A Writer's Evening Out

On a cold, drizzly afternoon in the middle of flu season, I found myself at Club ER with Live-In Handyman, who had been less than careful with some of his motions and now couldn't move his neck or shoulders.

Club ER turned out to be the most popular spot in town with only a few empty seats remaining. It was so much fun that we stayed for several hours - way longer than we do at most places. To occupy myself, I read from my Kindle and people watched.

Several people caught my attention but one of the most interesting ones was a 30-something male. I was busy making him into a character, possibly a future hero, until he opened his mouth.

I expected intelligence, passion, and a wry sense of humor. What I got was whiny, arrogant, and refusal to accept that any of his problems may have been his own fault. In my head, I scratched him off the hero list. After trying to figure out unsuccessfully what clues I missed, I spent a lot of time on my Kindle.

Several hours later, about midnight, they finally released Live-In Handyman. I left him in the waiting room to get the car. I’d parked in the first space on the second row, straight out from the side of the entrance, no more than 100 feet away and directly under a light. Note: I’m very bad at judging this kind of distance. It may have been much closer, but I’m certain it wasn't farther.

I walked out the door into freezing temps, an icy wind, and total darkness. All the parking lot lights were off. No moon. No stars. No lights anywhere except from the recessed emergency room doors behind me that faced in a different direction from where I was headed.

Coming from the bright fluorescents, my eyes hadn't adjusted to the darkness. I could barely make out rows of cars, but there was nothing distinguishing about any of them. There was no moon. No stars. It was pitch black.

Then I did the classic Too Stupid To Live thing. Yes, I did. I plunged into the darkness. A woman. Alone.

One thought overrode everything else as I walked, and that was to get inside my car before some maniac grabbed me.

Starting with the first step, I wobbled down a long ramp I didn't remember walking up when we arrived. At the end of the ramp, I stepped onto gravel instead of the sidewalk. I took a couple of steps and stopped to think how long this was, thinking it marked the first row of parking so it must be about 15-20 feet long.

For some reason, I looked down. A fire hydrant I hadn't seen in the darkness stood an inch or two from my leg. I freaked a little bit about that. Had I really seen it in the darkness and not realized it? I could've really injured myself. And who would've found me? Even though I was only feet from the ER entrance.

So I felt my way around the hydrant and took a few more steps feeling for the curb. I found the curb and stepped off. I couldn't see the asphalt below, and the curb was higher than I anticipated by an inch or two. I staggered to keep my balance. I have renewed respect for those with little or no vision.

I crossed the traffic lane directly to the car in front of me, knowing it was mine. It was, and it was parked next to another curb-bound gravel area. I tottered around over uneven ground until I stumped the toe of my shoe against the curb. But I’d reached my car.

If anyone had been watching, I’m sure they would've believed I was VERY drunk . . . and I was going to drive. There’s an upside: I could've found out what it’s like being arrested. I think only a crime writer would call that a perk.

I touched the panel on my doorframe, and the lights came on when the door unlocked. Only then did I think I could've pulled out my keys and pressed until I found the unlock button and at least a little bit of the area would’ve been lit.

Then I had a second thought. Why didn't I also pull out the little flashlight I carry for just such emergencies? Or use the flashlight app on the phone in my pocket?

Maybe it was due to not having any food or water for more than ten hours or the stress over an injured spouse. But I was a blonde baby and little girl, and pulling dumb stunts like this from time to time is just how I roll. Life’s an adventure!

In the car, I locked the door, started the engine, turned up the heat, and drove the hundred feet back to the entrance. Live-In Handyman shuffled over to the door holding all his achy parts and got in. Through his chattering teeth, he said, “Why didn't you warm up the car?”

Fortunately, I’m a forgiving woman, and the sweet loving man is still alive.

Bless his heart


He had no idea what you just went through trying to find the car.
Glad he's all right now.
L. Diane Wolfe said…
My husband would kill me for walking out into the dark alone like that.
Arlee Bird said…
That was a vivid telling of a story that I can relate to. The ER is one of my least pleasant places to go as either patient or one patiently waiting. I've been in the ER a few times over the past year, fortunately not for me, but anyway you go is no fun. You do see some characters there and they are usually people I hope I don't have to see again.

Arlee Bird
A to Z Challenge Co-host
Tossing It Out
Anonymous said…
You are a very good wife. I would have smacked him, turfed him out of the car and driven off lol.
What a colorful way to tell this story. Very descriptive. I hate fumbling around in the dark, hands swinging around, feet barely inching forward so I don't kick anything. Drunk would definitely describe the appearance of that.

