“Do you have everything you need?” My wife asked, embracing me in the hallway.
I nodded. “Yep.”
“How long will you be gone?”
“Depends,” I told her. I smiled. “Just get everything ready for the New Year’s Eve party tonight and I’ll be back before five.” I placed my hand on her stomach, “I’m just glad these two have eased up a little over the past week.”
Clare nodded, “not as glad as I am! I’m just sorry it was because of me that you couldn’t get out of the house sooner.”
I hugged my wife’s neck tightly. “It wasn’t your fault, it was the new snow that fell down two days after Christmas that left us stranded in the house. Good thing it’s cleared up now.” I kissed her goodbye, “I love you!”
“Good luck!” She wished as I darted out the door. “I love you, too!” She called after me as I ran down the stairs and into the car.
I drove along the West Side Highway and turned on 79th Street, making my way cross-town to the park. I parked in my usual spot and made my way towards the subway. I took the subway up to the medical center where I had spent a week in I.C.U. in the fall. Clare and I had come to two conclusions about the man who had kept me alive in the park: one, he lived in Manhattan because he was walking his dog, and two, there must be a record in the hospital about who came in with me in the ambulance, so what better way to start than going straight to the source.
I walked in through the emergency room entrance and straight up the receptionist. “Hi,” I said.
“Take a chart and a doctor will be with you in a minute,” she replied without looking up at me.
“I’m not here for a doctor,” I said. “Well actually I guess I am, but no, my name is Taylor Hanson and I had a heart attack about three and a half months ago. I’m here to find out some information about the man who saved my life.”
The receptionist looked up at me with a confused look on her face. “The doctor who worked on you?”
“Kind-of,” I told her. “Do you think you could point me in the right direction here?”
“Well, we’re not usually allowed to do this but,” she looked around anxiously and lowered her voice, “do you want to pull your chart?”
She beckoned me around the counter and pulled out a chair at a computer. “Sit,” she commanded. I did as she said. The computer screen was blinking the name of the hospital as its screensaver. I shook the mouse and the password prompt came up. The receptionist leaned over me and typed in the password to get the screen saver to go away. “Just double click on the chart icon and type in your last name. Make sure you close everything when you are done.”
“Thank you, Ma’am.”
“Anything for you.”
I decided to let the last comment slide and searched for my chart in the computer database. After twenty minutes I was about to give up thinking maybe someone discarded it, but as I scrolled through the list of people whose last names were Hanson and Hansen and Hansin I stumbled upon the folder for a “J. Hanson.” I scrolled down a little further and found no “Taylor Hanson” or “T Hanson” listed so I went back up to the J’s.
I double clicked on the “J. Hanson” name and skimmed through the vital information wondering if it was me. I couldn’t tell at first until I got to the height, “6’3,” I mumbled aloud, “It’s me.” Apparently somebody had been protecting my identity. My full name wasn’t even listed in the chart.
I scrolled down the chart glancing through parts of the chart trying to locate anything that had to do with what happened at the time of the incident. I grinned when I finally found what I was looking for; underneath the “Complaint” section was written: “Arrival: Rig 42; unreactive; unresponsive; low pulse; no heartbeat; blood pressure dropping; CPR at time of collapse; downtime 15 minutes; Dr. Albert Lindo assisting.”
“Excuse me?” I asked the receptionist. “Who is this Dr. Lindo person?”
The receptionist shrugged. “Beats me.”
“Bingo,” I said closing the program.
“Thanks!” I called to the receptionist as I dashed around the counter.
“Wait!” She called after me.
I waved and ran out of the ambulance bay doors. I rushed to the subway and took the train down to the library. I needed a phone book and I needed one now. The subway wasn’t fast enough for me so instead of waiting for a transfer I ran cross-town down 42nd street and up the stairs of the New York Public Library.
There was one Lindo listed in the Manhattan phone book and it wasn’t an Albert. I check all five boroughs of the city and turned up empty handed. I checked the yellow pages for a “Dr. Lindo Family Practice” and came up blank. There was nothing. No Dr. Albert Lindo in all five phone books.
“It’s so great to find another person in this world who uses the conventional phone book!” A librarian exclaimed when I handed her back the phone books. “Not one of those computerized phone books like everyone uses nowadays. Did you find what you were looking for?”
“No, actually I couldn’t,” I told her.
“That’s a shame,” she said. “Maybe this person is unlisted?”
