Heart Attacks

My name is John. I have a heart attack every day.

For example, yesterday I had one. The day started out well enough. I chewed on some kale husks and garlic juice for breakfast — prepared slowly so as to not aggravate the heart humours. I do everything now in the style of that Japanese theatre where the actors move as slow as pensioners at the grocery store.

It took me about an hour to get from the kitchen to the meditation room in my apartment. I meditated for about an hour and felt that familiar sharp pain in my chest. I called my wife, Deb, and said, “It’s time.”

“Already? It’s not even noon.”

“It’s fucking time. Can you help me to the car?”

We had to move a block away from the hospital. They all know me at the ER. I’m Norm from Cheers at the ER. I got there yesterday and Helga, one of the day nurses, was already waiting with a wheelchair at the door. I guess Deb texted her ahead of time.

I don’t have insurance. I owe nearly a billion dollars in medical debt. It’s a mess.

The doctors have no idea what’s up with me. I’ve had countless stints, an unknowable number of bypasses, and three transplants.

Usually it’s mostly impossible to get one heart transplant, let alone three, but certain high level government officials have taken a keen interest in my case because of the massive strain I personally have on the economy.

They have a room reserved for me at the hospital. I was in there yesterday when Dr. Park came in with a small case about the size of a lunchbox.

He said, “Good morning, John. How’s that bum ticker of yours?”

I said, “It’s fucked as usual, Doc.”

“Well, I’ve got some news for you. We have a new procedure available. Brand new. We think it may cure you.”

“I’ve heard that one before.”

“It’s a mechanical heart.” He grabbed the lunchbox and opened it. “It is 100% proven never to fail. Even when the rest of you dies (hopefully years from now) this bastard will keep on pumping.”

Inside the case was a strange white mechanism. It didn’t look much like a heart. It didn’t look much like anything.

“And how much is that going to cost me?”

“What do you care? You never pay your bills anyhow.”

“Fair point. Alright, let’s pop that bastard in there and see what it can do.”

Like I said, that was yesterday. Last night they did the full transplant without any complications. It’s been 24 hours since and there hasn’t been a single heart attack.

This morning they sent me home. Now I can eat whatever I want. I can smoke and fuck and train for the Olympics if I want to. Today, a whole new life splayed before me, I opt for a nap.

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Marty Shambles

Pushcart nominated author of short fiction. Words in: Class Collective Magazine, Hearth & Coffin, The Sparrow’s Trombone.