Dateline Pittsburgh 21 December 2016
It’s 6:25 a.m. and I’m flat on my back on the sofa with two pillows under my weary head scribbling in my fat notebook which is resting against my raised legs as I listen to the local 24/7 all news station on the radio and the weather forecast has just been given predicting today in Pittsburgh there will be more sunshine than clouds with a high in the low 40s which is good news since I plan to walk like eight or so blocks to the Veterans Administration Hospital to get some clarification on some documents I need to show them and I would have done it over the phone but trying to get anything done over the phone with the VA is impossible so I’m going in person but right now it is still dark outside and the high is only 29 so I’ll wait until the sun comes up and it gets warmer outside.
I’m done with the novel Ham On Rye by Charles Bukowski and while I was at the library yesterday I checked out four books of the works of Anais Nin whose works I have not read in years and she and her work and her style of writing and her worldview will be a refreshing relief from the brutality of Bukowski’s world view…
So now I’ll put on the local 24/7 classical music station on the radio and read my Anais Nin…
I just phoned Verizon and cancelled my Internet service so I can save money on my phone bill since I don’t have a computer and now when I do get my new laptop I’ll use Wi-Fi and then and only then after using Wi-Fi for a couple of months I will try to get access to the Internet in my apartment but now it’s around 10:00 a.m. and I have to get ready to walk to the VA hospital to clear up the questions I have about different documents I have…
Okay so I walk up that hill to the VA hospital past Schenley High School and I’m happy to report that I was not winded at all and that my deep breathing, flexibility and stretching exercises are for more than karaoke and I went into the hospital and I hit Information first and Information sends me to a window across the way and the person behind the window sends me to Billing down the hall and there is no one in Billing so I wait about ten minutes until a woman ask me if I’m being taken care of and I say there’s no one here and she says hold on and finally another woman comes in and she hears what I have to say and gives me a phone number to the VA hospital in Aspinwall…
Well Aspinwall is on the other side of the river and I don’t own a car…
Well I’m on my way out of the hospital when I see a sign that says something like “Free Flu Shorts For Veterans” so I go over for my free flu shot and it goes like this.
“Hi, I’d like to get a free flu short.”
“Sir,” she says, “may I see your VA ID?”
I show it to her.
“Okay,” she says. “Punch in your social security number.”
There’s a little electronic pad on the table. I punch in my social security number and then take off my winter coat and roll up the sleeve on my right arm. She’s probably in her 30s.
“How long have you worked for the VA?”
“Oh a couple of years. But I’m moving on. I just got my insurance license. I mean I love it here but I’m ready for something else.”
“Burn out for nurses is well documented.”
“Yes I want to try something different.”
“You can always come back.”
“I’m going to keep working the minimum hours to stay active with the agency that placed me here so yes I’ll always have nursing.”
“Well I thank you and good luck.”
I rolled my sleeve down.
I walked back down the hill (my legs and breath were fine) to my apartment building and checked my mail and found a Christmas card from my older sister and yes she had sent me $60.00…
She and her husband are doing very well and she sends me money because she knows I can use it but her husband thinks I’m a bum and I don’t want anything to do with him so she’ll call me in a couple of days to see if I got the money and I’ll thank her then.
I walked past Sonny’s Tavern and deeper into Little Italy to Armand’s. I had two beers and shot the breeze with a couple of the regulars and then I walked down to the supermarket to supplement my food supply and I came back to Armand’s and got a 12-pack of beer to go and I caught the bus home.
Then I walked to Sonny’s Tavern which is like two blocks from my apartment building and had a beer there and the owner said yes Sonny’s Tavern would be open for karaoke the night of New Year’s Day.
Hail to Pitt!
This is Guy Hogan reporting for the Pittsburgh Flash Fiction Gazette.