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Authors: Robert Ward

The Sandman (9 page)

BOOK: The Sandman
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“That was so nice,” she said. “Oh, God, that sounds ridiculous. That was good, no, that’s not it. It was beautiful.”

Peter held her to him in the dark.

“You’re beautiful,” he said. “You’re beautiful.”

“And you are.”

“No,” he said, “I’m out of shape.”

“Uh, uh,” she whispered.

She put her leg over his and kissed him on the head.

“I like you very, very much,” she said. “Maybe I like you too much.”

He stroked her hair, ran his hand down her perfect back and over her ass. In a second she had fallen asleep, and he lay there waiting to join her. But it didn’t happen. Instead, the voices started again, the fears and the doubts. “So you had an orgasm, you felt something in your body. Is that all it takes to make you forget? Is that what you can be bought for? Is that all it takes?”

He tried not to listen. He tried to pretend he was a happy, satiated lover, which in part he was, but there was the other part, like teeth inside of him. When he looked down on her sleeping figure, he saw her differently—once again like a sleeping animal. She had hungered. She had eaten. And now she slept. He shut his eyes, felt the Space moving inside of him, starting to whirl about … then he touched her ass, laid his hand on the base of her spine. He sighed deeply. He felt inordinately tired, exhausted, fading out. But still, he did not sleep.

10

“Listen to me,” Esther Goldstein said. “I’m telling you it’s nothing.”

“I’m sure it isn’t, Ma,” Barty said, as the cab sped across town toward Eastern. “I’m sure it isn’t, but you’ve been having those pains for two days now and you
know
about your heart condition.”

“I don’t believe this,” Esther said, knocking the peacock feather away from her face. “I get to Bloomingdale’s twice a year and my worrywart son is rushing me off to the emergency room of a hospital. I mean, oy—”

She didn’t finish the last sentence. The pain had intensified and was shooting up and down her left arm. She felt short-circuited.

But mostly, even as she suffered from her heart, Esther Goldstein’s main sensation was one of embarrassment. She had come to show them how she had survived, by God. She had come to be an object lesson for Barty who was prematurely aging and had started to play it safe full time. And now, oh God, the pain was getting worse. Perhaps she should have listened to Dr. Benson in Cincinnati, when he suggested that she not try to get in shape too quickly. But no matter what it was, no matter how bad the pain became (and there was no let-up), she was going to pull through this. She knew it. She was dead certain.

“We’re here, driver,” Barty said. “Don’t get out, Ma. I’m getting a stretcher.”

Esther tried to get up, but she was beyond that stage now. She stared out the window of the cab and made out the name Eastern Medical. In less than two minutes they had wheeled her through the crowded halls of the Eastern Emergency Room. Her nervous son and shell-shocked daughter-in-law tried to keep up with the residents who rushed her along.

“To think,” Esther said, “twenty minutes ago I was in Bloomies.”

“Mrs. Goldstein,” said a fat nurse, “you must try and keep quiet.”

“Keep quiet?” Esther said. “Keep quiet? I might be dying. And if that’s the case, I’ll have years to keep quiet.”

But the pain hit her again, a great nauseating wave of it, and for the moment she wasn’t able to speak.

They wheeled her quickly by the nurses’ station and then by the anesthesiologist’s Ready Room.

“Some ride,” Esther Goldstein said, as the pain cut back a bit.

A couple of the residents even laughed at that one. Their voices caught Peter Cross’s attention as he was checking out his armamentarium. He looked up and saw the frizzy-haired lady staring at him, with enormous eyes. He smiled at her and snapped shut his case and headed off to the cafeteria for lunch.

They wheeled Esther Goldstein into X-Ray, and then into the Cardiac Monitoring Room, and two doctors attached the electrocardiograph machine to her. She looked down at the electrodes on her chest.

“Look, Barty,” she said, “I’m the bionic yenta.”

Above her, a round doctor named Tompkins, with a nose that made him look like Mr. Potato Head, began talking to another doctor, a short man with small, slit eyes.

“This woman needs a coronary bypass operation,” Tompkins said. “I think it’s as simple as bypass, two months in bed, and she’s as good as new.”

But the shorter man, Dr. Snyder, waved a small, eloquent finger in the air. He looked as though he was conducting an orchestra.

“Not a chance,” he said. “Her color is good. She’s awake, and her pulse isn’t too bad. I’m not at all sure we can’t treat her medically.”

Tompkins turned and pulled out some X-rays they had just worked up on Esther.

