BY BLAZE ARCHER I wake up. I am lying on the floor. The carpet is a soft white yet it feels rough on my cheek. I try to sit up, but my limbs are weights and I fall back down again. I lie still and breathe in the recently shampooed carpet. The chemicals make me feel like my head is full of clouds. Even though I am on the floor, I feel like I am plummeting to Earth like a stone. Getting to my knees, I crawl toward my coat and pull out my cell phone before collapsing back on the floor. I scroll through my contacts. Lisa, likes hot wax. Brian, likes whippings. Stan, likes cock and ball torture. Feeling weak, I alight on a name. Dr. Prost.
Putting the phone on speaker, I dial the number and collapse again. The phone rings and rings into oblivion before Dr. Prost picks up. He sounds fuzzy with sleep, and breathes heavily into the receiver. “Hello,” he says. “Leif? What’s going on?”
I struggle to talk, but no words come out. I try to take a breath, but my lungs are weak. Panting into the phone, I flail for words like they are passing targets at a carnival shooting gallery, only I keep missing the shot. Dr. Prost is silent for a minute before muttering, “I’ll be right there.” He hangs up.
I continue to lie on the floor. The carpet is quickly becoming my enemy, but I can’t move. The fibers are making my lungs itch. Breathing in the carpet shampoo, I become light headed, and the carpet becomes a big cloud before my eyes. Twenty minutes passes before there is a knock at the door. I can’t get up, but continue to breathe into the carpet. The doorknob is tried, and the door is shoved open.
I can tell Dr. Prost is walking toward me because he has a very heavy stride. Every step he takes sounds like a banging of a judge’s gavel. He walks across the carpet and stops before me. All I can see are his shoes, which are beat up sneakers with run down laces with the tips missing.
“Christ, Leif, what happened?” he said. I struggle to talk, but my tongue feels like its inflated and is clogging all sound from reaching the air.
Dr. Prost kneels down, so that I can see his face. It is creased and tired, with a five o’clock shadow. He is wearing a sweatshirt and jeans with a hole in the knee. The sweatshirt appears to be from a department store like Target. Dr. Prost clutches my wrist and looks at his watch, calculating my pulse. From somewhere, Dr. Prost produces a stethoscope. Carefully rolling me over, he listens to my heartbeat. The stethoscope is cool on my bare chest. I am not wearing underwear.
“I’m calling an ambulance,” Dr. Prost says. “Is that your phone?”
I can’t nod, and so Dr. Prost picks it up anyway and dials 911. The call is brief, and soon he has hung up.
“I’m coming with you,” he says. “You didn’t take something did you?”
Dr. Prost is still kneeling on the floor beside me.
“What the Hell is that picture?” he says, glancing at an abstract photograph of a woman’s vulva on the wall. “Is that…? Huh. Kinda makes me want to be celibate, Leif.” I do not say anything, though at this point I think I can speak.
“This is a nice place you’ve got here,” Dr. Prost says. “A little too neat for my taste. It kind of reminds me of a museum in here.” There is silence as Dr. Prost looks around the living room.
“They should be here soon,” Dr. Prost says. “Do you have any family you want me to call?” Feebly I shake my head.
There is a knock at the door. Dr. Prost gets up and opens it, and two EMTs come in wheeling a gurney.
“I found him like this,” Dr. Prost says. “He’s having a tachycardia episode.”
The two EMTs lift me up and strap me into the gurney. Dr. Prost follows us as I am wheeled quickly down the hall. I gaze up at the ceiling, the pain in my chest making me soar into the whiteness of the walls.
We go down in the elevator. I feel like I am falling. The EMTs wheel me into the cold night air. All I am in is my robe, and I shiver.
I hear the EMTs open the doors of the ambulance, and I am wheeled in. Dr. Prost follows. There is a slap of a door, and the ambulance starts moving. The sirens begin to wail.
In the small back of the ambulance, Dr. Prost is close enough to me that I can tell his skin is warm, and this comforts me.
“We’re going to figure this out,” Dr. Prost assures me. “I’ll make sure of that.”
Suddenly I feel warm. A faint flush to my cheeks. I immediately begin to panic.
The EMT is administering an anti-arrhythmic medication. My heart is crushing me, but somehow Dr. Prost’s presence is making me calm and yet unsettled—as if I am a cobra being lulled to sleep by a snake charmer’s flute. His hands are large and covered in hair. They are close by me, and I wonder why he is wearing a ring but has never mentioned a wife.
The ambulance stops. A pause, and then the doors are opened, and I am wheeled into the ER where I work. The hospital is cold. I am wheeled into a white room and a doctor is walking in.
“Heart rate still elevated,” the EMT says. “Not responding to medication.”
They are going to get the defibrillator. I wait in agony.
“We’re going to figure this out, Leif.” Dr. Prost says again. “Don’t worry, I’m going to make sure of that.”
The doctor is rubbing the paddles together. The shock of electricity. My body shudders and jumps like a salmon running upstream. The beat of my heart on the monitor relaxes, and everyone exhales.
“Get an EKG,” the doctor says. His name is Dr. Robert, and I am reminded of The Beatles song whenever I see him. The doctor and the nurses disperse. Dr. Prost sits in a chair by my bed.
“Well…” he says. “Try not to be a doctor right now. You’re going to be okay.”
“I…” my throat clamps shut. “I think I’m going to die.”
“You’re not going to die,” Dr. Prost says. “Come on—did you take something?”
“No,” I say. “Dr. Prost…”
“Christ, call me Liam,” Dr. Prost says. “What is this ‘Dr. Prost’ all the time?”
“Dr. Prost…” I say. “If I die, don’t tell my family.”
“You’re going to be okay,” Dr. Prost says. “We’re going to figure this out. What were you doing when this happened?”
“Nothing,” I say, quickly. “I just…I just…”
“What?” Dr. Prost says.
“Just…please don’t leave me,” I say. I begin to cry.