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Room 343

Iggy’s favorite show, Futurama, had been playing on marathon for the last few hours or so, but he never once glanced up from his gaping solid gaze of the dully colored hospital floor. He had mangled jet black hair which hid his eyes and he needed to shave badly. He could be very handsome if he just worked at it, his father used to chime.

“A Durmont Prep man I see”. Iggy looked up to see a slightly chubby bald man in a glaring white lab coat with pastel green scrubs underneath staring down at him. Iggy hated doctors. “You know Iggy, I went there back in the day.” the doctor noticing Iggy’s shirt with staunch black ink detailing an insignia, “It’s a great school and very expensive too. You should thank your parents-” The doctor cut himself off, even though Iggy’s nervously shaking hands sweeping through his hair most likely did the trick. “I know it must suck to have to leave school to come down here,” The word suck sounded horribly awkward to Iggy’s ears. “He’s sleeping right now, but you’ll get to talk to him later.” “so he’s fine?” Iggy forced. “Well,” continued the doctor, “were not sure about that now but-” Iggy cut the doctor off, directly this time. He seemed energized all of a sudden, lifted from his gloom, “Oh he’ll be fine. He’ll probably just be back to the office in no time. A stupid thing like Cancer can’t slow him down. He loves working way to much.” The doctor stared quizzically at Iggy’s face. Iggy seemed to be optimistic but no facial expression danced across his face. The doctor heard a cacophony of letters and syllables attempting to be made into thoughts. His speech seemed force-fed. “Iggy listen” the doctor said carefully, “we don’t know exactly what will happen. He could get better, absolutely. But there’s no way of knowing for sure.” The doctors words began to attack Iggy. The tried to pry open his mind, scraping at his scalp with force. Each letter, a heat seeking missile trying to infiltrate his spirit. With that, Iggy sprinted out of the hospital intensive care wing, down what seemed like twelve flights of stairs. Or maybe it wasn’t twelve, truthfully Iggy couldn’t make out the numbers with his hair was in the way.

Iggy found his bike exactly where he left it the night before, leaning against the marble of the hospital wall. Still flustered, he hoped on and rode. He loved biking. He biked everywhere, even though he never biked to get anywhere. Iggy just rode. He loved the feel of the wind as it calmly but forcefully brushed back his hair exposing his forehead. His feet in synchrony with the bicycle, Iggy could escape. He never ran. He thought running was to thoughtful. He preferred not having to think at all.

He had been riding for hours when he finally stopped. His Belmont tee was soaked in sweat, his brow damp with unrest. He looked up and didn’t recognize where he was. ‘Definitely not close to that hospital and thank god too’, Iggy said aloud, ‘that doctor was trying to kill me. Belmont this, Belmont that.’ He had this peculiar habit of talking to himself. It never bothered him that people thought he was strange because of it or thought he had some sort of mental disability, he enjoyed the sound of his voice more than others. It was more comforting. He was able to control it. Every time he talked aloud a wave of Prozac-esq relief bubbled from his lips to the rest of his body. And boom. A smile. They once taught him smiling was the key to a happy life.
It was almost noon at this point. He’d already forgotten why he had departed the hospital ICU wing. “My dad’s probably waiting for me.” He decided to head back, his dad would soon be awaking for his lunch anyway.
While back in the hospital, Iggy noticed a billboard in the lobby. It was one of those anti-smoking shock and awe campaigns showing in gruesome detail that any person who ever touches a cigarette will be left with no appendages and half of a soot-colored lung. “Why do they need to scare me?” He was speaking to himself again, this time however people were around to notice. “I don’t want to know about this junk. It just makes me feel bad.” To be fair, everything made Iggy feel bad. “The handicapped, war veterans, those stupid stray dog commercials on TV. Jesus Christ. It’s like their trying to get me to kill myself already.” People were officially staring, but Iggy couldn’t tell.

The elevator door opened and the unadulterated glory of the ICU was revealed to him. The hospital floor looked more like a dance stage to Iggy. Doctors, nurses, custodians, patients, and guests all in a delightfully frenzied haste, swaying and strutting to and fro. Almost as if they were following a choreography. “Beautiful” Iggy sighed.

