Books: An Abridged Existence (excerpt)

Chapter 6

Sid awakens. He is aware of two other conscious beings in the same room, in similar beds. Glancing around, he notices that he has been, for some reason, restrained. A large strap crosses his chest. Two more straps hold down his arms. More straps also bind his legs to the bed. And one strap is across his forehead, making the process of looking at his other straps rather difficult.

After an awkward silence, the other man in the room speaks.

“So, uh, my name is Carl. I ate the peanuts. Who and what are you in here for?” the question is directed toward Sid and the woman in the room.

Sid is the first to respond. “I’m Sid. I also ate the peanuts.”

Then the woman replies, “I’m Jen, and I too ate the peanuts. I have an allergy to them.”

“Well, if you had an allergy, then why did you eat them?” Carl inquires.

“I didn’t know at the time I was allergic,” she responds.

“I like winding up in the hospital myself, that’s why I ate them,” Sid mockingly says.

Carl breaks into laughter, “Sid, I highly doubt that you actually knew of your allergy. Therefore, you are being sarcastic. No one I know in their right mind would want to nearly die from an allergy they knew they had just to spend some time in a hospital.”

“Actually, I do. Hospitals are so relaxing for me. A nice warm bed, free food, and gorgeous nurses around every corner. Not to mention all the prescriptions you can get if you talk to the right ones,” Sid replies with a slight smirk. Carl just stares back at him, slightly confused.

“If ida know I was allergic, I know I wouldn’t’ve ate them. I hate the hospital,” Jen comments. “I suppose some people just are weird like you, Sid.”

“Thank you, I take that as a compliment. So what do you do?” Sid openly inquires of Jen.

“Pharmacist,” Jen answers bluntly. Hinting at Sid that getting free prescriptions for things he didn’t need is bad by the way of a glare.

Carl does not answer as quickly. “I invent . . . things. It’s not steady work, but I’ve got lots of free time. What about yourself?” Carl asks.

Sid replies, “I’m a musician. And I eat peanuts.”

“Ah, that explains, well, a lot of things,” Carl responds emotionlessly.

Another long, awkward silence follows. They look around the room, trying to avoid the gaze of each other, but often stealing short glances at their current roommates. The silence grows and grows, but their breathing grows louder and louder. Sid is also still strapped down to his bed, and, for some reason, no one has drawn attention to this little fact. Until Jen asks.