I stood in the lobby of the Emergency ward of the hospital. Just a few moments ago there was a wild commotion about this place. Now there was a stillness. Did that mean it was all over? My heart beat in trepidation. A nurse looked out through the door. Her uniform was crumpled, and there was a tired look in her eyes. “You brought the hit-and-run patient in? He’s responded well to surgery, but the danger is not yet over. Let’s hope for the best.”
I smiled my thanks. She didn’t need to tell me to hope for the best. I’d been agonising over the outcome all day. Ever since I had lifted his bleeding body and put it in the backseat of my truck. He had been cruising a little below the speed limit and someone had knocked him from behind. His car turned turtle, once or twice, I don’t know. It threshed and shuddered and then fell silent, like a huge balloon suddenly deflated. All around cars were honking madly and in the ensuing confusion, the disciplined four-lane traffic went haywire. Some cars sped away, skipping nimbly out of the mess in the nick of time.
I could have gone too, but I didn’t. There was so much confusion. No one was thinking straight. I volunteered to drive him to the hospital.
He was losing blood. I tried not to think of the upholstery. I could tell he was sinking.
Fortunately it was a good hospital, and the attendants were ready when I charged into the driveway. Someone must have called to let them know we were coming. He was wheeled in. I waited, trying to calm the storm within me.
The hours passed. The clock on the wall behind the reception desk kept time. The 14-inch TV was turned on mute. I gave up trying to decipher the happenings onscreen. By this time, the police must have found his papers in the glove compartment of the mangled car. They’d know his identity – if the papers were genuine. I doubted it. He didn’t look like he owned the car. A stolen one maybe. But the blood that was spilled was his for sure.
The telephone on the reception desk let out a shrill cry. Answering the phone, the elderly receptionist looked at me. I strained my ears to hear what she was saying. She put the phone down, and slowly turned to me, clearly relishing the fact that I was waiting with bated breath. Some people are clearly starved for real-life drama.
She said, “The patient you brought in has succumbed to his injuries.” She added, “I’m sorry,” matter-of-factly, which meant she wasn’t sorry in the least.
That was fine with me. I wasn’t about to grieve either.
The phone in my pocket rang, showing an unknown caller. “You’re a sorry excuse for a hit-man. The deal’s off.” the voice barked.
“No, it’s not,” I smiled. “He’s dead now.”
(This story was written for the Write Tribe - Prompt 1)