tara birch | visiting hours

Visiting hours

I visited Bill today (not the Bill I once fucked – the other one) as he laid in bed, an IV tube giving him the good stuff, morphine or Dilaudid, I think.  What’s that book?, he asked, when he woke up.  Ignoring the steel rods in his leg, I said it was Turgenev’s “Sketches from a Hunter’s Album.”  Who’s Turgenev?, he says and I say, a Russian short story writer, you know about the time of Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Chekhov.  I’m a painter, he says. I love Picasso and that Michelangelo guy, I say, & he laughs.  I’m so damn funny when people are drugged up, I say.  It could be worse, he says. How’s the teal wall in your writing room?  Still getting shit from your kid about it? No, I say.  She’s a painter too, you know. She painted colored ropes all twisted up, acrylic on canvas, against a background of dark blue and hung it up on the opposite wall. Oh yeah, he says, the grey one.  I remember.  Good colors.  Yes, I say.  By the way, would you push that red button for my pain meds?  The one over there, he says when I get confused.  Sure I say, but then the nurse comes in and tells me I’m not allowed. Only the patient is supposed to do that.  He’s in a lot of pain, I say but she gives me an old asshole nurse look and I shut up. When she leaves I reach over & push the button & Bill smiles big-big, you know. Before he drifts off  Bill asks, What’d this Turgenev guy write stories about?  An aristocratic hunter and his encounters with serfs, I say. What happens?  The rich guy kills a lot of birds, a young poor kid he meets dies, and some dwarf, a shaman or holy man or something tells the hunter he was exiled from his homeland, the beautiful land along the Don river, for not being Christian enough.  Tough luck, says Bill. So, I say, How’d you manage to fuck up your leg so bad. Ah, well sweetie, I had a wee problem with the scaffolding at the Sistine Chapel.  Low bidder and all.  I blame the fookin Pope, he says in his worst Irish accent, then passes out, sinking down into his pillow knowing he got the best of me.  Bastard.

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