“Emergency,” is short story by Denis Johnson, that was first published in The New Yorker, recounting events that happened at a city hospital involving doctors and staff working in the emergency room. Writing in first person, Johnson takes the reader to an unbalanced, slightly deranged world with his use of specific details. For example, “The blade was buried to the hilt in the outside corner of his left eye. It was a hunting knife kind of thing.” (Johnson, 59). Later, the author reveals that the unnamed protagonist is a drug addict with his friend Georgie, who has taken his friend’s hospital stolen pills, “chewing up more of Georgie’s pills. Some of them tasted the way urine smells, some of them burned, some of them tasted like chalk.” (Johnson, 61)
Johnson expertly uses rhythmic dialogue showing his protagonist’s and his friend’s, Georgie, drugged hazed or unreliable experience, “Georgie’s in O.R.,” Nurse said. “Again?” No,” Nurse said. “Still.” Still? Doing what?” Cleaning the what?” Cleaning,” Nurse said again. “Still.” (Johnson, 58) The author illustrates that Georgie is high on drugs and is cleaning the already clean floor. Also, Johnson uses significant details to describe a scene in the past summer, when Georgie and the protagonist are exhausted after working two doubles to, “ lay down on a stretch of dusty plywood in the back of the truck with the daylight knocking against our eyelids and the fragrance of alfalfa thickening on our tongues”. Again, Johnson uses rhythmic prose to describe his characters feeling and strengths. For example, ““I want to go to church,” Georgie said. “Let’s go to the county fair.” I’d like to worship. I would.” “They have these injured hawks and eagles there. From the Humane Society,” I said. “I need a quiet chapel about now.” (Johnson, 63)
Johnson greatly succeeded in getting his readers into the world and the minds of his very flawed human characters, who are actually healing human beings.
Johnson, Denis. Jesus’ Son, New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1992