Chapter 3–Summons From A Far

Chapter 3 – Summons From A Far

“Druk. Did you say her name was Druk?” asked Milly. Milly couldn’t help but think her boss had a name that sounded like it came right out of some comic book movie. As she listened to the answer she took a sip of the house wine.

“Her full name is Dr. Druk Macbeth. Druk is Scottish Gaelic for thunder dragon. Now I’d like to ask you something as a woman. She asked me to call her Dr. Macbeth in large gatherings. But in meetings where there are only the two of us, she asked me to call her Dru. I haven’t had too many relationships with the opposite sex. Was she coming on to me?”

Milly thought a bit before answering. She put her drink down to give her answer her full attention. Milly gathered her thoughts, and sat straight up in her chair . She picked up a bread roll and looked directly at Brad.

“From what you’ve said I don’t think she was coming on to you, but it does sound like she might have been sizing you up. It sounds like she’s considering taking your working relationship a step further, possibly changing it to a personal relationship. How do you feel about a personal relationship with her?”

Milly tore her bread roll apart vigorously and started to butter one half of it. The directness of what Milly said took Brad by surprise. He coughed a bit and took a drink of mineral water. Before he answered he dabbed his lips with his serviette.

“I can honestly say the idea of any kind of relationship with her outside of work is very unappealing. She holds the power to hire and fire either one of us in the palm of her hand. If she and I did have some sort of relationship outside of work, and it went south for any reason, it would make working with her very uncomfortable. And based on what I saw and heard during the meeting I should add I think she’s a control freak. She’s not for me. I can live with the idea of her being my boss, but the idea of her being anything else but an employer is not for me. The woman has no sense of humor. I think her funny bone died at birth. When we met I was wearing my Daffy Duck tie which usually elicits some sort of reaction. With her there was nothing. Now I’d like to ask you a question. Just what the heck are you doing?” pointing at her plate.

The entire time Brad had been talking Milly was sewing a reef knot into what was left of her roast beef.

“Sewing. Making sure you pick me.”

Brad was very impressed. He studied her technique and discovered her tiny fingers made knot tying much easier.

“Is this how it should look?” she asked pointing at her plate.

“Well, it looks right. But the conditions for me were much different. I was in my kitchen having a wrestling match with a roast. The Butchers twine was slowly coming undone on the roast. So I did a surgeons knot with a reef knot smack on top. That held the little sucker. Didn’t know what hit it.”

“You mean like this?’ Milly tilted her plate towards Brad. Milly had done a Surgeons knot with a reef knot on top, just as Brad had said. Brad looked a little puzzled. He cleared his throat and straightened his jacket.

“You mean you did all that while I was talking?”

“Yup. I sometimes I sew while I’m watching the TV. I multitask. It’s good for the mind as well as the fingers.” was all she said.

“But you were looking right at me. You mean you can do something that delicate without watching your hands?

“I’m a surgeon as well. Sometimes when I operate I can’t always see my hands. Nor can you. I’m usually not up to my elbows when I’m operating like you, but when I am I can barely see my hands. I try to imagine where my hands are.”

“That settles it. Dr. Milly Shine, will you do me the honor of coming with me to Scotland?”.

Milly’s eyes became incredibly wide. “You mean it? You’re not joking?”

“No, I’m not joking. Of all the people in the pediatrics department I want you to come with me because in my mind you are the best person for the job.”

All of a sudden Milly took the initiative. She asked Brad to stand up. When he did she grabbed his tie and slowly reeled him in. When he was close enough she planted a kiss on his lips that was so passionate that it surprised him and made her toes curl. Suddenly the restaurant staff started clapping.

Milly turned her head slowly and looked at the restaurant staff then at Brad.

“Why are they looking at us and do you think everybody clapping?” she asked quietly.

“I can’t be positive but I think they think we’re engaged,” replied Brad.

“Is that so. Why don’t we head on home? I’m in the mood to undo something.”

“And what do you plan to undo” asked Brad.

