Fine Print

The pager went off, instructing us to pick up a patient for transport to a psychiatric facility. Pickup was at Biggish Hospital, room 4.

P. Artner is teching the call, and stops the cot halfway down the hallway. There’s a bed above which is affixed a large cardboard sign, “4H”.

DTs: “Um –”

P. Artner, to woman in bed: “Hello!”

DTs, sotto voce: “cough cough room 4 cough…”

P. Artner: “How are you feeling today?”

Woman: “Fine. Who are you?”

DTs, sotto voce: “cough ROOM 4 not HALL 4 cough…”

P. Artner: “We’re from the ambulance company.”

Confused Woman: “Well, what do you all want?”

DTs, softly humming: “Roooooom 4, once more, as we stroll further on, to room foooooour…”

P. Artner, ignoring DTs: “We’re going to take you to the mental hospital!”

Woman: “What!”

DTs – gives up and watches.

P. Artner: “Yes, the doctor wants you to go to the psychiatric ward.”

The woman does some wide-eyed, head-shaking, mouth opening-and-closing sputtering.

P. Artner: “So, how long have they had you here? A while, huh? Well, we’ll get you over to your nice room at HappyLand Asylum shortly. I need to talk to your nurse for a minute first, though.”

DTs: “Excuse me, Mrs…?”

Woman: “Jones! What’s all this-”

P. Artner: “Jones! You’re not Mrs Smith?”

Woman: “No!”

P. Artner checks the patient’s hospital ID bracelet. “Well. Uh. Um.”

DTs to woman, leading P. Artner away: “Sorry, ma’am. Mistaken identity. I’m sure you’re not imagining whatever you’re really here for.”

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