Today I thought I would share a short story I wrote one day when I was supposed to be working. Here is the backstory....
A woman that I work with is traumatized at the prospect of getting blood drawn. We were standing in the office and we had just learned that we had to have a health screening done as part of our company health insurance. The company we work for was sending phlebotomists right to our building to draw the blood for testing and then the results would get emailed to us. Robin was so upset because she doesn't like the idea of getting blood drawn at all let alone from "Traveling Phlebotomists" as soon as she said those words this story popped into my head and I went downstairs to my office and wrote this story for her. Please excuse the grammar as this really was only meant for her eyes.
The Traveling Phlebotomists
The alley in which she lay dying was cold and dark. It reeked of urine and garbage. Exactly what you would expect an alley to look and smell like. As the last bit of life drained from her she could almost feel her soul detaching itself from her earthly body. Although her senses seemed to be heightened in these last moments on earth she could not move not even her eyes would respond to her plea. She could feel the stickiness of her blood as it ran from her body and pooled beneath her head. He stood over her watching the effects of what he had done. Because she was unable to move she could not see his face only his shoes. They were nice shoes not shoes a homeless person would wear but like a doctor or a professor she thought. Random images flashed across her mind as she heard the final click of her soul as it pulled free and then she fell into the dark odorlessness of nothing.
Stella leaned against the cold granite counter of her modest kitchen. Her hands wrapped tightly around her coffee mug enjoying the warmth she felt through the ceramic. A smile crept across her face as she thought about the incredible sex she just had with her husband. As if prompted by her thoughts Parker swaggered into the kitchen. This was his usual way of walking after sex. She thought of it as his attaboy walk, his yeah I can satisfy my woman walk. And she loved it. He was already dressed in his uniform of blue scrubs and black Croc shoes. Her attire mimicked his only smaller and pink. Their attire was the only thing similar about them. His blond short hair, tall masculine body and perfect “Greek God” skin was so very different from her jet black hair, small thin body and porcelain pale skin. Their appearance, especially together, often brought stares from both men and women. And she loved that too.
He winked at her as he filled his own mug and she giggled before she could stop herself. “We have to go Casanova” she said slightly teasing “we are already late.” “I’m coming” he said with a smirk. This caused her to giggle again. They were so juvenile sometimes for people their age. Before he could say more she exited the back door and headed towards the driveway and their awaiting van.
It sat exactly where they had parked it early this morning. They had purchased this van to replace their older model which had served them well but stopped running as smoothly as they would have liked. For the new model they chose to have it painted red. Stella had always liked the color red and she saw it as sort of a silly way of making light of their serious business. In addition to the color they also decided this time to have their logo and company name custom painted on the side, which was a much better idea than the old magnetic sign they had on the old one. This was a more professional look in her opinion and it validated their goal to provide excellent service. And that service was Blood. Years ago after growing tired of aimlessly wandering from job to job she had come up with the idea of going to school to become a Phlebotomist. Parker liked the idea so much he quit his job as a bouncer and they both attended night school at the local college. It took them two years to get certified. They started out working in hospitals and clinics where they saw the way uninsured people were treated. Both she and Parker felt bad and knew that many of these people could live a healthy life if only they knew what was making them sick. It was Parker’s idea to start their own business providing uninsured individuals with blood testing. This would allow them to work the hours they wanted so they could still enjoy the freedom they had in the past. It took another year to get everything setup and here they were some years later known best for not only their service but by their company name The Traveling Phlebotomist. Stella had thought over the name of the company the way some people think of a name for their child. It hit her one day while discussing the details of their future business. They would be traveling via the van to various locations offering the service of blood withdrawal for a minimal fee. It felt right and she thought the name was cute and kind of poetic.
Stella was brought back to the present when Parker emerged through the back door still smiling his smug smile and raised his head towards the sky. This was another endearing thing about him he always looked up and his face would take on the amazed look of a child, like he had never seen the sky before. Watching him she looked up herself and noticed how large and bright the moon appeared and she was filled with his child like amazement. She turned to express this feeling to Parker when she saw he was still looking up his head thrown back and she knew he was about to howl, a not so endearing habit. “Do not howl at that moon” she said between her teeth “you will get Mrs. Farley’s dog barking and I will have to hear about it.” He looked stricken and sad for a moment and she almost felt bad but then he grinned and let out a long barking howl …..and so did Mrs. Farley’s dog Duke. “Nice” she said “real nice.” He grinned his big beautiful grin and she just shook her head in forgiveness.