“Your belt for starters…”.

********

After a furious night of lovemaking, Milly felt the need to set things straight. They both lay in bed beside each other staring at the ceiling contemplating what had just happened.

Milly just lay there and thought.

I didn’t plan on this but I must admit it was very enjoyable. The things he did made me feel so warm inside. I don’t want a boyfriend or a lover right now. Or do I? I guess I better say something before he starts getting ideas. The only problem is I have ideas. I think I want this relationship to continue only I don’t know what kind of relationship I’m in.”

Milly suddenly started nervously talking.

“I don’t want you to get any ideas. This was just sex. I don’t love you or anything like that. It was just sex. Sex is something we both need, and from the looks of my bedroom needed very badly. The fact that we’re both co-workers and neighbors shouldn’t enter into this at all. So you can forget about any “nooners” or quick “rolls in the hay.”

Brad mulled over what Milly had said.

Lordy, she made me feel so good. I’m glad she didn’t explode when I went down there. Her skin is so soft and warm. And her tongue swam circles around mine. Everything she did just felt so right. But do I dare tell her?. I don’t want to frighten her. I do want it to happen again. How do I tell her?”

“If that’s the way you want it. I can’t agree it was just sex. I felt something beyond the physical. Milly, I’d like to say something. You make getting up and going to work much more pleasant. You make me really want to know you. What you did was won-.”

Milly suddenly got out of bed and went into the bathroom and ran the shower. She started humming.

Attempting to get dressed Brad scoured the apartment for bits of their apparel. He found a bra decorating a lamp, a pair of panties beside a toaster in the kitchen, his tie on inside front doorknob, the bottoms of Milly’s pantsuit on the couch in the living room, and her blouse and pantsuit top on top of the TV.

Brad walked into the bathroom while Milly was still in the shower.

“I just want to remind you we have a meeting with the dragon lady at 11 AM”

The water pounded her head and made hearing and understanding anything all but impossible. Brad tried reminding her of the meeting again. Behind the shower curtain, Milly was shampooing her hair. Milly must have heard Brad say something and she let him know it was difficult to understand anything let alone hear anything. “If you’re saying anything to me I can barely understand you.”

Brad raised his voice a bit. “I’m trying to remind you of a meeting we have with the dragon lady at 11 AM. She wants to meet you before you go to Scotland.”

Still, nothing to indicate she heard and understood the message.

Frustrated Brad reached into the shower and turned it off. Then he pulled the shower curtain back. Milly had her eyes closed. Her head was covered with shampoo. She peeked just a little bit, turned her head and faced Brad.

“How dare you interrupt a ladies shower.”

“Oh keep your hair on. I’m not seeing anything I haven’t seen before. I just want to remind you we have a meeting with the dragon lady at 11 AM. She wants to meet you”.

Milly gulped in fear at the idea of meeting the dragon lady. Milly turned the water back on and quickly washed all the soap from her head and face. She grabbed the towel that was on Brad’s shoulder and dried off her face off.

“How does she know about me?” she sputtered.

“She doesn’t know about you at all. During the meeting, she said she wanted to meet the person I picked from pediatrics.”

“Why on Earth do we have to meet in her office?” It was obvious from her tone of voice she was scared at the idea of meeting the dragon lady. “Why can’t we simply have coffee or something like that?”

“She wants the meeting to be in her office. Maybe she wants to impress upon us the fact that she’s the boss and we are mere underlings who work for her. She wants to make this exchange an ongoing, annual exchange so she wants us to be on our best behavior as ambassadors for City Hospital.”

Milly sat on the edge of the tub bent down and started to lather up her legs. She reached for her razor. As she did she asked Brad a question.

“Let’s see. If I understand you she simply wants to check us out before we go. Like a parent.”

She then stood up in the tub, toweled herself off, and stepped out of the tub.  “Can you hand me my robe please” she said. She quickly put on a big fluffy robe that looked like it came from a very expensive hotel. She then went into her bedroom and pulled a pair of panties from an overstuffed dresser drawer and closed the door.

