“Hon, I’m going to a conference tonight,” Greg
shouted from the shower. “That new bone expert from Cincinnati is in
town with some pretty hot material. I think I’ll stay downtown at the
condo afterwards, though. You know what the after-speaker dinners are like
at the City Club. Lot’s of vintage claret, so I probably shouldn’t
This was met by dead silence. Greg knew that Kathy didn’t like him staying
away over night. He had to spend enough time away from the family, what with
evening offices and on call at the hospital. The hours of a family doctor
were long and arduous.
“Oh, okay Greg,” she replied. Her tone suggested it wasn’t okay
and Greg felt a twinge of guilt. Kathy had seemed a bit testy this morning.
“Why the bee in your bonnet?” asked Greg.
“You’ll think it’s silly,” said Kathy, “but I had this
dream that you met a pretty woman doctor and left me and never came back.
Her name was Dr. White.
“Did you get a first name?” asked Greg.
“It’s not funny!” said Kathy, frowning.
Greg shrugged his shoulders and finished dressing, firmly knotting the double
Windsor in his Armani tie. “Women!” he said to himself, as he
exited the town house and climbed into his sedan.
The day was a bitch. Hospital rounds brought one complication after the other.
Some days were just like that. Mrs. Jozefowicz.s incision had broken down,
and the Pirelli twins had both spiked fevers overnight in peds. Greg finally
got to his office, one hour late, and faced the hostile stares of a waiting
room full of patients.
“Mrs. Henderson is on line one, Dr. Barton,” said Jeannie, Greg’s
receptionist. “She’s having that funny pain in her chest again.”
“Damn,” thought Greg, “there’s another half hour shot.”
“Tell her to come down at two,” he said.
The afternoon was murder, but finally it was over. Fortunately no evening
office and no duty tonight. Greg was looking forward to the evening’s
lecture and the convivial dinner afterwards.
He drove down to the club and pulled into the parking lot. Entering the buildings
opulent front entrance, he climbed the stairs to the main lecture hall and
grabbed a seat near the aisle.
“Hey, Barton! How’s it going?” asked Charlie Wentzell, an orthopedic
surgeon and erstwhile classmate as well as frat buddy from med school days. “Life
sucks,” said Greg. “My office was hell today, my inpatients are
all getting sicker, and Kathy is pissed off at me because I told her I was
staying at the condo tonight.”
“Life’s a bummer,” said Wentzell cheerfully. “Yeah,” thought
Greg, “unless you’re a hypomanic ex-jock surgeon.” The expert
from Cincinnati turned out to be a dud. “Boring,” muttered Greg’s
seatmate repeatedly under his breath. “Let’s hope dinner isn’t
as deadly,” he replied.
Greg was not disappointed. The prime rib was thick and succulent, served with
honey-glazed carrots, and a baked potato smothered in chives and sour cream.
The claret was Chateau Talbot, seventy-one, a superb year, and three or four
glasses soon went down smoothly with the gourmet meal. Dessert, bananas flambé,
was also up to the City Club’s world-class standards.
Greg glanced at his watch. Good God, it was eleven thirty, time to leave.
He got unsteadily up and headed for the phone to fetch a cab to the condo. “Damn
it, no,” he thought. “Kathy will be furious, especially after
that silly dream.” Greg navigated the stairs and headed for the parking
“Good night, Dr. Barton,” called Earl, the doorman. “Don’t
you think I should call you a cab, sir?”
“No thanks Earl, I’m fine,” said Greg and headed for the lot. After
three tries he got the key into the lock. He started his car and pulled out,
heading for the freeway. The sedan wasn’t so bad really. It even had
more pep than his old sports car. Greg downshifted at the ramp and floored
the accelerator pedal, not noticing the eighteen-wheeler barreling into the
The nurse slowly shook her head as the emergency room doctor entered the trauma
room. The pretty female physician looked somber as the R.N. said quietly, “D.O.A.
I’m afraid. Not much you can do for this guy Dr. White.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
George Burden is a family physician, a graduate of Dalhousie University,
who has practiced for over twenty years in the small village of Elmsdale,
Nova Scotia. In his spare time he loves to write. He has published
in genres ranging from humour, horror and historical fiction to medical
history and on-the-edge travel. His writing has taken him from the
depths of the ocean to the cockpit of a CF-18 fighter jet, from Antarctica
to the palace of the King of the Ashanti. He was recently named by
the Explorers Club as regional chairman for the Atlantic provinces,
and published his first book, Amazing Medical Stories in May of 2003.
Return to Summer 2007 Table of Contents ©
2007 SPINETINGLER Magazine - All rights reserved