Issue 109, Winter 1988
PLEASE IMAGINE AN EXPLOSION ON A SHIP
A paretic named Perkins sat askew on his broken wheel chair. He arranged his lips.
You pithyathed thon of a bidth!” he shouted.
Barbara Cannon, a second class passenger, lay naked in a first class bridal suite with Steward Lindy Adams. Lindy got out of bed and walked over to a window and looked out.
“Put on your clothes, honey,” he said. “There’s been an accident.”
A first class passenger named Mrs. Norris was thrown out of bed by the explosion. She lay there shrieking until her maid came and helped her up.
“Bring me my wig and my kimono,” she told the maid. “I’m going to see the Captain.”
Dr. Benway, ship’s doctor, drunkenly added two inches to a four inch incision with one stroke of his scalpel.
There was a little scar. Doctor,” said the nurse, who was peering over his shoulder. “Perhaps the appendix is already out.
The appendix out!” the doctor shouted. “I’m taking the appendix out! What do you think I’m doing here?”
Perhaps the appendix is on the left side,” said the nurse.
That happens sometimes, you know.”
Can’t you be quiet?” said the doctor. “I’m coming to that!”
He threw back his elbows in a movement of exasperation. “Stop breathing down my neck!” he yelled. He thrust a red fist at her. “And get me another scalpel. This one has no edge to It.”
He lifted the abdominal wall and searched along the incision. “I know where an appendix is. I studied appendectomy in 1904 at Harvard.”
The floor tilted from the force of the explosion. The doctor reeled back and hit the wall.
Sew her up!” he said, peeling off his gloves. “I can’t be expected to work under such conditions!”
At a table in the bar sat Christopher Hitch, a rich liberal; Colonel Merrick, retired; Billy Hines of Newport; and Joe Bane, writer.
In all my experience as a traveler,” the Colonel was saying,
I have never encountered such service.”
Billy Hines twisted his glass, watching the ice cubes. “Frightful service,” he said, his face contorted by a suppressed yawn.
Do you think the Captain controls this ship?” said the Colonel, fixing Christopher Hitch with a bloodshot blue eye.
Unions!” shouted the Colonel. “Unions control this ship!”
Hitch gave out with a laugh that was supposed to be placating but ended up oily.
“Things aren’t so bad, really,” he said, patting at the Colonel’s arm. He didn’t land the pat because the Colonel drew his arm out of reach. “Things will adjust themselves.”
Joe Bane looked up from his drink of straight rye.
It’s like I say. Colonel,” he said. “A man—”
The table left the floor and the glasses crashed. Billy Hines remained seated, looking blankly at the spot where his glass had been. Christopher Hitch rose uncertainly. Joe Bane jumped up and ran away.
“By God!” said the Colonel. “I’m not surprised!”