St. Paddy’s Day (Chapter Eleven)

ST. PADDY’S DAY

by

The Major

To view the previous chapter, click here.

The next morning, March 16, Dr. Pat arrived at his office at the usual time, ten to eight.  Nancy was there reading the Courier and eating a bagel with cream cheese.  “It says here they’re going to announce the Person of the Year tomorrow.  Are you going to the ceremony?” she asked in a teasing manner.

Dr. Pat was not in the mood.  “Listen, Nancy, do not take any walk-ins today.  In fact, I will require some time in the early afternoon for some personal business.  Can you please arrange it.”

“All right,” she replied in a somewhat surly manner.  Rescheduling was not Nancy’s favorite thing.  She was about to tease him about the mysteriousness of this sudden “personal business” when she realized from his demeanor that he would not be kindly disposed to this type of jocularity on this particular morning.  Instead, she turned back to her paper.

Dr. Pat worked mechanically through his first two patients that morning, while glancing at his watch every ten minutes.  At 9:25, he finished with Doris Henderson (hypochondriac), and retreated to his office to make an important phone call.  He came out five minutes later and informed Nancy that he would be out of the office from 1:30 to 2:30.  She smiled at him and said “No problem.”  Nancy had worked for Dr. Pat for nine years now.  During that time, she could count on one hand the number of times that the doctor had been in a bad mood or anxious about anything.  This day was clearly one of those times.

*****

Dr. Pat sat in his Volvo gripping the steering wheel although the engine had been turned off for five full minutes.  He looked up at the shingle that hung outside the doorway before him.  It read: Megan Shapiro, Esquire, Attorney at law.  At last, someone who would listen to his woes in a non-judgmental fashion, and (more importantly) would be sworn to secrecy and discretion.  Although, he had never formally met attorney Shapiro before, he had seen her at social events.  In a town like Coysville, the professional circle was only so large.

Although physically diminutive, she gave off a charged air like a live wire.  Whenever Dr. Pat had observed her, she had always been the center of attention in a group, and clearly relished such a position.  This ran counter to Dr. Pat’s own style.  Nevertheless, perhaps this was what was required in this sort of scenario, Pat thought to himself.  “She will take charge of the situation, and I will let her,” he decided.  “After all, she deals with this type of thing all the time.”

Although these thoughts initially seemed comforting, Dr. Pat became less sure of himself the longer he sat. It was already 1:35 – five minutes past the start of his appointment.  He had never been deliberately tardy to a professional meeting in his life.  However, Chandavishnu was gripped with a sense of despair and inertia beyond anything he had ever experienced.

How could Ms. Shapiro know what was at stake for him?  Surely, she had never come across a matter such as this.  Through his negligence he had harmed one of his own patients while he was daydreaming of personal glory.  Now, this incident was about to be exposed on the day before he was to receive one of the town’s biggest honors.  All of his years of hard work and sacrifice were about to go down the sewer due to a brief moment’s inattention.  Perhaps he should just come clean?  However, that would look so bad in light of the fact that he had failed to come forward for almost six days now while his ‘victim’ remained comatose.

Plain, old fear grabbed Dr. Pat by the heart and made him put the Volvo in reverse.  He left the lawyer’s parking lot and returned to his office in the hopes of restoring his sense of equilibrium.  He drove in a mental fog.  During this trip, numerous ‘Sharon Caughlins’ could have stepped out in front of the hood of his car and he would have scarcely seen them.

Instead, he arrived back at his office without mishap.  He was so unhinged, he parked the Volvo right in front of the door of his office on North Main.  He didn’t even think of going around behind the building to his reserved spot.

The doctor entered the office and passed by Nancy’s desk.  “That was quick,” she said in a cheery manner.  Dr. Pat just shrugged and kept walking.  She looked up at his retreating back in a worried manner.  Then, she got up and followed him into his office.  “Pat, are you O.K?” she asked.  Dr. Pat turned around, saw the concern in her eyes, and tried to revert (as much as possible) to his everyday professional demeanor.

“I’m fine,” he said with abundant patience.  “Who is my next patient?”

“Tommy Malloy.  But if you need a minute, I can…”

“Please be so kind as to send Mr. Malloy in.”

Coming soon in Chapter Twelve: Events come crashing down on Dr. Pat

©2001 The Major

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