Monday, May 26, 2014
“Do you believe this? I mean this can’t be true,” I raved as I read the article in the “Post.”
“City to Shutter Free Clinics
Council cites Cost and Duplication of Services”
“You seem to taking this rather calmly,” I continued, addressing my dear wife, Nurse James.
She was preoccupied playing with our baby girl, Rose Elisabeth, who celebrated her three month birthday that day.
“Happy Birthday, sweet Rose. Who’s my big girl?” she cooed and held the girl up as high as she could reach.
Rose giggled and squealed.
“Forget the paper, at least for a while. Just look at this smile, this big beautiful smile.”
I did put the paper down and stood behind my two girls.
It will be OK. Just remember this is what is truly important. But, our patients? They’re important, too.
“I suppose you’re right, it will work out for the best. But, how many of our patients will be able to be cared for at the University Clinic? Walking two or three blocks is a lot different than taking a bus across town.”
“They’ll never close our clinic. We do too much good work,” she concluded.
“All the politicians care about is dollars, mostly how much they can put in their own pockets. You know what I always say…”
“Yes, yes, they are only two types of politicians, those that are in jail for corruption and those who haven’t been caught yet.”
“I’m glad you pay attention. Let me look at page eight where they go into more specifics about the clinics slated to be closed.”
Pages rustled and Rose laughed as I found the rest of the article.
“The free clinics which are to be closed has not yet been determined, but speculation is that clinics in neighborhoods where there is access to other care, such as private urgent care clinics and free standing Emergency rooms will be the first on the chopping block…”
“See, we should be OK. There certainly are none of those in that part of town.”
“There’s more. ‘In addition, those clinics in parts of the city where the crime rate is high or there is an unusual amount of gang activity also may be shuttered. Public hearings, where private citizens may voice their concerns, will be held in the next few weeks. Exact time and venue will be announced.’ I think that means we’re in trouble.”
Miss James stared at Rose and then held her close to her chest. Rose instinctively tried to help herself to a snack.
“Well,” Miss James began, “we’ve got a few weeks anyway. We should plan to go to those hearings. You know, speak up for the downtrodden.”
“You’re right, like always,” I answered as I looked at the clock. “Six thirty? I better be on my way. I hope there isn’t much traffic or I’ll be late. I don’t want to ruin my perfect record.”
Miss James smiled at me and my “perfect record,” but didn’t comment. I kissed Rose and my lovely wife.
“I wish it was next week and you were back at work,” I commented as I gathered up my white coat. “The other nurses are OK, but they are not Nurse James.”
I began the usual thirty minute drive to the clinic.
Not too much traffic for a change. I can’t believe they would even think about closing our clinic. On the other hand, if we moved maybe there could be a proper medical facility with a real modern lab and state of the art imaging. Dream on, doctor. This is not Beverly Hills or Beacon Hill. As far as politicians are concerned: no money, no voice. Then again, maybe I shouldn’t be so cynical. Here I am entering the “clinic neighborhood” and it’s not so bad. There are some trees over here and a little park. And, on the corner, members of one of our many independent youth group are hanging out. There’s even some new construction going up. It’s hard to believe, but someone, somewhere, actually has an interest in developing this part of town. Funny, I don’t know why I never noticed it before. Whatever that building’s going to be it looks very elaborate.
My head shifted away from my troubles as the radio blasted out some classic rock:
“Sitting on a park bench
Eyeing little girls with bad intent…hey Aqualung”
Jethro Tull seems very appropriate for this part of town.
I arrived at 6:55 and was greeted by Miss James sub, Mrs. Selma Cranston. She looked exactly like one would expect someone named Selma Cranston would look, mid fifties, matronly, dull brown hair tied back into a bun, adorned with a white, knee length dress, white stockings and white shoes,
I’m surprised she isn’t wearing a white nurse’s cap.
“Good evening, Dr. Barnes, I’m Mrs. Cranston. I’ll be helping you tonight. This is my first night here and I’ve never been in a clinic like this, so I hope you’ll be patient.”
“Glad to meet you. I’m sure you’ll do fine. It’s a bit of work, because it’s just the two of us. No techs, no aids, but we usually manage.”
