[dropcap]I[/dropcap] waited in the vinyl chair, with sweaty palms. It was my big toe, the doctor thought it was infected. I hate hospitals. I would’ve rather been somewhere else than in that cheap chair.
The old man next to me fiddled with his fingernail clippers, he couldn’t seem to jimmy them open. I offered my assistance.
He thanked me, then asked, “What are you in for?”
“My toe.” I said. “It’s infected.”
“You seem nervous.”
I nodded. “I really hate hospitals.”
He thought for a moment. “You know I hurt my big toe once. It was bad. Happened while cleaning leaves in my gutter. Up on the roof. I tripped over our damn cat.”
I laughed. “I don’t get it, how did that break your toe?”
“My wife heard me hollering, I was stuck. My trousers snagged on the gutter. Couldn’t move. Hell, I finally ripped my pants, I fell off the roof, landed on this foot.” He pointed to his shoe. “That’s how I broke it.”
My laugh matured into a cackle.
Then, the nurse called my name.
I stood up and bid goodbye to my new pal.
“I see you made friends,” the nurse whispered. “He’s sweet. It breaks my heart. He used to sit here with his wife, while she took treatments. Since she died, he still comes and sits, same exact place. For no reason at all.”
I looked back at him, reading a magazine.
She was dead-wrong. He had a reason for being there.
That day, it was me.