Waiting to See Alice



WRITING PROMPT: Write a poem about a hospital at night.  Or write a story about a character who has to sneak out of a hospital at night (you can decide why your character’s in the hospital and why s/he has to sneak out).


“I knew he would die on my shift. I just knew it.”

I know that to think that was immature… maybe even rude. Definitely unprofessional. But I am on my fourth day of night shift, working as the new on-floor morgue orderly, and I have had to wheel a body into the service elevator and down to the morgue after every shift for every night.

The nurses are beginning to whisper about the regularity of it all.

I’m not stupid.

I knew as an orderly for the morgue that I was going to be in rooms with bodies….

Dead bodies.

But I thought that they would be behind those stainless-steel. closed lockers. Maybe, I would have to push a coffin to an awaiting hearse.

I had no idea that I was going to the one that had to provide transport to the morgue. The bodies were still warm.

At least I guess they were, I wasn’t going to touch one.

Then there were the jokes. At least I hope that they were jokes.

“Don’t worry about dropping him. The last fall already did him in.”

“Be careful. Don’t let him sit up on you.”

“If you see the sheet on his chest move… think nothing of it. He’s just expelling gasses.”

What is wrong with these people?

The doors open, finally, to take this last one to the morgue. Then my shift is over. One quick tug and the gurney is over the threshold of the elevator. The lips don’t line up very well. It’s always a solid bump just to get the wheels from the far side of the gurney into the elevator before the doors want to close.

Tonight, after work, I am going to the pub with the rest of my study group from college. They are all at a ‘post-renaissance poetry reading’ for our literature class. I wasn’t able to make it. I chuckle. Don’t think I missed much there.

Looking down, I see that the floor nurse left the patient’s clipboard on his gurney.

Looking at the top of the chart, I see his name. Samuel Adams.

“A good lager. I will see you later tonight,” I snicker. “What’s wrong with me?  Now I’m making jokes about the dead.”

“That’s alright. I’ve heard that one before.”

“Huh?” I look around.

“They’re right about the warm ones. We are still around for a while. Sort of, checking out the new digs.”


“For a college kid, you don’t have much of a vocabulary.”


“That’s alright. It took me a time in life to get on my own two feet as well.”

I look under the gurney. It did feel a little on the heavy side as I was trying to get it across the lip of the elevator.

It’s empty.

“Don’t worry. I’ll be gone by the time we get to the basement. Nothing down there is in my future.” The voice titters. “Get it? My future?”

I still say nothing.


“Well, that’s my stop. I’ll be seeing you. Think nothing of your rudeness. I know you didn’t mean it.You’re one of the good ones.”

The doors open.

“See ya, chum. And by the way, Alice likes you. That’s something to think about for tonight. A man’s gotta live life to its fullest.”

I push hard to get the gurney across the lip onto the heavily-waxed, concrete floor of the morgue. The on-call morgue director is waiting.

“Hey, Alan. What took you so long? The floor charge said you left almost ten minutes ago.”

I say nothing. I push the gurney into the admitting room.

“Oh, yeah. By the way. Alice called and said she was going to be a few minutes late. But not to worry, she’d be there.”


Written for Creative Writing Now: Be a Writer Now class.


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