What did she mean, “clinic like this?” We’re just like any other clinic; that is if those other clinics are visited by Ravens, bizarre superheroes, vampires, werewolves and mythological beasts.
“There’s a patient in room one, Milo Campo, 63, complaining of a non healing wound. He’s wearing a pith helmet and carrying a toy rifle. Oh, and I brought some fried chicken to eat, in case you get hungry later.”
“From Purdy’s Chicken Shack?”
“Well, then let’s get to work.”
I picked up the chart for Mr. Campo. “Nonhealing wound on right buttock, no allergies, travelled to Tanzania recently, no other medical problems.”
I did my usual quick knock and went in.
“Good evening, Mr. Campo. What is the problem which brought you into our fine clinic this evening.”
“Get down, get down or he’ll get away,” he hissed through clenched teeth.
I looked back over my shoulder and then around the room.
“Who or what will get away,” I wondered out loud.
“The rhino, of course. Now get down before you get trampled.”
This can’t be happening.
Mr. Campo was dressed in beige safari gear, sported a gray pith helmet and was carrying a large, plastic hunter’s rifle. He grabbed me by the arm and pulled my arm, with considerable force, I must add. I joined him crouching behind the exam table.
“I don’t see the rhino,” I whispered.
He handed me his glasses.
“They asked me to check your wound, the one on your buttock,” I said. “How did you get it and when?” I added.
He looked around, pointed his toy rifle but then put it back at his side. He put his mouth against my ear.
“I was attacked by a rhino, a rare, vicious black beast who gored me in the buttock with his horn, almost a year ago,” He replied in a very low monotone. “But, I’m on the trail of that black demon. It’s not just any old rhino, you know. The monster I’m trailing is the rare Sumatran Three Headed Rhino. That’s right, three heads, three horns and a heart as black as its hide. When I get the rhino’s three horns, I’ll grind them up and sprinkle some of the dust on my wound. Its special properties will make it heal in a few days. The rest of the dust will be saved for the future. One can’t be too careful or unprepared these days.”
I nodded my head in agreement.
“Speaking of wounds,” I countered. “I believe you are here to have that wound checked, by a doctor, specifically, Dr. Barnes, who is me?”
“Oh, yeah, right. I’ve lost the trail anyway, Dr. Barnes.”
“Well, just drop your jeans and I’ll take a look.”
Mr. Campo slid his beige khaki pants and underwear down to his knees revealing a wound on his right cheek which was open to the air, about twelve by ten centimeters, extending into the subcutaneous tissue, but not involving any muscle or bone. There was some yellowish drainage, but no redness.
“How do you take care of this?” I queried.
“Take care of? I just leave it alone. It doesn’t hurt. I just have to change my underwear every few days.”
“Well, I think,” I began, “if you cared for it properly and kept a bandage on it, perhaps it might start to…”
“There it goes,” my patient screamed, “you won’t get away, you brute.”
And, Mr. Campo burst out of the exam run, trying to run while pulling up his underwear and pants at the same time. It was all I could do to hold the laughter inside as he finally got his pants pulled up and fastened and then bounded away, chasing his imaginary, three headed rhinoceros.
Oh, well, you lose some and then you lose some. Onward to new frontiers,
I moved on to room two, Myron Davis, 38, complaining of abdominal pain for five days. No previous medical problems, no allergies, no meds.
Should be simple.
“Good evening, Mr. Davis, what brings you into our night clinic?” I began.
Myron Davis was dressed in a black suit, white shirt with French cuffs, blue paisley tie, black socks and shiny, black leather shoes. He definitely did not have the look of our usual client. He was half sitting, half laying in the chair, his black hat perched on his chest, and did not get up to greet me. His face was flushed and beads of sweat dotted his forehead.
“Hiya doc, I hope you can help me,” he replied to my introduction. He looked around the room as if he there were other people present.
“It’s just you and me, Mr. Davis. Now what seems to be bothering you.
“It’s my gut, Dr….Barnes,” he answered staring at my name tag. “it feels like someone is driving a metal stake through it.”
“When did this pain begin?” I asked.
“Twenty years ago.”
“Did you say twenty years? Why did you come in tonight?”
“Excuse me Dr. Barnes, but are you recording this?”
“No,” I responded truthfully.
“Is any of what I say going into any sort of database or computer?”
