Eternal Reward

Leeds Road Community Hospital

One must assume that nurses make very good patients. That is, they must possess an acute ability to self-diagnose. That is why when Nurse Santania awoke this morning with a high fever, generalized weakness, a headache, and sore throat and watery discharge from her nose, that is when Nurse Santania knew she had a fever. Or at least so she thought. She arrived to her own hospital, asked the front desk to admit her as a patient, and was prepared to be given a healthy dose of one of the common treatments for flu. So the nurses attending her ran all of the tests, just to be sure, even though Nurse Santania had already provided the diagnosis. The results came back, and sure enough, the nurses sent her home with goodies in hand. The following week Nurse Santania took off, just to play it safe for the sake of her patients. Taking her medicine regularly, Nurse Santania continued to notice other signs developing during that week. She found herself with a cough and shortness of breath, seizures and lack of coordination, difficulty swallowing, mental symptoms such as confusion and forgetfulness, severe and persistent diarrhea, fever, vision loss, nausea, abdominal cramps, and vomiting, weight loss and extreme fatigue, severe headaches with neck stiffness, and a coma. She woke up, went to the hospital where they ran more tests on her, and a new prognosis was given. Nurse Santania was diagnosed with AIDS, and given two or three more years to live. But fortunately for her, a cure was in the works.

Theodore was about to happen upon an important discovery within the domain of medicine. After years of familiarity with his own body, Theodore had discovered something he believed to be unique amongst men in his blood. As most upstanding citizens do, Theodore often went to donate blood, yet every time he went the nurses would comment on the greenish color of it and be taken aback by the appearance, until a handful of tests were run and it was revealed to be a relatively normal sample of O Positive blood, normal minus the green coloration of course. Once Theodore read about Nurse Santania’s condition from the heart-rending support provided for her in the local newspaper, he knew what had to be done. Theodore put on his sports jacket, and began to walk to the hospital an untold number of miles away. He arrived, checked the address he had written down on a small piece of paper just to make sure it was the right place, and walked inside with his solution in hand: a single vial of his green blood, labeled in black sharpie “O Positive” on the vial. He approached the front desk, gave a quick overview of the situation, and requested an audience with Nurse Santania and her attending nurses. Tests were run on his vial of blood in order to reassure the nurses of its legitimacy, and then Nurse Santania was given more blood tests to ensure compatibility. Once the two were effectively linked, Theodore asked for one condition: to be allowed to present the vial to Nurse Santania himself. The condition was granted, and he entered her room, holding the vial up in one hand, he pulled back the curtain to reveal her in a weary but awakened state. He said, “Nurse Santania, your nurses just approved a transfusion with my blood to attempt to cure your condition. We thought it might help and that you might like it because it’s green. Even if it doesn’t work, at least it’s your favorite color.” With that, Nurse Santania smiled a large but weary smile. But her other visitor had other plans. The man standing across from Theodore, holding Nurse Santania’s weakened hand was a man in a suit who cut in, “Thanks, but we’ve already made an agreement. In exchange for my placebo, Nurse Santania has just signed paperwork to hand over her life’s savings to me. I’m afraid she won’t be able to afford such a transfusion. Sorry.” With that, Nurse Santania nodded her head in agreement, leaving Theodore standing there astonished. An awkward silence helped Theodore realize that he was no longer wanted there, and he turned around and left as the others stared after him. He tossed the vial onto a nurse’s cart as he passed, headed for the hospital exit, and began his walk home.

