Welcome back, Eagle Joe

There was no rush to get to the hospital but the driver, Gary, still flicked on the siren and lights.  Gary glanced at his watch; it was running five minutes slow again.  The watch was a gift from his brother last Christmas.

“You’ll never need another battery,” his brother promised.

The watch was supposed to last forever, but it had started to lose a few minutes each month.  Within a year, it would be an hour behind.  Thanks a lot, Bruce, Gary thought, but even a broken watch is right twice a day.  Gary gloated; he got the last laugh on this one.

A few minutes wouldn’t make a difference, he decided, as he slowed for a red light.  He twisted his head and looked at his passenger.  The man lay motionless on a stretcher, destined to either be a corpse or just another beat up homeless guy.  In either case, the outlook was not great for the dirty man. 

The ambulance squealed as it took a sharp turn.  It jostled the passenger and brought him back into the living world.  The man groaned as he slowly opened his blood shot eyes.  He lifted his head and let his eyes lazily scan his surroundings.  With another groan, the man dropped his head back against the stretcher and squeezed his eyes shut.  His head pounded and his body was starting to ache. 

Suddenly, he thought of the treasures he usually carried in his pockets.  He felt for the bulge of the knife he always carried and panicked.  He felt for the plastic purple lighter, the smooth rock that he considered very lucky, and the five bucks that someone had just given to him.  The man strained to sit up, but discovered he was strapped to the stretcher.  He dropped his head against the hard surface again, it was all gone.  His pockets were flat and empty against his skinny, bowed legs.

When the man woke up again, it was in a clean, white room.  He gazed around and tugged at the tube from his wrist to a bag hanging on a rack near his head.  A monitor beeped and digital numbers flashed on a black screen.  He saw two nurses talking in the doorway of his room. The words of the larger woman easily carried across the room as she took no effort to lower her voice.

“This is Eagle Joe- he came in without an id.  He got jumped and beat pretty badly.  No one’s looking for him and there’s no one to call.  He’s just another homeless guy to stabilize and send back to the streets.”

The smaller woman said something softly and Big Red laughed.

“No, we call him that because of the evil looking bird on his shoulder.  Looks like a prison tat.  Take a look when you check his stats.”

Big Red noticed that he was awake and came over towards his bed.

“Welcome back, Eagle Joe.” 

The man groggily nodded his head and muttered something incomprehensible through his broken teeth. 

Big Red laughed again, “Ok, whatever you say Eagle Joe. Tonya is going to take care of you for the rest of the night.”

He kept mumbling as the women left and he tried to clear his head when suddenly he remembered something important.

“My name is Frank, my name is Frank, my name is Frank,” he repeated to an empty room.


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