Tuesday, March 9, 2010


I got off the elevator from the rooftop helipad and saw the red stain on the floor. Not much question of what it was…blood has a certain look to it, a dull sheen, a viscosity that you can see; a deep red where the blood is still liquid, a crimson where it’s starting to dry, small spots of block where it’s begun to congeal. Blood is slippery; it makes people fall. It was smeared across the tile just after the lip of the elevator car, so that when the doors opened you had but a moment to see the stain, recognize it for what it was, and avoid it. For while television dramas immerse their casts knee-deep in blood, no one really wants it on their shoes.

Twenty-three inches after the smear there was a teardrop of blood, slightly enlongated, the narrow end pointing towards the elevator. Twenty-three inches later another drop, pointed as the first. Then another, then another, another still as they fell out of sight around the corner with a hard right turn. They were going my way, so I went theirs. Half stride, blood. Half stride, blood. Half stride, blood. It was a smooth pace, regular, unwavering, cascading straight down the hallway about sixty feet, then veering to the left. I was going that way, too.

The trail ended below the head of a patient who had shot himself. In the moment, the reasons why or how were really of no matter. There was an entrance wound on the right and an exit wound on the left, and bullets that cross the midline kill, full stop. The staff was trying to get a tube in his throat to help him breathe…not because there was any potential save, but we might keep his organs working long enough to get a donation out of his family. And as they struggled with his airway, I saw the blood pulsating out of his brain…pump, pump, pump…every half second...every leisurely half stride…into another red stain that lapped over the floor.

No comments:

Post a Comment