Parts Are Parts
By Margie Keane
“Well, young man, you’re waking up.”
Pete heard the voice but couldn’t focus on the form . “Who are you? Where am I?”
“I am Dr. Uguesso. You are in a hospital in Rome. You were in a very serious accident, and you were brought to us by field workers who saw the crash. Lucky for you one of the women had medical training. She saved your life. You have been here for three weeks and in very bad shape. Do you remember the accident? “
Kaleidoscopic pieces flashed in his mind. His heart raced as things came back. He was on vacation, driving through the Italian countryside. His Fiat hit a pothole and vaulted over a wall.
“You had many broken bones, and severe burns on your face and scalp. Luckily you were pulled from the car before it exploded. Your rescuers saved you from being crisped. We will start reconstruction of your face very soon.”
“Reconstruction? Give me a mirror!”
“I’m not sure you want to see yourself.”
“Give me the damn mirror!” Pete took the mirror, holding it as the doctor removed his bandages. He gasped, then screamed. The face staring back was too hideous to believe. No nose, no lips or ears. His scalp looked like roast pigskin. “Twenty two and a living nightmare.” He murmured. He looked at his bandaged hands, then at the doctor, a question in his eyes.
Touching his shoulder, the doctor said, “Your hands will be fine.”
Yes, it’s horrible. But we do amazing things today. I’m pretty sure you will be happy with the results.”
“Do my parents know about this?”
“No, we had no way of finding them. We don’t even know your name. You had no identity on you.”
Pete asked for a phone and called his parents, told them that he decided to take an extended tour of Europe, and would keep in touch. He did not mention the accident, knowing they would be frantic with worry.
Months went by as the surgeries progressed. Finally the doctors had done all they could.
The day came to remove the bandages. Taking a deep breath, Pete grabbed the mirror and looked at his face, looked at the doctor, then looked again.
“What the hell?”
Dr. Uguesso shrugged. “We had to work with the donor parts we had available. It happens that your particular parts came from an Irish fellow.”
Before the accident Pete had fair skin, black curly hair, flat ears, and a prominent nose. Now he had red curly hair, ears that stuck out, full lips and a ruddy complexion. The only thing that resembled him was the nose. It was still prominent.
“What’s with the nose? It doesn’t look Irish?
“No, it’s from a Jewish donor, the only part of him we could save. The Irish nose just didn’t seem to fit you, Mr. Beckenstien.”
A month later, here he was at his parents’ apartment building. How was he going to tell them he was part Irish?
He walked inside and boarded the elevator. As it climbed so did his apprehensions. Arriving at the 10th floor, Pete walked down the hall and knocked on his parent’s door. They were expecting him but he was afraid he’d scare them if he just walked in.
“Who’s there? Is that you Peter?” called his mother.
“Yeah, sort of.”
The door flew open, his parents rushed to him, then came screeching to a stop.
“Peter!” gasped his mom, “What’s happened to you? Where did you get the red hair? Those big ears?”
Pete sighed. “Sit down and I’ll tell you both all about it.”
Pete recounted the story about the accident, the hospital, the only donor parts available being from an Irish man.
“The good news is my nose is Jewish and my hands are my own.
His mother’s hands flew to her breast. ”Oh, thank God, Peter! Does that mean you can still be a doctor?”