OH HENRY

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Overhead fluorescent lights flooded the black and white tile and illuminated the stainless steel cart Henry Weinstein pushed down the long corridor.

"Stop. I've got a bone to pick with you, Henry."

Henry didn't turn. His head bent, he trudged ahead, oblivious to the command of Carlotta, the supervisor of the surgical ward. The nurse who managed Henry's work activities.

Well, I've got a bone for you, too. He wouldn't dare talk back to his boss. If he said a word, he'd wet himself. He'd rather do that while Sweet Lady Jesus Sheryl Crowe wailed in his ear.

All I wanna do is have a little, ta-da, ta-da, one, two, three, four, fun with you. He silently hummed his version of a favorite melody. Henry loved to wang off to her sultry voice in the shadows of a dark room. Shades pulled down, doors closed. The world didn't need to know why he really liked to work the night shift.

"Henry, did you hear me?"

"Of course," Henry responded so softly to Carlotta's catching voice he was positive she missed his answer. Her Sheryl Crowe twang struck him like a hot poker. At first it made him shiver when the husky supervisor called out to him. Soon after, heat raced through his limbs like a freight train out of control, with no place to dump its cargo before it hit a firewall.

Tonight, though, Henry wanted to keep the supervisor Carlotta far from his thoughts. He had his work to do. He rushed toward the elevator door. Only a few feet more and he'd be out of her reach. In his mind, the lights were already off and he was out of sight.

Another foot. Cool air ahead. He sniffed hard to dislodge a nagging mass that had collected in the back of his throat. After a few hours of stale night air that hung in the hospital corridors like a London fog, his nasal cavities felt like stuffed cabbage. At last, the elevator door opened and Henry curled his stubby fingers around the stainless steel bar of the portable table with big black rubber tires and shoved it as fast and hard as he could between the sliding doors. He had the timing down perfect—finger on the close button and on his way before she caught up with him. He'd taken this cart back and forth every night for a whole year. To transport specimens from various areas of the hospital to their final destination—the bowels of the hospital.

In the nick of time, the two doors cut a line down the center of round, anxious, throaty, sensual Carlotta. With the doors closed, Henry stood tall. He was well beyond her reach. On his way to the assigned duty he loved the most.

Carlotta, the hot-bodied, smart-ass nurse wouldn't interrupt his mission tonight. No, by god. Henry had cargo to deliver. Fresh cargo and a mission.

He pressed the sub-basement button and listened to the friendly hum of the elevator motor as it carried him down to the sacred work place. A final destination for parts and parcels. A place where few wandered into willingly. The doors slid open effortlessly and a rush of frosted air struck Henry's nostrils. A welcome change. He rolled his cargo to the storage area and pulled a lever. A metal door swung wide and a long tray slid out. Ready for its next resident.

Henry drew in a deep breath of antiseptic oxygen and formaldehyde vapors. The distinct aromas brought momentary relief for his clogged sinuses. Henry honked off a big wad of green nasty goo into the wastebasket. He flared his nose for a quick retake of air. In less than an hour he'd be back at his locker where he could swab a heavy dose of Vicks Vapor Rub up each hairy portal. A few dabs and the gates would open for normal air. Or at least he'd be over the hump. In another two hours on his way home in dawn's early light. Fresh air. Well, more than fresh air.

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