I had to sleep on the floor, those five days of the conference, which ain't so bad. Life goes on, as they say. When we get back to New York, Maribel is lookin' through one of her schoolbooks, when she looks up at me, and asks me,

"Daddy, what's givin' blood mean? Why'd you wanna give someone yer blood?"

"Well," I start, but then I realize I don't really know neither. "uh, I guess yer gonna have'ta ask yer mama." Maribel starts to look disappointed.

"Aww, you know I ain't a doctor!" I say, and then grin as an ad comes on the TV

"Donate healthy, full blood at your nearest Red Cross center today!"

"I might not know nothin' about this blood thing," I say, "but I kin go find out."


I'm standin' in front of the building with the red plus on it, and without missin' a beat, I go inside. A young woman in dark blue clothes is sitting at the front desk.

"Hello, sir, how may I help you?" she asks.

"Hello, Miss, I'm here about the blood drive I heard about on TV?" I say.

"Oh yes, of course. Can I see some ID to prove you're over eighteen?" She says, smiling. I show her my ID that confirms that I am in fact nineteen. She hands me some papers to go and fill out to see if I'm a "sutable donor."

"Full Name"

Jason G. Jones. That ain't acceptable, so I try and think of a good name that starts with a G. I come up with Gabriel. Yeah. That's a good, Christian name. Jason Gabriel Jones.

"What is your born gender?"

I dunno what exactly that means, so I just pick male. I've always been one, probably always will be.

"Have you ever had sexual contact with another male?"

Define "sexual contact" 'cuz one time in the meeting Gilbert grabbed my ass. Of course, right after, I turned right around and punched him out. I mark "No" for that.

"Are you HIV/AIDS positive?"

Hell no. Nations can't get STDs anyway, right?

"Have you ever been exposed to possible Hepititis or HIV/AIDS in the last several months?"

Pretty sure I ain't. Nations can't get STDs.

"Have you ever had malaria?"

Well yeah, ain't everyone? I mark down "yes" 'cuz I got it once when I was a kid. Got cured right up, though.

"Has it been three years since you had malaria or lived in an area where malaria is found?"

Well, yeah. I got it when I was twelve or thirteen, and that was in 1862.

Eventually, I hand the papers back to the nurse, and she smiles and says she'll send someone to get me shortly. In the mean time, I pull out my handheld ring toss game and shake it a bit to watch the rings go up and float back down. Ludwig, the German one, don't like it when I play with my "fidget" toys during the meetings, but he hates it more when I'm distracting the rest of the UN with my shakin' the table or drawin' on my notepad.

"Mr. Jones, come with me." The young and pretty nurse says. I follow her. She has me sit down in a chair.

"So, your full name is...?"

"Jason G- Uh, Gabriel Jones." I say.

"Why did you stutter?" She asks me calmly.

"Er, I ain't- uh, haven't had a real middle name 'til now. It wasn't never given to me, ma'am." I wince. She's young. She'll probably get all offended now since I called her a ma'am. Younger girls usually do. I dunno why. She don't, though. Instead, she smiles.

"Alright, Jason,"

"Um, if it's all the same to you, Miss, I go by J.G." I say.

"Alright, J.G.," she says, smilin', "what I have to do now, is prick your finger to test your blood for any illnesses that you might not know about. It'll hurt a little, but nothing compared to the needle they use to collect your blood for donation."

"Ah." I say, feelin' like this wasn't such a good idea as she approaches me with some sorta thing and puts it against my left middle finger. There's a click and a sharp pain in my finger, to which I flinch and hiss, "dammit..."

Soon, I'm left in the chair to my own devices, with a blue bandaid on my still-achin' finger. I'm only just figurin' out how to work the buttons on my ring toss game so it don't hurt my finger when a woman in a white coat comes in, luggin' a cart of things.

"Jason Jones?" she asks of me. I nod.

"Yes'm, that's me. But you kin call me J.G., if you like."

