bob had a terrible dream. he was thirty five cents toward a happy meal in death valley but a vulture kept pecking at him as he tried to get up out of the rubber raft on the floor of the big rig tipped over on its side at the beach, half in the gently rolling waves and half in the word "bumblebee" which he had to keep repeating over and over again. bumblebee bumbebee bumblebee don't leave me.... like all really terrible dreams it was very boring and repetitious...
suddenly he woke up. but he couldn't remember what he was or where he was.
after a minute he began to remember. he was a human. he lived on a planet called earth with other human beings, none of whom liked him very much. he wasn't a bumblebee or a happy meal. he didn't know why he thought he was a bumblebee. he had a toy dinosaur when he was a child, but a bumblebee? he knew what a happy meal was. happy meals were something to eat, although he personally preferred an all you can eat crab dinner at red lobster.
at the thought of "all you can eat crab dinner at red lobster" his brain cleared and he remembered everything. except why he was where he was - in a hospital. in a small semi-private room, with a sheet between himself and the human in the next bed, and a blank tv screen staring down at him.
"ah, the sleeper wakes." a skinny middleaged woman in a nurse's uniform appeared at the foot of his bed. "how are you feeling?"
"great." always a good answer.
"i'll get the doctor."
"i'm doctor mehta." doctor mehta made little effort to keep her mild disgust at bob's condition and existence from showing on her smooth face. she waved a small clipboard at him. "we had quite a time finding your particulars. we finally tracked down your employer. but we haven't been able to find your primary care physician."
bob just stared at her.
"do you have a primary care physician?"
"yes, doctor morris. doctor william morris."
"good, good. we'll give you some papers to fill out. can you handle that?"
"sure, no problem."
"your employer agrees that you are covered by their medical plan, even though you are on some kind of probation." she looked at him, as if expecting some argument or excuses.
"they didn't have your primary care physician listed. you should make sure they have it."
doctor mehta looked at her clipboard. "do you know what day it is?"
bob thought briefly. "so i've been out two days?"
"exactly." a slight sneer on her face seemed to say, what, you thought this was a movie and you had been out for two years? but instead she said, "quite an accomplishment, considering no drugs or alcohol were involved."
"do you go on these eating binges often?"
"no. this was the first time."
she looked at the clipboard again and laughed. "well your weight, your blood pressure, other things indicate maybe it was. your first time. but you did inhale?"
"nothing, just a little joke. showing my age. but you do seem to have a serious glandular issue. were you aware of that?"
"yes, yes i was." come on lady, i've got a date with some buffalo fries.
"maybe you should discuss it with this doctor - morris? we'll forward our test results to him, once we get his address,"
"i've discussed it with him - he knows all about it."
"can i get dressed and go now?"
"yes, you can go. we ask you to fill out some forms - "
"i'll do it.'
"and we'll give you some literature on bulimia and other eating disorders, in case you'd like to seek counseling, or join a twelve step program..."
"thank you." counseling, right. how about some fried oysters or onion rings? or a big philadelphia cheese steak? bob didn't know much, but he knew enough to tell people what they wanted to hear, and only what they wanted to hear. in only an hour and a half he was back in the parking lot, breathing in the cold night air.
he felt like waving his car keys at the sky and screaming for joy. he was alive! alive! and he had taste buds and a stomach! other people - like that doctor - what did they know? had they ever really lived? the doctor - she probably spent ten years in med school so she could bring up two kids that took piano lessons and that she fed seaweed.
bob got in the car. thrills of anticipation coursed through him as he turned the key in the ignition. he got out on the highway and headed into the throbbing, carb-filled american night.
denny's! popeye's! arby's roast beef! red lobster!
the end came quickly. bob died in his sleep eleven days before the six week limit the doctor had estimated. it took a few days before his body was discovered.
he had felt weaker in the last ten days. after passing out in an applebee's, he started bringing the food back to his apartment instead of sitting in the restaurants enjoying the atmosphere. then he hadn't felt up to driving, so he had starting ordering take out.
he had made an effort to keep cleaning up, but his bed was surrounded by cartons and cups, and there were also cartons on his dresser and in two overflowing waste baskets.
"look at this joker, he didn't eat too healthy, did he? there's got to be a lesson here."
"right. hey, why don't call up for some take out while we're waiting for the doctor?'
"no, i'm serious. i'm changing my ways - i mean look at this shit."
"o k, martha stewart. we'll stop and get you a salad on the way back. go light on the crou-tons, though."
"whew - ripe, ain't he? i need some outside air."
"son, this is nothing. this is the winter time. just be glad we're not picking this motherfucker up in august."