I stepped off the bus and stood in front of the hospital. I bundled up my coat, tugging the zipper up all the way. I looked at my watch. I still had nearly an hour before my shift started.
I looked across the street at St. Ann's church and decided to stop in and say a little prayer for my grandmother. I wrapped my arms around myself as I ran across the street. I pushed through the doors. As entered, I dipped my finger in the stoup and made the sign of the cross. I moved to the middle of the church, genuflected and sat down at the end of a pew. I knelt down and clasped my hands and closed my eyes.
I said a little prayer for my grandmother, my mother's mother. She raised me from the time I was a baby. My mom had me when she was a teenager. She then ran off with some man and left me. We never heard from her again. Grandma and Grandpa were the only parents I ever knew. Grandpa had a heart attack when I was 10. Grandma took care of me up until she died six months ago. I know people think it's weird that a 28 year old man lived with his grandmother, but I didn't really care. She was there for me while I was growing up. I stayed with her and when she got sick, I was glad that I did. I got to spend a lot of time with her that I would have otherwise missed out on.
After she died, I moved into my own apartment, a small one bedroom apartment in a brownstone downtown. It's kind of old and run down, but it's mine. We never had money growing up, but we always made do.
I took a deep breath and wiped the tears from my eyes. I crossed my arms on the pew in front of me and laid my head down.
I looked up at Father Ron and smiled warmly. "Hello, Father."
Father Ron was a kind old man. He had graying hair and little bit of a pot belly. He nodded his head towards the pew. I scooted over and let Father sit next to me.
"I missed you last Sunday," he said.
"I know. I worked a double shift last Saturday and I was really tired. I'm trying to get moved to the day shift, though. There's no need for me to be home during the day anymore..."
I looked down at my hands and my thoughts drifted to my grandmother's last days. Father Ron patted my knee.
"Have faith, my son."
"Thank you, Father. I'd better get to work."
I got up and left the church, making my way back across the street to the hospital. I made my way up to the hospice ward. I put my coat into my locker in the employee lounge. I looked at myself in the mirror and straightened up my scrub top. I was wearing my blue scrubs today, with a white long-sleeved t-shirt underneath my top.
I admired myself for a moment. I had short brown hair, which naturally stuck up all over the place. I had a trimmed goatee on my chin. My eyes were a hazel color. I had a nice build for my height. I was 5'10" and had strong muscle definition without looking overly muscular. I worked out regularly in the hospital's physical therapy center. It was one of the perks of working here. It also was one of the ways I occupied my time.
I looked up to see Doctor Brooks enter the lounge. He put his winter coat in his locker and hung his stethoscope around the back of his neck and slipped on his white doctor's coat.
"Ready for a long night?" he asked.
"As ready as I can be," I said with a sheepish smile.
Dr. Brooks was a one of doctors who worked this floor. He was a little older than me. His graying temples gave him a very distinguished appearance. He was very handsome and he was always friendly and smiling. When I look at him, I feel those tingly feelings in the pit of my stomach that I try so hard to suppress.
Dr. Brooks poured himself a cup of coffee.
"Would you like a coffee, Paul? My treat."
I chuckled. "As generous as that is, I'll pass."
"Your loss. This is good stuff."
He tried to keep a straight face, but he started laughing and I laughed with him.
One of my fellow nurses, Patrick walked in and headed straight for the coffee and poured himself a cup.
"Hi, Dr. Brooks," Patrick said with a big grin.
"Patrick. How are you today?"
"Tired. Have you been working out? You look really good."
Patrick ran his hand over Dr. Brooks's bicep. I couldn't believe how openly he was flirting with Dr. Brooks. I felt a tinge of jealousy and I quickly tamped it down. I headed towards the door and Patrick was a bit startled as I walked past.
"Oh, hey, Paul. I didn't see you there."
"Hi, Patrick," I said with a forced smile.
I made my way to the nursing station and checked in with my supervisor, Nurse Evelyn.
"Hi, Paul. Can you get started on your med rounds? Thanks."
"Of course, Evelyn."
I grabbed a cart and got everything ready. It took me about thirty minutes to prepare everyone's medications. I then proceeded to my rounds. After I finished, I put my cart away and headed towards the nursing station.
"Paul," Evelyn called out. "Benny's pulled his foley again. Can you help out please?"
I sighed and went and grabbed another foley catheter kit and made my way down the hall to Benny's room. Benny was one of our older patients. He was a sweet old man, but he did not want to be here. I sighed as I entered the room. One of the orderlies was cleaning up what looked like a large pool of urine.
