Trey Blackstone awoke in severe pain. It was agonizing..the type of pain that creates white dots to flutter indiscriminately in your field of vision, like sperm doing their miracle dance. He rolled over in bed, onto his left side so as to avoid putting pressure on the source of his discomfort: his lower right abdomen.
“Michael!” he cried, “Michael!”
Michael Wang was in the bathroom brushing his teeth, trying to keep quiet as much as he could so that his lover could enjoy a few extra minutes of blissful slumber. Upon hearing his cry, Michael yanked the toothbrush from his mouth, spat out the paste and ran to the bed.
“What’s wrong sweetheart? What is it?” he asked, gently caressing Trey’s brow.
“My side..it’s awful…the worst pain ever…”
Michael had had some training when he was in studies to become a nurse (never finished the program, mind you) but still he knew enough to recognize that lower right abdominal pain likely meant one thing: appendicitis. An absolute medical emergency.
Michael grabbed the phone and called 911. After a brief explanation, the respondent assured him that emergency personnel would be on scene shortly and appraise the situation.
Michael paced back and forth while Trey agonized on the bed. He held his cell phone in hand, ready to answer any future calls and ready to phone into work at Parker & Sons Publishing Inc. in Illinois to let them know he was coming in late today, didn’t know when.
For Trey it was different. He was a self-employed real estate agent and no one really kept any tabs on him except for the appointments he had lined up for the day which were carefully organized on his Blackberry. Michael hadn’t checked that yet. It was only 7:30 a.m. after all.
Trey writhed on the bed, clutching his lower abdomen and moaning like a wounded hound. Michael dare not touch him for fear of invoking a wrath and causing shooting pain to emanate forth from Trey’s bowel. Trey was sweating profusely, despite the moderately cool temperature of the condominium they shared.
The emergency personnel arrived within fifteen minutes. Michael could see the flashing lights of their vehicle parked outside the condo from the beautiful outdoor view of their suite. The paramedics politely introduced themselves and proceeded to take Trey’s vitals.
His skin looked almost grey by this point. Michael chewed on his fingernails which had already been grated upon during past life stressors. It wasn’t easy being an overtly gay male in the publication industry despite that fact that most readers never even saw you. Hell, it was tough being a gay male anywhere.
The paramedics placed Trey on a body board after carefully applying a hard collar around his neck. Michael wasn’t sure why they did that given that there was no neck trauma, however he was assured it was a “routine precaution”.
Michael threw the keys to his Acura RDX into hand and rushed down to the garage and made his way over to the Mercy Hospital Medical Center in Chicago. His hands gripped the steering wheel with white knuckles as he dodged and weaved his way through the steadily mounting morning traffic thinking “Is he going to survive?..Is he going to make it through?”
Upon arriving at Mercy, Michael barged through the automated sliding doors in the Emergency Wing only to see Trey carefully being placed onto a gurney, hard collar still affixed.
He rushed to the receptionist’s desk. “What are they doing with him?”
“With who sir?”
“My..my…boyfriend. That guy there,” he gestured with a pointed index finger to the gurney.
“Are you the next of kin?” The receptionist queried.
“Yes…I mean no…I mean I’m the closest thing to family he has in Chicago, so yes.”
She tapped a few times on her computer. After several moments she replied, “Mr. Blackstone is being taken for an emergency abdominal Ultrasound. Be patient sir and have a seat.” She gestured to the two empty chairs in the waiting area. The others were occupied by a toddler’s mother whose son was vomiting into a plastic plant’s vase and the other by a woman who appeared to be in her twenties, dangerously thin and was visibly shaking.
Michael sat himself down in one of the vacant seats and pretended to be interested in the latest People magazine with Chloe Kardashian on the cover. “Marriage Made in Hell” was the coverline.
In the emergency Ultrasound room, the technician nervously applied a blue translucent gel to Trey’s abdomen and began to run the device over the vicinity.
“Don’t panic and try your best not to move,” the technician said. “Otherwise the image will be blurred.”
Trey bit down on his tongue as he tried to withstand the pressure and pain from his abdomen that felt like someone was stabbing him and twisting with all their effort.
After a few moments of the machine scanning with systematic buzzes and hums, the technician said, “Uh-oh.”
Trey felt like jumping off the table. What did “Uh-oh” mean? Not good. He vaguely recalled an old David Letterman show where the top ten list was “Top Ten Signs You’ve Gone to a Bad Doctor.” He could not remember all of them or their order, but he did remember that one was, “When he’s naked and you’re not” while another was “When they say “uh-oh””.
Before Trey knew it, a twenty eight year old medical intern came by with long blond hair tied back in a ponytail wearing the traditional green surgical scrubs characteristic of hospital attire. Gnarly, dude.
The intern scanned over the Ultrasound images. “Whoa!” he said, sounding awfully similar to Keanu Reeves from his Bill & Ted days. “This is insane. Whoa..I’ve never seen anything like this in my life! Get him to emergency surgery, like now!” Whoa indeed, dude.
Trey was transplanted back onto the gurney, a razor blade of pain shearing through his abdomen upon so doing. What was in there? Buried treasure? An old taco? His last tax return?
Meanwhile Michael Wang was literally pacing the floor, the mother of the vomiting youngster staring at him the whole time. Why don’t you worry about your kid and stop friggin’ looking at me? Michael thought. The People magazine was long since exhausted and he had spent his last one dollar bill in a vending machine for a stale pack of Cheetos which he gobbled down despite the fact that it was now 8:30 a.m.
Michael had gone to the receptionist’s desk multiple times in anguish only to be told, “The doctors are doing their best. You just have to wait.” He supposed that was true, but when your loved one is “behind the lines” sometimes logic takes a back seat to practicality.
After what seemed like an eternity (but in reality was actually about three hours), a pretty female doctor came out to the waiting area. Her blond curls cascaded onto her shoulders like a fountain and she appeared so striking that Michael was startled by her demeanor. She carried a blue Nike duffle bag in her perfectly manicured left hand.
Michael turned to face the doctor.
“Yes, doctor …that’s me.”
She took a hold of his left hand in a loose grasp. “This is very bizarre..please do not be alarmed. I’m Dr. Heather Jefferson, abdominal surgeon.”
Michael swallowed and said, “Okay..is everything alright?’
She nodded. “Yes, yes everything is fine. Trey will bounce back in no time. He is recovering exactly as expected. It was so sweet, he kept calling your name throughout the procedure.”
How like him, Michael thought.
“Shall we go in here?” The surgeon gestured to a side consultation room. Michael anxiously stepped forth and shut the door as the doctor entered.
She exhaled slowly before speaking. “This is most bizarre. Unheard of, I’d say.” She reached into the duffel bag and pulled out a metal clothing hanger.
Michael’s jaw hung agape.
“We extracted this from Trey’s abdomen. This is what was causing him the pain. You can see how the end of the hook is slightly worn.” Her finger ran along the edge of the cold, hard metal which Michael could see had become rough with trauma over time.
“On top of that,” she continued, “We also got these.” She extracted from the bag a pair of previously pressed brown men’s dress pants. They were still slightly moist as the surgical team had hosed them down. “Kenneth Cole. Quite nice, actually. Expensive. These were on the hanger.”
Michael’s jaw dropped further if that was even humanly possible at this point.
The doctor cleared her throat. “So at this stage…I only have one medical summation.”
Michael looked into her green eyes. “And that is?”
Dr. Jefferson said, “He came out of the closet…and now his closet is coming out of him.”
Michael smiled and expired a deep breath of relief. How like Trey. How like him.
© Copyright 2016 Steve Balsky. All rights reserved.