Another Outback Night

‘You bloody nurses. Don’t they teach you anything?’

The nurse kept pressure on the wound and the patient just lay there. His eyes rolled drunkenly and his hand slapped pathetically at the nurse trying to bat her away like an annoying fly. She arched her body away from him and kept up the pressure, her nose wrinkling slightly at the sickly metallic scent that leaked under her fingers and filled the disinfected clinical air around them. She caught his flapping hand and firmly placed it by his side, wished restraints were legal. She ignored the doctor’s comment. He was just venting at her because he thought “on call” only really meant “if they’re dying”. His problem.

The doctor turned his attention from the nurse and cast a look of disgust over the patient. ‘They shouldn’t employ you if you can’t suture. Get me a sterile pack and sutures.’

‘Right behind you, open and ready on the trolley, 5.0 and 6.0 nylon, your choice. Gloves are underneath,’ she avoided eye contact, kept her focus on the patient.

‘I asked you to get me the pack, now.’

She looked directly at him and removed her hand from the head wound. A spurt of blood hit the doctor’s shirt. Continue reading

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Mornington Nights

The air con is humming, prickling the hairs on my arms. We sit in the dim glow of the night lights bathed in their ghoulish orange tint and Marge tells me stories of the old days; the trackers and the hunters. Then the here and now; how all those families have descended into alcoholism, bar only a few. There are fifteen hundred people in town and three pubs. They all do a roaring trade in casks. The first alcoholic I admitted told me she’d drunk four casks. I was appalled, four litres of cheap wine, and asked her how she’d managed it. She looked sheepish, “aww, nurse, Ah shared the last one missus, Ah swear, with me mates. Only the last one ay, drunk the others mesel’.” I later discovered a cask is four litres and I wondered where the rumour came from that aboriginals couldn’t hold their drink. How she walked I’ll never know.

We’re quiet but the pubs haven’t closed yet. Eighteen beds, less than half occupied; Marge and I here till morning. I get up and do a walk about: all quiet, just the muffled squeak of my rubber soles on the linoleum and the softly synchronised snores rising and falling in accompaniment to the air con drone. Dream time. Continue reading