Chapter Six Hundred and Fifty-three - Compassion (part two)
Chapter Six Hundred and Fifty-three - Compassion (part four)

Chapter Six Hundred and Fifty-three - Compassion (part three)

CHAPTER SIX HUNDRED and FIFTY-THREE

(part three)

“My dad has dementia,” the man said. “I. . .”

Tanesha nodded to the nurse, and she injected pain meds into the man’s IV. The man drifted.

“This is our chance,” Tanesha said.

Tanesha pointed to the ventilation tech. Together with the nurses, Tanesha got the ventilator tube down the man’s inflamed throat with practiced ease. Because he was heavy, it took all of them to roll him onto his stomach where his lungs were free to make the best use the ventilator.

“Rest now,” Tanesha said. She squeezed his hand. “You are loved.”

For the briefest second, Tanesha lit up from the inside. The light disappeared before anyone noticed. Tanesha let go of the man.

“Does he have family?” Tanesha asked. She turned to Dr. Vierns. “That’s your next step.”

“They have been arguing with him all morning,” the nurse said.

“Let’s go talk to them,” Dr. Vierns said.

The nurse left the bedside, and Tanesha began to follow the nurse. But Dr. Vierns grabbed the back of Tanesha’s coverall.

“With me,” Dr. Vierns said.

Tanesha turned and followed Dr. Vierns.

“Did you work in a restaurant?” Tanesha asked, as they walked toward the desk.

It was tricky to talk to anyone through all of the gear, but they both had enough experience to know how to speak and listen.

“Through high school and college,” Dr. Vierns said. “How’d you know?”

“My friend, Jill, says, ‘With me,’” Tanesha said. “She says it’s a restaurant thing.”

Dr. Vierns nodded.

“Best experience in the world,” Dr. Vierns said. “I liked how you didn’t rise to all of his. . . issues. I get so mad that. . .”

Dr. Vierns nodded.

“I couldn’t handle racist jerks in restaurants,” Dr. Vierns said.

“It’s not the first time I’ve been called a monkey,” Tanesha said. “I guess. . . I know what it feels like to be vulnerable and out of control. People don’t want the pandemic to be true because they don’t want to believe that they don’t have total control of their lives. No one wants to go on a ventilator because of the same reason.”

Dr. Vierns nodded.

“Don’t you believe some crazy something?” Tanesha asked.

“Like what?” Dr. Vierns asked.

“I believe in Big Foot,” Tanesha said. “Psychics, ghosts. I believe that goddesses walk among us.”

“I see what you mean,” Dr. Vierns said. She thought for a moment. “I have this crazy belief that people are inherently good.”

Tanesha laughed.

“Crazy stuff, I know,” Dr. Vierns said. They were almost to the desk when the doctor asked, “Have you seen any goddesses walking among us?”

“Of course,” Tanesha said with a grin. “Haven’t you?”

At that moment, the nurse at the desk handed Dr. Vierns the handset to a telephone. Dr. Vierns took the receiver to speak with the family of the man they’d just intubated. The ICU head nurse got Tanesha and directed her toward the section she would be working in that day.

Denver Cereal continues tomorrow...

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