It was unusually busy for a weekday afternoon. The emergency room was filled with a full cast of characters suffering from varying degrees of disorders, some more severe than others. The spectrum ranged from those with bloodied and bandages appendages to a feverish young woman to a construction worker with a hacking cough that reverberated in a corridor every few minutes. 

Automatic doors of differing colors and markings were situated at opposites ends of the room. They opened and closed intermittently with personnel encompassing a variety of medical specialties. By mid-day, the madness had slowed to a manageable calm, and occupants had filled every seat.

It was then that a slightly disheveled man wearing a gray, Brooks Brothers suit hurriedly entered, making his way to the reception desk. Randal Morgan, Esq., was grasping his shoulder, a broken arm in a sling, the result of a multi-car accident, one of which was a city bus.

           “Can you get me in as soon as possible?” he frantically asked the receptionist.

           “You’ll need to take a number and have a seat. We will call you in the order in which you arrived.”

           “Look, I know you might think this doesn’t look so bad compared to some,” he stated, quietly under his breath, “but I’m a fairly important person in this town.  I really need to be back at the office within the hour.”

           “Sir, you will need to take a seat.” the stern woman repeated. “Someone will tend to you in the order in which you arrived.”

Not accustomed to not getting his way, the attorney walked a few steps to the ticket dispenser and did as instructed.

“Number eighty-seven. Geez, how long is that going to take?” he asked, looking over at the woman who ignored his inquiry. Surveying the room, he finds the one seat that becomes available.

           “This place has no idea what’s about to hit them,” he says before engaging the raggedy, senior citizen with the unfocused stare. “What happened to you?”

           “I thought it was a good day to clean the gutters. Guess I was wrong. Took a spill. Should have waited for the weekend when the kids come to visit.”

           “Gee, that’s too bad. Here, my card,” handing him his business card. “Randall Morgan, from the firm of Morgan, Petit, Levine, Paterson, and Morgan. My grandfather is the first Morgan. We’ve been the leaders in class-action lawsuits for the last seventy-five years.”

Morgan looks up at the electronic counter hanging above the in-take desk, the kind you used to find at the deli. It sits at twenty-three. “We’ll move forward with the costliest class action suit these people have ever seen,” he says to anyone within earshot, “You’re all welcome to join. I’ll make you all rich, after the firm takes its percentage, of course.”

His eyes fixated on the stagnant counter, Morgan becomes further frustrated. Despite the broken arm, he paces the room, throwing in a wince and a grunt every now and then. Having reached one end, Morgan takes notice of a heavy curtain. Parting it slightly, he encounters a window. On the other side, a slow-moving patient being treated with the utmost care by a compassionate volunteer. 

“Look at that. Those folks are being treated the way every one of us should be treated. It’s like heaven in there.”

At that moment, a white door slides open. “Number twenty-four? Anyone? Number twenty-four?” asks a nurse in customary attire. After a moment, “Number twenty-five?”

A young woman, no more than thirty, makes her way past Morgan. She is pale, with one hand applying pressure to her stomach.

“An obvious case of food poisoning,” he points out. “This has got to be the scariest looking group ever assembled,” he observes while making his way back to his seat. “An ambulance chaser could make a fortune.”

Morgan tries the receptionist once more. “Are you sure there isn’t something we can do to speed up the process?” again pleading his case.

“You’re asking me if it would be possible for you to move to the front of the line, as if you were a person of some stature with whom we should all be familiar, do I have that right?

           “Look, I didn’t mean for it to come off that way. I’m only looking for some relief if you or anyone of authority can make that happen. I just want to get this over with and return to my office.”

“Oh, you’d like to have your case expedited. That’s something completely different,” the woman says in an upbeat tone. “If you’ll give me a moment, I’ll gladly call my supervisor and see what we can do.”

Morgan heads back to his seat.

“See, that’s how you do it,” he says to the raggedy man as he takes his seat. “Sometimes, it pays to throw your weight around a little.”

Just at that moment, the counter changes. “Twenty-six? Now serving number twenty-six?” is delivered by another nurse standing at the white door.

“Here’s your card,” says the man, handing it back to Morgan. “I’m sure I won’t be needing it, but good luck.” 

As the man gingerly follows the nurse, Morgan is astonished to see the rear portion of the man’s skull is missing.

           “How the heck can that guy even be alive?” he says to a sickly woman nearby. “They should have wheeled that old guy right in. His head, it’s---He’s missing half his brains.”

The sliding doors close, and Morgan jumps to his feet, incredulous. “How can that be possible?” 

He runs to the curtain and again peers through the window. There, on the other side, is the man among many other patients being escorted by the volunteers. 

“That’s him.” Morgan turns to the others. “His head…” 

The man is whole again. “But how can that be? All back together, like he never suffered a day in his life. What kind of hospital are they running here?”

           Morgan is thrown into a panic. Enduring his pain, he grabs hold of the curtain and forcibly pulls it the entire length of the window. Exposed is a pristine, antiseptic room filled with happy, seemingly-well patients as they are escorted, one by one, and vanish through a hazy exit.

“Number eighty-seven, Mr. Morgan,” shouts one of two male orderlies, who look to be of the disorderly type compared to other staff. They stand in front of a blackened door at the other end.

“Heaven,” Morgan says to himself, with composure. “It can’t be. We can’t all be...dead?” The realization finally hits him. Morgan looks around. “We’re all…dead.”

His fellow patients glared back.

“But if over there is heaven…’

"Hey, Morgan,” yells the other orderly in a Brooklyn accent. “Did you or did you not want your case expedited?”

Morgan slowly looks to the receptionist, who displays a Cheshire Cat grin.

“Then that must be…”

One can only imagine the look of horror on the face of Randal Morgan, Esq.

July 10, 2020 12:38

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