The inside of the van was customized for their needs. Upon entering the van you faced a walled space which housed a table and two chairs and served as the screening room. To the right is the driving cabin and to the left two donor beds lined the walls. A curtained off backspace stored the refrigerators and supply cabinets. Heading for the back she slowly went through their supplies of alcohol, band aids, cotton balls, exam gloves, vacuum tubes and needles. Taking note of what was needed she left the van and reentered the house. Stella opened the door leading to the cellar and made her way down. They lovingly referred to it as the Blood Cellar. The previous owners had converted it into a small but charming wine cellar and the setup of refrigeration and temperature controls worked perfectly for the storing of blood. She walked to the large cabinet and began to fill a crate with new supplies. After refilling the van with the supplies and the thumbs up from Parker on all of his checks they were ready to go.
Pulling into the shopping center parking lot they saw a line had already formed. “Well the flyer you put out really did the trick” Stella said happily. Parker smiled brightly at her praise. Following their ritual without even realizing it they met each other at the door held hands, counted silently to ten and then put on their white lab coats with their name badges. Stella looked at hers with pride.
It always made her smile whenever she put it on. “Okay here we go” she said as she pushed open the door.
Stella’s first patient was a woman so afraid of needles that she couldn’t even open her eyes once she sat in the chair. “It’s okay Robin, Stella soothed, it will be over before you know it.” Stella focused on the engorged vein and as gently as possible inserted the needle. Her patient Robin squeezed her eyes closed even more. “I’m worried that I have diabetes” she said. “Well with knowing comes freedom” Stella said gently “you are doing so well only one vial left” “Oh please” Robin interrupted “don’t talk about vials I will be sick.” “Okay just relax.” Stella looked down at the needle in Robin’s arm and wondered why this would bother anyone. It was quite fascinating how the blood pumped so freely with the use of these simple tools. Stella gently removed the needle from Robin’s arm she was a bit of a bleeder so she placed a cotton ball secured by a piece of surgical tape over the pinprick. “You’re all done sweetheart” Stella said “you did great.” Stella pulled a white card from the top drawer of her work table and handed it to Robin. “This is the website or phone number you will use to get your results”. “Just follow the directions on the card. If you have any questions just give us a call.” Robin stepped out of the van a look of relief washing over her face. “Keep your fingers crossed for me” she said before disappearing into her car.
Parker’s patient was a young woman who thought she might be pregnant. Her pale pretty face was filled with fear. Speaking softly she said “My Mom will kill me if I’m pregnant.” “Oh I am sure she loves you and will support you.” he said. “Yeah I guess.” The girl winced when the needle slid into her vein. “You know” Parker whispered “you could have just peed on a stick” “I know but I already took three and they were positive this is like my no turning back result ya know?” Her eyes met his and Parker could tell she found him attractive. He almost wondered if that was why she was putting herself through this. He remembered seeing this girl at the market while he was putting up the flyer advertising their service. “If you are pregnant will you keep the baby” he asked? “I don’t know” she half whined. “Well if you decide to go through with the pregnancy would you consider donating the cord blood?” “I like have no idea what that is” the girl said. Parker removed the needle and placed a cotton ball over the tiny hole. “Put pressure right here” he instructed placing her finger on top of the spot. He reached behind him and handed her some pamphlets. “Cord Blood can be used to treat many diseases like leukemia. It is really amazing stuff.” “We extract it from the umbilical cord after it is cut from the baby.” “Ewww” she replied “that is gross.” “Well gross but really it is kind of a magical liquid. Would you consider donating it to us?” Parker asked giving her his best smile. “Yeah sure” she agreed. “Great” he smiled brighter “could you just sign this little form and then once you know for sure that you are pregnant we will submit it to the hospital and they will call us to collect it after you deliver.” “Okay” she said a little nervous “you won’t actually need to be in the room when I deliver though right cause I would not want you to see me all exposed and gross.” Parker chuckled “of course not and I can’t imagine you could ever look gross.” He laid it on thick knowing how great it would be to get that blood. She blushed and before she left she turned back to him and said “there is pretty much no chance that I am not pregnant right.” “I would say it’s doubtful” he sighed “but I am sure you will be fine.” He gave her a wink and she stepped from the van.