As I approached him, a cold shiver ran down my spine. The orderly slowly stood upright and turned and faced me. I had never seen him before. I would have remembered. He was tall and muscular. I would guess him to be 6'5" and maybe 220 solid pounds. He had short spiky hair, dark brown with a tinge of red. His bristly beard stubble was the same color as his hair. He was handsome in a classic way, but there was something about him that was unsettling. It was his eyes. They were very light colored, an icy blue.
My eyes drifted to the name tag attached to his white uniform. Ezekiel.
I averted my eyes from him and mumbled, "Hi" as I walked past him.
I went around to the other side of the bed where Benny was fidgeting.
"Benny. You know better than this," I scolded.
"Don't like it," he grumbled.
"I know you don't."
I pulled on a pair of latex gloves and got a sponge and tub. I hiked up his gown and cleaned his groin area. I inserted the catheter into his penis and waited for the urine to start draining.
"Okay, Benny. Don't pull this out. Please."
"Bah," Benny muttered as he dismissed me with his hand.
I smiled at him, but my smile faded as I realized that Ezekiel was looking at me. I pulled off the latex gloves and disposed of them and walked past the giant orderly. He grabbed my arm and I felt a cold shock. I snatched my arm away and drew in a sharp breath.
"I'm Zeke," he said.
"I'm Paul. Nice to meet you," I said without looking him in the eye.
He took my right hand and shook it, while covering my hand with his left hand. His hand felt hot and clammy. I tugged back my hand until he finally let go. He chuckled at my obvious discomfort. His laugh sounded mocking to my ears. I hurried from the room and got back to work.
Later that night I was standing at the nursing station when Patrick came up next to me. He flipped through some charts and then let out a small gasp. He nudged me with his elbow. "Who's that?" he whispered.
I turned in the direction of his gaze and a shudder went through me. "That's the new orderly. Zeke."
As I added "He's creepy," Patrick said "He's hot."
Patrick looked at me like I was crazy and said, "If you don't want him, I'll take him."
I watched Patrick walk up to Zeke and start flirting. I shook my head and turned around and got back to work.
As my shift wound down, Evelyn asked me to help Dr. Brooks in room 504. I went down the hall and found Dr. Brooks at Mrs. Fletcher's bedside. Mrs. Fletcher is one our oldest patients. She's very quiet and never fusses.
"How's that, Mrs. Fletcher?" Dr. Brooks asked her.
She smiled as she always does. Dr. Brooks and I both smiled back. I felt a cold shiver run down my spine and I looked up to see Zeke walk in. His eyes made contact with me and I quickly looked away. He started changing the sheets in the other bed.
Mrs. Fletcher shifted uncomfortably, then quickly became agitated.
"What's wrong, Mrs. Fletcher?" I asked as I took her hand.
She pulled her hand away from me. Her eyes widened in terror and she screamed "No!"
Dr. Brooks and I tried to calm her down, but she got more and more out of control. She began crying uncontrollably. Dr. Brooks tried to hold her down, but she swung her hands at him, knocking him in the eye.
I noticed that while all of this was going on Zeke was still making the bed, not paying us any attention, as if there was nothing going on at all behind him.
"Paul, get me two milligrams of midazolam. Now!"
I snapped back to what I was doing and ran and got the sedative for Dr. Brooks.
When I came back in with the sedative, Dr. Brooks called out to Zeke. "You! Don't just stand there. Help me."
As Zeke turned and approached, Mrs. Fletcher shrieked. She looked absolutely terrified and she tried to sit up and crawl back away from him. I injected the sedative into the IV line. After about a moment, she finally calmed down and closed her eyes. Zeke turned around and calmly walked out of the room. Dr. Brooks checked Mrs. Fletcher's vitals and examined her. She had calmed down, but she was moaning and shaking her head as if she was having a bad dream.
Dr. Brooks squeezed my shoulder and thanked me for my help. I nodded and moved away from his hand. As I left the room, I gave him a little smile.
My shift ended and I grabbed my coat and headed down to the bus stop.
When I got home, I unlocked the outside door to my brownstone and I pushed open the door. I hiked up the flight of stairs to my apartment. I unlocked the door and turned on the light. I bolted the door behind me and kicked off my sneakers. I took a quick shower and then pulled on a pair of pajama pants. I made my way to the kitchen and then made a turkey and cheese sandwich. I sat down on the couch in the living room and sighed.