“Look at these, will you?”

“Forget it,” said the short man. He stared at his own fingers as if he were transfixed.

“That’s right, Doc,” Esther gasped. “Forget it. I’ve seen better acts than yours on the Gong Show.”

“Good,” said the little man, patting the fading Barty on the arm. “We’ll get you into the Cardiac Monitoring Unit … work up some tests. We’ll get her ready for the angiogram. There’s nothing to really worry about. We’ve caught this in plenty of time.”

“You’re sure she’s going to be all right?” Barty said.

“Absolutely. It’s the best unit on the floor. We’ve got around-the-clock nurses and closed-circuit TV. Any problems arise, we nail them down in a minute. Nothing will go wrong.”

Barty took out a handkerchief and rubbed his head.

“Trust me,” the doctor said.

11

At precisely 3:00 A.M. Harry Gardner began to feel the urge come over him. It was always that way with Harry. Go out, snort a little coke (and what was that stuff cut with?—Drano?), have a few drinks and maybe smoke a joint, and see if he could score … If not, he would try and go to bed, but by that time he would be too jacked up to sleep … and he would feel a great, gaping horniness … a need … for something … anyone to keep him going. Now he stood outside of the nurses’ station, watching June Boswell walking toward him, holding her patient’s chart and a tray of pills in Dixie cups.

“Hi,” he said.

“Harry … I told you … I don’t want to see you.”

He stared at her large breasts, her thick hips, her full, sensual lips. He usually went for thinner women, but there was something very ripe about her … at least now. He remembered an old country song, “When I’m half shot, you’re not half bad.”

“Harry … I’m very busy.”

“Come on, June … You already made your rounds. Everybody is sleeping like a baby.”

“Harry …”

Her voice was small, pleading. He knew she couldn’t resist him. She loved it … the sex and the risk of being caught.

He leaned on the glass wall and looked in at the cardiac monitors.

The tapes with the EKG readings of the patients were folded neatly out into trays. Harry walked over and picked up one of the pieces of tape and ran it across his lips.

“June,” he said, “you know I’ve really been wanting to fix some of those old anesthesiology machines in Room Two-twenty-two. Why don’t you come down with me?”

“Harry,” she said, smiling, “I can’t. Yvonne is helping Dr. Frost with a cut-down, and Rodgers and Hargrove are out taking a break. Somebody has got to be here to check on the EKG readings. What if one of the patients had a problem?”

“Come on,” Harry said, moving behind her and kneading her back muscles with his strong fingers. “How likely is that to happen? Besides, if anything does go wrong, we’ll hear the squawk box. And we’ll come right back. And what’s more … if we don’t do it now, we blow it for the entire night, because as soon as they come back … well, you know it wouldn’t be good if anybody saw me here.”

“What’s the matter?” June said. “Worried about your professional reputation?”

She patted his hand and then gave out a long, self-satisfied sigh, and got up from her chair.

“Well,” she said, “I don’t suppose I should send you down there to fix those machines all by yourself.”

As June and Harry walked down the hall, Peter Cross walked quickly from the broom closet where he had sat for the last hour. He stood outside Esther Goldstein’s room and then turned and looked back at the central monitoring desk. He must hurry. The two aides were liable to come back any minute, and if they looked across the hall, they could see him through the cheap, pale blue curtains in Esther Goldstein’s window. Either that, or they might check the EKG printouts and see that she was indeed “having a problem.”

He moved inside and stared down at her sleeping figure. He had to do something about the oscilloscope. He looked at it, as her EKG reading bleeped across. On top of it was the warning squawk box with the volume knob. This would be easy—very easy indeed. He reached for the knob, turning it to the right, to the spot marked Off, smiling as he stared down at Esther. He twisted again, but it didn’t seem to click off. He tried turning it again, but it was stuck. Christ … now what? He stared down at the knob, twisting it to the left, just to make sure.

Harry opened the door, groped around for the light, and banged his shin on something solid. A sharp pain shot up his leg and he cursed and reached down, this time banging his head.

“Shit,” he said. “Shit. Come on, June, help me find the light.”

“Here,” she said. She turned it on and looked around. They were surrounded by old anesthesia machines, rubber tubing, ancient oxygen masks, and other paraphernalia no longer used by the hospital.

“Why don’t they get rid of this junk?” June said, walking across the room. “It’s just useless garbage.”

Harry rubbed his head and gave her his best simian smile.

“It’s not all useless,” he said. “Look at this old table.”