“No, I’ll write it down and it will go into a chart.”
“A written chart, nothing electronic?”
“Sorry, to disappoint you Mr. Davis, but we are not a very well funded clinic. Computers and Ipads cost money; money the taxpayers are apparently loathe to spend. So, here we are, paper, pens, stone knives and bearskins.”
“That’s good, very good,” he concluded. “They won’t be able to find me.”
“Excuse me?” I had to ask, “But, who won’t be able to find you?”
“The spies, the government, our government, the Russians, the Germans, the Japanese, the Chinese, insurance companies, credit bureaus, credit card companies, banks, Disney; they’re all spying on us, spying on me, all the time, watching every move you and I make, watching every moment of our lives with massive computers.”
“Are you sure about this?”
“No question. Tell me, if someone makes an unauthorized purchase with your American Express card, do you get an e-mail or text message or phone call? Or, maybe all three. How do they know?”
“Hmmm…” was my reply, “but what about your abdom…?”
“Don’t trust anyone is my creed. No credit cards, no bank account, no social security number, just pay cash for everything, leave no digital footprint and no one will knock on your door in the middle of the night and cart you off to CIA headquarters.”
“Your abdominal pain,” I tried again to get a history, “When does it occur?”
He looked at me and then at his stomach and then took a deep breath.
“I began with this pain about twenty years ago when all this computer stuff started to grow. It was the World Wide Web which made me realize that no matter what I do, someone somewhere is going to find out or be affected. Then it was online banking and credit cards and My Space then Facebook and Twitter. But I learned the truth. Someone is always watching, always monitoring. I couldn’t find any peace. Sleep has become a luxury I just can’t afford. What if I say something about my pain? Someone will be listening. Well, my pain has just stayed with me. So, I took a chance and went to see doctors. I tried Tagamet, then Zantac, Prilosec, antacids. I had EGD’s and gallbladder surgery and finally resigned myself to my throwaway diagnosis: IBS.”
“So,” I interjected, “Why are you here tonight?”
“Oh, I need some meds refilled. If I call a pharmacy to get my prescription refilled they’ll put it in their computer and that’ll be the end. They will know where I am.”
“So all you want are some free samples? That’s easy. If we have any, you are welcome to them.”
“Just Carafate, it’s the only thing which helps.”
“Give me a minute and I’ll check in the back.”
“Uh, what are you writing?”
“Just your diagnosis and treatment. Probable gastritis, treat with Carafate. Samples given.”
“But, didn’t you hear anything I said. Everybody’s watching, they’ll find out. Sure, you only write it down now, but next month someone scans that chart and then, boom, I won’t be able to get health insurance, find a job, anything. I’ll be labeled, branded for life with…just the sound of it is ominous…gas-tri-tis. A mixture of gas and garbage. Just forget I was ever here. And, please, shred that chart.”
Mr. Davis got up, put on his fine black hat and walked out.
Two for two. A great start to the night.
“Room three,” I murmured, “Misty Rowe, ten, fever, cough, history of leukemia. No allergies.”
I knocked and went in starting my intro before I even saw my patient’s face.
“Good evening, Mis…” I started, but stopped when I was greeted by Evella, Goddess of the Night.
“Dr. Barnes, congratulations,” she said softly, her voice a bit raspy.
“Thank you Evella, Goddess of the Night,” I answered, but I was a bit shocked at her appearance. In the six weeks since I’d last seen her at my wedding, she had wasted away. Her skin was now a pasty yellow and her eyes almost glowed with jaundice. But, she still had her smile and her feisty demeanor.
“This is Misty, Dr. Barnes, a friend of mine. We met at the hospital while we were being treated. She’s in remission from ALL. Her mother works nights a lot and I watch her when I’m well enough. I do have a consent from her mother so that I can make medical decisions for Misty, if you’re worried about the legal niceties.”
“No, no, I’m sure everything is in order,” I said softly, a bit distracted by Evella’s cachectic appearance. I recovered my composure and added, “What’s the problem, Misty?”
“I’ve got a bad cough and my chest hurts. My fever today was 102.8.”
“Have you been treated for your leukemia recently?”
“My last chemo was four months ago. I thought I just had a cold, but Miss Worry wart here insisted we come to see you.”
