by C. N. Nevets
Di-di-di-di-di-di-dit. “Attention, Medic Unit. Attention, Medic Unit. Medic Unit, respond to 1179 North Sunnydale Drive. For a seizure a patient.”
Even at 1am the November sky seems thick and woolen, like a heavy grave blanket over top our small town. The air is chilly, but it’s not crisp; it’s dull and ashen. The fall leaves lay on the ground, wet and matted, clay-rich much dulling the smell of their decay.
The house looks like Midwestern suburbia. Clean, pretty, cookie-cutter. Two stories, four bedrooms, three baths. Attached garage. Shutters. The yard is mowed. The hedges trimmed to perfect, flat-sided cubes.
Outside, a mother. A woman. Mid-forties in jeans and a sweat-shirt, hair pulled pack. Her face is marked with concern. She flags me down.
“—I don’t really know the boy, but he’s staying here tonight. I guess he has a history of seizures but it’s been a long time since he had one. I don’t know what’s going on.”
A boy with a history seizures. I think 7 or 8 years old. I think his parents should have left his meds. I think his parents should have left a note and some instructions with what to do. I think his parents should have left him with someone who knew him. I think Wednesday night during the school year is a strange night for a sleep-over.
The enter the house into a living room. There are no lights on. There is a couch, and an arm chair. There is a lawn chair. There are some empty boxes. There are also four adults, sitting in the dark, fully-clothed, saying nothing and doing nothing. Off to the right is a hallway, even darker. Off the left, a hallway, with a hint of yellow light. Through to the other side is an open doorway into a kitchen with a nightlight illuminating three children. Two girls and a boy, the oldest fourteen and the youngest seven. None of them are seizing.
The middle girl raises her arm and points down the hallway to the left.
It’s a short hallway. There’s a bathroom at the end. There’s a bedroom door on the left with light slipping out from under the door. I open it and step in.
The room reeks. Cigarette smoke. Marijuana. Alcohol. Sweat. Urine. There are three high school boys, two of them in shorts and muscle shirts. One of them has pupils the size of saucers. The other has pupils the size of pinpricks. The third is on the floor, face-down, stretched out, wearing jeans, socks, two shirts, and a jacket. A cop is in the corner, tall and stern with his arms crossed. When he sees me, he kneels down and rolls the kid on the floor to his back.
“—This is the one.”
The kid’s eyes are unfocused.
The kid says he doesn’t know.
“He was just sitting on the couch and fell and started shaking. His head was in that shelf. We held him and had him bite on a wallet.”
“He was just sitting?”
“Are you hurt?”
The kid says no, but he presses a hand to his abdomen.
“Is your stomach hurt?”
The kid says yes.
I examine his abdomen. No signs of injury. He’s not sensitive to touch.
“Did you hit your head?”
The kid says no.
“Can you stand up?”
The kid says yes and he tries and it’s like watching a fish try to stand up and its tail except that he’s even less successful.
On the floor there’s a pile of cigarette butts. There are half a dozen gas station fountain drinks, spiked with something amber that the kids probably call whiskey. One of them has cigarette butts floating in it. Another has cigarillo stubs.
“—What were you guys doing right before this happened?”
“Smoking at all?”
“Take any drugs?”
“Smoke a little weed?”
The cop rolls his eyes.
One of the kids hands me an orange pill bottle only slightly smaller than a pop can.
“—These are his meds.”
Justin Gris. Seizure meds. Dr. Colle, a pediatrician.
“—Justin, you wanna go to the hospital and get checked out?”
The kid asks why.
“You had a seizure.”
The kid says he didn’t.
“Then what happened?”
The kid says he had a seizure.
His friends both try to convince him to go. The mom-type woman walks back to the living room. The cop tells the kid he wants to go the hospital. The kid finally agrees.
“—Can you stand up?”
The kid tries. He can’t make it. The cop, me, my helper – we assist him to his feet and keep him steady. We help him to the cot, which the ambulance driver is holding steady. It’s like we’re helping the Little Mermaid take her first steps. We’re doing the walking. He’s just along for the ride. His spine sags. His legs wobble.
“—You sure didn’t have anything to drink?”
The kid says he’s sure.
“No drugs either?”
The kid says no.
We get him on the got, secure him, load him onto the ambulance. His vitals are normal. His pupils are jacked open and when I shine a penlight in them, they tighten just a bit, slowly, and then they saucer out again.
“ – Are you sure you didn’t do any drugs, Justin?”
The kid says he smoked one blunt.
“Are you sure you only smoked one?”
He says yeah.
“Because earlier you told me you were sure you didn’t smoke any.”
He says yeah.
“Was that blunt dipped in any alcohol?”
He says no.
“Laced with any other drugs?”
He says no.
We start to the hospital, no lights, no siren, but quickly. His vitals are stable. He stinks of BO, smoke, and his own urine.
“—How old are you?”
“You go to school, Justin?”
“What do you do?”
I don’t know.
“Those your friends back there?”
“We’re going to get you to the hospital, Justin. The doctors will check you out. Make sure you’re okay.”
Outside, there are no stars in the densely shrouded November sky. The heater does what it can to fend off the chill in the air. The ambulance speeds along the road, cruising over a thick blanket of wet, moldering leaves.
(c) Copyright 2001, C. N. Nevets