“Probably.” I sighed and looked up at the librarian. “You don’t happen to know a Dr. Albert Lindo by any chance do you? I think he lives around the park area.”
The librarian shook her head.
I would never find him.
“He doesn’t live around the park!” She said. “He lives in a town called Pleasantville that is a few miles north of here.”
My mouth dropped. “You know him?”
She nodded. “Patient of his actually. Or used to be. He moved up there about fifteen years ago and started a small family practice, said that Manhattan was just getting a little too small for his liking.” I nodded in agreement. “He comes here all the time, Sir, all the time. Walks his dog in the park, gone a few times myself with him.”
“Could you, perhaps, give me his office number or his address? I need to speak with him, it’s an emergency.”
“I’ll do better than that,” she said grabbing a paper and pen from the desk. “It’s New Year’s Eve, he won’t be in the office.” She started writing on the paper. “This is his home address and home phone number. He has a party every year that starts at seven so if you want to get there before it starts I’d go now.”
I thanked the librarian and rushed to the subway, waiting for the train this time. When I got to my car I noticed that the meter had run out. I cursed at the paper that was stuck in-between the wiper and the windshield; I had gotten a parking ticket.
“Great,” I muttered climbing into my car. I shoved the ticket into the glove compartment and pulled out of the parking spot. I got stopped at the next red light and starred at the paper that I had carried with me from 42nd street to 79th. My heart was beating faster as I looked at the address. A bunch of horns beeped behind me and I stepped on the gas pedal.
The traffic on the highways was horrible, it had semi-slipped my mind that it was New Year’s Eve, the day where the city was the more crowded then on Thanksgiving. Everyone was either trying to get into the city or out of the city, the smart ones were going out as was I which made the traffic even worse. I was stuck in a road block for two hours. I cursed myself for not taking the train.
By the time I got home it was eight and my house was filled with neighbors.
“Taylor!” Voices greeted me as I walked in the door. “How ya doing bud?”
“Great,” I said patting backs as I moved through my crowded house. “Have you see my wife?”
“She’s in the kitchen with some of the gals.”
“Thanks.” I made my way towards the kitchen but was stopped by a couple of neighbors asking me questions about myself and my brothers and my work, and my Christmas, and about everything else you can think of. Champagne was shoved at me so I shared a few laughs with some of my friends over a quick drink. Then the cheese and cracker tray walked by accompanied by my daughter and of course I had to have a few of those. I finally escaped my hunger temptation and found my way into the kitchen.
“I found him!” I exclaimed to my wife. I grabbed her around the belly and kissed her lips.
“You’ve been drinking,” she said wiping her lips with the back of her hand. “I taste the alcohol.”
I wiped my lips frantically. “Sorry, Clare,” I apologized. “I was walking here and got stopped and I probably got here like an hour ago and-”
“Taylor, calm down. Breathe, honey, breathe. You’re talking a mile a minute here. Start over.”
“I found him.”
“The guy from the park! The guy who saved me!” I started jumping up and down frantically waving the paper with his address on it in the air. “I feel like a teenager!”
“You look like a kid,” Clare accused, “who just got his first GI Joe doll. Stop jumping you’re making me dizzy.” She put her hand to her head.
I stopped jumping and put my arm around her back. “Clare, what’s wrong?”
“I’m dizzy,” she said, “that’s all.” She started moving towards the table. “I have to sit down.”
I helped her into her chair and crouched down on the floor, keeping my hand on her knee. “Can I get you something?” I asked dropping the paper to the kitchen table. My wife shook her head, keeping her elbow on the table with her head in her palm. “Are you getting tighter?” I asked putting my other hand on her stomach. “Contractions? We can be the parents of the first baby of the year 2011 if you are.”
Clare smiled softly and shook her head. “I’m just dizzy, Taylor. There’s no bleeding is there?”
I shook my head. “No,” I told her looking down. “None at all.”
“We can’t lose these kids.”
“They’ve been moving, Clare,” I told her.
“They’re not moving right now!” She shot back.
I stood up and walked to her side, keeping my hand on her stomach. “They will,” I assured her. “Any minute one of them will move.” I cleared my throat. “You’re probably hungry. What have you eaten today? Your blood sugar’s probably too low, I’ll get you some cheese and crackers and some juice. Just stay put.”
“But Taylor, what about Dr. Lindo?” She was now looking at me. I smiled, “he’ll still be there tomorrow, just let me worry about you right now, OK? Just let me worry about you.”