An excerpt from Animals of Undetermined Significance.
The “LIC-man” was at his usual post at the “Ultra Fastest Ever Laser Cassette Inscriptor 2XFL” known as the UFELCI- 2XFL, which was on a side counter near the Miami Beach grossing station. He was a tall, thin man who had never really wanted to work in the field of lab and medical equipment but had failed to find a job in his real passion of Entomology studying bugs. He especially didn’t like coming to the pathology department. It always smelled terrible and reminded him of a deer carcass. Also, there were no windows. And the people were weird. They were obviously all vitamin D deficient.
The new, improved UFELCI- 2XFL machine was a giant monstrosity that had cost the department in the hundred thousands, but it never actually worked. It had eight massive towers of alternating pink, green, yellow, and blue cassettes. The bottom few cassettes were always getting jumbled up and jamming the process.
He looked at it then bent down to open his tech tools bag. As he bent over, his gaze fell upon the grossing table of Sana, who was now grossing what appeared to be someone’s leg. It had a large, fungating and foul-smelling tumor, that was dripping yellow-red fluid on the side of the cutting board into the connected drain. He swallowed and turned pale, horrified at the scene.
Sana looked up and smiled, “Good morning.”
He stared at her, stunned.
“Are you all right?” she asked, putting down the bloodied scalpel, concerned.
He was not sure which was more horrifying, the dissected foot or the dark-skinned resident wearing a scarf with a foreign accent. It was actually a very pretty scarf … Pale blue, almost the exact shade as her scrubs. It had life-like blue butterflies. A Great Purple Hairstreak butterfly, to be precise. Family: Lycaenidae. Subfamily: Theclinae … He began to feel dizzy and held on to the counter to steady himself.
Theresa was now nearby, patting him on the shoulder, “It’s OK, it’s OK, it’s just a pathology specimen; take a deep breath, or maybe not cuz you might smell the formalin.”
“Oh dear,” said Sana, concernedly, “I do believe he is about to faint, just like the gentleman before him. Perhaps we could offer him a chair for a moment?”
Theresa continued to pat him on the shoulder hurriedly, “Of course, of course …” All the chairs in the room were broken except for hers, and she wasn’t quite willing to lend it to anyone, even a fainting “LIC-man.” The LIC-man fell to the floor. Theresa tried half-heartedly to catch him but missed. Instead, she decided to pull his arms and drag him out of the way, near her computer desk, where he lay with his legs and arms sprawled.
She called on the phone, dialing the hospital emergency number 411, “Hello, we got a man here who just fainted, he was coming to fix something … no I don’t know his name, we call him “LIC-man” no not lick, L-I-C! Yes, he’s breathing … we’re gonna need a stretcher here …”
Marla left the island and came over to the unresponsive “LIC-man.” She knelt on the floor to check his pulse, and Neil also came by and held his legs up. The LIC-man came to and tried to get himself up from the floor shakily, “It’s OK … I … I …” he tried to say. He looked at Sana, who had left the grossing station and was now at the bone saw, slicing a thin piece of bone that had been procured from the tumorous thigh. The loud sound of the bone saw drowned out any background noise.
In the meantime, Jiang had come in unnoticed to check with Sana, who was technically his responsibility. “Oh, good job!” he said quietly, impressed at her thin, perfect bone slab sawed for decalcification.
“Thanks!” said Sana, closing the bone saw and taking the thin slab over to her station. She held it in front of her on a thick paper towel. Jiang tiptoed out.
The LIC-man fainted again.
Theresa sighed. “Now we are gonna have to wait again another week till they send someone else. Where’s that stretcher?” She went out to find the EMS, presuming that they got lost finding the pathology department.
Neil was still holding the LIC-man’s legs up against his shoulders while playing Angry Birds on his cell phone. Marla continued to monitor the LIC-Man for pulse and breathing. The EMS team entered and began transferring the LIC-Man to the stretcher, taking a quick history from Theresa.
“Yeah, he was fine.I. he saw the grossing specimen … no I don’t mean it was gross, I mean yeah it is gross but … no I don’t know if he has diabetes … no, I don’t know if he’s married … how would I know if he has allergies to bees? … I don’t know. Just a minute, “ she turned to answer the phone, “Pathology.”
The Chinese Robo-voice was on again, saying, “Your social security number has been compromised. Call now …” Theresa hung up. She turned back to the EMS team who were connecting the LIC-Man to a monitor while collecting their equipment. EMS rolled the LIC Man out.
“Have a nice day!” the four EMS techs said in unison.
Theresa sat down with an exasperated “Uff.” She was hoping that she could get some work done. “OK, where was I? Accessioning these specimens …”
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