Bannerjee didn’t like it when I called him Medicine Man.
“What?” I said. “You’re Indian, you hand out prescriptions, what’s the problem?”
“I’ve only been in this country for like four years, dude,” he said, “But even I know that’s crazy racist.”
Except no, Bannerjee didn’t talk like that. And he’d been here longer, his whole life maybe. But make people interesting, you know. Surprising. Maybe it’s racist, anyway, to assume he wouldn’t sound that way. Right?
What he actually said was “Foley catheter” or “If it’s not too much trouble, get me a cup, too, two sugars,” but without that first polite part.
Actually, he didn’t say anything to me, because why would he?
People never think you’ll do the obvious thing, the only thing you can. So they microchip newborns and need three signatures for an aspirin but prop open the loading dock doors so they can smoke without having to swipe their IDs after. That’s how I got in.
I know what a Foley catheter is, by the way. I know it’s not fun.
And yes, it was a Halloween costume, the store clerk pushing hard for a wig, saying, “C’mon, man, stock up for next year,” psyched as if my buying hot pink dreadlocks would get us both laid.
Only he didn’t, because who cares enough to do more than swipe the card? Which was stolen. You could maybe say borrowed. God knows my sister borrowed enough from me over the years.
I’m trying to make this interesting and right, too, but the one works against the other. Tony could have managed it, probably, because Tony was better at everything. Except obviously he wasn’t or he would have been there, doing everything.
You could have lived in that hospital. There’s a cot room, there are showers, a cafeteria, though that’s for everyone, but, anyway, in the back vending machines and free coffee, or donation. I left the jar, I didn’t touch it. That’s true.
I hadn’t expected any of it, and I surely looked like a goof while I figured it out. But I’d grabbed a box so that I was doing something. I had my library card on a lanyard face-in, and that was enough. Everyone everywhere doesn’t want to be rude and doesn’t want to be bothered.
I didn’t think the Oxy would be lying around in piles, although I guess I kind of did. It took me a while to get that there was a med room, with a counter and a guy behind it, who my box and lanyard wouldn’t impress. But it was Saturday at the U hospital after a pretty big basketball game—Tony’s idea, all of it—and late enough for people to start landing in the ER. Nobody had time to care that I was a goof and skulking. I watched from behind the soda machine, as out of the way as I could get.