With no one to talk directly, Brad leaned against a wall and talked to her bedroom door.

“That’s exactly what I think. I think it’s nothing but a pre-trip pep talk. And you’re right. I suspect it’s going to be a talk much like a parent might give to a child going off to camp for the first time.”

When Milly exited her bedroom she was fully dressed. Brad stared at her in complete surprise.

“How do manage to look so damn good! You don’t suppose we have time-“

“Down Fido. Heel. I haven’t had a tumble of that ferocity in some time, so just put yourself back in neutral while I catch my breath.”

While Milly spoke he used the time to dress. His tie was the same one as the one he wore the previous day as but he doubted anybody would notice. As he dressed Milly looked at him from head to foot like she was studying him. She then sat in a chair while she waited for Brad to finish dressing.

“You know, sometimes I’m envious of you men. All you have to do is comb your hair, mouthwash your mouth, put on a clean shirt, and if you add a jacket and some pants you’re basically good to go. But no matter what you do you almost always screw up your tie.”

“What’s wrong with my tie?” asked Brad.

Milly put her hands on the tie and started adjusting it.

“What do you call this? A Windsor knot?”

“Sorry. Haven’t a clue,” said Brad

“This things all balled up, take it off.” replied Milly.

Brad struggled with the tie.

“You know that hydro-electric pole at the front of this building? When you look at it do you see anything wrong with it?” she asked.

“It might be a bit crooked from when some clown hit it a few weeks ago but outside of that I haven’t noticed a thing.”

“That pole has been crooked for six full months. Sort of like this damn tie. This thing needs to be ironed. But since we haven’t got the time we’ll have to use Shine method.”

“I’m almost afraid to ask, but what exactly is the “Shine Method”? asked Brad.

“It’s something my father taught me. When you need to iron something but you haven’t got the time or an iron you lay it on the floor and put big heavy books on it.”

Milly held out her hand as Brad untied his tie. When he finally got it off he handed it to her. She lay the tie on the floor and covered it with heavy books.

“Old phone books used to be OK but since they been discontinued and digitized dictionaries and coffee table books are the best.”

Five minutes after Milly placed the geographic atlas on the tie it was right as rain. She knelt down, picked up the tie, placed it around Brad’s neck, and proceeded to tie the tie. Within a few seconds, she finished. “There you go. One Shine knot. Guaranteed not to warp, wrinkle or droop” Brad walked towards the bedroom and checked out the tie in the mirror.

“I’m really impressed. When we get home you’ve got to teach me this knot.”

Milly straightened Brad’s tie before they left.

When she was finished she held on to the wide end of the tie and towed him gently through the doorway.

“C’mon Schweitzer let’s go to work.”

*******

As Brad parked the car in the spot designated just for him he got a text message to report to the cardiac wing as soon as he arrived. Milly got a similar text on her phone so the two didn’t see each other until the meeting. When they did arrive at Dr. Macbeth’s office it was with five minutes to spare. Dr. Macbeth’s secretary let her know Doctors Foster and Shine were there to meet with her, but there was no response until it was fifteen seconds before eleven AM.

Milly asked Brad a question that almost couldn’t be answered.

“How come I feel I’m walking to my own execution?”.

“Relax. She doesn’t have fangs. At least none that I noticed.”

“Thanks. That was a big help. I just know I’m going to have nightmares tonight.”

As Milly entered the office she noticed a lot of technology -low and high tech. First, there was a typical run of the mill type coffee maker, a CD player, a laptop computer, a desktop computer, an extremely large HD screen built into the wall, and a small mp3 player. The desk was custom made to house the laptop, the desktop computer, and a telephone. On the walls were a few pictures. The walls had built-in bookcases that held an encyclopedia set, a dictionary, a medical dictionary, and countless medical journals from all over the world.

Dr. Macbeth came out from behind her desk. Milly noticed she was wearing a dark green pantsuit with a Jade necklace. On her wrist was a very expensive looking charm bracelet.

