The following story is an excerpt from Sherman Alexie’s recent collection of short stories, Blasphemy.
BlanketsAfter the surgeon cut off my father’s right foot — no, half of my father’s right foot — and three toes from the left, I sat with him in the recovery room. It was more like a recovery hallway. There was no privacy, not even a thin curtain. I guessed it made it easier for the nurses to monitor the postsurgical patients, but still, my father was exposed — his decades of poor health and worse decisions were illuminated — on white sheets in a white hallway under white lights.
“Are you okay?” I asked. It was a stupid question. Who could be okay after such a thing? Yesterday, my father had walked into the hospital. Okay, he’d shuffled while balanced on two canes, but that was still called walking. A few hours ago, my father still had both of his feet. Yes, his feet and toes had been black with rot and disease but they’d still been, technically speaking, feet and toes. And, most important, those feet and toes had belonged to my father. But now they were gone, sliced off. Where were they? What did they do with the right foot and the toes from the left foot? Did they throw them in the incinerator? Were their ashes floating over the city?
“Doctor, I’m cold,” my father said.
“Dad, it’s me,” I said.
“I know who are you. You’re my son.” But considering the blankness in my father’s eyes, I assumed he was just guessing at my identity.
“Dad, you’re in the hospital. You just had surgery.” MORE