The sound of a heart-rate monitor beeped someplace far away from me, on the very edge of my hearing. I tried to wave it away, but I was barely able to move my arm before it screamed at me to not be such a goddamn moron. It only lasted a second, before I slipped back into medicated numbness, but it was long enough. My arm hurt. A lot. Come to think of it, my everything hurt. The arm wraps weren't helping.
How did I get here? Why was I here? How long have I been here? Where are my smokes? All of these dire questions raced through my brain as I laid in my bed. I don't think I've ever felt so lost.
The quicker my brain chugged away, the more my body seemed to throb. It didn't hurt as much as I was expecting it to, but it just informed me of its presence. I needed to calm down, pronto. Who knows what happened?
I took a couple deep breaths and slowed myself down. The air smelled almost too-clean, like disinfectant. There was a slight hum from above me, indicating fluorescent lighting, almost masked by the heart-rate monitor. Well, at least I was in a hospital room.
Only one thing to do in a time like this: get the attention of someone who could answer my questions. The sooner that happened, the sooner I could have a goddamn smoke. Clumsily, I fumbled the clip off my index finger, and the monitor started screaming that I had flat-lined.
My doctor must have been just about to check up on me, because I heard, almost instantly, my door opening, accompanied by mad footfalls rushing into my room. I wearily opened my eyes as she stopped short of my bed and breathed a sigh of relief when seeing me awake.
"'Sup, doc?" I mumbled, just before Diego burst into the room, Sal hot on his heels. Eesh, my voice sounded like I'd been a four-pack-a-day smoker since the womb.
"Dude! You're awake! It's about time! Diego's been working me like a slave since you've been in here! It's hell!" Diego shot a glare at Sal that made him step back like a hurt puppy. I laughed as best as I could, but it came out like a raspy bark. The doctor looked concerned, and came over to me.
"Good afternoon. Do you know where you are?"
"Hospital." My throat felt excruciatingly dry. "Water?" She poured me a cup from a pitcher at the end of my bed and handed it to me.
"Good, good," she said with a smile. "What's your name?"
"Jim," I croaked after draining the cup, then held it up. "More." She began looking concerned, but poured me another cup, which I immediately drained. My throat was beginning to feel better already.
"Do you know what the date is, James?" I sighed.
"Jim. It's May...the ninth?" Now it was Diego and Sal's turn to look grim, which could only mean one thing: I missed a significant chunk of time. The doctor opened her mouth to speak, but Diego cut her off.
"Man, it's the sixteenth. You've been unconscious for a week!" My jaw dropped. A whole week...gone. Truly? Well, at least I missed that Neighborhood Council meeting. That seemed like it would have been as boring as listening to Sal tell a story. I said as much. Diego laughed, and Sal just kind of seethed.
"Listen, Mr. Dillinger, I would like to run some tests. You suffered intense trauma when you fell. There was also some...disfiguration."
"Oh, god! I've become Chunk!" I started getting out of bed and Sal almost ran from the room, but Diego pinned him to the wall. "I'm gonna kill you, Sal!" I growled, stumbling down the length of my bed as my doctor stepped between me and my rightful vengeance.
"Step aside, doc! You're a medicine woman and a lady of science; you do good things. This is between me and that black magick fucker, excuse my language!" She looked confused, and maybe a little scared, but to her credit, she stood firm.
"What on earth are you talking about, Mr. Dillinger?" The question sounded like it was all one word, and it took me a couple seconds to decipher. If looks could kill, Sal would be a fine, red mist by now. However, the lady asked me a reasonable question, so I took a few deep breaths, sat down on my bed, and told a tale of theft, lies, black magick, and garden gnomes.