July 1st. Canada Day. The worst day of the year to be the senior resident on the trauma surgery service. Everyone’s been drinking all day and waiting for the fireworks to start. It’s too hot out. People are fighting and crashing cars and falling off their bikes. The little first-year residents are streaking around the Emergency Department in a panic, looking like they’re about to shit themselves as another bloody mess is wheeled into the trauma bay.
The EMTs brought a kid in, early in the afternoon. He wouldn’t give us his name or date of birth (but he looked like he’d barely started shaving). The girlfriend wouldn’t give us any info either. He’d been stabbed to the abdomen, lateral to the umbilicus. He brought the knife in with him, had it in his pocket. He was high as hell and stunk like vodka. After we scanned him and cleaned him up, I decided to park him in Emergency and let him sleep it off. It wasn’t worth the paperwork to do a formal admission.
By the time I got in my car the next morning, I’d forgotten his name, one of eight young males stabbed during my thirty-hour shift.
There was so much fucking blood. His hands were covered in it. His fingers were around the knife, then all over me. So my arms smelled like blood: wet metal, and sweet somehow. I was crying and my nose was running into my mouth and I tasted some of his blood on my lip. I almost threw up in the car while we were following the ambulance. Tammy threatened to pull over because I was screaming in her ear while she was driving. She said I was going to give her a panic attack.
I felt so guilty. He’d gone out to smoke weed with Matt Rose and his brother, and then came crashing back into the kitchen. Me and Tammy were drinking vodka and listening to Sublime. His good light-blue shirt was soaked through and the knife was still in his guts. It was my fault, too, letting the Roses come over, knowing Matt still had a thing for me.
Honestly, I thought there would’ve been more blood. I was pretty drunk, too, and booze is supposed to make your blood thin out, right? It wasn’t all that bad but a bitchy nurse in the emergency room wouldn’t let me drink anything, in case they had to operate, and I was so fucking thirsty that my tongue hurt. But eventually, a hot little doctor came up to the bed. She said the CT scan showed I didn’t have any internal damage, and I could sleep it off in the Emergency Department then go home. She said it was good that I have a bit of a spare tire because it kept Matt Rose’s knife from getting to my organs. I patted my belly near where they’d stapled me and winked at her—trying to be funny.
Tammy must’ve taken Megan back home. She was probably still losing it, as usual. At least my phone was still my pants. Shit, it even had a charge. I sobered up a little and went out to smoke by the bus stop outside the hospital.
Jamie called while I was out there. He said that he saw Matt Rose’s car outside the Polish Club. He’s going to wait for them to come out, going to get my money back. I told him I was thirsty anyhow, that I’d be on my way. I called Megan and told her to come to pick me up. She started crying, sounded drunk as shit. I told her to stop being crazy. I told her to bring me a clean shirt too because I had something to take care of.
Lisa Moore is an MFA candidate in Creative Writing at the University of British Columbia. She also works as a Physician Assistant in trauma and plastic surgery in Winnipeg, Canada. Her work has been published in The Cold Mountain Review, Obra/Artifact and Papirmass.