The Blanket

The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent


Sean O'Torain

After our Dan Labor meeting on Tuesday night I went to get my medicine at Cook County hospital. The public hospital in Chicago. The hospital for the poor, for those who have no health insurance. The world's first blood bank was in Cook County. The series ER is based on the emergency room at Cook County. At night it is full of the life and death of the city. I have been a patient there on a stretcher many times. I went out into the night from our meeting. It was around 15 to 20 degrees below freezing. That is cold. Getting into my van and starting it up I was wishing I was back in Ireland on a soft wet day. I headed south on Sacramento. A wide street with open spaces on both sides for many blocks. It was cold. My van was cold. As it penetrated me I could feel how a person could die from this kind of cold.

I crossed the 290 expressway and turned east. At the second traffic light there was a man in a wheelchair. He was dressed in ragged and thin clothing. He had a beard and some teeth missing. In his hand he held a cardboard cup from a fast food restaurant. Hey man, give me something man. I gave him a bit more than a dollar in change. Yeah, man. He wheeled on to the next vehicle. 15 to 20 below, in a wheelchair, ragged clothing, man, he must be cold. Thanksgiving.

I got parking close to Cook County. At that time of night there are not too many around. Inside the line for medicine pick up was long. I joined it. The draught came in under the doors. We were all in its way. Only one person was giving out the medicine. There used to be two or three. More cut backs. But Bush says that the $200 billion that the Iraq war will cost "is nothing". If they would spend some of it on stopping the draught and hiring more pharmacy workers I was behind a black lady. When we rounded the corner there was a bench across from us. On it sat a young black lady with a child around three years old. The grandmother in front of me, the daughter and grandson on the bench. The mother kissed the son. He smiled. She held her hands over his eyes and played peep with his grandmother in the line. The cold, the line, the poverty, grandmother, mother, grandchild, they loved each other, the line smiled. A Polish lady was in the line. Her thin canvas shoes, and her thin jacket. She would leave the line every now and then to hunch behind a pillar to cry and get out of the draught. Was she in Gdansk in Solidarity? Did she take part in that fight against Stalinism? Did "freedom" bring her here? The hospital is out of your medicine. There is nothing I can do. Next. But I need it. I need it. Sorry there is nothing I can do. Next. She left, her head down in defeat, without her medicine. Lighters three for a dollar. Lighters three for a dollar. Has anybody got a transfer they don’t need. Has anybody got a transfer they don’t need. A tall black man walked up and down beside the line. A transfer to get home on the bus. A dollar, he needed a dollar. His clothes were one on top of each other to keep the cold out. Lighters three for a dollar. Has anybody got a transfer.


I had money in my pocket. I had a van outside with gas in the tank. I had a home to go to that was warm. I could have a shower and clean clothes when I got there. I was a very lucky one. As I left a small thin man walked with his little brown bag of medicine. There was not a pick of flesh on him. His head was bent forward. He walked without life. One foot in front of the other. His clothes were thin and he smelled. He went out into the night. They had crushed him.

Bush and his billionaires getting ready to massacre Iraqis.






Index: Current Articles + Latest News and Views + Book Reviews + Letters + Archives

The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent



Follow the path of the unsafe, independent thinker. Expose your ideas to the dangers of controversy. Speak your mind and fear less the label of 'crackpot' than the stigma of conformity. And on issues that seem important to you, stand up and be counted at any cost.
- Thomas J. Watson

Index: Current Articles

26 January 2003


Other Articles From This Issue:


Drugadair and the Drugadiers
Anthony McIntyre


Thesis Antithesis
Paul Dunne


The Hungry Continent
Terence McMenamin


Sean Torain


Do They Talk to You?
Annie Higgins


Fight Against American Hyper-Imperialism and Oppression

Sean Matthews


The Letters page has been updated.


23 January 2003


Sinn Féin's International Perspective: From Conservative to Radical in the Blink of an Eye
Deaglán Ó Donghaile


Northern Ireland's Political Goodwill Games
Paul A. Fitzsimmons


New Year's Greetings

Jimmy Sands


Why Ireland is Unfree; Continued
Chris Fogarty


Youth Against the Dictatorship of the Clerics
Anthony McIntyre


West Belfast Anti-War Meeting - Belfast March
Davy Carlin


Conversation with a State Assassin





The Blanket




Latest News & Views
Index: Current Articles
Book Reviews
The Blanket Magazine Winter 2002
Republican Voices