Detective X: Part 4 by Shirley Pesto
Komori hadn’t ever been inside of an ambulance. The ride was bumpier than he imagined it would be. He was scared, but the medic kept his mind occupied with questions. The medic asked about what he had eaten that day, whether or not he had any allergies, and what his day-to-day life was like. Within fifteen minutes, the ambulance arrived at the hospital’s emergency entrance and nurses received them. Before he knew it, he was getting a scan done on his head.
As he laid nervously in the machine, he calmed himself by thinking of a regular workday from when he was working in construction. What he liked best about the work was the repetitiveness of the job and the fact that there was a tangible end result. It could be just him and a nail gun for a bit of time and, before he knew it, an entire wall would be framed. The task that he considered most rewarding was hanging drywall and applying the mud afterwards. Seeing the sheets of drywall flatten when he screwed them into the studs was most satisfying. Mudding the wall so that it was as close to flat as possible was a source of pride for Komori. When it came to the hanging and mudding of drywall, he knew he was always the best person for the job.
“Mr. Komori?” The technician called out his name from the neighboring observation room via a loudspeaker. “The scan is now complete. Please remain still until we come and get you.”
Komori was grateful that it was over and, as he was told, stayed still. The technician and attendants came in to help him out of the machine. They formally checked him into the hospital and he was sitting up in the bed when the doctor came in to speak with him.
“Mr. Komori, hello. I’m Dr. Kurosawa. As I understand it, you had a fall which caused you to land on the back of your head. Fortunately, you are all right, but the scans did show you have a significant amount of swelling around where you hit your head. You’ll need to stay here for observation until the swelling goes down so that we can be sure you aren’t at risk of any other complications.”
“Thank you for taking care of me, doctor.” Remembering how calming the ritual of working could be, Komori asked, “Do you think I can be back at work soon?”
Dr. Kurosawa answered realistically. “We’ll take it day by day, but I imagine you’ll be here for at least a few days.”
Komori closed his eyes and barely nodded in acknowledgement. Any sharp movements plagued him. His head ached and felt full from all the pressure. The doctor left the room and Komori took a moment to leave a message on the Flower Mart voicemail to let Boss know that, while he was okay, he wouldn’t be in for a few days.
He laid in bed with his hands above the covers. They were folded contemplatively and rested on his chest. At some point, he fell asleep.
The next day, he was awoken by the alert of a text message. Unsure of when he fell asleep, he felt he must have stayed up too late the night before. He continued to have a terrible headache and did not feel well-rested. He peered through one eye and saw the time on his phone. It was the late morning. The text had come from the receptionist at the building where John’s English classes were held. It said that the English lesson for the day had been canceled because the teacher had to go back to America. As he was reading the text, there was a follow up text that pushed the original message up and out of his sightline. It said that he would be notified once they find a new teacher.
While Komori was disappointed that he would no longer see John, he was relieved from the cancelation notice since he wouldn’t be able to tend to any of his commitments in his current state. His phone showed no other missed calls or messages, so he put his phone down and quickly drifted back to sleep.
For the first time since Noriko died, Komori had a dream. In his dream, Noriko was sitting on a beach. She was wearing white pants and a blue and white striped shirt. It was a sunny day and the tide was far from coming in. The water clawed its way onto the shore, but not far enough to meet Noriko’s feet. Her feet were bare and her toes wiggled and dug into the sand. She was facing the ocean, relaxing with her hands behind her, propping her torso up at a forty-five degree angle. Her clothes remained spotless despite her being seated in the sand without a towel or blanket. Her hair was long, which was an odd detail for him to dream. Noriko never let her hair length get past her chin. He thought to himself that she looked pretty this way, too. The wind softly blew the hair away from her face and exposed a big smile. It was then he realized it wasn’t Noriko, it was another woman’s face. The woman motioned for Komori to come join her. As soon as he stepped forward, he woke up. Even though the woman ended up not being Noriko, he thought to himself that it was a nice dream.
