Later, same Monday, May 31 -
I unlocked the door and the three of us, still knocking and calling entered the apartment and into the bedroom, following, I have to say, our noses. We stopped calling when we saw her in the bed. She was doubled over as if she’d been retching. Closer examination showed that she had. Right near her face almost as if she was drowning in it a little pool of brown vomit rested. Some of it had soaked into the sheets, but most had not. The whole thing was gross and sad and disgustingly human.
We stood around wringing our hands. I’d actually never done that before, but it almost seemed instinctive before we all jumped into 911 mode and called from the bedroom. Mrs. Moth made the call, holding the receiver with both hands and turning her back on the bed, as if not wanting Veronica to hear her. Phoebe fastened herself to Veronica and kept her hands chaffed. Was she dead? She was not.
“Get me a damp cloth,” said Phoebe. “We can’t let her choke.” I managed to comply. “Then do something with the bathroom,” she snapped as if I’d messed the room myself.
When I finished, I joined Mrs. Moth in the kitchen. She was busy pulling lime wedges from the sink basket, holding a high ball glass in her hand.
“Was anyone here last night?” she asked.
“Not after we left,” I said. “At least, I didn’t hear anyone, but when I finally came in I went right to bed.”
The sink was littered with slices of lime. Mrs. Moth threw them into a kitchen waste bin. A fishy smell arose. Probably unwashed tuna cans.
On the counter I spied an open canister of tea and a tin box of brownies, still open. This explained the look of her vomit. These Mrs. Moth was brushing up and putting away. It is at these times that you take a mental inventory of your underwear. Is it good enough for the ambulance? Will you be embarrassed when you wake up in a hospital bed?
“Phew” she said, lifting out the trash bag. Veronica used paper grocery bags to line her trash basket and this one was soggy. “I don’t suppose you’d bring this down stairs for me,” she said.
I opened the back door leaving it propped open so it wouldn’t lock behind me, ran down stairs to the dumpster. By the time I returned the EMTs had arrived. The guys bustled around Veronica, working her over, trying, with more good will than delicacy, to slap some life into her, or so it seemed to me I think it was just the rush that made them seem so rough.
They strapped her on the gurney and carried her down the stairs. Mrs. Moth, Phoebe and I followed behind in my car.