He wasn’t sure what day it was. His clothes, a wrinkled mess of buttons and a belt, suggested he was at work. The grimy keyboard under his fingers reinforced this idea. His brain felt like a bowl of melting iced cream; chunks of cookie dough afloat in a soupy mess off-white.
A tiny movement seared the nerves in his left arm. No obvious blood and no memory of an injury.
“Huh. That’s weird.”
His computer chimed at him annoyingly. His ice cream melted a little further. He could smell coffee brewing in the kitchen.
He opened the meeting invite and clumsily dialed a bunch of numbers on his phone. The joys of modern technology kept him from having to actually see anyone, which was probably for the best.
The meeting sounded like a barnyard. Chickens bawking over donkeys eeawing over cows mooing. It was hard to pay attention to anything, never mind everything. His notes were confused and worthless.
He reached for what he hoped was coffee. Pain responded violently.
“Oh right, that hurts.”
The mug was full of something stale and sour. He mixed water into it, and poured the weakened mixture of day-old caffeine down his throat. He rubbed his eyes, hoping that was the panacea he needed to recover from his waking torpor.
He could have sworn he heard an alarm, or a siren, or something noisy. A commotion louder than the phone-farm seemed to be coming from the reception area.
He stood up and looked across the field of cubicles. He could see half of his office stood around nervously. A man in a uniform stood talking to his office manager.
He walked out to see what was going on. One of his legs felt strange, like pins-and-needles, but much worse.
“Steve? Oh my god, Steve! Are you…oh my god…”
Steve looked down at himself. He had no idea what was going on.
“Sir.” The man in uniform spoke up. “I’ve called an ambulance, it’s probably best that you sit down.”
“Yea, OK. Is everyone OK? Is there a fire or something?”
Steve sat down. A sharp pain, like embers sparking back into a flame, tore through his legs and back.
“I’m pretty thirsty, is the coffee fresh?”
As he sat, he felt pain in other places, odd places. His ear felt warm and sticky, like someone had stuck a piece of toast with jam on it to the side of his head.
“Steve, it’s going to be ok man. Just relax, you’ll be fine.” A familiar voice was marked by worry.
Everyone seemed really concerned. He just wanted to get through the day so he could go home and go back to sleep. The sirens seemed louder, closer. Shouting was coming from the front of the office.
Two men scurried over to where Steve was sitting. Their nitrile gloves pulled uncomfortably at the hair on his arm.
“Hi guys, how are you?”
“Yea, this is definitely broken; probably a clean break through the lower part of the humerus.”
The two men were ignoring Steve. They seemed more interested in his body than his words.
“Can you guys get me some coffee? I’d go myself, but I’m pretty tired.”
“Just relax sir; everything is going to be fine.”
Steve felt a pinch as a small needle punctured the skin of his hand. A cool flow of saline rushed into his veins. He turned the hand over, and noticed about 5 small cuts on his palm, all bright red and wet.
“This is going to hurt sir, but we’re going to be as gentle as possible.”
A gurney had appeared at his left side. He still didn’t see or smell any coffee.
Two more men with gloves appeared and positioned themselves behind Steve. They began counting, and as a unit, lifted him. So much pain screamed out at once, that he felt none of it. The cool flow of saline turned into the warm sting of morphine. His eye got heavy, and he couldn’t reach to rub them.
He felt each bump in the carpet of the lobby as the gurney was gently pushed towards the now very obvious sirens.
“I like hazelnut, but I’m good with just some Columbian, if we’ve got that.”
The paramedics ignored Steve’s request. He could almost taste the coffee in his mouth.
As he was wheeled out the front doors of the building, Steve noticed a scattering of safety glass. As he turned his head, he saw smoke, engine coolant, and a heap of twisted black metal. A repeating ding let him know he had accidentally left his car door open. He wanted to get up to close it, but his broken ankle said no.
As he was loaded into the back of ambulance, he could see his coworkers gathered around the remains of his car. Some were crying; others were consoling those who were crying. Just before he let the morphine overwhelm him, he asked the paramedic if they could stop at Starbucks, or at the very least, Dunkin Donuts.