Keywords: storytelling; hospital, Richard Handler; envy
Richard Handler tells a story every couple of weeks on his CBC web site. In his April 20th column he tells a personal story about his stay in hospital. It reminded me of another one about a hospital stay. I don’t know where I heard it, but it comes back to me quite often. I don’t know a better way than this story to tell its message. Here goes:
Two guys shared a room as patients in a hospital. The one near the window was expecting to die, but he was a great observer. He reports to his roommate about the goings-on he could watch in the park and street outside: wonderful observations about the passersby and what they were doing as they met down below — the children and dog-walkers, the middle-aged frisbee-players, the old woman who bought flowers every day from the vendor, the lovers necking on the park bench each evening until one night when they appeared to be having a spat, the competitive roller-blade kids with ever new stunts. That window revealed a world of heart-warming activities, told by a raconteur who knew he was dying.
The other patient began to envy his sicker roommate for that view of the life outside the window. As he listened to the stories, he began to wish, ever more keenly, for a chance to observe all this for himself. Eventually an idea began to take shape in his mind.
The guy near the window would die anyhow eventually and vacate that bed. Why not just speed up the process a bit? It would be easy. At night, one could just reach over and switch the pills. Probably no one would guess what happened.
And so he did. It was a simple matter, and — just as expected — the sicker patient expired during the night. The nurses found him the next morning, shut the curtain around his bed, and quietly took away his body.
Now was the moment. The surviving patient requested to be moved over to the vacant bed, and the nurses agreed. After changing the linens, they helped him move over and plumped his pillows. Then they pulled back the curtain surrounding his bed, and the patient got his first good look through the window.
What lay beyond was only a solid brick wall.