Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Doctor/Nurse (11/02/06)
TITLE: -A Cheap Lanyard Pen-
By Marie Fieldman
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“ I know better…”
“Parker residence, housekeeping,” a groggy voice answered. Blake looked at the clock, one in the morning.
“Sorry to call so early… Umm, I really want to speak to David…”
“Who is this?”
“Oh , sorry, It’s Dr. Blake Strauss, with the trial next week.” The lady on the phone said she’d get him.
“This is rude… I shouldn’t run my lawyer ragged. It’s the last thing I need right now.” It was too late, he’d already called. Five hours of paranoia made him.
A shaky sigh escaped him as he shoved the curtain aside to look out on the city. “Snowing again.” The flakes passed his sixth storey window and continued their quiet track down to the still busy street. Sneering, Blake dropped the curtain.
“Stupid winter!” Blake’s mind revolved back to the subject it had for three months now, more frequently in the last week- baby Carrie. Her parents brought in a fussy two-month-old with a runny nose and a temperature. He ran all the right tests and got the right diagnosis: Respiratory Syncytial Virus. Doctors struggled with her all night long, but she didn’t make it.
“Poor little Carrie. We really did all we could… didn’t we?”
Now her parents were suing him on accusation of malpractice.
“Hello, Blake?” a voice yawned.
“Hi, Dave, Sorry to call so early…”
“Well, I was reading my charts for Carrie -that you asked for. I- well- it seems I forgot to write down her white blood cell count- on the appointment that she had with me, three days before they brought her in with RSV…”
“Three days, that’s within the incubation period?”
“Yeah… Is this a big issue?” The line was silent.
“Uh… If the white blood cell count had been alarming, you would have noticed?”
“So it would have been normal?”
“Well-yeah- I don’t suppose I would have paid as much attention if it was okay…”Another pause.
“You don’t have malpractice insurance?” David asked, a hint of sharpness in his voice.
“Do you remember which pen you were using to write that chart?” Blake’s eyes widened.
“Yeah, the hospital one on a string… Why?”
“You’ve got the chart, just write a normal WBC count in.” Blake’s mouth dropped open.
“Do you think that’s…”
“I think it’s safe…The law agency Carrie’s parents have isn’t known for being very sharp…”
“I was going to say ‘moral’…”
“Moral?” Blake could sense David’s smile. “That’s right… You’re a Christian, aren’t you?” Blake scowled. “Personally, I wouldn’t have any problem rationalizing it…Talk to you tomorrow afternoon alright? Get some sleep, or you’ll have half a brain by Tuesday.”
“Okay, thanks, David.”
“That’s it?” he said hanging up. “I can’t sleep now,” he thought. “How could I be so careless?”
He shuffled to the beside table to turn out the light. There lay the cheap little lanyard pen, well worn with four year’s use.
“I wouldn’t have any problem rationalizing it…” echoed David's words.
“I’m a good pediatrician, with a good reputation. Of course! Of course I would notice if the white blood cell count was out of line! Why be ruined by a missed note?”
Blake grabbed the pen and uncapped it. Walking over Carrie’s chart he said aloud , “It’s not fair, I have so much more to give !” He put the pen to the paper. His heartbeat quickened, and he felt his face heating up.
His eyes averted, and the pen fell, barely making a speck of blue.
Falling to his knees beside the table, he prayed, “God, I’m scared. I don’t want to stop working with kids; I love my job. I made a stupid mistake… I haven’t even paid my student loan yet! Please! Don’t let them break me!” Blake just sat still few moments. What if he was found guilty? He opened his eyes, the pen was still there, and a space for some remarkably normal digits.
“I can’t.” He whispered. He raised his eyes again. “I won’t.” He snatched the pen and hastened to his writing desk. Pulling a pair of scissors from the desk he cracked the end of it open to get at the cartridge. He snapped off the point as close as he could.
“Done.” Blake sighed and closed his eyes. “On Tuesday, just be with me.” He smiled.
“I know You’ll be with me.”
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