‘SBlood: Night Creeps

Three figures appeared at my bed-side around 4 AM. Short Man; Tall Surly Man, ‘Dr. Personality;’ and a Thin Woman. Long white lab coats aqua scrubs. Young doctors, I assumed. Residents.

“This is him. Here’s his chart,” Dr. Personality.

“Amazing,” said Dr. Short Man.

“Freak me out,” Dr. Thin Woman.

“Not everyone is born with anemias of this sort, like this guy…uh…Mr. Engel,” Dr. Personality perused my chart. “Sometimes it just happens. Toxic exposure or something like that. They see it in kids in war zones.”

“Which wars? I forgot which wars we’re fighting this week,” Dr. Short Man.

“Very funny,” said Dr. Personality.

“Report me to the ‘authorities.’ I dare you,” parried Dr. Short Man.

“I just might. Anyway, they see it after heavy-duty bombings. Something in the shit they drop, some kind of chemical in the explosives. Possibly released on impact,” Dr. Personality.

“Should be a mother lode of cases in Iraq,” said Dr. Thin Woman.

“I’ll bet,” said Dr. Short Man.

This was about four years after the semi-demolition of Iraq by Pharaoh Bush I.

“Dr. Creed’s going over there, you know,” Dr. Thin Woman.

“Should be a bunch of cases to exploit — uh, I mean study. Just a joke. A very unfunny joke,” Dr. Personality said.

“Yeah, I heard he’s looking for volunteers,” said Dr. Thin Woman.

“Is that right? I volunteer you,” Dr. Personality poked his finger into Dr. Short Man’s chest.

“No, seriously. It should be a fabulous opportunity for research,” Dr. Short Man.

“Not worth it. I wouldn’t go near that stuff,” Dr. Personality.

“It’s only toxic to kids and old folks. Anyway, most of the crap has already blown away. It’s not like the intensity of the actual bombing,” Dr. Short Man.

“Count me out,” Dr. Personality. “They don’t know what that shit does to your system years down the road.”

“The National Health Clinic said it should be safe.”

“That’s the Military. You gonna believe the fucking Military?”

“Chicken,” said Dr. Thin Woman.

“That’s right. You gonna volunteer to go over there?” Dr. Personality.

“If Creed asks me, yeah, why not?” Dr. Thin Woman. “When opportunity knocks…”

“Check it out, he’s moving,” pointed Dr. Short Man.

“Weird he’s still alive. They’re supposed to be dead by nineteen or twenty,” Dr. Personality.

“His system adapted somehow,” Dr. Thin Woman.

She poked and prodded me; shined light in my eyes.

“Who the fuck are you?” I coughed.

“We’re residents. Students of Dr. Creed, the hematologist/oncologist, a colleague of your Dr. Goldenrod.” said The Short One.

“You mean ‘Brows?'”

“‘Brows?'” Dr. Thin Woman, puzzled.

“You know…” I attempted, as best as I could, to vibrate my eye-brows at the approximate speed.

“My, my. Oh my,” said Dr. Personality after the three of them swallowed their chortles and guffaws.

Old Faithful cried groaned gasped coughed. Shat himself.

The Night Visitors paid no attention, didn’t even ring for a nurse. I pushed the red button myself.

“‘The Mad Shitter’ is still with us,” Dr. Personality.

“Not for long, I don’t think. Won’t make the night,” said Dr. Short Man.

“So, Mr. Engel, how have you lived your life?” asked Thin Woman.

“Desperately. Like anybody else. Why?”

“Well, not everyone was born with Diamond Blackfan Anemia. You’re the first one for me, actually. I look forward to studying your case. Most people develop DBA in early childhood, and don’t last many years. Occasionally one might come across a twenty-year-old on his last legs. But a man of thirty!” Dr. Personality.

“Amazing,” Dr. Thin Woman. “He was in full remission from age about – what, one, two? – till now.”

“Yes, truly remarkable,” Dr. Personality. “But I guess that’s over now. Now that the disease has taken control again, he should — ”

“Fuck!” I said. “What’s with you clowns? They send you in for comic relief?”

“Just students. We’re observing. Thirty years with Diamond-Blackfan. My, my,” said Dr. Personality.

“Do you throw up often?” demanded Dr. Thin Woman.

“I’m feeling nauseous now.”

Words bypassed them.

“You drink?”

“I have a few now and again.”

“Wow, talk about tempting fate,” Dr. Short Man.