Glad to hear Mr. Live-In Handyman is doing better now.
Jan Christensen said…
Who knew going to the ER was so dangerous for the people who are just accompanying those who need to be there? I'm very glad you were not mugged, didn't fall over the fire hydrant, or kick The Handyman to the curb when he got into the car. Glad you got out of there safely and the HM is feeling better.
Rula Sinara said…
And you write crime fiction! Geez, girl. But this is proof you're an awesome writer...this post alone had me on the edge of my seat AND laughing ;). Glad you're both okay!
I love the way you spin a yarn (is that the right phrase?). I especially enjoyed the beginning.

And yes, it's good your are forgiving.
Anonymous said…
You did an amazing job of turning something scary into something very funny. I'm glad everything turned out well, and I hope the Live-In Handyman recovers quickly!
Stephen Tremp said…
I've been to the ER to visit people and there are some scary sights there. I put a ER scene in my first book with the MC watching doctors and nurses frantically trying to save people. Not a place I could work but I tip my hat to those fine doctors and nurses who do.
Club ER is a very scary place. Last time we went we queue jumped. Straight to the top of the queue. Which was scary in itself. And the eye daggers from those who had been more or less patiently waiting for eternity were sharp.
Glad that you both survived and impressed that home handyman didn't require a further visit after that comment.
I sure enjoyed reading about your experience at Club ER LOL. Probably a lot more than either of you enjoyed going through it.
Carol Kilgore said…
Alex - True. But he also knew there was no way the car would heat up from the parking lot to the ER door, even if I'd been parked at the farthest spot. Or he would have if he hadn't been through hours of trauma and pain.

Diane - When I brought this up later, he said, "What happened to that flashlight I gave you?"

Arlee - LOTS of characters!

Delores - I was so shocked he said it, I wrote it off to the trauma.

Beer - It's been a long go.
Clarissa Draper said…
Scary! You would make a great thriller writers :)
Loved this post because I've had that experience many times. Hope spouse is doing well. Bless you for hanging in. Hugs!
Jemi Fraser said…
Yikes! Glad you're both okay. I can totally see me forgetting about all the lighting options :)
Lynda R Young said…
My goodness! Glad both you and your 'Live-In Handyman' are still alive ;)
Jo-Anne Meadows said…
Tim wouldn't let me stumble around in the dark he can be very protective at times
Janie Junebug said…
Perhaps you can call the hospital to tell them they need to keep lights on at night. You were in a dangerous situation, and I'm glad you're okay.

Carol Kilgore said…
Jan - He's lucky, too, LOL! If he hadn't been so bad off...but then he never would've said it.

Rula - Glad it was entertaining.

Holly - Thanks. I do have my limits :)

Stephen - Wouldn't be my first choice of job either.

Karen - VERY true!
Carol Kilgore said…
I must have scrolled twice - or Blogger is playing tricks. I seem to have skipped two of you.

Lori - Thank you!

EC - I know you've spent lots of time at Club ER. Live-In Handyman is a very lucky man, LOL!
Carol Kilgore said…
Clarissa - LOL! I try :)

B.Whittington - I'm sorry you've had to go through this. You're very sweet :)

Jemi - I do dumb stuff from time to time. This was one of the dumbest things I've done in a long time. But probably not THE dumbest :)

Lynda - Me, too!!!!!

Jo-Anne - To be fair, he had no idea what was going on with me. He was safe and warm inside the ER until I drove up.

Janie - That's a very good idea. It may be too late, as this occurred several weeks ago.
Ava Quinn said…
Glad it turned out all right for you and that the Handy-man is on the mend.

"There’s an upside: I could've found out what it’s like being arrested. I think only a crime writer would call that a perk."-LOL!! Loved this part especially. :)
Leandra Wallace said…
Don't you hate when the hero turns out to be the bad guy?! Glad this story didn't end w/you in the 'club' as well.
Helena said…
I know just what it's like to get into an OMG-what-am-I-doing situation like this,especially if I'm lightheaded or exhausted, but you write about it better than I would. It's a good thing you survived unscathed and that you didn't smack Handyman. And you have a solid scene you can add to a novel!
I'm so glad you and Handyman both survived his trip to the ER! I agree with Janie that you should talk to the hospital about the non-existent lighting. Though it's funny now, you had to be a nervous wreck at the time. Great story Carol, and Handyman's last line was priceless!

Anonymous said…
What a scary ordeal. I can't stand parking at huge places, but at least the ones I've been to have been lit very well. I should carry a flash light.
TBM said…
You have the patience of a saint. If my better half said that after my ordeal (and fearing for my life) I would have been a wee bit snippy. Glad both of you are fine. Makes for a great story, though.
Carol Kilgore said…
Ava - You know how we writers are :)

Leandra - Exactly! On both counts.

Helena - Lots happened that night that will probably show up in bits and pieces going forward. He is lucky I didn't smack him on his hurt neck LOL.

Julie - I've told him the next time he thinks he's Superman to remember how much he hated the enforced downtime afterward.

Medeia - I don't normally mind open parking, but I hate parking garages.

