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Finger Food by Gary Ives

Finger Food

by Gary Ives
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Page 4

It was that easy. So was the job. Second week I cobbed one of the TVs from an OR waiting room. Pushed it out of the emergency exit in a wheel chair and stashed it behind a dumpster. Hospital scrubs gave me license to roam any damn place I cared. Oh Freedom Street was so fuckin’ fly. I was put on night shift which I liked and which paid a fifty cents bonus, and night work was slack. They must have liked me because beginning my second month I moved up to surgery runner. Check it out. Whenever donor organs were flown in, it was me who picked up the Styrofoam containers from the helicopter: kidneys, livers, whatever. I would run the box down to Pathology’s Tissue Lab where they’d have me wait while they checked out the donor organ. Once the organ passed inspection, they’d pack it back in ice and give it to me to run it fast like a bunny up to surgery. First heart I delivered I lifted the lid in the elevator for a peek. I wondered if it still thumped, like in the movies. It didn’t.

The ex-cons at Belleview were just like any gang in stir, except the boss was this gangsta bitch working in the hospital laundry, Mama Sateen. Mama Sateen settled beefs, and made sure we were all tight. No one gave the bitch any shit either. She collected a tax—every payday we each paid $5.00. I had to pony up a $10 “gift tax” when I boosted my TV. She skimmed off each and every game any con ran. She ran a slush fund. Run low before payday? Go see Mama Sateen; she’ll loan $50 for $75. Somebody needed bail? Mama Sateen had his back. Just like the joint there was a code. First rule: no ratting, no matter what. Second rule: never hurt a patient. And while stealing shit was fine, no drugs were to be lifted. Ever. Not even an aspirin. Okay to use drugs, to buy drugs, to sell drugs but don’t ever steal medicine from Belleview Hospital. There was a clear understanding that drug thefts were the exclusive domain of junkie nurses and doctors. Besides, drug cabinets were closely watched and under camera surveillance, and who would be accused? The junkie nurse or some ex-con orderly? Go figure. Shortly before I was hired, Benny Spooner, an ex-con cook, had ripped off a stash of oxy from an out-patient leaving the pharmacy. Mama Sateen found out. The next day the cook met with a serious industrial accident at the deep fat fryer. The message was clear. Don’t fuck with the rules, nigga. With thousands of people in hospital—patients, doctors, nurses plus hundreds of orderlies and custodial folk, volunteers, pink ladies, gray ladies, and sweet little candy stripe dollies, visitors—there were all kinds scams going down all the time. A smart cat who knew the street and who knew how to observe… all he had to do was sit back a wait. Hey, like Mama Sateen says, “There’s plenty for everybody, just don’t get greedy.”

One night as I was clocking in, Mama Sateen, finishing her shift told me to call this number. Next morning I call and the man asked to meet me in the coffee shop across the street. I called him Mr. Wizard on accounta this dude worked for some scientific supply house that served colleges and med schools. Frogs in a jar… fetal pigs in a jar… dead critters in formaldehyde. He’d pay $100 for a human liver, $75 apiece for kidneys, and $150 for heart. He knew that organs not passing their pathology tests in the Tissue Lab were handed back to me to take down to the incinerator in the hospital basement. I told him I’d need $125 for liver since livers are big and harder to get passed security. We shook hands and I was in business. All I had to do was boost rejected organs and pay Mama Sateen 10%. I figured to stash ‘em in my locker then move ‘em out in colostomy bags and piss bags strapped to my legs since Security did random pat downs at shift changes. “Hey dude, you want I should open my shit bag for you?”


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About the Author

Gary Ives

Gary Ives lives with his wife and two big dogs far, far away where he grows apples and writes. Publishing credits at garyives.wordpress.com.

Story Discussion

Stories by Gary Ives

Finger Food by Gary Ives

Finger Food

My second day outta stir had gone down so smooth, like greased tracks smooth. The Social Services lady, Mrs. Nixon, had liked me. I could sense it. Twenty-two years at Attica was equivalent to a Ph.D. in reading emotions. Yeah twenty-two years served on a life sentence. Me, I’d gone down hard for offing a shitbag Puerto Rican who’d burned me for two kilos. I played up to the near-sighted old hen.

“Yes ma’am, whatever it takes, ma’am. All I want, really… what I need… is employment. I understand that’s the key, Mrs. Nixon. You get me a jay… oh… bee, job, and I swear by the Holy Bible ain’t no way Tony Spallano is ever gonna go back to them bad old ways. No ma’am.”

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