Monday, February 28, 2005

Man Down!

It’s Saturday night and I’m up front chatting with the new hostess. Whenever she bends down to grab a menu I catch a glimpse of a tattoo stenciled above the cleavage of her rather nice backside.

I’m wondering how I’m going to see the rest that tattoo when I hear a bloodcurdling scream emanate from the back of the restaurant.


I run to the back of the bistro to see what the hell’s going on. Standing on the back bench, pressed into the corner like a trapped animal, keening uncontrollably, is an older woman shivering in pure terror. And, slumped unconscious in his chair, drooling from the mouth, is Murray.

Oh shit.

The other couple seated with them are glued to their chairs in shock. I grab Murray’s shoulders to prevent him from falling out of his chair. I shake him gently asking, “Sir, are you all right? Sir, are you all right?” No response.

A million possibilities run through my head. Heart attack, stroke, choking. I put my finger on Murray’s jugular. He has a pulse.

“Was he choking?” I ask the other diners.

“No, he was fine a minute ago,” says the man from the other couple, regaining his senses.

My old emergency training takes over. Establish airway. Establish airway. Call 911.

“Call 911 NOW,” I order the hostess. She runs to place the call.

“We have to get this man on the floor right away. Help me.” I tell Murray’s friend.

“Oh God is he going to be all right! Murrrrayyyy!” the woman, I assume Murray’s wife, cries. Her friend tries to pull her back down into her seat.

I ignore her. I discover I can’t lay the victim flat on the floor. The Bistro is cramped. Table nine and the two rather large gentlemen sitting in it are in the way. I let the other man hold Murray and go to the table.

“I’m sorry gentleman we have an emergency and I’ll have to ask you to move.”

To say the two men at table nine were fat would be a disservice to understatement. These two guys were so massive they warped the fabric of space and time, generating their own gravitational field. I’m surprised cometary debris hadn’t crashed into them yet. They stare at me, mouths full of food, stopped in mid chew.

“You have to move – please.” I repeat.

They blink at me uncomprehendingly.

Are they deaf? Retarded? Don’t speak English? I don’t care. I reach down and grab the table, lifting it up, plates and all, and swing it into the aisle.

I turn back toward the Twin Moons and say, “Move now,” in my best command voice.
They get up reluctantly.

The area cleared we lay Murray gently on the floor. Kneeling next to him I put my cheek next to his mouth to determine his respiration. I feel nothing. I tilt Murray’s head back to open up his airway and try again. I feel something but not much. I start to open Murray’s mouth to look for an obstruction when I hear a voice calmly say,

“I’m a physician. Let me in there.”

I look up to see a youngish bespectacled guy standing over me and quickly trade places with him. I've never been so glad to see a doctor.

The Doc leans in and checks for breath. “He’s breathing,” he comments. Then he slaps Murray gently. “Wake up sir. Wake up.”

Murray’s eyes flutter open. “Whaaaa happened?” he groans.

“I think you fainted sir,” the doc says smiling.

“Murray, Murray, Murray!” the wife sobs.

“I’m alright dear,” he says weakly.

“Doctor is my husband going to be all right?” the wife demands. I note she is still not by her husband’s side.

Malpractice wary the doctor replies, “Well, he needs to go to the ER to be sure.”

“I’m ok. I’m all right,” Murray says trying to get up.

By this time several policeman and an ambulance squad are crowded in back of the bistro. The EMT checks Murray’s blood pressure. He refuses to go to the hospital. After a brief discussion the emergency personnel decide to leave. Radios crackling, hauling a stretcher and medical kits, they depart while fifty restaurant patrons look on nervously. I hope they don’t think it was the food.

I notice the fat guys are standing at their table’s new location – still shoveling the food in like nothing happened.

“What the hell?” Fluvio says making an appearance.

“Guy on table eight passed out.” I reply. “The doc over there helped us out in a big way and it’s under control.”

“Give the doctor's table free dessert,” Fluvio orders relieved.

“Oh my God. Was that guy’s wife gunning for a best actress Oscar or what?” the hostess observes.

“She was just scared.” I say. I’m glad it’s over.

Things go back to normal. The doc’s kids get free gelato. Murray eats his dinner. His wife orders a double scotch. The Twin Moons are parked in their original orbit. I feel bad that I was so brusque with them.

“I’m sorry about the excitement gentleman. Dessert is on the house,” I offer.

The men smile and order two desserts.


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