A novel by Wayne Edward Boyd
Visit the author's website.
Publication date: Spring 2011
Hospital Center on 135th and Lenox, New York.
Paul McPherson reached up to feel his forehead and
bandage wrapped around his head. He also noted the stubble of new
hair on the top of his head through gaps in the bandage.
There was a second bed a few feet away and an old
television on the
table in the corner playing some kind of strange black and white soap
opera, but the sound had been muted. Sunlight poured through the
window. Usually these hospitals had holograph projection phones. He
looked to find one.
He couldn't remember how he came to be here. All he
was entering the Empire State Building, being forcibly restrained and
shoved into an elevator. There had been some people there, and one of
them had struck him on the back of the head.
He closed his eyes and rested for awhile. He didn't know
His throat was sore.
A deep, masculine voice broke the silence. “Want to tell
Paul opened his eyes. The bright lights of the room
doctor hovering over him. With a stethoscope around his neck, the
doctor was a self-assured looking African-American with a plump, dark
face. Wearing a white gown, with a pen and folded papers protruding
from his chest pocket, he held a clipboard under his arm.
“Excuse me?” the monk inquired hoarsely.
“The nurse told me you were awake and talking with her
You've been unconscious for two days. Can you tell us your name?”
He rubbed his eyes. “Paul McPherson. I think.”
“You think? You're not sure?”
“No no. It's Paul McPherson.”
“I'm Doctor Jones,” explained the physician. “How do you
“My head hurts.”
“Understandable,” offered the doctor. “Mind if I ask you
“Be my guest.”
“How old are you?”
“Twenty-six.” The doctor scribbled something on his
“Born in New York City?”
“New Rochelle,” corrected Paul.
“Mother? Father? Family?”
“Yes, both parents still live there. I have a younger
“Josette. That's about it for family. I'm not married.”
“Do you know the name of your mother and father?”
“Yes,” Paul replied. “Of course. Paula and Joseph
“Who was the first President of the United States?”
“What kind of question is that?” Paul interrupted,
The doctor frowned and apologized. “I need to know
bleeding internally, inside the cranial cavity. If you are, it's
going to compress your brain and cause a lot of serious neurological
problems. To rule that out, we need to determine your mental status,
and that's done by a series of tests, starting with some simple
Paul nodded, and his head hurt. “Why don't you just do a
“You know. One of the Dimensional Probe scanners. The
“I have no idea what you're talking about.”
“Well then, have you at least done a CT scan? While I
“Now let's just get back to who was the first...”
“George Washington,” Paul replied.
The doctor smiled politely. “Alright, let me ask about
“New York Institute of Technology in Yonkers. I have a
interactive holograph imaging and computer programming.”
“Holograph Imaging. You know. Like your cell phone's
“Sounds pretty sophisticated. Does that have to do with
“Well, of course it does,” Paul said.
The doctor nodded and noted Paul's general physique.
“You look in
fairly good shape, if you don't mind my saying so.”
“I work out,” McPherson explained. “Used to be into
and wrestling. These days I'm into martial arts.”
“And you're some kind of religious person?”
“A monk of sorts,” Paul offered.
“I see,” the doctor mumbled. Contradictory for a monk to
athletic, he thought. Then again, everyone needed to enjoy good
health. Sounded like he was some kind of computer genius as well. He
leaned forward and shone an ophthalmoscope in Paul's eyes, noting the
dilation of his pupils.
“So am I seriously hurt? Will I be alright?”
The doctor cleared his throat and raised his eyebrows,
reply immediately. “So far things look pretty good. The nurse says
your blood pressure is back to normal.”
Behind the Doctor, Paul noticed a very short man with an
withered face standing at the doorway. He was dressed in a suit and
tie, peering into the room. He had an average-size trunk, short arms
and legs, slightly enlarged head, prominent forehead and large nose.
Oddly, a pair of binoculars dangled around his neck. He had a
receding hairline above long lobed ears that protruded prominently
from his head. He retreated and disappeared down the hallway. Paul
also noticed other people passing by in the hallway. Visiting hours,
Doctor Jones leaned over. “Look straight ahead, at the
TV in front
“It's a black and white CRT. Where did you guys find one
“Well, I think color TV throughout the hospital is a few
but it's coming.”
Paul laughed, but was also confused by the reply. “How
did I get
“Don't know,” the doctor replied. He moved to the other
the bed, pointing his light. “Someone informed ER you were lying on
the pavement outside the ambulance entrance. How many fingers do you
see?” He held his hand in front of Paul's face and started flashing
his fingers – first two, then three, then one.
“Two. Three. One. So you mean I was just lying outside
“Luckily for you,” confirmed the doctor before putting
down and turning off the light. “Head injury and water in your
“How soon can I get out of here?”
“Two days is a long time to be unconscious. We need to
for a few more days. Any nausea?”
“Not at the moment,” replied Paul.
Doctor Jones smiled and left the room, and the tech came
in and took
his vital signs. Soon he was alone again and rested his head gently
on the soft pillow. He closed his eyes.
Hardly a minute later the little man with the withered
reappeared at the doorway. He stood not more than three feet high.
Approaching the table near Paul's bedside, he climbed up on a chair
and slid open the drawer. Removing the wallet he found there, he took
a blank, business sized card from his own pocket, scribbled something
with a pen, and then examined what he had written. “Meet me at the
south-west corner of Central Park, 6 PM.” He inserted it in the
folds of McPherson's wallet. Then, without taking anything, carefully
placed the wallet where he found it. The drawer squeaked as he closed
it with a slight thud.
Opening his eyes and seeing the little man inches away,
his head and his headache returned. “Hey,” he exclaimed. “What
are you doing? Who are you?”
The man looked concerned and with his short arm held his
his mouth. “Shhh,” he hushed, climbing down the chair and turning
to leave. “My card's in your wallet.” Quickly wobbling out of the
room, he was gone.
Strange man. No privacy in a hospital. Paul drifted back
to sleep and
dreamed happy visions. It would be his last happy dream in a long