He walked to the end of the room, took some equipment off an old operating table, and jumped up.

“Turn off the light,” he said, “and come over here.”

“Harry,” she said. “I don’t know …”

But she was already walking toward the wall. The lights went out and Harry heard her coming toward him, bumping into things, cursing softly.

In the canteen, just ten feet down from the central monitoring desk, Rodgers and Hargrove, the two nurse’s aides, sat having Cokes. Rodgers, a plain-looking girl with acne scars, sipped philosophically and stared down at the table. Hargrove, a very tall woman nicknamed Stilts, shook her head.

“I know just how it is,” she said, “I know just how it is. All the bastards are alike. They say there was a sexual revolution. I say bullshit.”

“You can say that again,” said Sally Rodgers. “I mean it.” She reached down in her tote bag and pulled out a half-pint of Jim Beam.

“We should be getting back,” Stilts said.

“Ah, hell … I know, but June is handling it. Let’s have one quick one, and …”

“Okay, you twisted my arm,” Hargrove said. “But a quick one. Besides, I’ve got a special toast in mind.”

“Right,” Sally Rodgers said.

She ran her hand across her acne scars.

“Screw men,” Hargrove said. “Screw ‘em all.”

“Amen,” Sally said.

They drank with relish, then set down their cups.

“Back to the grind,” Hargrove said.

Peter felt panicky. Jesus, the knob … He stared down at it. He couldn’t tell if it was on or off. It seemed to be stuck. The oscilloscope still worked, but he had no idea what the volume was set at now that he had monkeyed with it. He looked across the room, toward the nurses’ station. Maybe he should just leave. But no … he had come this far …

He couldn’t just quit. But there was no way to unplug the damned thing. If you even tried to take it out of the wall, the alarm would raise all hell in the nurses’ station … No, there was only one solution.

Quickly, he took out his nail clippers and opened up the ‘scope by removing the repair plate on the back. He stuck his nail file into the Philips head screw on the plate. There were four of them and he had to hurry. He twisted and the screw turned, twisted again and again, then the first one was in his pocket. Beneath him, Esther Goldstein stirred … and he stopped and moved back into the shadows. Then she settled down, and he was at it again. The second came out more easily, and the third and fourth seemed to fall out in his hands. He pulled off the plate, looked inside at the maze of wires and springs, and found the red wire which connected to the buzzer. He reached in, tried pulling it out, but it put pressure on the entire circuit. He had to be careful … If there was anything that upset the EKG readings, he was through.

Suddenly there was a loud noise. But it was only Esther snoring. There had to be another way to get to that wire. He looked down at his nail clippers. There was no choice. Swiftly, he edged them inside, being careful not to touch any other part of the machinery. Then he found the wire and clipped it cleanly. Finally, he realigned the wire, just off center, so that from the outside the plastic insulation seemed to match perfectly with the other end, but inside the copper coils were no longer in contact. Quickly, he picked up the repair plate and began working with the screws. In a few minutes he had all four of them back in. He checked the wall clock in the nurses’ station. Three fourteen—he had to hurry. Then he looked down at Esther Goldstein, who was staring at him, wide awake.

“No, Harry. Oh, Christ, not up the ass. I can’t stand it.”

But he had her bent over now, bent over the old operating table, and he was taking his cock out of her cunt and starting to push it in her ass.

“It’s going to be good, baby. You’ve just got to open yourself up to it. It’s going to be very good.”

“Oh, Harry, I don’t know. Oh, God, all right. Give it to me now.”

He thrust himself forward and she reached around and took his huge penis and began to rotate her ass and put it in. Harry felt as if he were going to explode. Oh, God, he needed this. And she had been good, very good, and she was being good now, taking it inch by inch and moaning.

“That’s it, Harry. That’s it … Give it to me. Right there. I waaaannnt it. Give it to me, Harry. I want you in there. Yes. Reach around and take my breasts. Now.”

Harry reached and grabbed them. So damned large and hard and the nipples in between his fingers, and he was getting in deeper and deeper. But there was something just a little amiss. He hadn’t been able to come yet. Christ, she had come three times but he hadn’t made it yet. He kept thrusting at her, and she was wiggling harder now, taking his whole cock all the way in her and crying and rotating her ass. And Harry felt good, good, but not great. Christ, he was having trouble. Maybe all that doping, staying out late was finally getting to him. He was thirty-four. What was wrong with him?

BOOK: The Sandman
6.74Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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