I took a bite of my sandwich and looked around the apartment. The one bedroom apartment was tiny, but it was home. Sure, it gets lonely sometimes, but I wouldn't trade my life for anything.
Over the next few days, I managed to avoid direct contact with Zeke. Whenever he was nearby, I felt really uncomfortable.
One quiet night I was checking on one of the coma patients, Mr. Leonard. There was no change. Same as the past six months.
I suddenly felt a chill and I snapped my head up. Zeke was standing in the doorway. His massive frame blocked out the light from the hallway. My heart was pounding in my ears and I took a step back. Without a word, he turned and walked away.
Later that night, I was walking through an empty hallway, heading back to the nursing station. As I turned the corner, I saw a man walking down the hall. His hospital gown was untied and his bare backside was exposed for the world to see. I hurried down the hall after him. He pushed open the doorway to the stairwell, and he turned and looked back at me with an empty expression on his face. I instantly recognized him as the coma patient, Mr. Leonard. I was shocked that not only was he was awake, but he was out of bed and walking.
"Mr. Leonard!" I called out.
He slowly turned away from me and continued into the stairwell.
"Help!" I shouted. "I need help!"
I ran to the stairwell and pushed open the door. Mr. Leonard had climbed onto the hand rail.
"No!" I screamed.
I grabbed for him, but he pushed forward and fell five flights, landing on the first floor with a loud crunch.
I leaned over the railing and saw Mr. Leonard's limp body lying face down on the floor. A pool of red expanded out from his body. I gasped in horror and covered my mouth.
I was pulled away from the rail and dragged out of the stairwell. I looked up to see Dr. Brooks. His mouth was moving, but I couldn't hear him. He shook my shoulders hard and I focused on his eyes.
"Dr. Brooks. I--"
I grabbed onto him and he held me in his arms. He put his arm around my shoulders and escorted me down the hall away from the stairwell. The hall exploded with activity as security guards, doctors and orderlies ran past us.
We turned the corner and I jumped as we nearly ran into Zeke. He was standing in the hallway stuffing sheets into a laundry cart, seemingly oblivious to what was going on. I grabbed tighter onto Dr. Brooks as we walked past him.
Dr. Brooks sat me down in the lounge and got me a glass of water.
"What happened, Paul?"
"I don't know. I saw Mr. Leonard walking down the hallway. I ran after him. He climbed over the rail and jumped. I don't understand. I checked on him earlier and there was no change in his condition."
The head of security and one of the hospital admins came in and grilled me. I told them the same thing I told Dr. Brooks. It seemed like they believed me, but for a moment, it seemed like they were saying that it was my fault.
It was an hour later that they finally finished and wanted to send me home. I insisted that I was fine and they let me get back to work.
A while later, Patrick found me. He put his hand on my arm and looked at me with concern.
"Hey, Paul. Are you okay?"
"Yeah, I'm fine."
"I can't believe what happened," he said as he shook his head. "It's crazy."
"I know. I'm in shock."
"I'll bet. Oh!" he exclaimed as his mouth turned up into a wide grin. "You'll never guess what happened to me last night."
"Zeke and I hooked up in one of the exam rooms."
My mouth fell open in shock and horror.
Patrick closed his eyes and sighed. "And, my god, he's like an animal. And hung like a--"
"Patrick! I don't need to know any of that."
Patrick shrugged and walked away with a self-satisfied grin on his face. I shuddered at the thought of sex with Zeke.
After my shift was over, I went across the street to the church. I thought I would say a prayer for Mr. Leonard.
After my prayer, I made the sign of the cross, opened my eyes and sat back down on the pew. I noticed then another man in the church. He was sitting on the other side near the front. He was kneeling with his hands clasped and head bowed in prayer.
Even though he was clearly having a private moment, I couldn't help but stare at him. I couldn't see his face, but I could see the back of him. He was large with broad, wide shoulders. He had black, shoulder length hair. He was wearing a brown canvas hooded coat.
I watched him cross himself, then stand. He moved into the aisle and looked up at the cross hanging over the altar. He knelt down on one knee and bowed his head. He stood up and turned around. Our eyes met and I drew in a sharp breath. He was the most handsome and masculine man I had ever seen. His blue eyes were gorgeous. He had a black goatee on his chin, but no moustache. He was very tall, about 6'6", and very muscular. His coat was unbuttoned and I could see his bulky pecs pushing out his shirt. His blue jeans were nice and snug over his thick thighs. My eyes moved to his crotch, which clearly hid something quite large. My face felt warm and flushed and I looked back up into his eyes.