Theodore

On his journey home, while passing through a city along the way underneath the warm afternoon sun, Theodore came across a construction site. There, a group of shirtless men were stacking tree branches in attempt to make a hut. Theodore stopped and asked what they were doing. One of the men stopped, looked at him, and answered, “We were contracted to construct a new hotel here. We were the cheapest bidders, so they hired us even though we collectively have no experience in construction. We’re supposed to have it done by the end of the week, but I don’t think we’re going to make it.” As he finished his sentence, the sticks fell again, resetting the project to the beginning once more. “Don’t worry,” Theodore reassured them, “I’ll help. But first, we’re going to need new building materials this just isn’t going to work.” The construction worker replied, “But, sir, we can’t afford any other materials. You see, they aren’t actually going to pay us until the job is completed satisfactorily!” Theodore replied, “I’ll take care of it.” And with that, he walked off down the street, through the rest of the city, and headed to an old stone quarry he knew of just a couple miles outside the city. There, he looked around for what would become the cornerstone of his foundation, and settling on a large stone he found, he loaded it on his back and make the trek to the city, all the way back to the construction site. There, het set down the stone in the middle of where he knew the building should go, the site now cleared of the sticks used earlier. And he began the track back to the outskirts of the city into the rock quarry for the next piece, continuing until the foundation was laid completely. The construction workers were curious and thankful, standing around wondering at what was being built before their eyes, appreciative yet inquisitively speculative at what was being laid out before them. Theodore continued hauling large stones back until the midday sun became dusk, and as the temperature cooled he was relieved, and continued hauling stones until darkness as the men trickled away back to their own homes, lives and wives. Now in the pitch of night, Theodore decided to pull out his head lamp and work on reshaping the stones with piece of sandpaper from his pocket. He worked the sandpaper, shaping the stones into a visually impressive construction. When the men arrived again in the morning, they were awed at what Theodore had  been able to accomplish, and stood there watching as Theodore resumed his trek now that daylight was once again in support of the project. Theodore continued at this cadence for an entire week, trekking to the quarry during daylight hours with the men standing by watching, and using his headlamp to work the sandpaper in the solitude of the night. Three stories later, to include sumptuous penthouses, formal dining rooms, maid’s rooms and wood burning fireplaces, and not least one particular group of astonished construction workers, Theodore completed the project. The head of the group, the man Theodore had been conversing with at the outset of the project called his employer who set a date for the grand opening ribbon ceremony. Theodore stood wearily stood watch over his project the night before the event, and opened his eyes in alarm when the ground beneath his feet began to tremble. He looked up at his enormous project that began to sway as the ground beneath it cracked open, suspending it in midair. Embarrassingly, when the first reporters began to arrive early the next morning, it was discovered that though the building was thankfully not damaged by the earthquake, but was now suspended in midair and inaccessible to anyone without powers of levitation. So the rest of the guests arrived, and then the owner, all displeased with this turn of events. They eventually left in disappointment, while the owner lectured the workers on what this meant to him and to their previously agreed upon pay. Now only the local magician was interested in a room, and since his price for a rental could not defray the costs incurred by the management company’s advertising campaign for the hotel, the workers would remain unpaid. Embarrassed and ashamed of the problems he had caused, Theodore apologetically left the media frenzy, walked through the air over the chasm to get to the entrance of the hotel, and went inside to find a room and take a nap.

