Jose Alvarez

A Quarantine Story


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“You scum fuck loser, how fucking dare you.”

The air filled his lungs as if he were swallowing cement. Gravity itself came down on the room as if to keep the duo from ejecting into the stratosphere filled with rage. Someone's life is at risk and they’re at odds.

“She’s literally begging to go to the hospital, look at her.”

Raquel sits on the couch but you could hardly call it that. Her legs are trembling, failing to steady her heart, her chest beating outside of itself. She could barely get the words out. Her broken english, failing her. “Please… 911… Water…” and James has the audacity to defend himself. He’s checking her blood pressure, Jose isn’t sure his father knows what he’s doing. After all, he refuses to believe in mental illness in his family, and even self medicates them all with whatever leftover medication he’s had from his long medical history. To his son, he just looked desperate to be a pillar for his family, he looked as sad as he was.

“It’s just a panic attack, this has literally happened to me, last time I could barely feel my legs!” The sentence came with a smile.

He’s so hesitant to believe she’s in danger. There’s a multitude of reasons not to go to hospital in April of 2020, but right now this was about a father and son, negotiating how to save her life. Like filth, the idiots.

When she ran to her son, after alerting her husband and he failed to react, she told them she’d taken a new medication earlier in the day, for her Rheumatoid Arthritis, and she had recently taken half of a 25mg edible thc sour patch gummy. None of them were educated about the relationship between thc and a prescription medication for RA, but one of them sure did act like it. The two men think it’s a panic attack, but Raquel desperately needs the help and comfort that comes with a hospital staff.

But there’s no insurance, there’s a chance she could get sick, the drugs were illegal, her son swore they’d be safe, he blames his son, she blames herself, and Jose just wants what she thinks is best for her.

“So you take her, if you care so much, why don’t you take her?” The father thinks he’ll win with this argument. A Master in manipulation might’ve made peace with this plea, but Jose was still making mountains out of molehills. He’s caught off guard by this, not surprised but saddened. His rage settles as a deep and hollow feeling starts crawling in.  “She’s suffering, Dad, just do what she says.” But James persists, “If you’re putting as much thought into this as I am, please, take her.” But what else could matter more than her opinion?  Was it really financial? Was it really legal? How dangerous is a hospital that you’d risk losing your wife at home rather than in the hands of a professional? A beat.  His father responds, “See? You don’t really care.”

“You scum fuck loser, how fucking dare you.”

Jose wishes he had the courage to say it. He wishes he had every answer to finally put the old man in his place. But who was he? A Stranger in his own home with nothing else to fall back on. Who could he even talk to that would actually listen and share sympathy. The world would just tell him it’s his fault he’s even in this scenario. He thought he could help her, hell, he even thought he could go home and his life would be magically better. It’s not, but is a different set of problems than the one he was used to. Maybe he could figure these out a little better after having been away for a while. Or maybe his mother would be having a panic attack and he’d become the household enemy. He doesn’t know why he didn’t take her immediately. He thinks it’s because he wishes his father would do the right thing and set the example for what a man should do. That maybe if Jose saw it once he would finally do it himself. Maybe he just wasn’t brave enough. So instead he starts to say, “She’s literally begging to go to the hospital, look at her-”

Whatever Jose said after didn’t matter, His father stopped listening, he decided to take some twisted high road. High enough to hang guilt on a rope and wave it like a flag signaling shame. A shame his son isn’t who he wanted him to be and the shame he hoped Jose felt for being the black sheep.

She’s now in the hospital, she had to go in alone, she’s going to be fine - we think. She’d come home tonight, but she’ll be safe in two weeks.

© The Acentos Review 2020