He walked down the aisle, his eyes watching me the entire time. My heart was racing as he approached me.
"Hello," he said.
His voice was deep, but quiet and soothing.
"Hi," I breathed.
He held out his hand to me and I stood up and shook it. His grip was firm and warm. I felt the warmth travel up my hand, through my arm, where it radiated into my chest and groin. I looked into his eyes, unable to speak. He raised his eyebrow at me and smiled.
"Paul," I squeaked out. "I'm Paul."
"It is very good to meet you, Paul."
"You, too, Mike."
He nodded at me, then continued down the aisle. I watched him push through the doors and leave. I wanted to say something to him, to talk to him, but a bit of Catholic guilt stopped me. The things I was feeling for him weren't appropriate, especially in church.
That night when I went to bed, I couldn't stop thinking about Mr. Leonard.
I ran after Mr. Leonard into the stairwell. He climbed onto the railing and turned and looked back at me. He lifted his hand and pointed his index finger at me. I opened my mouth, but no sound came out. I reached for him, but he fell. I gasped and stepped backwards. I bumped into Dr. Brooks and I turned and buried my face in his chest. Dr. Brooks spun me around and pushed me into the corner. I flipped around to see Zeke standing in front of me. He stepped closer and closer to me. His eyes glowed red and his mouth opened to reveal drooling fangs. I opened my mouth to scream.
I bolted upright in the bed. I was shaking uncontrollably and covered in sweat. I pushed myself out of bed and walked to the bathroom. I splashed cool water on my face and took a deep breath and stared at myself in the mirror.
I had a hard time getting back to sleep and when I did, it was very restless. Luckily I had the next day off work. I spent the day cleaning the house and doing laundry, trying to forget about work.
The following evening at work, I ran into Patrick as I started my shift. He looked like hell. He was pale and clammy looking. He coughed into the crook of his elbow and sniffled.
"Are you okay, Patrick?" I asked him.
"Yeah. I got a cold or something. No big deal."
"Okay. If you don't feel any better, you should think about going home."
My shift passed without incident until I went on my lunch break. I sat down in the lounge and sat down at the table. I opened my brown bag and pulled out my turkey sandwich and an apple. The lounge door opened and Zeke stepped inside.
"Hello, Paul," he said.
His voice was deep and growling. I shifted uncomfortably in my seat. He moved around behind me. I tensed up and got up to leave, but he put his hands on my shoulders and pressed me down.
"Stop that," I said firmly.
Zeke held me in place and I tried to pull myself away.
"I want you," he growled. "And I will have you."
The lounge door opened and I let out a deep breath. Zeke let go as Patrick walked in. Patrick looked at the two of us, then narrowed his eyes into a glare.
"What are you doing?" Patrick asked me, his voice dripping with ice.
"You don't think I see what's going on?"
"Zeke is mine!" he said, raising his voice. "You keep your hands off him!"
"Patrick! I don't want Zeke."
"Don't you try to play innocent with me."
The lounge door shut as Zeke walked out of the room.
Patrick scoffed and continued his tirade. "You walk around here all high and mighty acting like the innocent virgin. Well, I'm onto your act."
"Patrick, I don't even like Zeke. Believe me."
I got up and threw my lunch into the trash. I tried to walk past Patrick, but he grabbed my arm.
"You keep your hands off him."
I slapped his hand away.
"Look. I don't know how else to say this. I don't want Zeke. And if you think he's interested in you beyond what you already gave him, you're a fool."
Patrick stepped back and looked at me like I just slapped his face. I stormed out of the lounge, leaving him standing there coughing.
I avoided Patrick and Zeke the rest of the night. I was still annoyed when I got off the bus and walked to my apartment.
As I walked down the sidewalk, I felt an uncomfortable feeling wash over me, like I was being watched. I looked back behind me, but there was no one there. I picked up my pace. I couldn't shake the feeling and I ran as fast as I could to my building. I bounded up the stairs and unlocked the door and bolted it behind me.
As I laid in bed, it felt like the temperature dropped. I pulled the comforter up and curled up on my side and snuggled into the blankets. I felt the mattress move and I drew in a sharp breath and turned over. The room was dark, but there was no one there. I laid back down on my back and closed my eyes.