needle needle

by Edward Wells II



“…When it all hums, the slightest disturbance projects…” the music and the song roll on as the car slips by, its outline revealed in the errant sideways beams of the  headlights and taillights of the ambulance.


The wheels clatter slightly as the woman is pushed up the ramp to the emergency room doors on the gurney. The gurney is turned by a nurse who leads it into one of the waiting rooms. The driver stands talking to the nurse at the station who is noting additional particulars that were not received in the call that preceded the ambulance’s arrival.


A small nurse leads the doctor into the room. The doctor’s taller frame bends to examine the gash on the woman’s right cheek. “We’re going to need to put in some stitches. I hope for that man’s sake that we can make this look like it never happened.” she directs toward the nurse. The nurse leaves to retrieve the necessary cart, “I hate that people do these things.” the doctor says now alone over the woman moving in intense, miniscule squirms.


A record skips at its end repeatedly and headlights wave through the blinds as cars turn off the main road into the housing complex.


The policeman is round and short. His uniform takes on a circular shape and the way the cuffs of the jacket sleeves rest suggest that the officer has grown since receiving it. “You just decided to hit her with a wine bottle, huh?” he stands waiting for a reply, nearly eye to eye with the younger man, though that man is seated and leaning forward to accommodate the angle of his arms that are united at his cuffed hands. “I guess I did.” the man never looks up.


There is nothing special about the button just above the pants of the uniform. It is simply easier to look ahead at the angle that his present condition has positioned him at.


“…en angels deserve to di….” the song fades and a hand reaches up to flip off the radio. The man is athletic and turns above the waist, directing his body after surveying the space behind him.


“He’s special. We have to do it.” he stands there looking at the second man who is much taller and much thinner. He is wearing rain gear over his suit. The suit hangs on him in a way that states little more than “you are clothed” though his build makes it difficult to determine if his clothes are off the rack or tailored. “If I had two needles working at once, I could understand it, but with one needle, it is difficult to put it together.” the man looks at the small case that is resting on the desk. “I’m aware of that, but you will simply have to go ahead despite the difficulty inherent.” the athletic man turns back to the radio. The tall man sighs and then turns and leaves the office.


Downstairs an intercom buzzes to life. “Paging Doctor Schwebe. Doctor Schwebe you are needed in the maternity ward.” the tall man walks quickly, pulling his white coat on and wrapping a stethoscope around the back of his neck. He rounds a corner and steps up to the nurse’s station. “Ahh, Doctor Schwebe. Come this way. You should look at her immediately.” the nurse takes his arm and leads him to one of the rooms where a woman is positioned on a bed with her legs raised in the air and sitting up slightly.






The woman is regaining consciousness. The room seems blurry to her and her eyelids pull together when she faces the direction of the lights. “Dr. Schwebe.? Doctor. Where is my-”, she looks down at her body and feels at her abdomen, “everybody!?” She leans forward, but there is a sudden pain. She falls backward and her muscles relax.


The tall Doctor walks into the room. He is wearing his white coat and producing a constant, measured smile. “We had to sedate you.” As he says this, she reaches to her left arm and feels the cotton swab that is secured there opposite her elbow. She looks down and then back at Dr. Schwebe. “Where-”, she stops and the corners of her mouth move slightly away from the center of her mouth, then the lips constrict. He walks to the side of her bed and places a hand on her left hand that is resting alongside her suddenly thin body. “Your child is resting in a special crib. We will bring the child soon.” he looks down as she squeezes his hand. “Thank you doctor.” she says and pulls him toward her as she leans into him. “It is why we are here. There are some concerns, but we can discuss that after you have seen the child.” he strokes the top of her head and rests his hand at the back of her neck.


“I understand that you have to apply anesthetic, but can’t it be general? Like the sort that you inhale?” she asks, as she looks at the needle the nurse is holding. “I’m afraid that that wouldn’t be good practice. It is best to use the minimum in these cases.” the nurse looks at the woman’s right cheek, turning the head to better see the full length and width of the split in the skin. “I’m scared of needles is all.” the woman says turning away with a slight sniffling sound. The nurse inserts the needle, pressing first one button and then another. There are two distinct sounds. After the first, the woman can feel something warm entering the skin around the wound and then spreading. Her face begins to go numb. The second is merely a sound, to her, that happens seemingly absent of any action. The nurse withdraws the needle and lays it back on the tray atop the cart.


