We rented one room together at a Best Western; splitting the cost three ways, it wasn't that bad of a deal for a two night stay. Toni and I would share one bed while Logan got the other to himself. He offered mostly in jest to let one of us have the bed all to herself, but Toni, smirking, put him in his place in her usual manner.
"Oh, you're offering to sleep on the floor? That's so sweet of you, Logan, but really, Maureen and I don't mind sharing. But if you really think we deserve our own beds…"
"Just making an offer, and that wasn't part of the proffered deal here," he said quickly, impressing me that he actually knew and could correctly use the word "proffered" in a sentence. Logan wasn't dumb- not that you'd know it from the Cheese Whiz incidents, among others- but he wasn't exactly the world's best scholar either, more from lack of trying than lack of ability.
We had been in the room for only about twenty minutes- long enough to set down our duffle bags, for Toni and me to set up our makeup, hair stuff, toothpaste, and other toiletries on the sink counter, and to take turns changing clothes in the bathroom and discussing where to go from there- when Logan excused himself into the bathroom. Toni yelled for him not to leave the seat up when he was finished, and we waited, dressed and ready to go eat.
And waited. And waited.
We figured at first he was just taking a very, very long time in the bathroom, and rolled our eyes at each other, muttering in dark anticipation of the unpleasant aroma that would await us the next time we walked in, or any poor unsuspecting cleaning lady, if she did first. Five minutes into it Toni got impatient. Standing up and crossing her arms, she yelled towards the closed doorway.
"Logan! Hurry up! The traffic is going to be awful this time of the day!"
"Hang on a second, will you?" he called back, and his voice sounded weird- muffled. "I've got a nosebleed."
Toni exhaled in irritation, rolling her eyes at me and shifting her weight.
"Figures," she muttered, and I stood up, not all that concerned. I used to wake up with nosebleeds when I was a kid. It looked gross and freaked me out a little but it wasn't a big deal.
"Pinch the tip of your nose with a tissue and tilt your head back," I told him, and Logan responded through the door with some concern evident in his stuffy voice.
"I thought that makes the blood drip down your throat…couldn't I choke on it?"
"Oh, honestly, it's not like your nose is a straight tube to your lungs," Toni muttered, rolling her eyes again as she shook her hair back over her shoulders, her long, straight brown bangs flipping back out of her eyes. As usual, half a second later they fell back into their exact same position. "What are the chances he'd do this exactly before we're ready to leave?"
"Actually…I'm pretty sure the nose is, Tone," I pointed out. "And with Logan, they're excellent. Almost guaranteed."
Toni huffed again, her darkly outlined eyes narrowed. "Fine, Maureen, smartass, but I still don't think he'll choke on his own blood unless he's coughing it up worse than an Edgar Allan Poe wife."
Calling to Logan through the door, I asked, "How bad is it? Like just a trickle, or heavier?"
"It's…kinda resembling a Wes Craven slasher flick," Logan replied, and the beginnings of uncertainty in his voice was what unsettled me.
Usually, if he thought there was any way he could turn the situation around, Logan sounded confident to the point of cockiness. But right now he just sounded stuffy and a little worried, and that made me worry. A lot.
"I used up all the tissues and now I'm starting in on toilet paper," he clarified, some of the words a little difficult to understand.
Toni's irritation dimmed considerably as we looked at each other with some horror dawning. If he'd bled this much in five minutes, no way was that good.
"It's slowing down now though. But it's still bleeding…damn, I know now how the fabled leaky faucet feels," Logan muttered, and I called out again to him through the door, not failing to notice the crease in Toni's brow as she listened.
"Open the door, let me see how bad it looks. Keep pinching it, but not hard, okay?"
After a few seconds I heard him fumble with the door, and then it opened, revealing Logan's tall frame standing slump shouldered, a long, stained piece of toilet paper held to his nose. He looked a little paler than usual to me, his sandy hair tousled, ever present baseball cap askew, and even from where I was standing I saw the blood dotting his shirt and sleeve and the stained tissues in the trash can. He was right…it was a pretty freaky amount of blood, though he didn't seem to be gushing anymore.
"Damn, Logan, what were you doing when you started bleeding like that?" Toni exclaimed, coming forward instinctively, but stopping just short of touching him as she openly gawked at him. "It's been bleeding for like ten minutes! What did you do, hit your nose on the shower curtain, knee yourself in the face?"
