The cardiology department is on the fifth floor, the nurse says. The nurse is tall and thin and the nurse looks like an athlete. I bet she is a good athlete, George thinks and he walks to the elevator and presses the button that says five.
There is a man on the floor of the hospital lobby. The man has a hole in his chest and he is bleeding and he is asking the nurse for a glass of water. There are missiles outside and the missiles are going off on the street and there are loud explosions and some of the children, the small children, are crying. George stands in the elevator and watches the numbers light up: one, two, three, four, five.
George gets off the elevator.
There are signs for the cardiology department on the fifth floor. The signs point to the left. The sings are made of cardboard. George follows the signs. There are a considerable amount of people on this floor, George thinks.
Most of the people are old. They have hearts that have lasted a very long time.
My grandmother reads Life Magazine because it makes her happy, George says. Life is a magazine about other people. There are pictures of other people in Life Magazine. At least she has a heart that is very strong and has been able to last a long time, Mary says.
Oh yeah, George thinks, Mary did come with me.
George doesn’t smile at first but a bag of a woman with a blue wool hat smiles and waves. Maybe this visit will be quite humorous, George thinks. Just this one visit. The woman is sitting on a bench and she has a really large smile. She waves again. She is not quite well. Yes, George decides, this visit will be quite humorous. George is not decidedly upset anymore.
You know Mary, George says, I wouldn’t generally smile. I would be agitated and nervous and I would be fidgeting—you know how I fidget when these things come around. I wouldn’t be in a good mood, I wouldn’t be in a good mood at all. But I suppose there isn’t really that much that you can do when you know that your heart is going to go out like a cheap balloon.
It will just go—pop.
The doctor is whispering and George sits in his hospital robe and he stares at a machine that has many buttons and dials. An ultra sound image of George’s heart is frozen on the screen. George looks at his heart on the screen. His humor has lessened over the past few minutes but he is not quite morose.
There are holes in his heart, the doctor says to Mary. It is going to be quite difficult for him to breathe and he is going to take many short breaths all day long and he might go black in the eyes sometimes.
He is going to faint?
Sure, I imagine that he will. He will likely collapse a couple of times. But those are just the strokes. And the strokes are really just getting the clots out. The doctor is a good doctor and he drives a Mercedes and he has two daughters. He is from the mainland, from a small village on the mainland. He eats brown rice and he works on the exercise machines because it is good for his heart.
Mary is sweating and she is noticeably nervous. She wore her white blouse and her straight black pants today. She wanted to act professional and her professional clothes usually make her act proper and, indeed, professional. She does the same thing when she is ill. She wears clothes that are professional and she feels less ill.
It is almost as though you aren’t supposed to feel ill in certain clothes.
But now she is terribly upset and her make-up begins to make her look like she is a clown and she is crying because it is really rather sad that George is not doing all that well. Actually, it doesn’t fucking matter that she is wearing her black pants.
The doctor says hello to George. George says hello to the doctor.
The doctor plays with the machine and the doctor talks to another doctor. The other doctor is a woman doctor and both doctors nod their heads and point at the screen and they seem to be talking about something very serious, very grave. He didn’t take care of that at all, the woman doctor says. No he didn’t, the doctor says and he agrees.
I didn’t, George says and sighs. I think I saw them laugh a bit though, George thinks. But maybe it was just a doctor laugh. Maybe it was a bit of a he’s dead so let’s move on laugh. But that is clearly not true because George is still sitting in the hospital and George is definitely not dead.
To tell the truth, though, there aren’t really any missiles outside and there aren’t really any explosions either. But the cardiology department is on the fifth floor.