The smell of french fry grease permeated my car as soon as I rolled the window down. I felt my body shudder; the aroma was so good it gave me the same euphoria sex had back in my college days.
“Welcome to McDonald’s. May I take your order?” The blown speaker spewed out the familiar sentence.
“Hi, um, yes.” I paused, trying to collect my thoughts. It had been a long time since I’d been to any fast food restaurant. “Can I please get a large fry and a Whopper?”
“Sir, this is McDonald’s. Do you mean a Big Mac?” The speaker let out an angry hiss as it crackled off as if the shitty equipment felt insulted.
“Uh yes…please.” I slouched back in my seat as my order was repeated. I felt my heart pounding in my chest. Then I thought about my heart stopping. Which in turn made my heart beat louder. My arteries were screaming, the doctor said, the doctor said…
A horn blared and I jumped in my seat. I held my hand over my heart as I pulled forward.
Don’t give out on me yet. Let me eat my fries at least. I’ve been good, so good.
I didn’t listen as the window slid open and the cashier told me my total. All I could hear was the tha-thump, tha-thump, tha-thump of my heartbeat in my ears. I held out my credit card.
“Sir, sir, SIR!” I looked at the cashier. He held my card in one hand and a bag in the other.
“Sir, here are your fries. It’s going to be a minute for the Big Mac. Please pull forward and we will bring it out to you.” The kid stared at me like I was a brick wall as I took my things.
I put my car in park. Finally, finally I was going to eat what I wanted. I was never going to get a heart. I’d come to terms with the fact that I was forty and going to die.
I reached into the bag and ate one fry. Then I grabbed a handful. I scraped the cardboard with my fingernail before I knew what I had done. There was a knocking on my window and a pimply faced teenage boy smiled at me through the glass. Then his smile disappeared and his eyes grew wide. He dropped the bag and ran.
“Hey-” I began and then my entire body slammed into the door. Metal crunching metal reverberated in my ears. The next thing I remembered someone was shining a light in my eyes.
Mouths were moving, but I couldn’t hear anything. I was put on a stretcher, but I couldn’t feel anything. I looked around and saw my car, or what was left of it. Most of it was tangled with metal from someone else’s truck.
The ambulance lights flashed onto the McDonald’s window panes. Fingers pointed through the glass at me. No, not at me at the man screaming as he was pulled from the passenger side door, or maybe they were pointing at what was in the driver’s seat. That could have been me. Oh God, oh God.
My chest felt tight, and I tried to grab at the pain, but a firm hand pushed it back down to my side. The EMTs looked worried. The pain grew worse. My hearing finally came back as the ambulance sirens blared to life. Then the world turned black.
“Oh, Mr. Smythe, you’re awake.” A cold hand patted my own. “Shh, it’s okay now. You just rest. The doctor will be here in just a minute. You’ve been through the wringer. A real example of God shutting a door just to open a window.” She leaned over me to adjust an IV bag. I was hit with the stench of her underarms mixed with over bleached clothes. But damn she had some knockers for being in her late fifties. Would she notice if I brushed them with my hand? I could claim I was just reaching for a glass of water.
Before I could act on it, she stood up and walked out of the room. What the hell was I thinking?
A stout man with a stethoscope slung around his neck came in. He held a clipboard in one hand and slid a pair of glasses out of his pocket before he read it.
“Glad to see you’re alert, Mr. Smythe. I’m Dr. Glass. I performed your heart transplant.”
My eyes betrayed my shock. The doctor continued to answer my unasked question.
“I know I’m not your regular doctor, Mr. Smythe, but there simply was no time to transfer you to Regents Hospital. You went into cardiac arrest after the accident and we had to perform the surgery immediately.”
I finally found my voice, “But I’ve been on the list for months now. Dr. Havar said my odds of finding a donor were slim to none. How?”
Dr. Glass bit his lip and slid his glasses off his nose. I was reminded of a naughty librarian…if the librarian wore scrubs and had a bushy beard.
“Well, we aren’t really supposed to disclose donors, but he was single and all immediate family is deceased. The man that hit you in your car died on impact. It was a miracle that he was an organ donor that matched you. Never seen anything like it in my 15 years at this hospital. A few of the nurses will be by later tonight to run some tests, but we hope to have you out of here by the end of the week.” The doctor smiled and a set of white teeth beamed at me. I suddenly had a strong desire to cover his mouth with my own.
“What the fuck?” came out of my mouth before I could stop it. I’d never had a thought like that before. I’m straight as the day is long.
“What the fuck is right, Mr. Smythe. You are truly lucky.” Both our heads swiveled to the door as a nurse stepped in.
“Excuse me, Mr. Smythe, but your ex-wife is here. I told her I would check to see if you were ready for visitors.”
I nodded. If I didn’t see her now it would just be worse later. The doctor turned to leave, and I turned my head to watch him walk away. A perfect ass on Dr. Glass. Of course.
Anita came in just a minute later. She tossed her purse down on the pink visitors chair and crossed her arms as she stood over me. “Am I in your will?”
“Nice to see you, too, Anita. Oh and also, I’m not dead.”
