Thursday, February 16, 2012

Health Care

It was a long drive to the only available homeless walk-in clinic. I shuffled in with my hobo gloves on, my eyes having nearly gone blind due to fiberglass damage and advanced blepheritis. I wandered through the north St. Louis crowds of kids too sick to go to school and men too cold to stand outside. A television showed a new Elmer Fudd/loony tunes cartoon. I didn't take a day off of work to get there but it had taken three weeks to work up the nerve to try to get medicine for my eyes.
"You see, I was on the coast of Labrador and I got an infection in my eye..." I began once I finally had a jury of a single woman in a white coat, and I don't think the doctor heard much after that. I went on to describe how my eyesight was in danger of failure this past summer and how the medicine I received at the Grenfell Mission Hospital saved my eye and made me a lifelong devotee of Grenfell and his social equity reinvestment program that seems so out of favor with the cow farmers and meth dealers of America. I didn't mention the meth dealers to the doctor but she was already playing with the red security button under her desk as I began to get worked up while describing my quest to find the arctic wolf and learn if the climate instability was endangering it or its fragile habitat.
"And if we're at 400 parts per million of carbon dioxide and 10,000 televisions filled with lead go obsolete and are dumped into rivers leading to Korea or the polluted pacific ocean then..."
The doctor patiently eyed my wild hands in their ragged gloves.
"Honey, what's wrong wit you?" she asked.
"The wolf...for one...and then there are the nuns burning themselves in Tibet. BURNING THEMSELVES IN TIBET! While people line up at Steak N Shake for shitty french fries and chicken. What kind of industrial food nightmare are we trapped in??"
"But you come in live around here?"
"I'm looking for the wolf!"
"Honey, you got a home to go to?"
"I have a lead on a farm in Guatemala...a collective farm."
"Collective? What they collecting?"
"No, they cooperate."
"Then call it a cooperative farm."
"But collectivism is the political ideology they ascribe to..."
She shook her head and eyed her computer for the next appointment.
"Naw. You not talking sense."
A fire truck rushed by on the street followed by a speeding police car. The patients continued their texting and crying and rubbing of worn necks in the raw mid west wind, sleet hitting the windows, broken water fountains dribbling water like shrunken urethra of the soul.
"Ok. I'll start from the beginning. There once was the band of Indians known as the Kickapoo."
"And the Chippewa. There's a street here named Chippewa but it was originally the name of a tribe of native Americans who lived as one with the wolf...and as one with the earth."
"I'm gonna stop you right there. Honey, we got sick patients waiting out there. I can't listen to no lecture on Native American History."
"No, that's the back story to my quest to find the wolf that led to my eye injury that led to my getting the medicine that cured an entirely different malady. Can't you see this terrible affliction in my eyes?"
She squinted at me.
"You eyes don't look red. They look fine."
"But they suffer me so. They ail me. And the wolf doctor...I mean the shaman...I mean the Labrador collectivist medicine man gave me ointment."
"Labrador? Where's that?"
"North of Newfoundland."
She shrugged her shoulders.
"Near Greenland," I added.

"Uh huh. This wolf doctor, what was his name?"
"Wilfred Grenfell. Sir Wilfred Grenfell. He was English."
"Ok. What did he give you?"
I reached into my insulated overalls and from the worn and mended cargo pockets of my wolf quest uniform I retrieved the tattered box of Optymixin, the magical ointment, made from now eradicated rain forest bark, that healed my eyes. I held the box out for the doctor to take. She hesitantly leaned toward me but refused to touch the box. She looked at the box.
"Uh huh."
My fingers were still shaking from the freezing 14 mile trip through the snow storm on my 1974 Vespa Ciao moped to reach the clinic. The angry encounters I had on that trip and the return trip numbered in the thousands. Luckily I had strapped my tent to the moped because it would be days before I saw my van again.

