Signing OutMature

The one true constant.
As a man with nothing to lose, Michael Rafferty soon discovers that time holds, for him alone, a special purpose through which he risks losing everything.
Everything, but time.

A flock of birds rose up from the canopy; a white shower across the green backdrop. They pulled left and out of Michael's view as they passed the threshold of the hospital room window. His eyes panned back until he stared across the treetops to spot the sky scrapers of the city where they stood like soldiers on the horizon.

"Mister Rafferty."

The voice took Michael from his revery and he turned to the doorway to see a man in a white jacket walk in. He was balding and wore thick framed glasses through which he peered at a clipboard, pen in hand. "Mister Rafferty, how are you doing?"

"I'm fine," Michael said, looking at the bruises on his arm where the nurse massacred his flesh attempting to get the intravenous needle installed.

"Oh sorry Captain, I didn't see your rank listed here until now. How's the head feeling?"

"Like I said Doctor, I'm fine."

"Well, we've had you in observation for two days now and to be honest, I don't see a reason to keep you any longer. You're free to go," said the doctor as he signed the paper and tore a portion off. "Here's one for you," he said, signing another half, "and one for me." He turned to Michael and smiled, his gray mustache arching upward as the only indication of this. "I'll have a nurse come by and remove the saline solution and intravenous."

"No thanks Doctor, I can manage that myself," Michael said, removing the needle from his arm.

"Captain, you're not allowed to do that, we're still accountable for your safety, and have to remove them ourselves."

"Hey Doc, don't sweat it," Michael said, getting up off the bed. "You just signed me out," he said, patting the Doctor on the back. He walked past him, his bare behind visible through the hospital gown's open back as he made his way to the counter outside the room in order to retrieve his belongings.

A cab pulled up to the curb which was Michael's cue to but out the cigarette he had bummed off an obviously stressed out Paramedic on break. He got up and threw his jacket over his shoulder. The days were warming, and it seemed the time he spent in the hospital had brought the season closer to summer than he had dressed for when he was admitted.

The cab ride was nondescript, punctuated with a small cash tip and a friendly exchange of waves. Michael turned from the street to peer at his apartment complex. He stuck another cigarette in his mouth, this one borrowed from the cab driver, and lit it with one of the last matches in his pack.

The End

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