“Well, he didn’t know he had the Condition, so I suppose it helped psychologically to think he was just a normal guy with a normal life expectancy,” said Dr. Personality.

“I AM a normal guy with a normal life expectancy!”

“See?” Dr. Personality with I-told-you-so grin.

“Dizziness? Shortness of breath? Must be the norm for you,” Dr. Thin Woman.

“The norm for me is normal. I run ten miles a day, for God-man’s sake.”

New information. Freaked them out. Scribbled furiously on their pads.

“You run? As in ‘exercise?’”

“Well, I used to. Bad hip. Now I just walk around a lot – with a stick. Lift weights. Also: push-ups, sit-ups and pull-ups too,” I said. “Easily kick any of your asses.”

“Astonishing. The organism’s ability to adapt. ‘The Will to live’ or whatever. Truly amazing,” Dr. Personality.

“When was your last transfusion?” Dr. Thin Woman.

“Hell, I don’t know. I already went through all this with Dr…what’s his name, the one with the eye-brows.”

“You don’t know? “ Dr. Thin Woman was incredulous.


“I told you, he knows next to nothing about his illness,” Dr. Personality. “Didn’t even know he had it. Did you, Mr. Anemia?”

“No, in fact. I did not.”

“Well, you’re here for a bone marrow transplant, aren’t you?” Dr. Personality.

“Bone-marrow transplant!? Fuck no!”

“Dr. Goldenrod plans on dosing him with Epoetin Alpha,” Dr. Short Man corrected. “Dr. Goldenrod believes that, in this case, the patient’s blood might stabilize. It’s a long shot, but Goldenrod figures we’ve got nothing to lose.”

“‘We?’” I said.

“Oh. Well. That’s good, I suppose,” Dr. Thin Woman.

“Why would I want a bone-marrow transplant?” I asked.

“You don’t want a bone-marrow transplant. Bone-marrow transplants hurt. They have a high mortality rate. Especially if one has undergone transfusions, which you surely must have during infancy. That’s why Goldenrod is keeping you on ‘hold’ till he finds out more about your case,” Dr. Personality, with the enthusiasm of a Big Pharma hustler.

“What’s wrong with me, anyway?”

“You’re bad. Bad to the bone-marrow. You have bad blood,” Dr. Personality. “It’s all part of your Condition.”

A Nurse responded, finally, to my red button alert.

“Something wrong?” Nurse groggy, pissed off, wakened.

“My new neighbor made a mess of himself.”

Concentrated yellow-brown soak-spot of “Old Faithful’s formerly crisp hospital gown soiled environs like a crashed tanker leaking crude.

“Gross!” she shrieked.

Probably inexperienced.

“Uh, he’s been like that all night,” I said. “Every hour on the hour, more or less.”

“Goddam! I’ll call a Nurse’s Aid to clean it up. You don’t worry about a thing.”

“I have pneumonia. Maybe I’ll get contaminated or something.”

“You? You’ve got bigger things to worry about than sniffing this man’s poopy-stinks, Honey.”

The Night Visitors had gone. Silently slipped away.

Adam Engel lived for your sins -- and he lived well! -- in Fear-and-Trembling, Brooklyn, one of the last gangrenous toes of NYC not yet severed and replaced with a prosthetic gentrification device. Engel has traveled the farthest regions of cyberspace, where Dark-matter meets Doesn't-matter; and Anti-matter, despite its negative connotation and dour point-of-view, excercises rights of expression protected by Richard Stallman's GNU/Free Software Foundation and CopyLeft agreement, if nobody and nothing else. Having spent many years studying Boobus Americanus (Summum Ignoramus), allegedly the most intelligent mammal on earth -- after its distant relative, Homo Sapiens -- in various natural habitats (couch, cubicle, bar-stool, ball-game -- televised or 'real-time') -- Engel has thus far related his observations of and experiences with this most dangerous of predators in three books -- Topiary, Cella Fantastik, and I Hope My Corpse Gives You the Plague (the combined international sales of which have reached literally dozens, perhaps as many as seventy, with projected revenue to top three digits by decade's end! Truly a publishing phenomenon). Engel is Associate Editor of Time Capsule Books, a division of Oliver Arts & Open Press, published in limited editions for a tiny, highly specified, though eclectic, target-audience: people who actually read books. He can be reached at adam@new.dissidentvoice.org Read other articles by Adam, or visit Adam's website.