Blood Bank

{Blood Bank #1}

It’s a weekend. So at three fifty in the afternoon we travel to give our blood. There are stewardesses on the daraga shuttle bus. They lounge in the cabin, nearest the driver, drifting in & out of sight & chatting amongst themselves, sitting as though they had been to every blue museum in the world. They sit awkwardly, for there are no seats for them & they have to squat on railings & this makes their brown skirts ride. They are speaking furiously, by the ferocity of their mouths. It is in humourless contrast to their sly, slothful postures. Tiny bellies squint beneath the crease of their dresses. The engine starts up & they raise their voices so as not to be interrupted. This means we can hear them, even toward the back of the bus. They are crying out their business; the names of who they have conducted themselves upon. We can’t hear the words clearly, & as bored as we are of their ridiculous appearance, all that seems to count is that their lacquered lips & legs move. We may as well be animals to them, they are the pig pen guards, but with each day the feeling becomes mutual. Some day they will speak to us in this familial manner. We will all be old men by then.

{Blood Bank #2}

A statue of a dead bear, life size, in brass, adorns the circular driveway to the blue museum blood bank. A monument to victory. The bear is still, having fallen on its chin. Its eyes have been closed, restfully, its conqueror merciful, and clear headed. Even after the chase. The bear has ceased movement and so may he. He too is motionless, his expression, it needs not be said the brass statue is motionless. It is strictly forbidden to touch the bear. You may not pat its brow or feed it from your palm. I have never known a man or woman with the vim to do such a thing, to coddle the vanquished bear!

{Blood Bank #3}

We climb the white steps into the hospital. The blood wing welcomes us with a smell of congealment. I did see a man try to run from the building here once, with a blood pipe in his arm. He was easily tracked by his trail, a gory Ariadne. They were thankful that he did not bleed on the bear. The consequence of human blood on its claws are too regretful to even contemplate. He was not a bad fellow, and he was not punished. The nurse had been trying to intimidate him into giving to the needle. She had told him the syringe was infected with hep C. I don’t understand why he ran after the blood had been pumped. It would’ve been too late if true. Surely the blood hospital would have been the best place for him to be. They could have performed a transfusion, emptied his body of his blood and filled him up with another’s. Mine perhaps. The nurse was reprimanded and he was denied his orange juice when he awoke from the feinting fit that assaulted him on the highstreet.

{Blood Bank #4}

Ill fortune to the weekend workers when working both days of the weekend, one will be bespattered with blood. The rota is staggered so they do not work every weekend, just six out of every seven. That is six donations every seven weeks. That’s six pints every forty nine days. Though we cannot share the feeling, I sense the consensus is better the blood bank than the Blue Museum . The scenery changes on the bus and the nurses here are violent and frightening. They slip blood into each others drinks. No one complains. About our giving blood. I don’t know how they feel about the practical jokes they play on each other, the nurses. They frighten me, the way they are used to blue blood and bank museums, and the right they have to fatigue. I can never manage to speak more than they speak to me, which would normally be a fine thing, but they talk in such viscous circles. I am left dizzy. Such coarse insults, what they will do to me if I move, how they will twist it in before they break it off, and then, technical terminology to the occidental doctors. Words so correct I cannot fathom them. They have the advantage, with the needle. And everyone is woozy with the blood donating taking place. Those black uniforms beneath the uniforms. I like their smell, of rubber and bleach, and blood I suppose.

{Blood Bank #5}

No one talks to each other. We have been told it weakens the electrolytes in the blood, to smalltalk with our co-workers. ‘ Blue Museum ?’ The talk will make it coagulate slower. Mental arithmetic before donation is another faux pas. No one speaks to each other regardless. Why, when there are nurses around? It would seem inappropriate.

by Steven Fowler

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