There was one man whose tailbone was rotting with gangrene, exuding an evil stench. When his suffering was at its worst, his facial expression actually seemed almost ecstatic: eyelids drooping, mouth pulled into the smile of someone who has an itch he can't quite scratch. He called out all night long, " Miss! Oh, Miss! " The syllables were drawn out, quavering, even melodic. I paid no attention. I was an irresponsible, heartless nurse. I hated him, because he was suffering terrible things. Eventually, every patient in the room was roused from sleep, and unable to ignore him, they began to call out in unison, " Miss. " I could only walk over, stand sullenly by his bed.
" What do you want? "
He thought for a while, then moaned, " Water."
All he really wanted was for someone to wait on him; the task didn't matter. I told him there was no billed water in the kitchen and walked away. He sighed, fell silent for a moment, and then began to call out again, until he couldn't manage anything but a kind of low moan: " Miss… Oh, miss… Hey, miss… "
The day the man died we were all happy enough to dance. Just as the sun began to rise, we entrusted his funeral arrangements to a professional nurse and retreated to kitchen. One of my companions used coconut oil to bake some bread that tasted a bit like Chinese fermented rice cakes. A cock was crowing over another icy white morning. Selfish people such as ourselves went nonchalantly on with living.
Old Oxen Chew Young Grass
Eric Sidner & Taocheng Wang
Opening: January 25th, 7pm
Concert by Tina, 9pm