"Uh," Logan mumbled, and what little blood in his face not dripping out his nose went to combine together to make him blush, his eyes drifting away. "Not exactly…I was sort of…removing unwanted bodily substances."
It took me a few confused seconds to get what he was talking about. Not the case with Toni. She almost screamed her disbelieving, disgusted response to that confession.
"You were picking your nose?! That is disgusting, Logan!"
"Hey, like you never did it before?" he said defensively from behind the toilet paper.
"Not with enough force to break open a blood vessel, dammit!" Toni shot back.
"Logan, you're not tilting your head back," I interjected, stepping closer; like Toni, I was disgusted and not exactly surprised, but I was also impatient to get his nose fixed and us ready to go eat. "Sit down."
I took him by the arm and guided him over to his bed- not ours, as Toni quickly instructed, even though it was closer- and sat him down. Logan took a deep breath, still pressing the tissue against his nose. It was almost soaked through, and Toni disappeared with a clinched jaw into the bathroom, emerging with another roll of toilet paper that she stuffed into his hand.
"Here. Tilt your head back like Maureen said, hanging it like that will make it drip out faster."
"I don't' want to choke-" he started, but Toni was in no mood for arguments.
"Logan, just do what Maureen said, she's not the one who jammed her finger far enough up her nose to skewer her pea-sized brain here!"
Somewhat reluctantly he tried that. Ten minutes later he was indeed choking, and we had to try something else. He tried hanging his head, only to discover that Toni was right, and it made it drip that much faster. He tried keeping his head level. He tried pinching his nose totally closed, and in one huge mistake, even tried blowing his nose. I don't think words could accurately give a picture to the bloody tornado that erupted as a result of that, managing to ruin the hotel blanket, his shirt and pants, and my shirt. Over 90 minutes later nothing had worked, and Logan's pale color was really starting to worry me. Even Toni was no longer irritated and actually speaking in terse, worried tones, controlled fear in her eyes.
"I feel kinda dizzy," Logan muttered, half closing his eyes, and Toni grabbed his arm.
"No, no, you are not allowed to pass out, Logan Enright. Deep breaths. Slow, deep breaths…"
"I can only breathe through my mouth," Logan reminded her, his voice more stuffy than ever, and I bit the inside of my cheeks, exchanging glances with Toni. He really didn't look good.
"Toni," I said, but then stopped, not letting myself finish the sentence. I didn't know what good it would do any of us to ask what we were all thinking, which was what we would do if the bleeding didn't stop. But Toni spoke up anyway.
"Logan, maybe we ought to take you to the ER. I mean, we obviously don't know what we're dealing with here." Then, her eyes narrowed in sudden suspicion, she added, "Are you telling the truth here? Were you really picking your nose, or did you just snort something?"
"No," Logan said, actually sounding insulted, giving Toni a look as baleful as was possible from behind his stained toilet paper. "About wish I had by this point though, at least I'd have the high to keep from dwelling in current reality."
Glancing at me again, Toni thinned her lips; looking again at Logan's pathetic, bloodstained figure, she made a decision.
"Maureen, call 911…ask them if we need to take him to the ER, or if they know something we can do to stop it."
"What? No, don't call, it will stop eventually," Logan protested, holding up one hand. "It's just a-"
"It's been almost two hours, Logan," Toni snapped. "Do you want to be the first person in the world to die because he picked his nose? Give me the damn phone, Maureen, I'll do it!"
Two minutes and one strange conversation later, Toni hung up and grabbed the last spare toilet paper roll from the bathroom, tossing it onto Logan's lap as she started towards the door.
"ER it is. Come on."
"What?" Logan protested, getting to his feet too and promptly swaying, putting his hand against the flat of the wall for balance. "It's just a nosebleed, Tone. I don't need the ER! Besides, I can't pay for it, and no way will my insurance cover it…and what am I supposed to say to my parents?"
"That you had an accident mining for gold?" she shot back, hand on her hip. "Get up, Logan, it's a twenty minute drive and I don't know my way through freakin' downtown Atlanta. Maureen, you drive, I'll direct you."