He wanted to go to his dad’s hospital room, but he never even found out which one he was in. Hating any assistance, Iggy was determined to find it on his own. He walked from room to room on the ICU floor. Room 340-A. He saw a what looked like a dysfunctional family staring at an empty hospital bed, eyes bloodshot red. Room 341-B. He saw an elderly man with an oxygen tank. The man was alone, and had appeared to be for a very long time. Room 342-A. He saw a beautiful young twenty-something woman with wrists that looked like carved thanksgiving turkey. He couldn’t take it any longer. Iggy quickened his past and furiously pulled his hair down over his eyes almost as if he was trying to blind himself. “I must look crazy.” he said. Room 343-B. Even in his frantic pace, this room caught his attention. Iggy saw a man-of-a-certain age being diatribed by an indifferent seeming doctor. The man had sad but blissful blue eyes and a grayish beard, which chaotically grew in several directions. Iggy stopped for a little outside the room just out of earshot. He heard the muffled sounds of a debate, “I’m sorry... sir... but...mustn’t be so ignorant of your condition...dangerous.” “I know i’ll be fine...” And then silence. Even in his flustered state, Iggy managed a nervous smile.

Finally, as if by miracle, he stumbled upon his father’s hospital room. A wave of fear and dread washed over Iggy and thrust him ashore. He knocked. Twice. Walking in he saw his dad, but this man must have been way to emaciated to be his father. “Dad...” Iggy’s father’s luscious jet black hair had become stiffened white, almost overnight. His slightly pudgy frame was delapatated. “Hello Iggy,” his father managed through heaving wheezes. “Listen son, the good doctor and I have been talking.” Iggy began to feel the same sensation that occurred when the doctor was talking to him earlier in the morning. He wondered where he left his bicycle. “And he’s told me a lot about this whole-” Iggy couldn’t stand the pain any longer. “Dad, I hate school. I’ve wanted to tell you for some time now, but your always busy.” His father seemed perplexed, “Durmont? But why Iggy? It’s a magnificent school. The teachers are incredible and always instill immense knowledge in their students.” “That’s the problem!” Iggy was screaming now. “They pry and pry and pry. They try to force-feed facts down our throats. Bad facts. I don’t need to know how many people got killed in the Civil War. That’s just goddamn depressing.”His father was incredibly confused and Iggy’s rants had begun to capture the attention of many in the hospital. “I don’t understand. That’s the purpose of school. To learn about things. To educate oneself.” Iggy’s forehead was red-hot. He had a death grip on his mangled hair. He wanted to get away. He needed to get away. His eyes darted around looking for an exit. Nothing. “Dad, that’s it though.” Iggy said half-convincingly, “I don’t want to learn. The more you learn, the more afraid you are. The more I know about everything bad in this world, the more I want to escape. How can I live if I’m aware of everything that could hurt or kill me, or you, or anybody!” Iggy was panting. His father’s dumbfounded expression turned to one of grave sadness. “Son, your scaring me. You can’t live life like that and this brings me to what we need to talk about. You, or I for that matter, can’t simply pretend this whole cancer thing isn’t real and just hope it will go away. That’s not how it works.” The pain was more intense than ever. He felt as though his entire frontal lobe was throbbing. His fathers words were viciously trying to burrow deep under his scalp.

Iggy stumbled out of his father’s room and into the common area. It was exactly how he remembered it with the same color scheme and everything, but he couldn’t recognize the place at all. He collapsed onto the cold, unforgiving, fake-linoleum floor. He let go, as his body became engulfed. He knew what was happening to him, but to everybody else he just looked like he was crying.
The doctor, whom had heard the entire discourse between Iggy and his father, came over to console him. “Have you ever heard the expression ignorance is bliss?” Iggy hadn’t, but it wouldn’t have mattered even if he did. All Iggy wanted to think about was the Futurama still trumpeting somewhere in the waiting room.




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