Christmas at Hell Hospital (Part 2)
There are moments of spiritual certainty bordering on epiphany, in which, acting on compassion and from the most noble movements of the heart, one senses that whatever one can do to help a particular individual, group or cause, that it is most certainly the right thing to do, regardless of the outcome, or the cost. Paula’s generous impetuosity with the air-conditioner, aided and abetted by George, the Greek janitor, was just such a moment. As little Emily gleefully enjoyed the sight of a pretty snowstorm in her ward, Paula knew without a shadow of a doubt she had done the right thing… whatever happened next, it was worth it to see the smile on Emily’s face!
But once the ‘fault’ with the air-conditioners had been found and fixed there was still all that snow to deal with. All the children in the ward had to be kept warm with heated blankets as temperatures gradually returned to normal and the snow was cleared away by a team of cleaners, who eventually agreed to do the extra work for a 50% increase to their usual Christmas penalty rates. However, by the time the negotiations had finished, in spite of their best efforts, the snow could not be cleared away before much, if not most of it had melted; and the resulting water, as is its wont, flowed downhill…
The Children’s Ward was on the first floor, just above the reception area. The receptionist, a diminutive yet remarkably cheerful girl with the unlikely name of Candy, first noticed it when a drop or two of water landed on a sheet of paper she was printing out, smudging the ink; wiping it only made the smudge worse; she would have to reprint it, she thought.
Then it occurred to her to look up to where the water was coming from; the ceiling was all wet and water was dripping from it quite rapidly now… Suddenly the plasterboard of the ceiling, simultaneously soaked, weighted down and structurally weakened by the water from Paula’s snowstorm, gave way and allowed a deluge of water to drench Candy, the printer, photocopier, filing cabinet and the reception’s computer station, which now seriously malfunctioned, emitting dangerous electric sparks, as the water continued on its way to the basement, where it finally ended up as a pool of water a few inches deep in the morgue after compromising the morgue’s lighting and refrigeration…
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When Loreen had seen Paula and George walking off arm in arm, she thought at first that perhaps Paula now fancied the janitor and had given up on Swannee. For a brief moment she was jealous of what she imagined was Paula’s new conquest, but then realized that this was something different… she’d overheard them talking about George’s grand-daughter and dolls or something; Paula was obviously trying to scam the janitor for his help in some scheme or other. She wondered briefly what it was all about, but then realized that without Paula’s presence there was no competition; she had done her homework and knew that Swannee would be coming off duty for his lunch break in less than ten minutes’ time; the field was clear… and since the packet of Viagra which she’d ordered from the internet had arrived in that morning’s post, she was ready for him! The Viagra would overcome this or any man’s indifference, she thought lecherously as she plotted her seduction.
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Catherine Swan would have made an excellent girl-scout; she was always prepared. After giving birth to ten children, she knew the whole routine inside and out and had had her ‘hospital bag’ prepared since the eighth month of her pregnancy. No longer fooled by any false contraction, she instantly recognized the real thing when it happened. She instantly instructed the eldest boy to phone the hospital for an ambulance and the eldest girl to fetch lots of towels from the bathroom as her waters broke even as she was giving her eldest son his instructions. Of course, the baby would have to come now, wouldn’t it? Now, while Swannee, her husband was at work, doing all the overtime he could to feed the cricket team… Such a good man, she thought as the second-eldest boy dragged her bulging suitcase out to the front door and the doorbell rang just as the lad arrived, in time to open the door for the ambulance man, who turned out to be an old friend of sorts; one of St Helvi’s longest-serving ambos, he had been privileged to drive Catherine to the hospital for the delivery of at least half of the cricket team, including her first.
“G’day, Mrs Swan! Nice to see you again… How many will this be?”
“G’day Harry… nice to see you again too… how’s the wife? This’ll be the eleventh!”
“Good Lord!” Harry exclaimed, “They know what causes that now, you know!”
“Oh! You are awful!” Catherine joked as she clambered into the ambulance and son number two pushed her suitcase in after her.
“John,” she said to the eldest boy, “you look after the kids while I’m away won’t you? You know what to do? Daddy should be off-shift in about four hours’ time… There’s plenty of food in the fridge…”
John merely nodded; he’d been through this all before… more than once!
As the ambulance started to drive away, Catherine suddenly turned to Harry, who rode with her in the back of the ambulance, and said, “I wonder if I might have a chance to see Swannee on the way to the delivery room…” as the staff canteen where he worked was right next door to the maternity ward; “I need to remind him to get plenty of disposable nappies on his way home.”
“No worries missus! Long as you think you’ve got enough time before the bub arrives, we can make a quick stop at the caff…”
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