I listened to her chest, which was clear, inspected and palpated, shot a Chest X-Ray which was normal diagnosed her with a cold and gave instructions for her to call her Pediatrician and Oncologist the next day.
I’m more worried about Evella.
“Misty, if you don’t mind,” I asked my young patient, “I’d like to talk with Evella, the Goddess of the Night, alone.”
“You don’t have to worry about me, Dr. Barnes,” she answered. “I know she’s got bad cancer and I know she’s probably not going to live much longer. Just like my friends, Justin and Liv. They died of their cancer. I cried for them, but, at least they didn’t have to suffer very long.”
“Kids with cancer live with death hanging over their head every day,” Evella explained. “You’re a doctor, you should know that. Anyway, anything you have to say, you may say in front of Misty. We have no secrets and she knows I’m dying. I assume that’s what you wanted to talk about.”
“Such remarkable intuition, Evella, Goddess of the Night, of course that’s what I want to talk about. Our first meeting taught me more about healing and the proper way to be a physician than all the lectures and rounds combined. And, you make great cookies. I’ll miss them and you.”
“You’re sweet, Dr. Barnes,” she said in that special voice she had as she patted me on the cheek and then on my derriere. “However, even though this vile cancer has had the gall to invade most of my vital organs, I am not planning to check out as soon as everyone thinks. I’ve got a lot of years of livin’ to pack into the time I have left. See this?”
She held up a colorful brochure.
“Two week cruise in the Mediterranean. Barcelona, Monte Carlo, Venice, Rome, Athens, all the food I can eat, first class all the way. If I’m going out, I’m going out in style.”
“Sounds great,” I observed. “You don’t need a companion, do you? Because, the news is that this place may be shut down which will leave me out of a job.”
“You’re still sweet, but not my type. Don’t worry about me, I’ll find some young buck to keep me company.”
“I wish you nothing but the best, Goddess,” I added.
I gave her a kiss on the cheek and, at that moment, we heard music coming from the lobby. The familiar strains of “Night Clinic Blues” no doubt being strummed by the talented hands of Wild Fingers.
Two in the morning? Very strange, very strange indeed.
We all went out to the lobby where Wild Fingers Dixon sat strumming his guitar, softly humming along. There were a few patients waiting to be seen and they seemed to appreciate the early morning concert.
“…Oh Night Clinic Blues”
A familiar bluesy voice joined the guitar.
“Dear Nurse James, what are you doing here at,” I looked at my watch, “Two eighteen in the morning and who’s watching the baby?”
“She’s here, with me. Neither one of us could sleep and she kept pining away to see her father, so what could I do?”
She held little Rose up and I gave both my girls a big kiss.
“You do your work and all of us will keep Rose entertained,” she decided. “Good evening, Evella and…”
“This is Misty, a friend of mine who wasn’t feeling well, but, your wonderful husband has made us both feel better,” Evella answered.
“I’m not so sure of that,” I replied “and, if you’ll excuse me, I have a few more sick people to see.”
I left them in the lobby as Wild Fingers shifted to “God Bless the Child,” one of my favorites. I listened for the deep soulful voice of my wife while perusing the chart of my next patient.
“Elsa Walderstein, 78, deaf, complaining of severe headache.”
I hope she brought an interpreter.
I knocked and went in to room one. Fortunately, there was a younger woman seated with my patient.
“Good evening, I’m Dr. Barnes, what’s the problem you are having?”
The older woman sat in her chair and stared at me with a smile on her face, but it was obvious she did not comprehend. She was wearing a light jacket which covered her thin short dress, slightly worn white tights and square toed ballet slippers.
“Hello to you, Dr. Barnes,” the younger woman replied. “My name is Eva Schosser and this is my mother, Elsa Waldenstein. She has been having headaches for about three weeks and they seem to be getting worse. I’m sorry she can’t tell you herself. She’s almost totally deaf and only speaks German.”
Eva was middle aged, neatly dressed, with light brown hair and blue eyes which revealed only concern and worry.
“Why did you decide to bring her here tonight?” I queried.
“She told me that her headache was much worse and she felt like someone was pounding on the inside of her with an ax.”
“That’s how she described it? Pounding with an ax?”
“Yes. Does that mean something?”
