Episode 12 — Chapters 13 & 14
Great glass monuments rise to the sky, eclipsing the sun and clouds. On the streets, there are vast hordes of horseless carriages passing by at reckless speeds, in exotic shapes and sizes.
I stagger back, marveling at the vision. People walk by, their demeanor, their dress, their pace—all so bewildering. The signs, the billboards, the architecture—it is strangely simple, yet utterly fantastic, like nothing I have ever known before.
Is it possible that all my dreams are this real, until I gain consciousness and they dim and fade away? Do I ponder this marvelous thought each night as I’m transported to another sphere… until it all fades away. I must memorize every detail, each sight, every sound, every smell.
Seizing control, I venture forth in the surreal world. I study the masses before me. Mingling with men in vaguely familiar business suits, I am astonished at the sight of women parading in shockingly immodest dress and youths adorned in repugnant and dissonant apparel, with painted arms and faces. They brush by. I can smell their scent. The vision is frightening, wonderful, scandalous and exhilarating.
I hear a loud screeching sound above and observe pedestrians gazing toward the heavens. I look up too, and behold a mammoth, metallic machine thundering across the sky. As the massive object disappears behind the clutter of enormous glass structures, I think to himself: How is it possible that something as large as an ocean liner can pass overhead?
The admission clerk looked quizzically at Nurse Menendez. “Tyrus Cobb? Are you sure? That’s a pretty famous name here in Georgia.” Georgia was pronounced Jaw-Juh. “Surely you’ve heard of Ty Cobb?”
Nurse Menedez shrugged her shoulders. “I’ve never heard of him.”
“He used to play baseball for the Dee-troit Tigers. Like a hundred years ago. They called him the Georgia Peach. Born and raised in Georgia. Greatest player ever.”
“I don’t really follow sports.”
“Do you have an address for him?” the clerk asked.
“Not yet. He’s still weak…”
“Well, we ain’t far from Cobb County. I guess there’s bound to be some people with the name Cobb who named their son after the baseball great, but I wouldn’t think there are too many parents who would want to saddle their son with that name. Although he was a great player, he was a miserable man, a racist, a real psycho. I heard he even killed a man over some silly slight. Still, a lot of people in this state revere him. Let’s just see if we can find us a ‘Ty-rus Cobb’ online.”
The admissions clerk pounded on the keyboard for a couple of minutes. “There’s actually quite a few Ty-rus Cobbs in this state—twelve listed here. A middle name or initial might help narrow the search. Most are in there 50’s or 60’s, or older. Youngest is in his 40’s, if that matters.”
“The patient looks younger than that—he’s certainly under forty, probably under thirty. Anyone in their twenties or thirties?”
“Well, I guess it’s possible he could be older. Hard to tell for sure.”
“Let’s try Ty Cobb and see if that changes things.” The clerk returned to the search screen and typed in the in the first and last name. “Let’s see, here’s one in his early forties. Ah, this one here’s 29. Maybe that’s him. It would be helpful to know his age. A middle name would also help.”
“He’s been asleep most of the day. I’ll keep an eye on him and ask him when he wakes up.”
Nurse Menendez returned to admissions a couple of hours later.
“He’s twenty-four. Raymond’s his middle name.”
“Unbelievable! That’s the exact same middle name of the baseball great I was telling you about. Ty-rus Ray-mond Cobb.” The clerk pounded on the keyboard. “Well, lookie here. I’ve got five or six Ty Cobbs with a middle initial of ‘R’. There’s even a Tyrus Raymond Cobb, believe it or not. But he’s more than twice as old as your patient. Not a one of ‘em shows up as 24 years of age, or anything close to that. We best get a phone number or address.”
Dr. Hale parked his car in Physician Parking and walked toward the entrance of Layton Regional. He had first been contacted the day after John Doe’s admission at Layton Regional, but a phone call earlier today had informed him that the patient’s condition had changed from critical to fair; and the patient was no longer referred to as John Doe.
Although Dr. Hale had surgical privileges at Layton Regional, he had his own practice several miles away in Atlanta’s business district. A graduate of John Hopkins Medical School in Baltimore, Dr. Hale had then worked for ten years on the John Hopkins’ facial reconstruction team, before moving to Atlanta. In his mid-forties, his entire life was devoted to his work, except when the Atlanta Falcons played football. However, after the team’s star quarterback suffered a season-ending injury in the third game, it had become a lost year for the Falcons and Dr. Hale’s interest in the team had been put on hold until the following season. His hair ranged from short to long, depending on whether he was able to keep his regular hair appointment. His facial hair, or lack thereof, operated on a similar haphazard schedule. The version of Dr. Hale that entered the patient’s room was derelict in both respects.
Dr. Hale glanced at the bandages covering the patient’s face, except for his eyes and mouth. The patient’s eyes were closed and he was breathing without assistance. Dr. Hale picked up the electronic clipboard, and after reviewing the x-rays and medical records, noticed that the patient’s eyes had opened.
“Good afternoon, Mr. Cobb. I’m Dr. Hale. How are you doing today?”
The patient’s eyes turned toward the doctor.
“I’m here to take a look at your face. I specialize in facial reconstruction. I need to slowly unwrap your bandages so I can observe the severity of your injuries and make my initial assessment. May I do that?”
A muffled sound came from the patient’s throat, which Dr. Hale took as an affirmative response.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean for you to speak. Try to relax. We’ll communicate later. For now, I just want to examine you. You’ve been given pain medication, but this may hurt a bit. If the pain is too much, blink your eyes rapidly and I’ll stop. I’ll try to be as gentle as I can.”
Dr. Hale lifted the metal clasp and carefully began unraveling the bandages, watching the patient’s eyes. He had already noted, from an x-ray, that there was a fracture of the frontal lobe along with multiple fractures to the right cheek bone. The jaw was also broken and the nose had been smashed. He noted the excessive swelling and bruising. It would be important to begin reconstruction as soon as possible, in order to achieve the best result.
“Okay. We’ve got some work to do. I need to get some photographs of your face before the accident. My job is to place the broken bones correctly in your face with the help of implants, in order to restore your face to its original condition. Now, I’m going to let you rest for a while. I will consult with Dr. Nazari, to see how soon we can get started.”
Dr. Hale entered De. Nazari’s office.
“Have you been able to contact Mr. Cobb’s family?” Dr. Hale asked.
“No luck yet. I spent some time with patient earlier. He is now able to write on pad with right hand. Unfortunately, he only remembers five digits from phone number. We also have address in Augusta—place called The Oaks. We found the place and sent volunteer to see if anyone knew him. Funny thing, was a Ty Cobb who used to live there with his wife, but that was more than hundred years ago.”
“That’s an amazing coincidence!” Dr. Hale responded. “I guess I’ll have to bring in an artist and see if we can sketch his likeness. Any reason we shouldn’t get started right away?”
“None at all.”