many types of jobs. I realized this years ago, but
many employers, control freaks that they are, are
still resisting the idea. I’m among those
fortunate’s whose “commute” is from my bedroom to
my den, though once a month I must make the two-
hour drive for “co-ordination meetings.”
There are advantages to living out where there are
trees and grass, clean air, and where no one thinks
I’m a terrorist if I carry a rifle on my shoulder.
But there are a few small inconveniences, too. Like
that there is no medical doctor within 100 miles or
But my small village is serviced by a very
competent nurse practitioner, Nurse Donna Rossi.
She does very well on her own, and is just a phone
call or instant message away from the doctors at
County General. She once kept old man Finnegan
alive when he had a heart attack until the helo
arrived to Medivac him to CG. By the way, he’s
still alive and kicking today.
So, given her efficiency, I was not surprised to
receive the notice in the mail, on village
letterhead with “Village Health Dept.” rubber
stamped underneath, suggesting I come in for my
annual physical, proposing Monday at 4:30 PM, “if
that is convenient.” I dropped an affirmative
response in the mail slot at the Village Hall on
the next day.
So on Monday at 4:00 I disconnected from “Big
Mama,” my employer’s computer, took a quick shower
and headed for Village Hall.
As I climbed the back steps to the door marked
“Health Dept.” a beaming Mrs. VanCleef was exiting,
and we exchanged good afternoons. The Village
doesn’t have a newspaper, it has Mrs. VanCleef
instead. She looked like she was about to give me
the whole Front Page, but I gestured to the door
and explained “Appointment…” and kept going.
Breathing a sigh of relief as the door closed
between us, I entered the small waiting room and
took a seat.
In a few seconds the inner door opened and a
stranger stepped out. Tall, blonde and striking. I
assumed that Nurse Rossi had gotten a helper; she
often complained of “drowning in paperwork.”
The blonde asked, “Mr. Bauer?” and when I nodded,
she gestured and smiled, “this way, please,” to the
inner room. She had really cute dimples when she
The infirmary, I suppose you’d call it, was a
cluttered place, serving as examining room,
treatment room, office, and everything else, but
managed to be cheerful in spite of it. To my
surprise, Nurse Rossi was nowhere to be seen. The
blonde ushered me inside and closed the door.
“Where’s Nurse Rossi?” I asked.
“She’s in New York on a family matter of some sort.
The County sent me down to cover for her. I’m Nurse
Arnesson. Have a seat, please.”
She took the seat behind the desk and opened the
file folder already on the blotter. Mine, since I
could see the name, “Bauer, Fred” in block letters
on the cover. I sat in the chair opposite and
studied her as she studied my file.