I wrote this quirky little story in 1999, so if it seems a little rough around the edges, this is why.  In order to maintain the integrity of the original story, I have published it ver batim as it was written a decade ago.


Tina awoke amidst the screaming of her alarm clock.  As she glared at the inert plastic clock, she saw that it read 6:45 AM. She rolled over, slammed her hand onto the snooze button, and tried to savor the final fifteen minutes of sleep.

A quarter hour later, Tina sluggishly pulled herself out of bed and toward the shower. Soon, the water was rushing down and Tina was lathering her long hair with shampoo.  As she shampooed, she inhaled the wonderful strawberry aroma.  With life kicking her in the teeth as it was these days, this was often the highlight of her entire day, and she longed to savor the moment.  But as all good things must come to an end, the shower was soon finished, and Tina hopped out to face the real world.

Tina tapped her foot to the rhythm of “Cheeseburger in Paradise” as she waited for the red light to turn to green.  As Jimmy Buffett gave way to some up-and-comer on the radio, the light finally turned, and she eased the Grand Am into the intersection and headed north.  A few short minutes later, she had pulled into the parking lot, jumped out, and raced to her eight o’clock class.  She eased into her seat a moment before Ms. McAnally entered the room.

As Ms. MacAnally yammered on about how to compose a business plan, Tina’s mind began to drift.  Why on earth would a nurse have to know anything about business writing, anyway?   As long as they could somehow find a way to read doctors’ handwriting, that would be enough.  College was enough of a pain without useless classes. She gently sighed to herself as she forced herself to listen to the instructor.

After what seemed like an eternity, the class was released and Tina quickly raced across campus to her next class.  When she entered the room, there was a note of the board that Mr. Nelson was sick and that class was canceled.  She could barely contain her joy.  She would have some time to do some homework and catch a quick nap before work.

After a quick meal of chicken noodle soup, Tina settled down for a nice midday nap. As the warm sun poured through the window and bathed her body in its beam, she fell into a cozy sleep on her futon.  After what seemed like only minutes (but had actually been nearly 3 hours), she was once again awakened by the alarm.  Once again, she reluctantly pulled herself out of bed to start the second half of her day.

When Tina arrived at the hospital, she was disappointed to find out that she would be stationed in the geriatric ward once again.  Some people found the old people interesting, but she found them very boring and would usually be extremely tired when she got off a shift hanging around them, not because she worked any harder on those nights, but because their lack of energy was contagious.

Her first patient of the night was old Mr. Burns.  The guy was ancient, had an artificial hip, and was ugly as sin, but that didn’t stop him from being the most notorious skirt chaser in the wing.  Luckily, because of the hip, most of the nurses could easily out run him.

At his birthday party last month, someone had the smart idea to actually put ninety two candles on the cake.  A small fire had broken out, and poor Mrs. Frederick’s hair had been burned to a crisp.  And just when it had grown back after her radiation treatments.  It was quite traumatic for the old witch.  So much so that she had stopped attending birthday parties entirely, which was probably a good thing for her, since she carried quite a bit of weight.  Her fondness for angel food cake was the main reason for the considerable weight that she has gained during her stint at the hospital.

Tina was able to quickly check in on Mr. Burns, and since he was asleep, she got out of there in a matter of seconds.  She had avoided the first major obstacle of the night.

She wasn’t quite so lucky at her second room, though.  Mr. Vincent wouldn’t let her escape.  She was forced to listen to several of his tales about how he led the confederate forces in the civil war.  Despite the fact the war ended in the mid 1800s, Mr. Vincent not only claimed to have fought in the war, but actually thought that it was still going on, and that the South would eventually prevail.  What a fruitcake.  Who’d have thought that a little pneumonia could do that to you?

After what seemed like a lifetime, Mr. Vincent got a visitor, and while he was distracted momentarily, Tina bolted out the door.  As she hurried down the hall, she could hear the old man yelling “Missy, missy, don’t you want to hear more about my friend, Mr. Jefferson Davis?”

After a dozen more visits to the old folks, Tina was finally able to escape to the ER.

It was a pretty quiet night for the ER – a couple of broken legs, a kid with his head cracked open, and a self-inflicted gunshot wound.  How someone could do serious damage to themselves with buckshot was beyond her reasoning ability, but some fellow named Billy Bob managed to do some very serious damage to some pretty serious parts of his anatomy.  They really should think about locking up stupid people for their own protection.

Around nine thirty, John Wilson checked in with what seemed like a little case of mono.  When Tina did the blood work on him, she took a little more than was necessary – about a pint more, to be exact.  John was one of those guys who always went around bragging about how far he had gone on his last date (and usually stretching things a bit).  He had dared to pull this stunt on Tina’s friend Jill, so this was her revenge.  The poor bastard would recover just fine, but he’d feel like hell for a couple of days. A fitting punishment.

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Kosmo is the founder of The Soap Boxers and writes on a variety of topics. Many of his short stories have been collected into Kindle books.

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