Pratt oozes over and shakes Carter's hand. Carter asks how it's going. "Life is good," Pratt grins. "I see it's better for you." He greets Kem warmly and asks if Carter's back on shift work. "Yeah, about five minutes ago," he answers. A nurse steps forward to escort Kem upstairs while he gets things going. "You're coming, right?" she asks, nervously. Carter squeezes her and assures her he will. They kiss. Smile. Backward glance. Smile, smile, Beard, smug smile, smile.
Behind him, medics wheel in forty-four-year-old Larry, whose car met and married a utility pole. The medics say that he may have suffered a syncopal episode. Unless that's an offbeat reference to a seizure brought on by a sudden lack of rhythm, then I have no idea what that means. A kid's coming in with him. "Who's worse?" Carter asks. "Dad, by a long shot," the medic says. Carter gets down to business and asks for a portable chest and some O-neg. "Sure," one of the nurses says. "Cool," says a surprised Carter. Before, he was like, "There are black people in Africa?" And now he's all, "There's MEDICAL STUFF in Chicago?" His face is a question mark all the time now. God, how I'd like to repunctuate him. My fist would make a great period. Malarkey shows up and declares himself a second-year resident. "Barely," snorts Pratt. Carter sends Pratt off after the kid, who is also the vehicle driver. The boy's nineteen, and apparently crashed the car because he was trying to revive his father from the rhythmless funk. The kid, Martin, also cracked some ribs and is wearing a homemade neck brace fashioned by his father because he suffers from ankylosing spondylitis -- that is, a bone disease.
Larry lies in Trauma Green, doing his best impersonation of Frank. By which I mean, he looks a hell of a lot like him, and not that he's spewing bigoted epithets, jokes, and venom from every pore. Luka enters and spots Carter. "You're back!" he says. "Yeah, a week ago. Holed up at the house," he says. Wait, he's been there a week and he hadn't bothered to show Kem around town? What a great host. I have an impossible time believing that Carter's so dynamic in the sack that Kem wouldn't sit up and say, "Can we PLEASE get out of your grandmother's deathbed, just once?" Chuny giggles that Carter hasn't been alone. "Kem, right?" Luka asks. I assume he knows of her from his correspondence with Carter about the whole triple cocktail thing, and not because Carter has been sending Luka lots of letters asking him how to woo a lady, and what the clitoris is, and whether it's supposed to go limp like that quite so quickly.