The Night Shift

When Bobby walked through the automatic doors holding a bloody cloth against his face, Frank Tamborino knew he was in for a good story. It made sense actually since the Delores Cove ER was having one of its slowest nights in recent history. His break was almost over and after crushing out his cigarette in a nearby ashtray, he pulled his stethoscope from a pocket and clipped it around his neck before following through the doors. He stopped as a nurse helped Bobby into a wheelchair.

“Take him into Three, Jolene,” He said. “I’ll handle him myself.”

“Are you sure, Doctor?” She asked. “Doctor Phelps is on call tonight.”

Tamborino smiled and nodded. “It’s okay. I’ve spent too much time in my office going over hospital budgets and supply orders. Doing what I’ve trained for is good practice.”

“As you wish.” She pushed the wheelchair into an examining room and pulled the curtains closed behind her.

He allowed a few minutes to pass before receiving the patient chart and going in. After he closed the curtains behind him, his smile faded and the inevitable head shake started.

“Bobby, what the hell have you gotten yourself into this time?” He slipped on a pair of latex gloves and then double-checked the vital signs.

“I went out to the Kingston Protest.” Bobby replied, his words garbled by swollen lips and a gash across his right cheek. “Someone had to represent.”

Tamborino loaded up a syringe with an anesthetic before threading a surgical needle. “Bobby, this activist thing you’ve been doing is making a mess out of you. I highly recommend that you either take a break for a while or at least learn how to dodge a blow or two.” He made a few injections around the wound site and waiting for the shots to take effect. “What did you catch this time?”

“Maglite to the face,” Bobby mumbled. “Big one too. Security Guard put his hands on me and I wasn’t having that. Okay, so I was trying to climb the fence and he and his buddy pulled me down. Still, no excuse to put their hands on me.” He grinned in spite of the pain. “That fat ass will be pissing blood for a while though. I got a few good shots to his cojones before they clocked me and tossed me off the property. Then I came here.”

“I wouldn’t be so proud of that.”

Bobby flinched as he watched the sutures pull the edges of his wound closed through a nearby mirror. “That’s always been your problem, Brother. You took the straight and narrow path. No making waves, no causing problems. You lack the courage to do what’s necessary to make changes in the world. I am an activist.”

“You’re an idiot.”

“Oh yeah? What have you ever done to make the world a better place?”

“Look around you. Every day in this hospital, I help sick and injured people get better. Your short-sightedness has always been your particular problem. Don’t assume that I don’t do my part,” Tamborino said. “Keep your damn voice down. If anyone figured out that you’re my brother, I could get in a lot of trouble for doing this. Now hold still.”

Seconds ticked by before the sutures were tied, cut and a bandage applied over them. Tamborino wrote out a prescription on a pad and handed it to Bobby. “Follow the instructions and if you have any problems like blurred vision, let me know.”

Bobby struggled to his feet. “What about the bill?”

Tamborino sighed. “Don’t worry about it. I’ll take care of it. Now, go home and tell Mom that I’ll call her later.” He put an arm on Bobby’s shoulder. “Try to stay out of trouble for five minutes, okay? I don’t want to see you end up on a slab downstairs. You’re a smart kid. Use that head for something other than a hat rack.”

Bobby nodded and left.

He finished up the paperwork and attached a check for Billing. The clock on the wall read three more hours until the end of the shift but for Frank Tamborino, it wasn’t going to end soon enough.

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