TBM - LOL, not really. I just gave him lots of slack because of the situation. It was not his standard comment, unless he'd been teasing, which he wasn't.
Loni Townsend said…
Heh, Club ER sounds like a hoppin' hot spot. Glad you survived your encounter with the shady place (and that your Live-In Handyman was released).

Hope everyone is less sore and moving now!
dolorah said…
We all give such good advice when watching this stuff on TV.
L.G. Smith said…
I'd say he's VERY fortunate you're a forgiving woman. And I do hope he's feeling better. That's not a fun night out not he town at all.
Scary experience... at least you're both okay.
You have oodles of patience. That's good. I can identify.
If the tables were turned, what would Live-In Handyman's response have been? *chuckles*
yikes, so glad it worked out! I've done the Too Stupid to Live things a few times...including taking NYC subways at 2am by myself (ugh) and walking alone...never again! blessed nothing bad happened!
Chrys Fey said…
Everyone is always at Club ER when you have to go.

This read like a real story adventure. I'm glad you found your car! You know what this makes me think of? Those little key chain flashlights. Now I feel like getting one...just in case. ;)
Crystal Collier said…
Ah, the moments that prove we're only human... I'm glad you weren't injured and that your hubbs is still alive. I mean, how awkward would that be--putting out an APB on a blogging buddy?
VR Barkowski said…
Well told, Carol. So glad the tale has a happy ending. At the risk of sounding sexist, Handyman is male, and the kindest, sweetest, most thoughtful, unselfish man in the world, when sick or injured, becomes a tiny bit self-absorbed. On another day, he likely would have scolded you for rash behavior. But then I think you already know that. :)

VR Barkowski
Carol Kilgore said…
Loni - Yes, things are looking up!

Dolorah - So true.

L.G. - I keep telling him he's a lucky man, LOL :)

Michelle - LOL! He's very logical. He would've said it hasn't had time to heat yet.

Beth Ellyn - Subways at 2 a.m. are scary even with a group of people. Why do we do things like that?!

Chrys - Good idea! Just don't forget to use it when needed :)

Crystal - Yes, awkward :)

VR - So very true. I think there must be scientific fact to back that up. If so, then it's not sexist, right? But he doesn't tolerate a cold well, so you can imagine. However, he's also had two major surgeries with barely a whimper on either, so I guess it all depends.
Christine Rains said…
Glad your husband is all right. But boy, what a nighttime adventure you had! I'm happy you're okay too.
Glad to see you made it safely and the Handyman is well...even if a bit cold!
Glad to see you made it safely and the Handyman is well...even if a bit cold!
Lexa Cain said…
My hubby bought me a little flashlight to carry in my purse too. I've used it a few times because Egyptian streets are sometimes unlit, full of potholes, and with no sidewalks. Ack! I'm surprised to hear the parking lot of an ER was unlit. Maybe they want return business? Glad you're OK and hope your hubby recovers soon. :)
The hospital must be in dire need of cash; that's the only reason I can think of for the parking lot being unlit. Trying to drum up more business. (They'll be lucky if no one gets hurt and files a lawsuit.)

Well-told. I halfway expected you to have done something I likely would have done. After struggling in the dark to find the car, I'd discover I'd exited through the wrong door, and was looking for my car in the wrong place. (I'm STILL blonde...)

I'm glad your hubby is okay. All's well that ends well. He made it out of the hospital okay, and you didn't clobber him and send him back into the hospital when he made that lame comment about the heat. (Bless his heart.)
LD Masterson said…
Hope LIH is doing better.

I've got to admit, I'd have wandered out there on my own. Blind faith, I guess. But I would have immediately dragged out my phone and used the light. Conditioned response from being a disaster response volunteer.
Carol Kilgore said…
Christine - Adventures R Us :)

Elizabeth - Thanks! Me, too.

Lexa - I hope we don't have a repeat performance anytime soon.

Susan - LOL...I can see myself doing that, too.

LD - It was blind faith, I think, more than anything else. Should something similar happen again, after pulling this stunt, I think I'll remember to use a light. I hope.
cleemckenzie said…
Whoa! That was chilling. And you are a forgiving woman!
Linda G. said…
Whoa. Scary!

And I'm from the south, so I know what "Bless his heart" really means. ;)
Carol Kilgore said…
Lee - Sometimes, LOL :)

Linda G - Means the same in Texas :)
Nick Wilford said…
That was an interesting end to a rough day. I have enough trouble finding my car in broad daylight, so I have a lot of respect for you (and I hope the handyman does too!)
Carol Kilgore said…
Nick - Some days you just do what you have to do. I'm happy everything turned out OK.
Nas said…
Oh, oh! Fun to read, glad you both are okay though!
Carol Kilgore said…
Nas - Thanks! Me, too :)
How scary!! Glad you're okay.