Sometimes I'm way too patient.
I look up to see the smiling and slightly embarrassed face of the receptionist. She stoops slightly towards me as I sit in the uncomfortable waiting room chair. Shifting in my seat, I smile politely.
Yes? I try to keep impatience out of my voice, but I’m pretty sure I've blown it.
Oh, hello Mr. Roth, sorry for the delay. She pauses, waiting for me to say that it's quite all right, perhaps? I don't; it's been two hours. I've never had to wait so long to see Dr. Johnson, the practice's chief physician, but my doctor seems to be the only one working today. Doctor will see you now. Her voice is low and suggests a wringing of hands. She nods encouragingly. Room 5.
Thank you. I sigh, and she scuttles away as I stand slowly. My knees complain at their sudden use. I'm reminded of a line from John Masefield's The Box Of Delights, and mutter it as I shuffle up the well-lit corridor towards my doctor's office.
Only I do date from pagan times, and age makes joints to creak. Or doesn't it?
I should think it does. I knock at the door of room 5 and wait. The usual welcoming bellow does not come.
The door slowly opens on its own.
The figure behind the paper-strewn desk is dressed from the pages of medical cliché: a tweed suit, patched at the elbows with leather; a white collared shirt that has seen better days; adorned at the neck with a stained red bowtie; the half-moon schoolmaster glasses.
But this is not my doctor.
It’s a rhino.
And a old and crusty rhino, at that. As he scribbles away at some notes as only doctors can, I take in the dusty face and the matted hairs caked in dried mud on his neck. A fly circles him, but it doesn't appear that its heart is in it; it's as if it's expected. This guy is vain, too; a flat ginger wig with a centre parting rests just above his spectacles.
Ah, Mr. Roth, I've been expecting you. Wow, I've not heard that one since I last saw the evil genius Doctor Wang*. The ageing rhino leans back and eyes me with something resembling indifference. I'm Dr. Luther. Do come in.
[* This is definitely worth a click. Best regards, Bear]
Stepping into the office, I leave the door open and take a seat.
Hello. Sorry, but I was expecting Doctor ...
So, he says smoothly, what can I help you with? Yet there's ice in the voice; it hurries my thoughts along. Accept, adapt, advance.
Well, I wanted to talk to you about...
Yes, yes, he waves a dismissive and badly-manicured hoofed foot, let's speak plainly. I'm a busy man. You've come to see me about a bad back, or a sore knee or chest pain, or some other trivial ailment.
He pauses meaningfully.
And so I feel compelled to remind you, an educated man, that the body has amazing recuperative qualities. He gestures broadly. Whatever it is that you believe your suffering from, and I use the term suffering very loosely... The rhino looks down his long nose at me across the top of his half moon glasses; the effect is authoritarian, even if the wig does slip a little. Well, this thing will sort itself out in a few days. Do you follow?
I see we understand each other. He smiles in a way that would make a crocodile blush. Take two aspirin, get some sleep, drink plenty of fluids, and come back and see me next month. Or never. He waves a nagging digit. You can crack this problem on your own. Medicine will not help you. And neither will I.
Wow. I'm lost for words. My jaw works up and down a bit.
The toupéed ungulate turns and taps away at a keyboard with a pencil and peers at his computer screen. There's a deep, chesty grunt of disapproval. The fly keeps its distance and hovers suspiciously; I want to do the same thing.
However, I see from your your medical records that you've not had any recent medical screenings for male health issues. His emphasis is sinister.
Male health issues? Oh. My heart sinks. Those ones.
Yes, and this is not a good thing. Let's bring your file up to date, shall we? The rhino opens a drawer and pulls a bottle of jumbo sized rubber gloves.
What? No. He can't be serious. I'm not dropping my trousers for a rhinoceros.
Well, I think I'd prefer to do this with my regular doctor...
He freezes in the middle of tugging a rubber glove from the box.
Dr. Johnson? You didn't hear?
I'm aware my jaw is working again. Excuse me? I'm almost whispering. Heard what?
I'm afraid Dr. Johnson was involved in a terrible accident. The rhino meets my eye and speaks with a distant cousin of solemn sadness. He was found terribly injured at his home yesterday.
Good grief, not nice old Doctor J? I have fond memories of the man; he brought me into this world. Mind you, when he delivered me he claimed excess postage.
Indeed. He'll recover, but may never speak or practice medicine again. The old sawbones eases back into his seat and raises an eyebrow. He'd been trampled and gored quite badly.
Trampled and gored?! I find myself shuffling back in my chair. Do the police have anyone in custody?
The old doctor smoothes the hair on his horn absently.
No, he smiles, but his injuries were probably self-inflicted.
I'm the new chief doctor for the practice.
He stands and snaps on a rubber glove.
So, let's get these tests done, shall we?
Behind me, the door closes.
I never want to cough again.
This blog entry is protected by copyright © Indigo Roth, 2011