“Welcome doctors. Dr. Foster, could you be so kind as to introduce me?”

“Dr. Macbeth may I present Dr. Milly Shine. The best pediatric diagnostician of the entire pediatrics department.”

Milly calmly took the compliment. But she also thought the compliment unnecessary.

Dr. Macbeth gently shook Milly’s hand. “I think you made a very good choice Dr. Foster. I hope it wasn’t too taxing?”

“Once I saw her in action I knew she was the only choice.”

Dr. Macbeth started to walk around her office pointing at things.

“Welcome to my inner sanctum. From this office, I can contact any hospital, large or small, in the world. I can video conference with almost anybody on the planet, or simply call up somebodies employment record. From what limited information I have at my disposal I don’t think either of you has been to Scotland before. Am I correct?”

Both Milly and Brad said “Never” at the same time.

“Good! I had these information packs on Scotland specially made for the both of you. In them, you’ll find little pieces of information that I hope you’ll find of use over there. I know from personal experience from when I moved to North America the culture shock you two will experience. To make the transition a wee bit easier for the both of you the head of Highland Central Dr. Fergus MacTaggert has arranged to have you both “shadowed”. They will help you over any cultural bumps. And there will be lots of those. Now, before I go anywhere I do a lot of research. You both have two weeks before your flight so I’d like to suggest you do the same.”

She took out her pocket computer, tapped a few buttons and smiled. Brad noticed she was in an exceptionally good mood compared to the first time he met her.

“I think the dragon lady has lost her fangs” he whispered to Milly.

“I think the Dragon Lady got lucky last night,” she whispered back.              Brad chuckled.

“Are we going economy and is this a night flight?” asked Milly.

“Didn’t Dr. Foster tell you? You’re both going in first class. Champagne, caviar, sleep masks, the works! Highland Central is going all out to get you there in style and comfort. As for the night flight portion of your question, this will be a night flight. You know, I’m in the mood for a coffee and a hotdog. Why don’t you two join me? I’m buying.”

Milly cleared her throat then spoke. “We have to clear our schedules first.”

“Nonsense Dr. Shine. I’ve already done that for you. I’m the boss and whatever I want I get! You two are mine for the next two hours. Follow me if you will.”

They exited the office they had entered not ten minutes earlier and headed for the elevator.

“You have the most delicious assortment of…what did news call it…”street meat” I’ve ever tasted. But the hot dogs are simply wonderful” said the Dragon Lady in the elevator.

Dr. Macbeth went to her car. Milly noticed it was a candy apple red Ferrari. As Milly and Brad climbed into the back seat Dr. Macbeth said the car was a birthday gift.

Brad mumbled quietly to Milly “Birthday gift my foot! There’s a five-year waiting list for one of these babies. They’re handmade!”

“Probably for services rendered if you get my drift” she mumbled back. She squeezed the inside of Brad’s thigh.

***********

After lunch, Dr. Macbeth drove them back to the hospital. The meeting concluded in her office.

“I’m really very anxious that this exchange goes off without a hitch so I want both you to on your very best behavior. You two will be ambassadors of a sort. I want Highland Central to see how useful an exchange of this kind can be. It’s my hope that this will be the first of many such exchanges.”

At the end of the meeting, the information packs were handed out. Dr. Macbeth also handed them two letters from a legal firm in England.

“These look rather important and judging from the stamps on them they’ve been in the mail a good long time.” Milly and Brad would not find out just how long until they got home.

Chapter 2–Summon From A Far

Sorry for not posting anything for the last few weeks. I’ve had to deal with a couple of medical issues that weren’t very pleasant. – Tom


Chapter 2 – Summons From a Far

The ride to the hospital was all too short. As Brad pulled into his parking spot his cell phone, which was on the seat next to his thigh, started to vibrate and chime. On the display, the message is short and to the point. “Report to administrators office ASAP“. Brad read the message then turned his cell phone towards Milly. Milly who was still chuckling from the ride read the text message on Brads phone then she stopped chuckling almost immediately.