South-eastern end of chasm

When Theodore awoke from his nap, he locked up his room and headed for the hotel exit through the hollow maze that was the unoccupied hotel. He walked outside, across the chasm and down to the ground. Nearby, on a stone park bench was a little girl with her face in her hands shoulders shaking from uncontrollable sobbing. Theodore sat down next to her not saying anything, waiting for an opportunity to console her. But she continued there, sobbing into her hands without looking up, while Theodore sat next to her, looking around and pondering what to say. Finally, after an hour of this, Theodore looked down at his feet and happened to glance at the puddle that had formed under the girl’s dangling legs. He said, “It looks like your feet are going to get wet.” The girl paused from her sobbing to look up at him briefly, then leaned over and buried her face into his shoulder, sobbing once more. Theodore reached his arm around her and she continued to cry into his chest. After a moment, the girl spoke. “It’s just not fair!” the girl said through her tears. “What’s not fair?” Theodore asked. “Life’s not fair,” the girl responded. “Boys,” she started before her weeping once again overcame her speech. She caught her breath and began again, “Boys won’t even look at me,” which began another fit of labored breathing through uncontrollable sobs. “One time,” she sniffled, “I saw this cute guy, so I smiled at him, but he didn’t notice, so I walked over to him and asked him what time it was.” Theodore was listening attentively as she struggled through her sobbing. “And you know what he told me? He said ‘It’s time for you to buy a watch. Now get lost little girl.’” The girl’s tears started to flow more strongly, “And he didn’t even offer to buy me one!” The girl broke into another fit of crying. Theodore said, “There, there, it can’t be so bad, can it? I mean you’re a very lovely girl.” As he said this the girl started swinging her legs, splashing the salty water that was now halfway up the bench. Theodore’s feet were already soaked, so he continued to console the girl, not always noticing the rising water level from her tears. “I’m just so sick of boys!” she shouted, burying her face deeper into Theodore’s chest. Theodore looked around, thankful for seeing nobody in sight, and wondered how to respond to this sort of outburst, being a boy himself and all. The girl, realizing to whom she had just spoken these words, looked up at Theodore and stated apologetically, “I suppose you’re alright though, not like my ex-boyfriend, who…” and the girl resumed her crying, shoulders shaking at memories unspoken. “You know,” she sobbed, “sometimes the boys ignore me when I need their attention.” She continued to cry, the salty water level around them was now just below the seat of the park bench, near Theodore’s knees. He was in too deep now to do anything but just sit there and listen, and try to console this poor girl with her broken heart and her tales of woe. “But sometimes,” the girl resumed, “they do too much.” The girl hesitated a moment before quickly blurting out, “He touched me.” Feeling awkward again because of his gender, Theodore continued to hold the girl tight, hoping to console away any feelings of ill that the girl may have toward him or his gender. “So now I’m tainted and nobody will ever want me!” the girl cried as if her fate were sealed.  Then she asked, “Do you want to get married?” With this sudden proposition, Theodore had to get up and step away. As he did, the park bench came unbolted from the ground and began to float away. The girl stared after him as she floated along, toward the hotel. Her tears had just filled the chasm caused by the earthquake, and now the grand hotel that Theodore built could now be accessed by boat. So Theodore set off in hopes of restoring business to the hotel, and would be sure to provide warning of the sobbing girl on the park bench.

Theodore decided to return to the hospital from which he came in order to check back up on Nurse Santania. So he headed back, picking up flowers, balloons and a ‘Get Well Soon’ card along the way. When he arrived at the hospital and walked through the entrance, he couldn’t help but notice the contrast with the harsh desert landscape outside of the city, beyond the doors he had just walked through. The hospital was clean, to such a degree that the hospital’s sterility made everything seem so new, regardless of how many years it had been taking care of patients. It was as if it were stuck in time, a time when everything’s okay, and nobody gets sick or dies. The walls were always freshly painted, the floor so shiny it didn’t ever need to be buffed. No matter how much foot traffic, no matter how many bleeding, sick, coughing, or mangled forms may have come through those hospital doors, it remained pristine for every visit. Perhaps the custodial staff members were simply more evolved than their primary and secondary school brethren. And surely none of the sports stadiums could hope for such a state, either. And don’t think for a second it’s about numbers, because surely people start dying every day, and their families must love them enough to come visit regularly. But that wasn’t why Theodore wanted to visit Nurse Santania again before she inevitably ascended to a place even more immaculate than this hospital, if that can even be believed.