His thoughts were interrupted when a nurse drew the hospital curtain open. He had slept so deeply, he wasn’t sure what time of day it was. He took a look at his phone and was astonished to see that it was already the afternoon. It took a moment for him to realize the date, but he was even more alarmed to see that it had been two whole weeks since the night he was checked into the hospital. The nurse began to take his vitals and he excused himself to pee first.
“Perfect,” the nurse said, and handed him a cup.
Komori got the gist of what the nurse was asking for and took the cup to collect his urine. After submitting his sample, he got back up on the bed and questioned the nurse. “Have I been asleep this entire time?”
“Excuse me?” The nurse seemed confused.
Komori clarified, “I remember the first night here… and maybe the next day. But when I woke up just now, I realized that it was days later than I expected.”
The nurse’s eyebrows furrowed. Komori leaned forward as a cold stethoscope pressed against his back. After Komori breathed in and out a few times, the nurse allowed Komori to lay back and told him to wait for the doctor.
A few minutes went by and the doctor came to see him. “Hi, Mr. Komori. The nurse let me know that you’ve lost a few days of memory?”
“Well, I guess. I generally just felt like I went to sleep yesterday and woke up two weeks later… uh, today, I mean.”
“Well, you’ve been up and about, and talking with us. I’ve even heard from the staff that you were entertaining them with stories from your past career.”
“Really?” Komori asked in disbelief of anybody being interested in his tales of construction work.
Dr. Kurosawa laughed and said, “Yes. In fact, I heard some of the staff even stayed after their shift ended just to hear the entirety of your stories.”
Komori was confused and searched his mind for any memory of this. The brain exercise felt like he was reaching into a jar that was as deep as the whole length of his arm. His attempt at remembering was analogous to feeling only crumbs at the tips of his fingers.
Dr. Kurosawa’s shifted the subject. “You’ve also had an additional scan this morning, which gave us good results. The swelling has gone down considerably and I was going to tell you that you could go home today. How do you feel?”
Komori snapped himself back to the current matter at hand and forced his concentration towards Dr. Kurosawa’s question. He sat and pondered for a moment. “I actually feel… great. My head’s not pounding anymore. I feel… hungry. That’s about it.”
The doctor nodded his head affirmatively. “Well, you know who you are, where you are, and the fact that time has passed. I’ll be transparent with you. The temporary amnesia concerns me, but it’s not uncommon with head injuries. If you feel fine physically, I’m willing to still discharge you today. We just need to meet back here in about a week or so for a check up.”
Komori relished the thought of going home. He would much rather be in the comfort of his own surroundings than at the hospital. He smiled and said, “Yes, I would like to go home today.”
The doctor reached back and surfaced a plastic bag that had Komori’s belongings inside. In order from bottom to top, it was: his shoes, pants, shirt, and coat. In his coat pockets were his wallet, keys, and lighter. His pack of cigarettes was resting on the top of his folded coat. Dr. Kurosawa handed over the bag and gave Komori a bit of unsolicited advice, “You may also want to lay off the cigarettes.”
He nodded in agreement and took the bag as he thanked the doctor. He got dressed and the preparations were started to check him out of the hospital. The whole process didn’t take too long, but he accumulated a small bundle of paperwork along the way. He still had the plastic bag that was provided to him and it only held his coat. With nowhere else to put the paperwork, he tucked it inside the bag and was careful not to crumple it. As he waited for a cab he had called for, he stood with both hands in front of him, clasping the handles of the plastic bag.
Once the cab arrived, he took the ride to a pharmacy to fill a prescription from the doctor for extra strength anti-inflammatory pills. Still feeling hungry, he walked into the restaurant neighboring the pharmacy and ordered a sizzling hot plate of beef and vegetables with two bowls of rice. Right at that moment, it was some of the best food he had ever tasted.