There is a TV at the foot of the bed, a black and white western playing at full volume: Jimmy Stewart, galloping across a desert plain towards some mountains, one hand on the reins, one hand holding his Winchester out to the side as a counterbalance.
I’ve driven out here with the same amount of haste. Connie, the nurse, had called to say she needed help with a difficult catheterisation. I’m new to the job and need the practice, although in this case, because it’s complicated, I’m only here to help manipulate the patient.
‘Would you mind if we turned the TV down, Jay?’
‘No. That’s fine.’
Jimmy hauls the horse up in a cloud of dust, throws his leg over and takes cover behind some rocks. Just as well. The baddie hiding in the boulders higher up stands up and takes a shot; Pee-oww! Jimmy ducks down, levers a shell into the chamber, adjusts his hat.
Jay is a bariatric patient who can only be lifted with a gantry hoist. Her legs are extraordinary, as massively sculpted as any of the sandstone formations in the film. Connie stands there with the catheter in her hand, considering her options. I stand ready on the opposite side of the bed, awaiting instructions.
Jimmy picks up a pebble, tosses it out to the side. The baddie shoots: Pee-oww! I half expect to see rock chips cahooning off Jay’s knee. He draws a bead on the baddie and fires back. It’s like he’s sheltering between Jay’s legs and the baddie’s somewhere up in the pillows.
‘If you could just hold her labia open… a little more… hmm.’
Visualising the urethral opening is easy enough on a diagram or an average patient, but Jay is neither, every aspect of her anatomy transformed by her condition.
‘Okay… relax. We’ll have a re-think.’
Jimmy stands up. Waves to the baddie, who cautiously emerges from behind the pillows.
‘Jes’ a minute, there! Now – hol’ on’ says Jimmy. ‘Why don’ we jes’ help these good people, now? Wha-wha-I say wha d’ya say?’
The baddie lowers his rifle.
Jimmy puts his down, resting it against the side of the bed, and then comes to stand next to me. He smells of dust, sweat, horse, cordite.
‘Now how can I help, pardner?’
Connie tells us where to lay our hands. Together we roll Jay onto her side. Connie ducks down and goes in from the rear. I glance up at the Baddie. He’s leaning back against his rock, now, gently fanning himself with his hat. His gold tooth smiles as he nods at me. He doesn’t look too bad. I wonder what he’s done to piss Jimmy Stewart off.
‘There we are! In!’ says Connie, happy with the urine that’s leaking out of the catheter tube into the blue tray. She gently inflates the balloon with the syringe, and when everything’s set, we carefully lower Jay down again.
‘Thank you, gentlemen!’ says Connie.
Jimmy touches the brim of his hat.
But then his smile fades as he turns his head and sees the baddie lounging around at the head-end.
The baddie freezes.
They both make a dive for cover.
Jimmy Stewart has his Winchester in his hand and squeezes off a shot, but the baddie has just managed to roll to the side behind a table of medical supplies. The bullet snicks harmlessly through a pack of swabs.
‘All done!’ says Connie. ‘Drama over.’