Upon arriving to Nurse Santania’s room and delivering the gifts, placing them amongst those from numerous others, from families, boyfriends, co-workers, and the like, Theodore was disappointed to see Nurse Santania’s condition had not improved, despite the contract with the man and his placebo cure. Theodore couldn’t stand to see her suffer like this, so he left to go to the waiting room, thinking, trying to devise a plan to nurse the Nurse Santania back to the healthy condition that she deserved, that all humans deserve to enjoy. How cruel must be the death that takes so much away, that causes suffering for its patients, and their families by extension. But Theodore would not have it. He knew life could be so much more, and was determined to give it. But he knew it would require a sacrifice on his part, in order to appease that cruel god of the underworld. But he promised to himself that even Hell would suffer, if anyone from there decided to interfere. And then at that moment, he knew what to do. Theodore was fit, probably more so than his contemporaries and those slightly younger as well. Years of Adonis-like pursuit had helped him sculpt broad shoulders, a large chest, a solid abdomen, and even the vanity of flexed biceps and firm buttocks. But these would not help him directly now. But the effects of such dedication to one’s body is a long-term gift that older men seek as well, the improvements in overall health, from immunity to diseases to heightened cardiovascular functioning, it is those muscles unseen that actually benefit most. And that is what Theodore would sacrifice to help. He left the waiting room to enter the spotless latrines and began to cultivate his donation by taking his pocket knife from his side and making a small incision along the left side of his chest, cutting through sinew that he knew would take months to repair, sapping his strength before it would ever return to normal. But that is the sacrifice he knew had to be made. When he completed the incision to a certain length, he reached in and pulled out his beating heart. Looking at it beating in his hand, Theodore nodded to himself and began to head upstairs to Nurse Santania. When the doctors and nurses had seen what Theodore had done, they took the heart from him and assumedly prepped Nurse Santania for surgery. Someone took Theodore by the arm, and led him down the hall somewhere to sit and rest while his deed was carried out by the ever-competent care staff that surrounded Nurse Santania and made the hospital a place of hope and optimism that assuaged irrational and of rational fears alike with the same effectiveness.

But it didn’t work. As per usual, Theodore’s efforts were fruitless. It seemed to him that no matter how hard he tried, no matter how much effort he put into something, it was bound to fail. He could learn how to part the ocean, only to have to move a mountain next. And moving mountains can wear on a person. They’re heavy, and quite an inconvenience to have to push around. All he wanted to do was help, but sometimes he ran low on energy to give. Because even if he did learn how to part the sea, somebody else would outdo him by walking on water. How long can a person continue to do things for others when it never works in anybody’s favor? Theodore imagined that he could have been an oracle, but people would stop coming to him once they assumed they knew more than he did. If only he could communicate better, but no, nobody would ever believe Theodore the Oracle. But he knew he couldn’t give up, that he had more to give, and thus would yet give more.

So Theodore sat up in his bed, still quite weary from the loss of his heart, but began to attempt to devise a plan that would save Nurse Santania once and for all. So he reached over to his heart monitor, opened it up, modified a few capacitors, and began typing his plan on the heart monitor. He googled possible solutions or cures for Nurse Santania’s conditions, wishing all along that the Oracles were still around. But they had all retired already, having shared their knowledge with everyone, giving up everything they knew. Hmmm, ‘giving up everything’? Does that really work? Sacrifice? Well it surely must have worked for people like the Mesoamericans, with their angry gods always demanding an irrational contribution to their prosperity, in conjunction with the priests that coincidentally became prosperous as well. But that was in the past. He had to find a solution in the present. So what could our God want in exchange for Nurse Santania’s health? What sort of profit does our God seek from his cruel world? Then Theodore thought he understood. If our God created man in his image, surely he’d want an image of himself? Theodore could send him a picture, but how do you send a picture to our God? So he decided to send himself instead. Surely our God would appreciate the presence of another, as he’s seated on his lonely throne, ruling the world with chaos. And that’s what Theodore would give him. Nothing enough to appease him, but perhaps something to subdue our God’s wrath ever so slightly to give Nurse Santania back everything that our God had stolen from her. So Theodore took the pistol from the holster on his left hip, and gave his final gift to the world. Sure, his parents might be angry, but at least he had helped.

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