“Stay with me—right here…OK!
“Jus—just keep your eyes open…Damn!!
“GET… ME… A… DOCTOR?!
“Hold my hand—don’t you ever let go…DON’T!
“Get me … JESUS!
“HE… CAN’T …BREATHE…
It was all Pastor Naf. His words were rapid but not as rapid as the spilling ooze of an internal hemorrhage. Each increase in cardio-vascular pressure had ruptured the pulmonary capillaries of the patient, and had sprained adjoining venules. Slowly and steadily, three quarters of the three million alveoli that had ventilated the patient’s system for twenty-seven years had already been densely saturated with his own viscous tissues. Somewhere between his case and his cause the medical explanations had been broken down to him. Arteriosclerosis! What could that mean? Simply confirmed, he had developed a bleeding disorder related to Hemorrhagic Telangiectasis (the Osler-Rendu-Weber disease). And yes!, this evening, the pool in his lungs cannot be reversed; not mopped, not even contained.
The attending doctor, Intensive Care Unit; University of Abuja Teaching Hospital, had hurried in with two ward attendants behind him and had promptly began duty. Activities busied the room to action. ‘Check the iris’; ‘Condition critical’; ‘Oxygen?’ ‘Dropped to seven’; ‘Get the gas-mask’; ‘Get me a pulse’; ‘Pressure?’ ‘Two-one-five over one-thirty’; ‘Tilt the head forwards, and wedge up the trunk’; ‘Iris—narrower than standard’; ‘Fix the air-pump’; ‘Sir, I have a pulse’…
Not only rapid, the words had become congested for the patient. So were the images. He had began hearing more than his ears had picked, and the images before him had graduated into a blurred background as others, drawn from the past he represents, randomly flashed before his widely shut eyes. Amid pictures and sounds, he could only pick that distinct voice from his sedimentary years just as though now were then. What?! The incoherent voice was talking—not to him but he to them…
“Seeing then… walk circumspectly… redeeming… time… days …”
Redeeming the time… As though bolted from a barrel, he began to wonder what happened to that chance. Sure, he had once been a Christian, and most certainly, he had heard of the phrases, ‘guard your heart with all diligence.’ That had been in Senior Secondary 1 at the College in Maiduguri, Borno State. That had been where a fire-brand for Christ had met with his coolant. He had pushed his lot one too far when, from seeking the right to be god, he had become the god to be right. He had forged from sin unto another, confident that time was available for change. Hence had he become an addict consuming ampoules first, then dozens of heroine, and nicotine, by guts, by breath and by venipuncture—courtesy of Nafiu ‘Kronik’, the drug-Korea across the Nigeria-Chad border. He had every opportunity to disembark but one by one chances left him locked Redeeming this time… How painful memories can be! To him it counts sin not to have done do what was right he knew to do. He had missed it, even before he dared to see it. Else, he should not have had lung-hemorrhage; let aside lying…
“RIGHT HERE, DOC! Here it is... The wool...” the panic had grown. One attendant handed the doctor a bail of wool. "Can we contain this?! The patient is DRAINING!"
The patient’s eyes were tearing blood; eye-lids were quivering; eye-balls, rolling with a pin-hole pupil; fingers, twitching and ten toes pointing. Of the seventy-five trillion human anatomical cells, only none was not responding to this acute suffocation. Vessels had turned mud-green and his mucus membranes were trickling fluids over the turning-pale skin. The patient, flushed! Now? the brain could focus on nothing else…?
Redeeming which time?! The numbness in his veins had prevented the patient a chance to feel the squamous viscose of blood mingled with both dust cells and Type II cells, oozing though his buccal cavity. Can I STILL make amends? Can I manage hell? Lord?... Jesus!... You... Are…
“Jesus is Lord, just SAY IT!” Pitifully, it could not hear them—least of all with blood draining from its ears.
Pastor Naf knew this was it—the end—he was mere man anyway. Had he acted within the seven years he had christened, this life well-wasted would have been secured. Just a countless lines of remorse-filled tears traced his guilt down to the length of one of the inner arms of the carcass, the one he had held since earlier. Along the Median Cubital veins of the stretched-lifeless corpse, and buried within the wrinkles of both inner elbows were the needle-scars of what was once heroine inlets… accusing him with John 9:4. The chance is dashed he wondered!
No... Not yet... Not for Him... But a second chance all the same.
Buried beneath the hospital sheets that slowly ushered the ex-patient out of existence, the blood-drained and pale eye-lids of the corpse finally relaxed its tension... But then, without a voice, without a pulse, in no light of medical explanation and in the absence of a heart beat, the soul had managed to think-voice Jesus his Lord once more again just as it had used to be; evidenced by none but witnessed by so great a cloud of heavenly witnesses...
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