The Comb in the Urinal
After almost colliding with another patron leaving the men’s room, I hustled into the lavatory after imbibing an overabundance of iced tea at a late dinner with friends. It was there I noticed a comb in the bottom of the urinal next to mine. The bizarre picture of this inanimate object being present in such an unusual place haunted me for the rest of the dinner and into that night. What circumstance could possibly have led to the comb in that urinal?
Charlie hangs up the phone after a pleasant conversation with Virginia. He had just invited her on their second date. He was so very anxious to see her. He felt that she was somewhat reticent to go out again, but she had accepted. He was infatuated by her and felt he had a good chance to impress her this time. The first date was not the most exciting or comfortable with Charlie being called in for a gun shot victim at the busy university emergency room. Charlie had profusely apologized to her, and he thought she completely understood the situation as to why Charlie did not have much control over his time. He was now off duty, and he was definitely ready to make an impression on Virginia without any outside interruptions. He was so energized by her voice and the thought of being near her that he did not realize the he had just asked her to dinner at 9 pm, 45 minutes from now at The Tivoli, his favorite restaurant, and that he lived almost 20 minutes from it.
He bolts from his soft, cozy couch and quickly dresses as sharply as he can for a lowly resident at the university hospital. He rips the operating room covers from his loafers, changes his underpants in the distant hope of success after their romantic dinner, and pulls up his ‘dress pants’, the only ones he has for any and all of his ‘dress-up’ occasions. Out the door he hurries, visualizing his being late and Virginia leaving in disgust. Should he drive or take a taxi? If he drove, he would have to park. This certainly could cost money and time. The taxi is a better idea. A shrill whistle blurts from his mouth half full of his fingers, a trick he learned when he was 13 taught to him by a schoolmate. “What was that guy’s name? Livesay, that’s it! What an amazing thing the brain is! I remembered that name from how many years ago?” he exclaims to himself. A cab pulls over so quickly as to make him jump back onto the curb causing him to fall against a “No Parking” sign. He winces from the stinging pain of a protruding bolt against his shoulder, but it isn’t a problem to him. Quickly getting toVirginia’s side is. He jumps into the cab, and says, “The Tivoli!! 8th and Madison!! Do you know it?”
“No, can’t say that I do,” said the driver.
“I have to get there pronto, my man. You do know 8th and Madison, don’t you?” he inquires with a bit of sarcasm.
“Yea, buddy, I been driving around here for years. Never remembers the places but the streets, no problema, mi amigo!!”
The cab bolts forward, and Charlie’s head snaps back causing a twinge of electricity through his neck muscles, but he ignores it. Overall, he feels a calm relief. He has plenty of time to get to the restaurant and aptly impress Virginia with the smoothest line any doctor in the city could say to any young lady. She will be unable to resist his charm and casual demeanor.
The cab comes to a sudden dead stop, the left blinker pulsating like a cardiac monitor. The cab is not moving, and the light is green. “What is going on??” he questions himself.
“Hey, we going turn here?” he asks.
“Sure, when the cop lets me!! Relax, mi amigo!”
Charlie leans forward, and there, in front of the cab, is a woman lying on the pavement face down. “I’m a doctor, and I have to deal with this stuff even when I am off duty,” he thinks. He pauses hoping that the woman will get up and get out of the way, but nothing happens. Reluctantly, he opens the cab’s door, tells the cop nearby he is a doctor, and rushes over to the woman on the ground. “Good, a pulse! Not good, there IS a pulse!” thinks Charlie. A pulse means that he is really going to be late for
his date. He looks and listens for breathing. “No stethoscope, of course! Who brings one of those things on a date with a beautiful woman who may well have the hots for him later tonight?” he questions himself.
“What happened here?” he yells to the police officer.
“Beats me, Doc. I already called the ambulance.”
A faint siren is heard in the distance giving Charlie a sense of relief that he may not be here long. Just then the woman starts moving and thrashing about, first pushing and then pulling at Charlie. “What kind of nut is this woman? I don’t think she is hurt. Oh, great, a druggie!!” he says under his breath.
Then suddenly, a stinging pain on the side of his face brings him back to the reality of the situation.
“Now, that hurts! What the heck do you think you’re doing?” he screams at the flailing woman. She is now ripping at his clothes and grunting. Charlie cannot get a firm hold on this maniac. Grasping a greased pig would be easier than holding on to this woman who is now biting at his hand.
“Do I hit her or force her back to the ground. Will I be liable for any injury here? Where the heck is the cop?”
There is commotion everywhere. People are mulling around on his left, bright shiny lights on his right, and no one is attempting to help him in the midst of this turbulence. A siren is now blasting in his ear, and out of the corner of his eye, some white coats appear. The saviors have come at last! The woman is finally subdued and sedated, placed on a gurney, strapped down, and slowly placed in the back of the emergency vehicle but still flailing. To Charlie the whole ordeal had to take a very long time. “Everything in slow motion. Just like they say when adrenaline is pumping in the blood stream! What’s the word for that? I knew it once. Tachypsychia, that’s it. My brain is still functioning. Everything in slow motion, but the time span is really very short. Damn, that blow to the side of my head really hurts.”
He places his hand to the side of his face where the pain is throbbing. A sticky fluid is felt slowly dripping down his face. He knows what he is going to find when he looks at his hand. Blood!
“ That’s really great! The doctor, the Good Samaritan doctor, bleeding all over his only dress pants! Just great!”
The woman is gone now. There are on-lookers still wandering around mumbling to each other, and all are staring at Charlie as he arises from a puddle of water in which he has been kneeling. The cop has totally avoided him and is hopping on his Harley-Davidson. As Charlie stands up, he feels his water soaked sock on his right foot. He now searches for his shoe and finds it by the gutter on its side filled with water. He tips it over and watches bits and pieces of street life pour from his shoe. He is only half way to the Tivoli.
“Get back in the cab!!” he quickly thinks.
As Charlie turns, he realizes that his cab and driver have left. “No cab to be seen or heard. Just peachy keen!! What time is it?” he asks himself.
As he rubs the clotted blood from his watch, he now realizes he has exactly 13 minutes to get to the restaurant. I’ll wash up as soon as I get there. With his fingers in his mouth, he sends out another shrill whistle as soon as he sees a yellow cab turn the corner up the street. Stumbling to his feet, he grabs the door handle and enters the cab.
There is an interesting ending to this story as there is with every story in the book.
I'm not going to divulge the ending. Hopefully I have piqued your interest enough to read the book!