The rest of the night was filled with patients for blood testing and about five donations. Everyone complemented them on their skills. They were known for being very gentle. They took all of the compliments gracefully, smiling and happy in their work.
Before they knew it was time to close up shop. Stella removed her lab coat and plopped into one of the chairs. “Wow that was quite a showing.” “We did real well” Parker said sounding tired. They sat in silence for a few minutes and then Stella got up to clean her work area. As she reached under her chair to grab a wayward cotton ball a loud bang shook the van. “What was that” Parker whispered? “I don’t know but I am going to find out.”
Stella swung open the door and looked out into the dark deserted parking lot. All of the retail stores were closed at this hour so except for their van there were very few other cars. Stepping into the night Stella called out hello before walking towards the back of the van which is where she thought the sound had come from. A dark shape leaned against the back bumper. She noticed the shoes first as her eyes followed up the length of the stranger. “Did you just bang my van?” She asked. “I knocked” the stranger replied. “You did more than knock” Stella answered angrily. “How can I help you?” “I need some blood tested” he said “that is what you do isn’t it?” “Yes but we are done for the night.”Stella said not hiding her irritation. “It’s very important” he replied “could you make an exception?” He stepped closer and the lights of parking lot made the scars on his face appear even more ominous. He stood at a tall six two or three. He was thin under his long jacket. His gaunt completion gave the impression that he was very sick. “What’s the big rush we will be here again tomorrow night” she asked. “I need the results right away it’s a matter of life and death” He said this with an attempt at getting her pity but it came across as over dramatic. She stood staring at him for a few seconds and decided to just draw the blood in an effort to get rid of him.
Walking through the door she turned to look at the stranger more closely. In this light he didn’t look sick just thin. His skin was very pale and but his eyes were bright and focused. “Sit here” she said pointing to a chair. “I will be right back”. “Parker” she called into the back “can you come out here?” When he didn’t respond she walked toward the back and moved the curtain exposing the back room to her but blocking it from their unexpected visitor. Parker stood in front of the refrigerator his back to her. He turned slowly toward her voice. She nearly screamed when she saw him. His mouth was dripping with blood and in his hand he held a vial of the blood freshly drawn this evening. He smiled at her and blood spilled down his chin exposing his red stained teeth. Stella inhaled deeply not taking her eyes off of him. “For hells sake Parker what are you doing?” She whispered. Turning she looked toward the man sitting in the chair. He didn’t appear to be alarmed but he was looking at her with interest. “Excuse me” she said and slipped behind the curtain. Parker looked abashed “Sorry he said I couldn’t wait. This one smelled so good.” He raised the vial to his mouth and drank again. Stella looked at him in disgust. “Listen that bang was some seriously creepy guy something is definitely off with him but he wants some blood tests so wipe your damn face and come out there so we can get rid of this weirdo.” She turned as if to leave but changed her mind “give me a vial of Robin. She is diabetic and I need the sugar. This guy really gave me the willies” she said shaking herself. Parker handed her the blood filled vial and she drank hungrily. The sugar in the blood surged through her veins and the fangs that she so rarely used anymore came out from sheer ecstasy. Sated for now she looked at Parker and said “do you think you can handle taking his blood?” Parker’s face now wiped clean gleamed with life and energy. “Yeah I got this” he said. Stella swallowed the rest of the hot sticky liquid licking her lips. Yummy, she thought, sorry Robin but you are diabetic and you are delicious.
Parker exited the curtain and walked into the blade of a knife which entered his stomach with a sickening sucking sound. “Shit” he said “what the hell did you go and do that for?” “I only want her” the stranger replied. Parker began to laugh as he pushed the man’s arm and pulled the knife from his stomach. The look on the man’s face changed when he realized his mistake. Stella emerged from the back looked from Parker to the man and quickly ran around the scene so that she blocked the man’s exit. “You want her? Good luck she is all yours” Parker said looking down at his quickly closing wound. The stranger stood completely still. “You realize we are going to have to kill you right?” Stella asked from behind him.
The cellar in which he lay dying was cold and dark and reeked of mold and oddly of wine. Not exactly what you would expect a basement to smell like. As the last bit of life drained from him he thought he could almost feel his soul detaching itself. He could not move or cry out and really what good would it do? They stood over him watching the effects of what they had done. He could not see them only their shoes. This is how my victims must have felt he thought as he heard a faint click as his soul pulled free and he fell into the dark odorlessness of nothing.