“Sounds like you’ve been a bad boy. The dragon lady wants to see you. I’ve never met her but I hear she’s a no-nonsense lady. She apparently eats residents like you for breakfast, and picks her teeth with the bones.”

Brad took a deep breath and tried to look relaxed.

“I doubt our fearless leader is quite as fearsome as you’ve described, but I must admit part of what you said does have a kernel of truth. I do think she’s female”.

As Brad opened the drivers’ side car door Milly reached out and lightly touched his hand.

“What do you think is going on? Please text me when the meeting is over.”

Brad moved around the rear of the car.

“OK, will do. But I’ve been a good boy. I can’t think of any reason why she’d want to see me.”

He started thinking as he held the car door open for Milly.

“Great, now I feel like I’ve ordered to the principal’s office.” he thought as Milly exited the car. “If she eats me alive you get MJ.”


The dragon lady, a nickname the staff gave her, waited in her office. She made sure her red pantsuit had as few wrinkles in it as possible. She tried sitting behind her desk. Uncomfortable she tried leaning against the front of the desk and picked up a book pretending to read it. With all this preening it was obvious she was nervous and wanted to make a good impression. The intercom on her desk buzzed. “Dr. Foster to see you.” The dragon lady waited a few seconds then answered the intercom. “Send Dr. Foster in please.”

Brad entered. “You wanted to see me?” he asked.

“Please have a seat.”

She pointed to a chair directly in front of her desk. She then walked slowly to the front of her desk. She leaned against the desk and tried to appear relaxed.

“Firstly let me preface this conversation by saying I do not like surprises. But I got a beauty yesterday evening when I was having dinner at home”

As she spoke she moved behind the desk and sat down.

“Last night I got a call from the administrator of our sister hospital in Scotland. To make a long story short he caught wind of some rather impressive knitting done by you Dr. Foster. Apparently, a former patient of yours went for in for a checkup and the x-rays revealed some interesting sutures. So interesting I have to hear about it from across the pond. The upshot of the entire conversation is Highland Central wants you to go over to Scotland to show them the procedure you used. They also want you to bring along a doctor from pediatric medicine so they can use this procedure on children. This is the very first request from I’ve had from them and I would like to see if we can start a regular exchange going. Highland Central wants you and your pediatric assistant over there for two months. They are making a big thing out of this and are going out of their way to make you feel comfortable so during the flight over so you’re going first class. We Scots aren’t tight-fisted all the time. I haven’t said yes or no to this. I wanted to talk to you first. Are you interested?”

Brad thought quickly. “Just what is the name of the administrator at Highland Central?”

“Fergus MacTaggert is a great doctor. When I was in medical school in Scotland I learned a great deal about him. Aside from being a great doctor, he’s a wonderful human being. But he’s also a wee bit of a prankster. Do you golf?”

“Rarely. My back doesn’t care for it.”

The dragon lady continued.

“Well if you two make it to a course he’ll try and convince you the water hazards have alligators. He’s also a bit of dirty old man. At least that’s the impression I got. When I was a student and had a question I had to go up to his desk. He usually sat at his desk. He also pretended to be hard of hearing. So I had to lean down to his ear which afforded him a clear line of sight to my breasts.”

Brads level of curiosity got the best of him.

“I would like to ask you a personal question. I’m sure you’re aware of the nickname some of the staff have for you -”

“Does this have anything to do with Dragon Lady garbage I’ve been hearing?”

“Yes, it does.”

“When I was born my parents named me Druk. It means thunder dragon. At my last job, I was Lady Macbeth. But that sort of worked because my last name is Macbeth. Can I ask a favor of you?”

“By all means” Brad replied.

“When we’re in a group I appreciate it if you called me Dr. Macbeth. When it’s just you and me please call me Dru. Druk doesn’t sound at all feminine, and I haven’t a clue what my parents were thinking.”

