The Bag

by Niles Reddick


            When Israel opened his eyes, he didn’t know where he was. He thought he might be in a sleeping bag, but he didn’t recall going camping. He remembered sitting in his lift chair, sipping a Colt 45, and smoking a Marlboro, despite decreased liver function and the shallow breathing from COPD. He punched at the bag, saying, “Let me out of here, damn it.”
            Sam, one of the night attendants, heard noises, peeked in the small square window with wired glass, and saw the bag moving. “What the hell?” He opened the door and heard Israel, called for backup on his two-way radio, and waited until Fred got there. Then, Fred called Dr. Dave, the only doctor in the Emergency Room at night who told him to unzip the bag, but not to do anything else.  Sam unzipped the bag.
            “What the hell you people trying to do to me? Kill me? I got COPD. Where am I anyway? I ain’t done nothing.”
            “Man, you in the morgue. You died.”
            “I ain’t dead. Didn’t see no tunnel, Jesus, or even the devil. I was watching The Price is Right and having a cold one. That’s the last thing I remember.”
            Dr. Dave shared with him he’d coded, been brought into the ER earlier in the afternoon, and they couldn’t revive him. He didn’t have any explanation. Told him it must be some kind miracle.
            “Can y’all give me a ride home? Next time, make sure I’m dead before you put me in that bag.”
            That night, Israel dreamed he was buried alive, darkness surrounded him, and he sucked in shallow air. Right before he took his last breath, he woke up soaked with sweat, sat up on his bed, and lit a Marlboro. “Damn. Ought to sue.”


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