Her eyes walked the length of my body. “Yeah, I can see that, Martin. When I heard about the accident I thought…it doesn’t matter. Who else would you give anything to? Your sister? She’s a bigger bitch to you than to me.”
I motioned for her to come closer so that I could whisper the answer to her. She leaned down, and then I took her and myself by surprise. The kiss was hard before melting into something warmer. My fingers worked their way down the hospital sheets and clenched the hem of her pencil skirt. Slowly I pushed my tongue in between her lips as my hands slid up her skirt. I forgot how fit she was. The firm muscles in her thighs that lead up to her-
“Mr. Smythe!” Running feet sounded in the hall. Anita pulled back from me just as the well endowed nurse came bursting into the room. “Your heart rate skyrocketed. Did something happen or is the heat beat being erratic?”
She took in my flushed cheeks, then she glanced at Anita who looked away embarrassed.
“Arguing can do it, too. Ms. Smythe-”
“It’s Frost now,” Anita said. She looked at me with a mixture of the hate I have grown accustomed to and something else I hadn’t seen in years.
The nurse continued, “Ms. Frost, I’m going to have to ask you to leave now. My patient needs rest.
A week later I was back at home with a list of dos and don’ts from the hospital stuck to my refrigerator. Anita was there within the hour. I heard her quick steps coming up the walkway. I hated those footsteps. Her businesslike attitude. Her money grubbing hands. Her-
My front door swung open.
“You can’t just come in. You have to knock.” I scowled.
“Shut up,” she unbuttoned her shapeless rain jacket and threw it on my suede couch. I ground my teeth as the fabric soaked up tiny water droplets.
Underneath she had on yoga pants and a tank top. Her usual pilates outfit, but for some reason I couldn’t keep my eyes off her breasts. I wanted her to turn around so bad that it hurt. I felt myself become aroused.
“I don’t know what that was at the hospital, but just because you almost died does not mean I will take you back. That ship has sailed.”
I took two big steps and closed the distance between us. I picked her up and carried her into my bedroom.
“Holy shit,” Anita’s voice was winded as she lay next to me. She pulled me closer to her. “So I guess you are a changed man. How about we go out next Friday and talk about us?” She batted her eyelashes at me.
“No, thanks,” I said and pushed her off me. I stepped out of bed and began to dress.
“What?” she gawked.
I walked to the closet to pull out my shoes. I needed to run to the pharmacy before they closed. Anita cleared her throat. I sighed.
“Anita, I don’t want a relationship with you. I’m just, just really horny. I’m not even attracted to you anymore. I just really needed that. For fuck’s sake I even gave my number to the cashier at the grocery store this afternoon. I don’t know what’s wrong with me.”
Thunk. My tempurpedic pillow hit me so hard in the head that I almost lost my balance. Anita dressed and left without another word. I stayed in the bedroom until her tires crunched on the gravel.
Then I tossed on my coat before grabbing my keys. The sun had set, so I flipped on my porch light to lock my front door. A pair of headlights shut off as I turned around to walk to my car. I looked up to find someone staring at me from behind the wheel. My heart skipped a beat, but I didn’t know exactly why. I felt like I knew him, but the tanned skin and rust colored hair rang no bells. But he was staring at me. Intently. Or maybe I was going insane. I walked to my car and backed out. I needed to hurry if I was going to get my prescription tonight.
The pharmacist went over a list a mile long of things I couldn’t have while on the drug before I was given my total. I imagined bending him over the counter and taking him from-
I reached for my wallet and signed the electronic signature pad. I felt sweat beading on my forehead as the pharmacist wished me a good night. I had to get out of here. I needed a good night’s sleep is all. I just needed sleep and maybe a beer. No wait, that was on the list of don’ts. I just needed sleep and a good hard screwing. Damn it! I chastised myself. I felt like a 14 year old boy watching porn for the first time. I pushed on the door to leave the store.
It wouldn’t budge.
I pushed harder, and harder. I could feel eyes on me.
I went to push again, but a hand grabbed my shoulder.
“Let me,” said a soft male voice. He reached in front of me and pulled on the door.
The cold night air felt good on my skin. I walked out, and the man followed behind me. I went to the left toward my car. The man followed me. I whirled around to face him.
It was him. The man that had been looking at me as I left my house.
“Who are you?” I felt my body release a tension I didn’t know had built up. I still didn’t recognize this man, but I knew that he wouldn’t hurt me.
“I should have died, too,” the man whispered. A single tear fell from his right eye before his thick beard absorbed it.
“Excuse me, I don’t understand.”
“I was the reason we crashed. I knew I shouldn’t have gone down on him. But we had both been doing so good in our sex addict group. I thought we had earned it.”
Suddenly his tear stained cheek sent a wave of longing through me. I wanted to hold him and kiss him. Sex addict. The term rang in my head.
“You were in the truck that hit me?”
The man nodded his head. My heart began beating faster.
“I just miss him, you know? I was at the hospital when they rushed you in. The nurses couldn’t stop talking about how they found an organ donor in such a horrible way…do you, can you feel him?” He looked up at me and I melted.
“Can you?” I said. I dropped my prescription bag on the parking lot asphalt and kissed the man whose name I didn’t even know.