“And I’d really appreciate if you’d call me Brad. I hate the formal name, Bradley. Every time I hear it I think of a dusty old encyclopedia.”

“You have a deal, Brad. And before I forget I’d like to meet your choice for your pediatric assistant. And if you really want to irritate Fergus all you have to do is call him Fergie or pretend to forget his name and call him Angus. Drives him mad.”

“What does Angus mean actually mean?”

Dru put her hand to her chin pondering the question.

“That’s a good question. It’s a very old name. Angus is the Anglicized version of two words, one Irish and the other Scottish Gaelic. The words mean “one” and “choice”. In Scottish Gaelic, it’s spelled Aonghas.”

Just then Brad’s phone rang with a text message from Milly. “What’s going on?. I’m dying to find out” was all it said.

When Brad finished reading the message he looked up to see Dru holding her hand up. “I know. Duty calls. Now scoot. You have a choice to make, and I’d like it by the end of the week. Hope to see you soon .” Her hand had changed to a finger which pointed directly at her office door. Brad opened the door and exited. As soon as he closed the door he texted Milly.

Still here. Still employed. Big news. Can we talk tonight?”. No answer.

At the same time, Brad was talking with Dr. Dru Macbeth Milly was experiencing one the worst days of her young career. One of her patients was a ten-year-old boy with Leukemia. He had been in remission for two years, and it looked like he was going to live. Now the tables had suddenly turned. A bone marrow transplant was out of the question, chemotherapy and radiation treatments had stopped working, and his white blood cell count was skyrocketing to almost unheard of levels. When Milly walked into the pediatrics wing she picked up his chart at the nurses’ station. She glanced at the lab report. It had one word on it. Terminal.

“Damn and blast!” she muttered quietly.

She did her best to compose herself for one of the worst types of patient-doctor conversations a doctor could have. Then she walked over to his bed.

“How are you feeling today Robbie?” she asked.

“I think you already know the answer. The radiation doesn’t seem to be working, the chemo stopped doing anything ages ago, so am I going to die?” asked Robbie.

“What makes you think that?” asked Milly.

“Let’s see. I’m as bald as a billiard ball, I have more bruises than you have hair, and I feel lousier than I ever have before. So am I going to die?”

“There are labs all over the world working on what you have.”

“Why can’t you doctors ever give a straight answer?”

“There’s always a chance a transplant might do the trick.”

“Look Doc. It’s my life and I think I deserve an honest answer. Am I going to die?”

A nurse wearing pink scrubs rushed over from the nurse’s station.

“Can’t you see you that asking that question over and over is tearing Dr. Shine up? This doctor has worked very, very, hard for you.”

Milly turned to the nurse.

“Thank you for intervening. Please return to the nurse’s station where you and I are going to have a nice chat.” As soon as she stopped talking Robbie started up again. He was determined to get an answer.

“It’s a very simple question with an equally simple yes or no answer. Am I going to die?”

Milly could no longer dodge, weave, and avoid answering the precocious ten-year-old.

“You’re right. It is a very simple question and the answer is you are dying. I’m dying. Your mom and dad are dying. Are you satisfied?”

Robbie curled up into the fetal position and started to cry. He never expected an honest answer. And he wasn’t prepared.

Milly was holding his chart so hard her fingers hurt. But she had another matter to attend to. She had to discipline a nurse. She walked towards the nurse’s station.

“Don’t you ever do that in front of me again! That boy is my patient and it was my responsibility to tell him he was about to die. Not yours! I want to thank for intervening but only a doctor is allowed by law to tell a patient they’re about to die. Do that again and I’ll have you in front of your unions’ disciplinary committee.”

The nurse spoke up.

“I was only trying to help Dr. Shine.” Milly gripped the nurse’s arm and looked her right in the eyes.

“I realize that, and I thank you. But you almost helped yourself to the unemployment line. You almost said, what you, as a nurse, cannot say. By law, you are forbidden to ever give a terminal diagnosis. Do you understand what I’m trying to say?”