"Alright, J.G., we're going to save some lives!" She says grinnin'. Lookin' around at the posters in this room, I've figured that you give blood to put in people who lost blood and can't make more fast 'nuff. Seems a good cause to me.

"That gonna hurt?" I ask.

"A little, but surely a strong man like you can handle it." she says, smilin' in a flirty way at me. I make sure the ring on my left hand is very obvious after that. I ain't got time for girls who wanna flirt with a married man.

"So," I say, "you been doing this for long?" I'm trying to keep my mind off of the weird tubing and bag and needle system it appears she's puttin' together.

"About two years." She answers. "You don't sound much like a New Yorker." She, as almost everyone I talk to for an extended amount of time says.

"I moved from South Carolina a few years ago." I say.

"Hmm, I thought you sounded a little Southern." she agrees. "This is gonna hurt, alright?"

"Yes'm." I mumble, looking up and taking deep breaths as she takes my left arm, and jabs the needle in right at the crick of my elbow. "Ow!" I say at the pain.

The pain don't much fade as I sit there and squeeze on the ball once and a while. My stomach feels a lil' shaky after a while, but usin' my phone with my other hand, I don't pay it no mind. About ten minutes later, right as Nat is wondering what I happened to have gotten myself into now, the needle is removed and I am told to keep my hand over my head.

My stomach still feels like it's thinkin' of ejectin' out all the stuff inside, but I ignore the feeling and go to the table where they want me to sit. I don't much feel up to it, but I take a juice box they offer to me and sip at it, as well as takin' little bites from a chocolate chip cookie they put in front of me on a table. It's alright, 'til my head starts fuzzin' out like static on a TV.

"I don' feel so good..." I tell the woman givin' out the cookies who looks up at me with wide eyes just before everything sort of fades into the static and the last thing I know is that I hear her shout,

"NURSE!"


So, I learned things today- blood is taked from people and given to other people who can't make enough on their own. You also can pass out from it, which happened to me, and I woke up tipped back in a chair with my head lower than my knees. They made me call Nat to take me home, and that was quite the conversation.

"Hello this is Borsch Cafe, how can I help you?" It wasn't Nat, so I asked, with my head still all tipped back and my phone to my ear,

"Hi, is Natasha there?"

"Let me ask." the girl on the phone said, and I could hear her shout in Russian into the kitchen. Then the phone is picked up again. The next voice is Nat.

"Hello?"

"Hi, Nat. Can you leave early by any chance and come get me?"

"J.G.?" she sighs and tells the other girl 'never mind, Maryanne, it's just my idiot husband hurt himself again.' "Where are you and what did you do?" she asks me.

"I'm at the Red Cross on fifth and I passed out 'cuz I let 'em take blood 'cuz Maribel wanted to know why people give it." I explain. It seems simple enough to me. Maribel wanted to know something and I went and found it out.

"J.G., did you leave anybody at home with Maribel before you ran off?" Nat asks me.

"Uh..." I say. Nat sighs.

"I'll come get you. And I'll call Ivan to go watch Maribel for a while."

"Ain't no way I'm lettin' that Commie bastard near my lil' girl!" I say, and the nurse murmurs at me to calm down as I'll only elevate my blood more and make myself sick again.

"That 'Commie bastard' is my brother, Jason!" she starts, but then sighs. "Alright. I'll call someone else. Then I will come get you. Stay where you are and do not do anythink stupid."

She said that last part with a lot of intensity. I guess I ought'a listen.


A/N: So uh this year I was finally old enough to give blood at the school blood drive and I almost passed out. I wasn't even done. I just was laying there and my stomach felt gross and I was like, "well maybe this is what having a bunch of blood harvested from you feels like" but then I started to feel all blech and fuzzy so yeah. Good times. Especially since I'm pretty scared of needles. I hope someone lived because of my three-quarter-pint of blood. That was also the day I punched a freshman. He turned and pushed me over in the crowded hallway so I socked him in the eye. It was great. He ran whining to the vice principal so I got suspended for three days for defending myself. Good times in high school, guys.