A respite was needed from the hospital vigil. A small visitors’ lounge midway down the corridor offered the only refuge. The two went there. It was a windowless room furnished with three uncomfortable chairs. A television monitor secured to the wall was tuned to cable news and playing at a contemptuous volume. There was no control. It was this or nothing. Each of them took a seat. Neither felt like talking so they watched the television. After a while one of them said, “Cable news is the ultimate shaggy dog story.”
Just then, a gurney with a shrouded cargo was rolled past in the hallway. It was pushed along by a young hospital attendant wearing earbuds. The two in the visitors’ lounge watched as the scene unfolded across the frame of the doorway. The white linen sheet over the gurney gave the impression of a human form below. The hospital attendant appeared to be enjoying what he was listening to. The wheels on the gurney squeaked like bats. Soon enough the episode concluded.
The one who had not yet spoken said: “I don’t know about that.”