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The Nature of Responsibility


Angry Johnny
Jun 7, 2006
New Frontier Wrestling
So I'm sitting in the waiting room of the Jacobi Medical Center for the third time since 2009 started. I've got a cup of stale coffee in my hand and a surprisingly fresh bagel. Plain.

The bagels aren't for the visitors, but the nurse at the front desk likes me, so she hooks me up.

"You're such a good boy, RK," she says, "you're always waiting for Rosie. She's a sweet girl, I'm glad she has you."

I'm glad I have her too, I tell her, and then the unspoken followup is that I really wish I didn't have to see you guys so much. But it helps, in whatever way it does, that I'm here so much. The nursing staff keeps me updated on her movements, her test results, even when she's sleeping. This stuff is important to me.

"Hiya handsome, feel like buying a girl a drink?"

I turned around when I heard Rose's voice. She stood at the door with her coat in her hand and a small bag that I knew contained a new inhaler and some medication. A band-aid was on her hand from the IV, and despite our surroundings and what just happened, she had a smile on her face.

"Now Rose," said Marjorie at the desk, "you know you shouldn't drink on that medicine."

It's just an expression, I assured her, knowing that it wasn't, and yes, my dear, I would love to buy you a drink. Ginger ale it is.

I hugged her and kissed her on the cheek and took her hand. She now had three hospital bracelets hanging from her wrist. When are you gonna get rid of those, I asked her.

"I thought I'd hold onto 'em," she said, "see if I can get a whole family up and down both arms by the end of the year like the girls at the clubs with those thin black bracelets."

I laughed, because it was funny, but I also held onto her tightly as we stepped into the crisp NYC air. It was warmer today than it had been in the past few weeks, which should help her breathe. It also means we don't need to search for a taxi; we can walk until it's convenient.

Listen, Rose, I think you should stay home from this show, I said, knowing what the reaction would be.

"Absolutely not," she replied. "I got the days off, which was a minor miracle in and of itself, and I'm not about to spend 'em sitting at home breathing through a tube."

Isn't that better than being in a strange city breathing through a tube?



"You're not going to be here."

Well, that shut me up. All in all, I don't blame Rosie for not taking this as seriously as she should be. After all, she's been in and out of hospitals since she was four years old with one breathing problem or another. She can spend an hour in the bathroom vomiting up blood mixed with bile and not flinch. She's more hardcore than anyone I've ever wrestled.

But even with all that, I also know what her determination to live her life is all about: she's twenty one years old and could probably die at any minute. Her mom can't afford a lung transplant, she's a bartender, and even though we could probably hit the bosses up, it wouldn't be right.

And I'm not exactly raking in the money just yet, either.

It's not fair for a twenty one year old girl who should, by all rights, be at the very beginning of living her life, to have to deal with being in and out of the hospital because she can't get enough air in her lungs. It's not fair that she couldn't afford college and the only desk job she was ever able to get (with medical benefits, that is) turned her so far off from ever trying to get another that the only thing she can do is bartend. Of course, she does that really well and works for some of the best people in the city, but it doesn't make up for the rest of it.

"Right now, I just want to go to the bar," she said, "I want a greasy sandwich and a pint in a familiar place."

She's twenty one years old, with severe smoke damage to both her lungs. She's been living with this condition since she was four years old. Her father died of the same condition after five years; she's been considered on borrowed time since she was nine.

If Rosie wants a beer and a sandwich, she's going to get a beer and a sandwich. I wouldn't dare refuse her anything.

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