Blasphemy by Sherman Alexie Read Free Book Online

Book: Blasphemy by Sherman Alexie Read Free Book Online
Authors: Sherman Alexie
Tags: General Fiction
    “Doctor, I’m cold,” my father said.
    “Dad, it’s me,” I said.
    “I know who are you. You’re my son.” But considering the blankness in my father’s eyes, I assumed he was just guessing at my identity.
    “Dad, you’re in the hospital. You just had surgery.”
    “I know where I am. I’m cold.”
    “Do you want another blanket?” Another stupid question. Of course, he wanted another blanket. He probably wanted me to build a fucking campfire or drag in one of those giant propane heaters that NFL football teams used on the sidelines.
    I walked down the hallway—the recovery hallway—to the nurses’ station. There were three women nurses, two white and one black. Being Native American-Spokane and Coeur d’Alene Indian, I hoped my darker pigment would give me an edge with the black nurse, so I addressed her directly.
    “My father is cold,” I said. “Can I get another blanket?”
    The black nurse glanced up from her paperwork and regarded me. Her expression was neither compassionate nor callous.
    “How can I help you, sir?” she asked.
    “I’d like another blanket for my father. He’s cold.”
    “I’ll be with you in a moment, sir.”
    She looked back down at her paperwork. She made a few notes. Not knowing what else to do, I stood there and waited.
    “Sir,” the black nurse said. “I’ll be with you in a moment.”
    She was irritated. I understood. After all, how many thousands of times had she been asked for an extra blanket? She was a nurse, an educated woman, not a damn housekeeper. And it was never really about an extra blanket, was it? No, when people asked for an extra blanket, they were asking for a time machine. And, yes, she knew she was a health care provider, and she knew she was supposed to be compassionate, but my father, an alcoholic, diabetic Indian with terminally damaged kidneys, had just endured an incredibly expensive surgery for what? So he could ride his motorized wheelchair to the bar and win bets by showing off his disfigured foot? I know she didn’t want to be cruel, but she believed there was a point when doctors should stop rescuing people from their own self-destructive impulses. And I couldn’t disagree with her but I could ask for the most basic of comforts, couldn’t I?
    “My father,” I said. “An extra blanket, please.”
    “Fine,” she said, then stood and walked back to a linen closet, grabbed a white blanket, and handed it to me. “If you need anything else—”
    I didn’t wait around for the end of her sentence. With the blanket in hand, I walked back to my father. It was a thin blanket, laundered and sterilized a hundred times. In fact, it was too thin. It wasn’t really a blanket. It was more like a large beach towel. Hell, it wasn’t even good enough for that. It was more like the world’s largest coffee filter. Jesus, had health care finally come to this? Everybody was uninsured and unblanketed.
    “Dad, I’m back.”
    He looked so small and pale lying in that hospital bed. How had that change happened? For the first sixty-seven years of his life, my father had been a large and dark man. And now, he was just another pale and sick drone in a hallway of pale and sick drones. A hive, I thought, this place looks like a beehive with colony collapse disorder.
    “Dad, it’s me.”
    “I’m cold.”
    “I have a blanket.”
    As I draped it over my father and tucked it around his body, I felt the first sting of grief. I’d read the hospital literature about this moment. There would come a time when roles would reverse and the adult child would become the caretaker of the ill parent. The circle of life. Such poetic bullshit.
    “I can’t get warm,” my father said. “I’m freezing.”
    “I brought you a blanket, Dad, I put it on you.”
    “Get me another one. Please. I’m so cold. I need another blanket.”
    I knew that ten more of these cheap blankets wouldn’t be enough. My father needed a real blanket, a good blanket.
    I walked

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