“I think so.” Milly let her arm drop to her side. The nurse noticed Milly’s eyes were watery and puffy.

“Go to med school and become the best doctor you can possibly be.” She then put her head right beside the nurse’s ear and whispered: “There are too few women doctors at this hospital, and we need more, a lot more.”

After talking with the nurse Milly put the patient’s chart back in the chart rack. She took her phone out and saw that Brad had texted her. She couldn’t help but wonder what the “big news” was all about. But her mind was also on Robbie and of all the things he’d miss. But she also thought about her own conduct. She couldn’t help but wonder if she could have dealt with the situation better, in a more professional manner. Maybe Brad might be able to help. She texted him with a very a simplistic message.

Help. Need your counsel. Can we meet?” was all it said.

Brad was in the doctors’ lounge on the sixth floor when his phone started to vibrate. He looked at the display with a puzzled expression.

What does she mean” thought Brad.

He sat in a chair to type out his response – one letter at a time. Some of his colleagues could send a lengthy response by simply using their thumbs. Brad couldn’t. His thumbs were far too big, so he had to type his response using his index finger, one letter at a time.

What’s wrong and where are you?” was all he typed.

Almost immediately the answer came. Brad surmised Milly was a fast typist.

Pediatrics wing (4th floor), Doctors lounge. I feel lousy.” Brad rocketed through the lounge door. When he got to the staircase he was able to jump most of the stairs. He landed with a resounding thump which ricocheted all over. Anyone else using the stairs must surely be wondering what is making such an unearthly noise. Only a couple of minutes passed between Milly sending her plea for help, and Brad walking into the doctors’ lounge on the fourth floor.

His face was a little flushed.

“Got your message. I came as quick as I could” said, Brad.

“I know. I heard. I’m pretty sure the rest of the hospital heard you coming too.”

“Was I that loud?” he asked in complete surprise.

“Let’s just say don’t quit your day job and to scratch cat burglar off your bucket list. Let’s go to the veranda where we can talk with a little more privacy.”

The two walked towards the doctors’ lounge veranda. They passed through a doorway that separated the lounge from the veranda. Few people used it because of the wind. When they got there Milly recounted the days’ events and promptly grabbed onto Brad’s shoulders. She quickly went to pieces and started crying. Milly started hugging Brad and used him to stay upright. As she hugged Brad she spoke.

“I handled the whole thing so unprofessionally. The kid had a right to know he was going to die, and I tried to put off telling him for as long as I could. I’m a damn doctor, not a stupid diplomat.”

Brad felt her tears on his lab coat. He wasn’t quite sure what to do so he gently rocked her in his arms.

“Milly, I’m going to say something and I want you to listen very closely to every word. Almost every medical doctor goes through what you went through. It’s a trial by fire. There’s no right way to tell a person they’re going to die. And there’s wrong way either. It all depends on the circumstances. It sounds like Robbie wasn’t prepared properly. Next time you have to tell somebody they’re going to die, and there will be another, do it a little more gently. Do it privately. The kid may be totally unprepared. Let them cry if they want to. And if you want to cry let ‘er rip. That way the kid will see their doctor is a human being and that you’re hurting too. Maybe not in the same way but when you think about it pain is pain. I’ll take you home, and I want you to dissect this entire experience one sentence at a time. Ask yourself what worked and what didn’t. Try and figure out why Robbie was so angry. When somebody is hurting they come to us we do our best to help them. But-“

“Do you think I should involve that patient more in their recovery?” she asked.

“Damn you’re quick! That’s exactly what I think too. I think if we involve the patient in every step of their recovery they’ll be more prepared mentally when things work out or don’t work out. Now, as your neighbor, and president of the cheer up Milly fan club, may I take you out to dinner. I promise you no hanky-panky, slight of hand, or anything else of that sort.”

Milly began to smile. Not a broad smile. She was just glad someone cared about her.

