This must be what being born felt like.
Hatched from a warm cocoon of darkness and thrust into the pain of light. An assault upon all the unknown, unfamiliar and unremembered senses. Pinprick vibrations, surrounded by a sea of whiteness. Perhaps this was what death felt like. Possibly even the destination hence, the afterlife.
Prevalent within the seeming absence of thought and movement was a barren oasis, the empty but cool, calm ambience of nothingness.
Sheesh, was she a poet or something? Hello from the other side, she thought. Uncomprehendingly she gazed at the figures hovering above her. A dark-skinned cherubic Angel and a black-garbed Man of the Cloth, both whose lips appeared to be moving soundlessly. Unable to sustain the effort required to decipher what appeared to be an excitable exchange she succumbed once more to oblivion. Her eyelids fluttered, her mind blanked and the haven of unconsciousness beckoned. She would think again tomorrow…
“Hello. Can you hear me?”
“Bri..ght,” she croaked in response to the beam from the flashlight being shone into her eyes, flinching away from the presence. To be honest the luminosity wasn’t that bad but compounded with the all-encompassing headache she was already experiencing, the light was piercing. And while the voice was soothing, she mused, bedside manner needed some work. I mean how rude was it to awaken someone with blinding light and a third degree. Self-protecting her cornea’s she allowed her eyelids to assume the position, that of becoming supine.
“Do you know where you are? Can you tell me your name?” the calming, dulcet tones of the voice continued.
Why was God asking for her credentials, she wondered? Or did Saint Nick need to check his list to see if she’d been naughty or nice before her onward journey could resume? No, she interrupted herself; her befuddled mind had undoubtedly confused Keeper at the Pearly Gates with Keeper of the North Pole. As long as contralto voice was not Keeper of the Underworld she was good to go.
Realizing that she was interjecting humor into her inner monologue with a tiny bit of self-effacement or, depending on your point of view, self-deprecation, she, of her own volition this time, forced her eyelids open to confront the collision of her reality with her perceptions. Although she’d been unable to hear him before, and so unable to identify him by voice, his physical appearance was impressively recognizable; his obvious muscular stature beneath his collared garb had been quite evident. What stumped her now though was that she anticipated a booming baritone to reconcile with the image of the Pastor or Priest she’d glimpsed upon her first awakening. If it didn’t hurt so much she would be giggling at her unintended pun. So her view was surprisingly anticlimactic. Her expectation of a brawny male figure with an absurdly tinny yet contrarily melodious voice was supplanted by the reality of a slightly above average, white coated figure. Definitely female and unquestionably the voice interrogating her. At least voice and data correlated, she supposed.
“What…what’s happening? Where…am…I?” Soft tone, slow delivery but with noticeable anxiousness, she felt the onset of panic.
“Calm down, breathe deeply and I’ll answer all your questions,” the doctor, as she so unmistakably was, responded. ‘Dr. Cool and Calm’ continued her ministrations (again with the Catholic sounding words! but really no pun intended) by draping an oxygen mask over her nose, easing her anxiety along with her breathing.
“I’m…waiting,” she mumbled, knowing that her words were audible through the mask as she watched the doctor’s eyebrows shoot-up. Let’s see how she liked being on the receiving end of twenty questions!
“You’re here at the Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic in downtown Seattle,” the doctor started, holding up her hand to circumvent the barrage of questions she apparently anticipated. “Yes, I know you are not a child,” she continued. “You were brought here in unusual circumstances by…Father Michael Jordan. Yeah, no relation.” The confirmation statement was accompanied by a slight grin signifyingthat she’d pre-empted the probably oft-repeated inquiry, which this clearly was, indicated by the wordless but mirrored eyebrow action above the oxygen mask. “I see you remember him bringing you to us. He’s a big fellow, isn’t he? But definitely not THE REAL MJ, MVP and NBA star,” the doctor seemingly clarified but instead just caused more confusion with her acronyms.
Although she was still relatively out of it, she was not fooled by the hesitation and the quick explanation of the Pastor/Priest’s name. She totally disregarded the clear digression of the popular culture references, which she figured were specifically used as a distraction. What of the angelic faced little boy, she wondered, attempting to get rid of her mask to enable this query.
“Leave it,” she was instructed, the doctor staying her hand. “I’ll remove it in a moment, when you’re calmer.”
What?! She was absolutely calm! This Medical Professional was used to dealing with children so she obviously didn’t know how to treat adults! The counter argument to that was that she was a quack! Recognizing the harshness of her unvoiced contemplations, she relented. So perhaps the Pediatric Doctor was right, she would give it a few more minutes.
This internal dialogue she had going on with herself was certainly tiring and she conceded that she made a terrible patient. Why, though? What was causing her to behave so abominably to this woman who seemed hell-bent on providing assistance? And, would this damn headache abate, enough for her to think? Her introspection was interrupted by the doctor’s continued conversation, which included an introduction and, to her surprise, a heavy handed social and history lesson.
