I.C.U. was nothing more or less than a long single room with three beds in it. There were no windows, no television set, but, I noted as I was wheeled in, there was the ubiquitous large clock mounted on the wall over the doubled doors that had split down the center to allow my bed through. The clock ticked loud enough to hear across the room and its big second hand clicked from one second to the next. The middle bed was missing so I knew I wouldn’t have to be transferred from bed to bed, an agonizing process.

Corporal Shoot approached the side of my bed and fussed with some of the tubing still running out from both my wrists and my neck. At some point in my hazy drug state, only truly interrupted by the hour or hour and a half when the pain brought frightful clarity back into my life until the morphine deadened it again, they’d removed the I.V. that had been running in my thigh. I could move my legs again, as those restraints had been taken off, as well. Although not painful, the wrist restraints were terribly uncomfortable because I couldn’t move my torso almost at all, and just laying frozen in the same position, angled a little higher or lower by the cranking of the bed, didn’t quite give me any sense of freedom at all.

Shoot stuck a chunk of ice into my mouth without asking me if I needed it. “The cottonmouth thing is a function of the opiates in your system,” he said when he saw my frown, “and you’ve got a load of that circulating around.”