David Means

In David Means’ episodic short story, “Two Nurses Smoking” he adds a bit of glue with subtitles that flow right into the fragment. The big carrier bag is a hospital and he’s woven in causation, so that one fragment often leads to the next.

Here’s an excerpt:

A male patient

Would come into the trailer, bitching and moaning, and use the occasion to touch her knee. A woman would come in, gaunt and frail, barely able to walk, resisting all help, clambering onto the platform, brushing away her offered hand.

All pain

Seemed to be equalized as she worked the machine, pressing the device, hitting the stone hard with ultrasonic energy, until personality and difference seemed to her to be fused into a single point.

The scar

That ran down his neck—just missing his carotid artery, she noticed—and disappeared beneath his scrubs gave, when she asked him about it, an excuse to talk about the war, the time an I.E.D. hit his Hummer, blowing a tire off the vehicle, sending shrapnel through the undercarriage and into his buddy’s arm. Bleeding bad, his friend screamed that he was dying, that his arm was shredded meat. But the dude’s arm was perfectly fine in the end and it was only the fog-of-war shit. I guess I’m gonna live, his buddy said when he finally realized that his arm was still there, I guess I’m O.K., Chief.