“Do I detect an ulterior motive Dr. Foster?”

“Of course you should. I want to put a smile on your face. Plus I hate to eat alone. We can gab about the meeting I had with the dragon lady.”

“And all I have to do is go out to dinner with you?”

“I’ll drive you home, pick you up before we go to the restaurant, and drive you home. It’s that easy.”

“What, you’re not going to mad passionate love to me?”

“I’m not that kind of guy. Besides that comes much, much later.” Milly giggled then started to laugh. Brad smiled.

“You had me at may I take you out to dinner.”

“Great. Reservations are for eight PM. I don’t think you’ll regret it for a second.”

Milly was was quiet for a while, bit her lip, then looked upwards at Brads face.

“You were pretty sure I was going to say yes weren’t you?”

“Let’s just say I was really hoping you’d say yes. Plus if you didn’t say yes I’d look like an idiot talking to myself about the dragon lady.”

“Well, we can’t have that, can we? But you behave yourself. I’ve got a stun gun in my purse”

“I’m as harmless as a puppy.”

“And puppies sometimes have to be disciplined with a rolled up newspaper.”

Brad paused to think about the idea of a doctor with a stun gun.

“And I’d appreciate it if you put a needle and thread in your purse. You’ll need it tonight. The purpose is entirely medical”

Milly started to slowly walk away from Brad and towards the lounge door. Something was going on. And she didn’t like being in the dark.


Brad was true to his word. After the meeting on the veranda, Brad drove her home. And there wasn’t the slightest bit of hanky panky. As Milly dressed in semi-formal attire she looked at her purse. She was trying to decide if she should take her stun gun. After a great deal of hemming and hawing, she decided not to take it and took it out her purse. She had to admit it felt kind of nice knowing there was a person who cared.

At seven-thirty there was a knock at the door.

Milly looked through the apartment door peephole and saw it was Brad.

When Milly opened the door Brad stood in the hall holding a long rectangular box partially hidden behind his back.

“Beware of Doctors bearing gifts,” said Brad. “Consider it a housewarming gift, only in this case maybe we should call it an apartment warming gift.”

Milly took what was obviously a box of flowers and placed it on the kitchen table. Milly read the card that came with the flowers “To Dr. Milly Shine. Thank you.”

Milly read the card then read it again then turned to Brad with a look of total bewilderment.

“I don’t understand this. Thank you for what?”

“Well, the answers quite simple. Thank you for being my neighbor, thank you for feeling you could call on me, and to thank you for trusting me enough to take the stun gun out of your purse.”

“How did you know I took it out?” asked Milly.

“It has a very specific shape and makes a very specific bulge in your purse.”

“You are really are observant you know that. I’m glad I moved in. So thank you for the compliments and the flowers.” She gave Brad a very unexpected peck on the cheek. “We still have half an hour. Care for a drink?”

“Since I’m driving I don’t think I better. And it might be a good idea if you didn’t either. You haven’t passed the final test.”

“What do you mean?”

“It has to do with that meeting I had with the dragon lady. I think its fair to say you’ve made the final cut.”

“I can’t stand it any more. If you don’t start telling me about the meeting you had this morning with the dragon lady this dinner is off”. She crossed her arms to emphasize her verbal ultimatum.

“OK, here is the very abridged version. I did a bypass on some fellow from Scotland. He went in for a check-up at our sister hospital in Scotland. They got in touch with dragon lady and they asked me to come to Scotland to show them the procedure I did. And they want to use this same procedure on kids. Hence the request for a person from pediatrics. I want you to come with me, but I still need to see you sew.”

“So that’s why you asked me to put a needle and thread in my purse. But we’re going out to dinner. I still don’t follow.”

“We’re going to a restaurant that serves roast beef. If you can put a knot into roast beef I’ll be able to assess your surgical skills.”

Brad saw her smile widen, and her eyes come alive with excitement.

“England and Scotland?”

“Maybe Wales too if word gets around”

“YES!” Milly fist pumped the air.