
He sat straight. “I didn’t see you.”
“It wasn’t the time to talk.”
“Did it upset you?”
“I’m sorry.” He stood up. He pried the tape off the oxygen monitor and tossed it on the bed. One hand grabbed the back of the gown; one hand grabbed the IV pole. “I’ll be right back.”
“The girl wasn’t me.”
He walked out of the bathroom and edged the bed. “How could she be?”
She stood up and turned to the window. “I don’t think we’re done yet.”
“Couldn’t we have had this conversation when I’m not in a hospital?” He lifted the IV hose and lowered himself on the bed.
She turned toward him. “Are we done?”
“I don’t know.”
“Yeah, you do. Are we done yet?”
She sat on the sofa and opened her purse. “Let me show you what I brought you.”
He sealed the tape around his finger and tossed the excess cable off the bed. He pushed the button to raise the head of the bed.