"B143 in window number one."
He snapped back to the present and looked up. His number was illuminating on the screen in front of him. He limped up to the counter with a very morose middle-aged woman on the other side.
"I'm here to fill my prescription."
He pulled out his wallet and slid the ID card to her. She placed it in front of her computer and typed for what seemed like an eternity.
"Sir, I don't see any refills."
"I don't see –"
"I need my sleeping pills."
"Sir, you need to contact your provider. Then, we can refill your prescription."
Ben felt his blood pressure rise and his voice started to become louder with the built up anger.
"I should have refills available. I need those pills to get what little sleep I can."
"I'm sorry sir, but you must contact your provider."
Ben stared at the emotionless woman as he gripped the counter in anger. She handed him his ID card that he snatched in response. He turned on his heel and slammed the door behind him. He hit the down button the elevator staring at the metal doors in front of him as his blood continued to boil. To his dismay, it was packed. He squeezed in, feeling his anxiety go through the roof. Relief flooded him as he reached the bottom level. Ben marched up to the front desk and laid his ID card down waiting for the administrative assistant to look up from the screen.
"It will be just one moment, sir."
Ben grunted in response and tapped his leg as he impatiently waited.
"How may I help you?"
"I need to speak to my provider or the nurse on his staff to get my prescription filled."
"You need an appointment for that, sir."
"I have had the medication before. I just need a refill."
"You still need an appointment for that."
"I don't have time for that. I know how long that process is," he snapped.
The woman continued to stare at him with no emotion. Ben took a deep breath trying to collect his thoughts.
"Just for shits and giggles, when's the soonest appointment I can have with my provider?"
"You have to call the appointment line for that sir."
Ben smacked the counter in front of him with his fist in frustration.
"Are you freaking kidding me?!"
"Sir, that is the only way to make an appointment."
"Go figure. Can I have the number?" he asked through gritted teeth.
She wrote down the number on a small piece of paper and handed it to him with a smile. Ben felt that the best pleasure in life at that moment was the punch the teeth out of her skull then proceed to do the same thing to the pharmacist upstairs. He dialed the number and stepped away from the counter.
"Veteran Affairs, how may I direct your call?"
"Appointment line, please."
The line went quiet then started to ring again.
"Hi, you have reached the appointment line. We are sorry to have missed your call. If you leave your name, last four, and –"
Ben hung up. He walked back to the front desk. The woman was staring at her computer screen again.
"Sir, if you could just –"
"I could not get through the appointment line and I need my medication. I need to speak someone right fucking now!"
The administrative assistant looked a little taken aback.
"Sir, everyone has to wait for an appointment."
"I will be damned if I have to wait months for an appointment over a fucking refill. I need my medicine. I need to speak to someone right now. Not tomorrow, right fucking now!"
The woman stood up and quietly walked to the back offices. Ben gripped the counter and watched as veterans in the room were paying attention to the scene he was making. The administrative assistant came back with a lady in scrubs following behind her.
"I called the pharmacy upstairs. Your medication should be ready for you. Next time that happens, have the pharmacy call us to get approval. I'm surprised they didn't do that in the first place."
Ben was relieved that the medication was filled but felt the anger rise over the pharmacy.
"Thank you, ma'am."
"You still need to call the appointment line to schedule the next time we see you."
Ben turned and walked back to the elevator. He was surprised and thankful for the one and only nurse who actually cared about her patients in the hospital. The elevator came to a sharp halt and the door flew open. Ben walked past the station to pick up a number and straight to the front counter.
"Sir, you have to wait-"
"My prescription should be filled according to the nurse downstairs. She also told me that you could have called instead of kicking me out the door. Since you took up my time, I will take up yours. Where are my pills?"
The pharmacist pursed her lips as she looked back at her screen. She stood up and walked to the back. Ben fidgeted with his ID card as he waited by the counter. She came back with a brown bag in her hand.
"Please sign here stating you have picked up your medication."
Ben scribbled his name and snatched the bag from her hands. He walked toward the elevator and realized he had to stay longer than expected. He needed to go by mental health while he was here. Making a right face, he started down the hall towards the door on the very end. There were a few veterans there waiting for an appointment and the women behind the counter were busy gossiping to each other. Ben walked forward and put the bag on the counter as he watched the them continue to whisper to one another.
"I'm here to schedule an appointment."
The older lady turned to look at him and held out her hand as she asked for his ID card. She started to type harshly on the keyboard while staring at the screen.
"I was called a few days ago to cancel my appointment with my provider over a meeting of some sort, so I'm not sure if you would call it a new appointment or a reschedule."
"It looks like we can get you in during the second week of December."
"December?! That is four months from now!"
Ben felt his face grow hot with anger and frustration. The administrative assistant on the other side kept the same emotionless expression as she nodded in confirmation.
"Yes, sir. You have a sooner appointment than most anyone else because you are considered high priority. Most veterans have to wait longer than six months."
"I already waited three months for the appointment that was canceled! That wasn't my fault but purely my provider's. I cannot wait another four months to see someone."
"I can't sleep. I can't eat. I can't think. I need to see someone!"
"I can put you on the list if there are any cancelations so that you would be called to take advantage of that."
"Sure, but if someone has to wait that long, I doubt anyone will cancel. Can I see someone else instead?"
"Every provider is over capacitated at this time. The soonest appointments we have are in December."
Ben felt his anger flare in response and decided to leave before he could no longer control himself. It was time to take up Radcliff's offer.
YOU ARE READING
The Veteran Left Behind - ON HOLDGeneral Fiction
Ben is a disabled Army veteran that struggles on a day to day basis. The nightmares keep him from sleeping. The daily physical pain is almost unbearable. But, the worst burden he must face now is the memories that haunt his mind. It takes an gra...