That was a plan that didn't work out so well, particularly since Toni forgot one of the directing points to turn at until I was two seconds from passing it. That provoked a yelling match, of course- her at me, for passing it up, and me at her, for not expecting me to be able to turn when I was in the wrong lane going 70 mph with cars behind me. Meanwhile while we were yelling Logan was calling out from behind the tissue paper directions on how to turn around, which were completely impossible in light of the traffic situation, and all of us were blaming each other for being too dumb and cheap to buy at least a map, if not a GPS.
By the time I thought to have Toni call 911 and ask directions to the hospital, I suspected the hospital would think before we ever even got there that we were the most moronic people on the face of the planet. We weren't just ordinary crackheads of drug lords with knife wounds or mugging victims or diseased homeless hookers, nope, not us. We were something special. We were bloody nosepickers, who not only had fingers doubling as weapons, but also were completely incapable of following directions to anywhere. Yeah, we'd be lucky if someone so much as looked at Logan before tomorrow.
Forty minutes and four blood soaked paper strips later, we had finally located the hospital, in probably the shabbiest, most crime-riddled part of Atlanta possible. If you weren't ready for the hospital by the time you got there, no doubt you would be as soon as you got out of your car by someone glad to make it happen.
And that, we immediately realized, was a problem. There was no parking anywhere near the hospital…the closest parking garage was several blocks over, and Logan, already weak, didn't need to walk that far. But there was no way in hell that I, a redheaded young white girl, wanted to drop him and Toni off and walk alone in this area of Atlanta- it was a mugging just waiting to happen.
I drove around the hospital a couple of times arguing with the others over what to do; eventually we decided to drop off Logan at the entrance and have him go check into the ER waiting area, and Toni and I would walk back alone. Still begging for a mugging, but Toni had at least taken judo as a kid. Who knows, maybe it was still in her muscle memory. If not, we could both aim for the balls and scream.
Of course, by the time I found a parking space in the garage- after first forking over ten dollars that was supposed to be my dinner- it was on the very top floor, since seemingly everyone in Atlanta was in the hospital at the very same time but had of course beat us to the parking. And the second- the very SECOND- Toni and I stepped out of the parking garage into the open, it started to rain. Not sprinkling, not a gentle shower, a misty spray…drenching, heavy, pouring rain that soaked even through my underwear and stung my face, plastering my hair to my head like a seaweed helmet.
We ran. Toni in heels, her jeans dragging through puddles big enough to splash up to her thighs, me in flip flops and a mini skirt, both of us in clingy shirts- mine WHITE- we ran, holding hands, yelling in shock and fury, and in Toni's case, swearing loudly too. People always talk about how fun it is to run in the rain…well those people must be dressed in bathing suits and six years old, because that experience was nothing short of hell. But then, it was only the beginning.
By the time we made our way to the ER waiting room we were dripping, panting, and fuming, pools of water dripping down our backs and gathering onto the floor. All the people who weren't nearly comatose or hacking their lungs out stared at us, and more than a few eyes were only observing one certain see through part of us, at least in my case. Logan was standing by the front desk waiting for us, the ever present toilet paper held to his nose, and he looked at us with mild surprise and had the balls to utter, "Wow, is it raining?"
I'm surprised Toni didn't scratch his eyes out right there. I'm not so sure I would have stopped her either. Instead, she stalked towards the bathroom only to discover that of course, someone had overflowed the toilet and there was disgusting water all over the floor. So it was with wads of Logan's toilet paper that we attempted to dry ourselves off, right there in front of the entire waiting room, and it just made little pills that stuck to us and tore.
The one and only stroke of luck we had was that the ER people admitted Logan fairly quickly, since he was bleeding and had been for quite some time. Of course, the "luck" quickly shifted when they announced he could only have one visitor at a time. Either Toni or I would have to stay in the ER lobby and wait the whole time, or else we would have to switch out.
We decided to switch out, and a rock, paper, scissors came determined that I would go in with Logan first. I thought that was lucky- anything was better than waiting in the lobby.
Almost as soon as Logan and I began to navigate the ER halls, a brusque, older nurse heading towards what I thought rather optimistically was to be Logan's room, I realized my mistake. The ER was jammed with people around every corner- nurses pushing wheelchairs and gurneys, doctors carrying clipboards, and patients, soooo many patients…patients carried in on stretchers, with lolling heads and glassy eyes, open mouths and bleeding wounds, IV tubes and oxygen, and it seemed they were right on top of each other. And they were. Because it seemed like the vast majority were not in rooms, but on pushable beds out in the hall Logan and I had to squeeze past to follow the nurse, who dodged effortlessly, clearly used to the obstacle course of this entirely overcrowded place.
