Sleepless In The OR | William Thomas Online | William Thomas

Sleepless In The OR

Background to this latest story from Dreamstates (dreamt Nov 28, 2018):

bed bummer

Lying alone in the dark, I am beset by multiple assailants. Knife in the stomach. Steel-booted kick in the side. I roll around in the big empty bed, trying to find a configuration that lessens the pain. Left side? Right side? On my back? Right side is best.


Happy 70th! My stomach feels bloated. Drum-tight. Clenched. Did I eat Bad Stuff? Lone geezers are always eating bad stuff. But I haven't eaten anything in two days. Hardly anything. Since this started.


No nausea, which is super nice. And I'm not sweating. So not another heart attack. Or maybe it is, considering how many neurons are packed into the average tummy, hard-wired exclusively to report to the brain. Can't be much left inside of there. My stomach, I mean. Though I'm passing enough gas to light Vancouver, over there across the strait.


Not really. But still.


Reaching for The Only Kayak, I turn on the bedside light and read that part again where they finally get ashore in that winter storm in Glacier Bay up in Alaska and Melanie staggers from the smashed boat and goes into hypothermic shock, folding into herself. I can relate. Also to the Japanese photographer who got eaten by a grizzly. Finally, I fall into an uneasy doze. Perchance to dream

OR Nurse -nursingcrib.com




by William Thomas


Bending low over the patient, I inquire, "Bioki desu-ka?"




"You are ill. And you speak Japanese. Are you in pain?




"Much pain? Too much pain?"




"Are you afraid?"




There is something else in those dolphin’s eyes. Something deeper. Peace.


"But you're okay with that."




"Can you say, 'No'?"




"Guess I asked for that."




I tell the surgeon standing next to me, "Baka kichi-gai, desu.” (Idiot is crazy person.)


"I did not ask for a self-diagnosis. I've spent time with her. She's saner than both of us."


"Hardly a recommendation."




"What's her deal?"


"She was found curled into a fetal ball on some sidewalk somewhere," Dr. Milligan says, shaking his head. "Probably the same sidewalk as all the others. Hundreds of people walked around her. One called it in."


"I see."


"I doubt that very much."


"Does she have a name?"




"What is her namu?"


"That's between her and me."


"Right. You mentioned a cat?"


"Just showed up. Jumped in the ambulance."


"How hygienic."


"Wouldn't leave her side." 


"She's very pretty."








"If we don't do something, she will make a comely cadaver." I hold up a hand. "Don't say it."




"Why is she still wearing a skirt?"




"I see her torso has been prepped for surgery," I say, striving for the positive. "What's under the drape? Her stomach appears distended."


“Feel it," Dr. Milligan invites.


I put out a gloved hand and touch the swollen belly as gently as I can, though I am a big man. It writhes and hisses. I jump back like a small man.


Dr. Milligan laughs. Rolling up his smock, he shows me four deep scratches under his right forearm.


"Kill the cat," I say. The room hushes. Ominously. "Just kidding. X-rays?"


"It's definitely a tabby."


"Blood tests?"




"What does that mean?"


"It means her blood did not test positive. Doctor." Despite the belated honorific, his intonation confirms: baka-san.


"Positive for what?"


"If it didn't test positive for anything, how can we know?"


"Okay," I say, groping for control. "We can’t wait for my frappachino. The patient could croak while we stand around palavering." I clap my hands, force a smile. "We've got to look inside. Must be a zipper somewhere. Let's open 'er up and see what we got."

nurse with gun

A metallic clack behind my left shoulder makes me turn around.




The scrub nurse holds a .45 automatic centered on my chest.


"Nice hand cannon," I say, making big eyes. "Does this mean you don't want me to operate on the cat?"


No one laughs.


"Great," I say. "A monosyllabic patient. A jealous cat. A homicidal nurse. Did I miss anyone?"


"Only yourself," the nurse says through gritted teeth. Odd I've never seen her in the OR before.


"Just call me Doctor Durak," I say. "Are you like from around here?"


"I am her mamasan."


"Of course you are," I say. "But even if this is a dream, don't you think we should try to save your daughter's life?"


"She is not in danger."


"For God's sweet sake!" I shout. "Look how pale she is. Likely internal bleeding. Possible ruptured appendix. I hate to bring this up at a time like this, but your daughter is dying!"


“We are all dying.” The pistol never wavers.

“But not right now!”

“My little girl is strong and brave. She will get over it.”

“Get over death?"

“Of course. When it is her time. So will you. That is why."  

"That's why what?"


"Why she is not in danger."


I slap my forehead, my rubber surgical glove making a squishy smacking sound. "Of course! Why didn't I think of that?"


"Because you are Doctor Durak," the nurse says. Dr. Milligan snorts through his mask.


"If she dies," I promise, "I will have you up on charges of manslaughter. No. Murder."


"Likewise," the nurse says.


"But I haven't done anything!"




"Excuse me," says a small voice from the table. "Can I go home now?"




"Of course you can, dear," says her mother. "Don't mind him."


"He's nice," the daughter says. “Slow. But nice. He has kind eyes. A little maniacal when he shouts. But kind." She thinks about what she's just said. "I don't like him."


"Are we done here?" I demand, ripping off my surgical mask like in the last episode of the Lone Ranger when he's finally had enough of all the speculation and innuendo. No silver bullet though.


"You’re done here, I know that much," says my inter-dimensional travel agent. And pulls the trigger.



Cherry Blossoms and Falling Petals


Otherworldly stories from Dreamstates:




“RESIST MUCH, OBEY LITTLE”   发件人     William Thomas 2023