J. Bradley: Remembering the USS Flagg

The sailor’s shell-shocked. I tell Jim to triage him where we’ve got all the other survivors waiting for medical attention.

What’s triage, he asks. Jim picks his nose and then eats his discovery.

Something I heard on that hospital show mom likes to watch. Just get him over there.

Jim picks up the sailor like he’s god. I grab Jim’s wrist. Not like that. Jim lets go as I steady the sailor. I take a packet of ketchup I stole from the sauce drawer out of my pocket, tear away one of the corners with my teeth, and pour it on the sailor. I take my index finger and smear the ketchup on the sailor’s face, chest, the parts of his arms not covered by his uniform skin. I show Jim how the wounded should move for a step or two before letting him take over.

I watch the sailor stagger for a few steps under Jim’s supervision before getting up and heading over to my closet.

What are you doing, Jim asks.

Add some moans. Jim moans in the sailor’s voice: help, my god, mom, help, uhhhhh, why.

I grab the yellow stethoscope from the closet floor and talk into it to make sure it’s still working. I look for my bathrobe I use like a lab coat but it’s not there; it must still be soaked in blood from the last time I had to tend the wounded.

J. Bradley is the author of the flash fiction collection Neil & Other Stories (Whiskey Tit Books, 2018). He lives at jbradleywrites.com.

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