“I’m Dr. Gibson, Pediatrician and General Practitioner, and as I said earlier this is the Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic. While our mandate is to deliver healthcare and education services to young people we do also cater to ethnically diverse families, reducing health disparities and providing culturally relevant care. We believe that children have the right to receive basic healthcare with dignity, regardless of their families’ ability to pay. To that end our major contributor is The Lenny Wilkens Foundation. Their directive is to fund organizations that deliver healthcare and education services to young people while honoring their dignity and sense of self-respect. So with the same end goal in mind these two institutions have come together to provide necessary health care, free of charge, to those in need. There I’ve given you the whole donor spiel,“the doctor sighed, sounding like a monotonous robot. Barely taking a breather the information part of the program transformed into the clinic’s historical background. “Do you want me to go into why we’re named Odessa Brown?”she asked, immediately changing it into a rhetorical question as she blasted away without waiting on a response. “A Chicago hospital refused to treat young Odessa Brown during the Great Depression and…” Dr. Gibson started this second half of her rhetoric, ignoring her wide-eyed audience of one, sounding and behaving more like a politician than a doctor. She did step on the brakes upon hearing her alleged patient’s sound of distress and seeing her pantomimed hand gesture to cease and desist. TMI, but necessary in this rare case.
“What the…” she, Patient X, started. She was about to demand an explanation, garbled though her statement would have been, rebounding off plastic. She was startled yet again. Not by the interruption itself but by the observable switch in manner, and not to say that Dr. Gibson had been callous or unsympathetic before, but her new approach was way gentler, a comforting voice.
“The reason I’m telling you all this is to reassure you. Don’t be afraid, we’ll take care of you here. Whatever…or whoever… you’re running from. Whoever’s hurting you, we’ll fix it. You have my word, you’re safe here.” Aware that the doctor had been soothing her by tactile as well as verbal means, she reached up with her free hand and simply removed the now redundant plastic covering half of her face. Whatever progress had been made by the oxygen was nullified by Gibson’s words, as her breathlessness resumed. What in freaking hell did Dr. G mean?
“Are you ready to tell me your name now and who did this to you? I’m your doctor so anything you reveal to me is covered by patient confidentiality, okay? And you can trust my word; whoever is trying to hurt you won’t be able to come near you!” The G-woman continued to grasp her hand tightly, her earnest expression attempting to convey her trustworthiness.
“Hu…hu..hurt…me,” she stammered having difficulty grasping the concept but experiencing an overarching sensation that could only be fear.
“Is it an abusive lover? Or…maybe your pimp? Trust me, I’m not judging you! But Anton did find you…” Dr. G stopped, realizing she’d slipped up.
“Who…who is…Anton? Angel…boy?” she gasped out, still trying to catch her breath.
Releasing a huge sigh Dr. Gibson indirectly acceded to her faux pas. “Little devil, but he does have an angelic face…and a good heart. He brought MJ to where he found you, battered, bruised and…burned? ” the latter description asked in a questioning tone.
“I…I…don’t remember!” she gasped out.
“What don’t you remember? How you sustained the injuries? Don’t worry about that, it sometimes happens in the wake of a traumatic episode and you did receive quite the bump to your head! We’ll monitor the head injury. You know the human brain is amazing really, its capacity for protecting its host is quite remarkable,” Dr. G postulated.
“No, no, no…I don’t remember… anything!” she responded, alarmed. A slow dawning comprehension of her situation appeared on her countenance, escalating to blinding panic and an overriding fear.
“Are you being truthful here, young lady? I did promise you that we’ll take care of you and we won’t involve the police if you don’t want us to. You’re in bad shape here and I hesitate to say this, but we can’t rule out physical violation.” The doctor’s comeback was a stern lecture.
Ignoring Dr. Gibson’s inappropriateness and the contradictory nature of her words with the apparent judgment of her tone, she, Patient X, concentrated on pulling at the threads binding her thoughts. Memory remained elusive and just out of her reach.
“I honestly don’t know who I am,” she whispered.
Acceding to her patient’s horrified expression, Dr. Gibson prepared to concede that she may have been incorrect in her assessment. Grasping both hands of the patient’s in her own, she non-verbally apologized and offered comfort as a reparation of sorts for her previous disbelief.
“I think we really should get the police involved in that case. Someone is bound to be looking for you, perhaps filing a Missing Person Report?”
“Unless I’m a prostitute with no ties and you’ll be leading me straight to whoever did this to me,” was the sarcastic rejoinder.
“Alright, we’ll have to rethink our plan going forward,” Dr. G responded, doubt once again rearing its ugly head, in well her own head.
Gazing out the window at the ceaseless Seattle rain, both patient and doctor were silently contemplative, until the elder spoke her thoughts out loud.
“What do we call you?” she pondered aloud. “Jane Doe?”
“No, I don’t think so. If whoever hurt me decides to look…” She was unable to continue the horrendous scenarios her mind conjured up but the doctor got the mental picture she painted.
They sat in meditative silence once again when out of the blue Dr. Gibson commented on the weather.
“Always raining in Seattle but my mother always said ‘April showers bring May Flowers’ so there’s a silver lining huh?”
She watched the frown form on her patient’s face, undoubtedly wondering at the cause.
“That’s it. That will be my name!”
“What? May Flowers? Mayflower, not the way I would’ve gone” the doc commented, a hint of sarcasm apparent.
“No. It’s April.”
“Darling, I know it’s hard to accept, but you need to face reality. She’s gone.”
“No. I refuse to believe that. That her God would take her away from me again, this time forever! After all we’ve been through…”
“Sweetheart, that’s life. Bad things happen to good people!”
“She was…no she IS my one, mom! I love her, she is the one…”
“Baby, come here. Tell me what you need to do. How do we prove or disprove who the…body is?”
“I don’t know, mom. Tell me what to do!”
“Oh, my poor boy! My Jackson.”