"Man, if someone knows a missing person, all they have to do is look here. Chances are they're here somewhere," I whispered to Logan, gripping his arm more for my own sake than to help guide his as I cast nervous glances around me.
Some of the men out here looked drunk or high, and I could see them following me with their eyes. One man was actually crying in the high-pitched self-pitying tone of someone who had to be high out of his mind, and as Logan and I passed his gurney, he reached out a shaky hand.
"Kill me…kill me, please kill me…"
I tightened my hand on Logan's arm, to the point that I felt him flinch in pain, but he didn't tell me to back off. I could see his eyes darting around nervously too, even with his toilet paper still pressed to his nose, and his shuffling pace sped up considerably to get past the guy.
When the nurse stopped us, gesturing towards what was obviously going to be Logan's bed, my stomach twisted. I had had a feeling this was coming, but I had hoped that we would be lucky, that Logan would get a room, so we wouldn't have to sit out in the hall with all the bleeding, moaning, death-begging people all around us and the staff rushing past.
No such luck, of course. And as Logan climbed up on the bed, and I sat somewhat gingerly on its end, having no chair to sit on or room to put it if I had, I heard raucous laughter close by and looked up…quickly realizing that the universe had it in for me today more than I'd thought.
Logan's bed was positioned directly in front of a large room, in which a police officer was stationed; another two stood inside it. The reason for this quickly became clear when I took in the attire of the five men inside it…black and white striped suits, purple flip flops, and pink, yes, PINK, handcuffs.
They were prisoners. Directly in front of us were prisoners, all five snickering and looking straight at me. Me, in my wet clothes and see through shirt, my mini skirt and bare legs. And the way they were looking at me made it clear they liked the view.
This wasn't going to happen. This just flat out was NOT going to happen.
"Logan, I'm sorry…but there is no way in hell I'm doing this, even for you," I muttered, standing up quickly and trying to pull down my skirt as much as possible. I was very aware of five eyes on my legs. "I love you, hope your nose gets fixed, but right now Toni's your girl. She has jeans."
"Maureen, wait!" Logan called, but I was already striding down the hall as fast as I could considering the frequent obstacles in my path. It was bad enough to be in a hospital on my spring break; I wasn't about to make myself a visual binge for Atlanta's finest prisoners too.
Finding Toni in the waiting room, I went straight up to her, peeled off my visitor's tag, and stuck it on her chest with one quick gesture. When she looked down at me, opening her mouth, I cut her off.
"You have jeans, and your shirt is black. Have fun in there!"
I think only the hacking fit the man next to her started convinced her to go without question, sure she was getting the better end of the deal. I'm sure once we get out of here, she'll kill me. Then, we can both kill Logan together.
Sounds like a plan.
On the chairs of the hospital lobby, I shifted, reaching out to adjust my jacket more securely around myself, and wished for the tenth time I had brought my phone charger. Without my phone I had no idea how Logan was doing or how soon it would be before we could leave. It was approaching midnight; surely I wouldn't be allowed to stay in the lobby all night, and we were wasting the money we had paid for the hotel room. All I had wanted was to take the car, drive to our room, and sleep until morning. But I couldn't do that. Undoubtedly Logan and Toni were having an even worse night.
Still, no way was I about to switch out with Toni unless she wanted to swap clothes first.
I could always go to the waiting room again if I had to, if they kicked me out of the lobby, but I would try to avoid that at all costs. As boring as the lobby was, at least there was little chance I'd have to sit next to someone with glass sticking out of his eye or who was pleading for me to perform euthanasia.
Eventually I couldn't stand to sit still for any longer, or even to lie down, and yet again stood up, deciding to look at the Margaret Mitchell shrine for the fifteenth time, and to count how many steps it took for me to get there. All the while I prayed to see a pissed off Toni come up behind me, a clear-nosed Logan in tow, announcing that we could finally, after nearly nine hours, go home.
Once we got out of here…if I ever again caught Logan with his finger anywhere near his nose, I would hit him so hard his insides would bleed. Or maybe just cut off his fingers, just to be safe.
I'm only thinking of his welfare, of course.