I shook the box. "This cured my eye of the infection that blinded me during my wolf quest!"
I smiled. I nodded. I rattled the empty Optymixin box. I coughed.
"Wolf quest? Honey, you strange. Where you questing wolves?"
"Ellesmere Island. That's the last place the arctic wolf lives. And it's melting!"
"Uh huh. And you went there?"
"No, it was a failure. But..."
"I ain't surprised. You try to ride that motorized bicycle?"
"My 1974 Vespa Ciao moped?"
We both eyed it through the window where the sleet piled upon the crooked front wheel. My half helmet had fallen on the ground and was filled with snow.
"Whatever it is."
"No. I took my van. I drove as far as I could but..."
"But lost your eyesight. Then the medicine man gave you the cure?"
Her tone was less than convinced.
"It's a long story. I'm making a documentary of it."
"You filmed it?"
"I did. Mostly the footage is of me under the van fixing broken hoses and belts but there are a few reindeer and fox. And I lived on an Island that's a restored Cod Fishing village. That's where the eye went bad."
"That right?"
"Yes. But the eye."
"Ah, the eye."
"My eyes have gotten worse and worse. I need the medicine."
"Well, the doctor can't see you today."
"I thought you were the doctor."
She laughed.
"The doctor called in sick. How about you make an appointment for tomorrow?"
"I've been here for 6 hours watching Loony Tunes."
"You busy? You got plans with your scooter? Any wolves to quest after in St. Louis?"
"No, but every morning my eyes get worse."
"Look fine to me."
A child screamed outside. I heard a woman say, "That's what you get..." I cleared my throat.
"Well, see, that puts me in a position of having to wait until my eyes are really bad and then get an appointment and then wait three weeks and six hours to see a doctor to prove my eyes are falling apart. Gee, I hope the doctor can see me when the skin is falling off of them!"
"Ain't that a shame."
"And I can't prove it because they don't look too bad today."
"Like I said..."
"Please give me the Optymixin."
I rattled the empty box again.
"Naw. The doctor will give you what he thinks you need."
"Do you want to see my toe?"
"Why? Wolf bite it?"
"No, I was processing lobsters in Maine and..."
"Wait, you was on the wolf quest in Greenland with an English doctor and now you processing lobsters in Maine? You get around on that bicycle."
"I'm not lying. I'm telling you that I was blinded in Labrador during my wolf quest. I survived because of the knighted English doctor and then I got a job grading Nova Scotia lobsters for shipment to New Years feasts in Milan, Italy. During said lobster job I injured my hands and back and pulverized my arthritic toe until all the flesh was torn from it and it seeped mucus for three weeks. It's currently weeping blood. Then I was harassed and threatened in Maine by the Walmart Gestapo so I drove across the country on Main street to get here because I'm going to find a collective farm in Guatemala..."
The woman laughed but I blundered on.
"But along the way all the flesh started to fall off my eyelids! AND I NEED THE OPTYMIXIN TO SAVE THE WOLVES."
She laughed and laughed until I felt my pride was at stake so I stood up and walked out. The patients in the waiting room looked at me like I was wearing clothes made from eel tongue.
"Alright, I'm the asshole." I said and limped to my 1974 Vespa Ciao moped. It started up and I fought the snow and sleet until I finally merged into traffic on Interstate 64. Someone honked their horn at me and I would've given them the finger but the front wheel wobbles so severely on the moped that I had to satisfy myself with yelling, "Go to hell!"
Then I realized I was going in the wrong direction and that I had left the damn empty Optymixin box in the clinic office.


Anonymous said...

Gary Carter is dead at 58.

You can finally come home.

Oggy Bleacher said...

Kevin Mitchell still lives. His cheap hit to centerfield could've been caught by Hendu. That's the out I'll never see. The living never rest.

In the famous tenth inning of Game 6 of the 1986 World Series, after Wally Backman and Keith Hernandez had been retired for the first two outs, Mitchell went to the clubhouse to make plane reservations for home in San Diego. However, he was called to pinch hit for reliever Rick Aguilera after Gary Carter, the next hitter after Hernandez, singled. Mitchell, who had already gotten out of his uniform and had on his regular clothes, hurriedly put his uniform back on without his protective cup and went to the plate and singled.[3] He would eventually score the tying run on Bob Stanley's wild pitch to Mookie Wilson.

Anonymous said...

That doesn't make he's in the clubhouse, in street clothes, before Carter gets a hit? Even if Aguilera is in the on-deck circle, there's no way he could change that fast.

This is one of those stories they like to tell after the fact, but didn't actually happen that way. It couldn't have. Maybe he took his shirt off or something.

Oggy Bleacher said...

He was out of uniform and therefore the Red Sox won because the Mets violated the rules. Dewey is a winner.

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Man in the Van by Oggy Bleacher is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.