they rolled the whole bed out of there

the nurse was standing there, her back to me,
saying, “I’ve got to get the air bubbles out of
the line.”
I began to cough and I coughed some more,
then I began to tremble all over, tremble and
shake and jump.
I couldn’t breathe, my face was burning
but the worst was my back, right down at the
end of the spine–the pain was black and
next I knew there were loud buzzers going
off and they were rolling the whole bed out
of there, there were 5 or 6 female nurses,
there was an oxygen tank and then I was
breathing again, the tubes stuck into my

they rolled me down to a large room
across from the nurses’ station and it was
like in a movie, I was hooked up to one of
those machines that had the little lines
running across the screen.

“do you still need the oxygen?” one of
the nurses asked.

“let’s try it without…”

it was all right.

“how much is this room costing me?”
I asked.

“don’t worry, we’re not charging you
anything extra.”

after a while they came in with a
portable x-ray machine and x-rayed

“how long am I going to be in this

“overnight or until somebody needs
it worse than you.”

then Linda, my wife, was there.

“my god, I went to your regular room
and it was empty, bed and all!
what happened?”

“they haven’t figured it out yet.
they probably can’t.”

“there must be a reason.”


well, I wasn’t dead and Linda
sat and watched the little lines
moving on the screen
and I watched the nurses
answering the phones and
reading things off of clipboards
and actually it was really rather
pleasant and almost
interesting, although there was
no tv in the room and we were
going to miss the Sumo tourna-
ment on channel

the next day the doctors said
they had no idea what had
caused the whole thing
and the nurses took my bed
and rolled me back to my
old room with the tiny window
at the left-rear, my trusty
urinal, and the little Christ
they had nailed to the wall
after my 3rd day in

Charles Bukowski
Original manuscript