She then begins the delicate process of preparing the skin. The procedure is intended to supply cosmetic-quality results for the patient. For the nurse, this means that there may be an hour or more involved. There will also be a specialist in attendance prior to the stitching to ensure that the skin is properly prepared and aligned. The woman in the bed is now relaxed and fully reclined. She turns on the television and begins to flip through the numerous channels that are available.


“Son, I don’t understand. You were given everything you could have wanted. Born into a family like yours, anytime you asked, I’d guess that you got something very much like what you asked for.” The officer turns and paces to the other end of the table. “Your lawyer will be here in a few minutes, but don’t you realize that this is going to hurt more people than just the woman you struck?” he stands up straight from the chair at the end of the table that he has been leaning against and walks out the door.


“There is the chance that there may be something wrong with your son.” Doctor Schwebe looks on at the new mother and then asks “Would you like me to turn on another light?” The woman looks back at the doctor, “My baby is so beautiful. What could be wrong?” she sits up by pushing herself up slowly and then adjusting the back of the bed a small degree. “There is a new disease that is known to affect some male children. It is quite possible that some of them will grow up with absolutely no signs of it- some may never even develop the disease frankly. Unfortunately, what it means is that when he reaches the age of around twenty-five we will have to be more careful, that’s all.” Doctor Schwebe steps closer to the bed. “That’s all? I thought you were going to tell me that may baby couldn’t go home with me.” she smiles briefly, then her smile begins to fade and her eyes tighten and the skin turns downward from the edges of her face to the corners of her eyes. “There is more to think about than now though. You should be aware of all that we need to look for and prepare for.” the Doctor says and extends his hand. “But, nobody deals with these things anymore.” she has begun to cry and her head is now hanging forward.






“It will help us immensely if you are able to describe the thoughts and/or feelings that you experienced prior to the event. You will be supplied with a recorder after this procedure is completed.” states the lawyer.


The lawyer opens a small case and removes a needle. He inserts the needle into the sterilized tissue of the man’s left arm. The lawyer then presses two buttons. After the first sound, the man feels the sensation of something warm entering his arm and then spreading. After the second sound, the man feels an instant of sharp pain that soon subsides. The lawyer removes the needle and places it back in the case.


“I encourage you to speak freely, even if what you say does not make sense.” he begins to walk away from the man, carrying the case toward the door. Without turning to look back at the man he says, “I only hope that you still realize we are working to ensure this never happens again.”


The door to the room slides shut behind the specialist as he enters to complete a final inspection of the nurse’s work. “She has really done some nice work here. I would guess that if you live healthy and use the ointment that we are giving you, this will be nearly unnoticeable in two weeks.” he says as he steps over to pick up a mirror. “Would you like to see it?” he asks lifting the mirror. “No.” she replies. She is laying on her back and looking up at the dark ceiling of her room. “What happens now?” she asks rolling on her side and looking at the man. “You will go to your new home. You will receive some intensive rehabilitation. Then you will be free to enjoy your new life.” he returns the mirror to the table. “Do you think that I will remember this?” she asks rolling back onto her back. “Well, that is partially your choice, but if you follow our recommendation you will remember it very well forever.” the specialist replies, making his way around to the foot of her bed. “Our methods aren’t about making you forget.” he bends a bit to look her in the eyes and then says, “I hope you still realize we are working to ensure this never happens again.” She closes her eyes and arches her neck, the specialist turns and walks out of the room.


He walks to the nurse’s station and provides instructions about moving the patient to a standard room and contacting the proper authorities to prepare the patient’s new life.


Dr. Schwebe approaches the specialized crib outfitted with many different monitoring devices. He reaches up to the IV and connects the needle. He presses two buttons and then waits. The child stirs slightly and wails for a moment. Then he rolls slightly and settles again. The Doctor disconnects the needle and makes his way back upstairs. He removes the stethoscope and coat on his way to the elevator.





Edward Wells II is a writer, recently returned to schooling. Some of his most recent works have been accepted by The Bicycle Review and have appeared in Blue and Yellow Dog, Counterexample Poetics, and Heavy Bear. His most recent collection was released by Full of Crow and is entitled Mexico 2009 ( His author page can be found on facebook.


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