My dad is in the hospital for bi-lateral pneumonia. With the infection has come the crazy. It’s happened before, although the last incident was during our nearly seven-year, father-daughter break. I drove to Winston-Salem on Tuesday and stayed for two days. I’ll probably leave on Saturday to head back up to see him. It’s one ginormous trigger. Although, most situations involving my father results in the urgent, intense desire to thoroughly obliterate myself. Ah, familial relationships.
I drop my coffee cup in the trash bin and walk through the Transitional ICU doors. My father’s room is across from the nurses station. The hospital smell turns my stomach and I breathe through my mouth as I step into his room.
“Well, heeeey, Pumpkin.” My father’s face glistens with sweat. His voice is raspy, unclear and his mouth looks strange without his dentures.
“Hey, Daddy.” I drop my purse on the small table where I’ve placed a framed picture of the Kaiser. Sitting next to him, I scoot the chair close and reach out, resting my hand on his forearm. My fingers cover his homemade tattoo. I have traced the letters with my eyes a hundred times. Jim, the black cursive cutting across brown skin.
He closes his eyes and opens them slowly. “Sara. I need you to get me out of here. Did the deputy sheriff come?”
“No, dad. You’re not in trouble.”
“Did they find the pills?” His hands tighten on the sheets. “I took too many.”
“Were you taking pills, Daddy?”
He looks at me and his eyes narrow. “Case number 424887490. Mr. Peter Hightower.” He looks away from me. “Oh God, oh God. And he came to the dance party. He had a gun.“
He turns to me and smiles thinly. “Sara, I need to get out of here. Why are they holding me against my will?”
“No one is keeping you here, Daddy. You have to get better. As soon as you’re better, you can leave. You can get up and walk out.” I reply.
“I haven’t lost my mind. You get me out of here and I’ll take my medicine and…. Sara, do you have a place to stay?”
He nods back. “Well. I want a cigarette. You just help me get up and I’ll show you how I’ve been tricking them all. Me and Sammy.”
“Mmmm.” He looks toward the door. “Sammy Davis, Jr. His pants. I just had a cigarette about an hour ago.”
“Just relax,” I say and lean my elbows over on the bed. “Please, daddy. Just get better.”
“Ah, let’s just get out. The world is full of nuts, isn’t it?” A small smile dances across his face.
“It is.” I smile back.
“What’s one more, then?”