Not Quite Enough Page 2

Mustering an ounce of propriety, she opened the door to the lobby and glanced over the eager faces of the waiting patients. Patients who deserved her attention. Don’t pass judgment, Mo.

Too late.


Gary sat three rows back with crying children on both sides of him. His head was dipped into his chest, his eyes were closed.

“Owens?” she said louder.

He didn’t even look up.

The bastard was asleep. Probably drunk. Unable to avoid the inevitable, she moved past the door and walked over to the man, smelling him long before she shook his shoulder. “Gary?”

He startled awake, glanced around the room. His expression softened when he realized where he was and he stood with a slight waver. Monica had no desire to have him drag her to the floor, which might injure her back and put her out of work. “Do you need a wheelchair?”

He swallowed and his glassy eyes met hers. “I’m good. Fine.”

After a moment, he followed her back into the busy ER where she led him into a private room. One where he’d probably sleep for the better part of the night. Abdominal pain workups often took hours and they’d likely find nothing inside they could help mend. Which meant he’d go out and drink himself back again next week.

Monica shook the thought from her head.

It wasn’t easy. She thought of the child in OR fighting for her life and here this man was pissing his life away.

Without a smile, Monica walked Gary to a room and pointed toward the gurney and the hospital gown sitting on top of it. “You know the drill, Gary.”

He nodded and started to undo his shirt. Monica left him to inform the ER doctor of Gary’s presence.

“Walt?” Dr. Walter “Walt” Eddy would be just as thrilled with Gary’s presence as she was.

Walt glanced up from the chart in his hands and offered a smile. “Yeah?”

“Gary Owens is in room sixteen.”

Walt rolled his eyes, something she’d refrained from doing.

She grinned.

“GI bleed?”

“Not this time. Abdominal pain.”

“He drunk?”

“Isn’t he always?”

“Drop a line, draw labs. I’ll be there in a minute.”

After grabbing an IV tray, Monica turned to make her way back into Gary’s room to begin the daunting task of finding a vein. She knew from experience the task wasn’t easy. Gary had been in some kind of fire several years before, leaving scar tissue over both arms and half his back.

At least the man had never been toxic with her. He didn’t come in cussing and fighting. He wasn’t a mean drunk, just a drunk. The age on his chart said forty-three, but he looked sixty.

A woman from medical records stepped up to the desk and started piling charts. It was routine for any returning patients to have their charts pulled and brought up. Monica recognized Gary’s overstuffed manila folder, which was a good four inches thick.

She picked up the chart and walked down the hall to Gary’s room. Each step built frustration with the man. She cautioned herself briefly before entering the room and closing the door behind her.

Gary sat with his legs dangling off the edge of the gurney. The blue and white spotted gown covered most of him.

He wouldn’t look at her.


Monica set the IV tray down quietly on an overhead table and paused.

“Do you know what this is?” she asked him, her tone cold.

His gaze flickered to the chart in her hands. He shrugged.

“It’s your chart. Your ER chart.” She dropped the heavy folder on the gurney beside him.

He flinched.

“Most charts are no more than a handful of pages. Yours… yours is proof that you’re trying to kill yourself.” Anger boiled as she spoke. “People come in here every day and fight to live. You come in here nearly every day fighting to die.” The image of the child she’d just left flashed in her memory.

“I’m not trying to die.” His voice was flat and he never met her gaze.

“Drinking yourself to death isn’t trying to live. When are you going to wake up, Gary? One of these days you’re going to come in here too sick for us to do a damn thing for you.”

His tired eyes hardened and he finally met her stare. “What does it matter to you?”

Good question. Why was she closed in this room reaming him a new ass? Her boss didn’t like her to begin with… this little stunt could get her written up, or worse.

She shook her head. Did this man have kids? If so, where were they? Did they wish their father was sober? “None of us live in a bubble. Someone out there thinks about you.”

His jaw twitched.

Monica swallowed, picked up his chart, and turned to leave the room. She’d find him another nurse. She wasn’t objective enough at the moment to deal with him.

The nurse she’d asked to take over returned to Monica’s side a few minutes later and reported that Gary had left.

Two hours later Monica sat in the break room with her aching head in her hands. The day hadn’t gotten better. The only redeeming feature was when news came from the operating room that Bethany had survived surgery.

That was the most important news.

The door to the room opened, letting the noise of the department leak in.

“You OK?”

Monica glanced up at Deb, a fellow nurse and sometime nightclub friend when they both had the same day off.

“Bad day?” Deb asked.

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