“Probably not, but it is an interesting choice of words.”
“How’s her health in general?”
“Considering her tortured past, excellent.”
“Dr. Barnes, Elsa Waldenstein was famous in the old country. She was on her way to becoming Prima Ballerina for the top ballet company in East Germany. Unfortunately, one of the party officials took an unusual interest in her, a very intimate and unnatural interest. The rest of the story is not pretty. Let’s just say that she escaped East Germany and came to this country with nothing except the clothes on her back and a baby growing inside. Her flight to freedom was arduous with danger constantly lurking, but she survived and made it to this country. Unfortunately, there was a price. Hardship and injury caused her to lose her hearing, thus ending her dance career. She was granted political asylum here, but has lived a very hard and difficult life. A deaf woman with a newborn baby who doesn’t speak the language has few prospects. But, we survived. Only now she has these headaches and she cannot find rest. I’m afraid for her; afraid that this relentless malady will finally break her spirit.”
An amazing story.
“I will certainly do my best to help her,” I said hoping both Eva and Elsa sensed the genuine concern in my voice. “Let me examine her now.”
I started at the top and worked my way down. Everything was normal. As a matter of fact she appeared remarkably healthy for a 78 year old woman.
“Was she doing anything unusual when the headaches began? Or, has she suffered any injury, even something very minor?”
“Not that I’m aware of, but I’ll ask.”
Asking Elsa a question involved a complex series of hand gestures and written notes in German, which were followed by head shaking, nodding, more notes and finally, calm.
“She says no,” was the final result.
“I wish we had a CT Scanner, but we’re just a poorly equipped community clinic. Let me try something. I’ll be back in a minute.”
I asked Mrs. Cranston to start an IV on Elsa and then took care of the other two patients who were waiting, both with simple problems which were easily treatable with medications. They were sent on their way and I returned to Elsa and Eva.
“I’ve got something here that I think will help Elsa’s headache,” I explained to Eva. “It’s some medicine that will relieve any tension she may have in her muscles. It works almost immediately.”
“Thank you, Dr. Barnes,” Eva said and then she wrote a message to Elsa who looked up at me with hope in her eyes.
I took a syringe from my pocket and injected one milligram of Versed through her IV. She winced a little when it first went in.
Eva and I watched as the forlorn look on Elsa’s face began to fade. She closed her eyes and then the corners of her mouth began to turn up and a smile appeared. She opened her eyes and I saw a twinkle of life appear which had been absent a few seconds before. She jumped up from her chair and took off her coat, revealing her light dress and dancer’s body. She took my hand lightly and caressed it and then she did a pirouette.
“I think the medicine has helped,” I observed.
But there was more. She exited the exam room and when she saw Wild Fingers with his guitar she gestured for him to play. She stared at his fingers as he started to play, a classical piece which I didn’t recognize. Elsa, however, saw something that must have been from her past.
She began to dance, en pointe, moving gracefully across the waiting room on her toes, jumping and spinning in perfect rhythm to the music. The first rays of the sunrise pierced the clinic windows creating a dazzling display of colors and illuminating Elsa in an array of red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple. She danced to me and curtsied, she elegantly leapt over chairs and spun around tables as those of us in audience stood in awe and applauded.
But, it could not last. The beautiful display was interrupted by three men, dressed in three black suits, wearing three pairs of black rimmed glasses and carrying three identical black briefcases.
This has to be bad news.
“Doctor,” man number one began, “I am Mr. Jacobs, from the Department of Health, this is Mr. Binder from the City Inspector’s Office and that is Mr. Berkowitz representing City council. May we talk to you.
Jacobs, Binder and Berkowitz. Perfect name for a law firm.
“Certainly,” I answered. “We can talk here.”
“Is there some place more private?” one of three inquired.
“Anything you have to say, you may say here, as I’m sure it may have some effect on my patients.
Wild Fingers, Evella and Misty, who was holding Rose, Eva and Elsa and Mrs. Cranston all stood silently, anticipating bad news. Miss James had vanished.
“As you wish,” Black suit number three answered. “We have an order here for this clinic to be vacated immediately. It is the conclusion of the City Inspector’s office that this building is unsafe and poses a hazard to anyone who occupies it. City Council has voted that this clinic be closed immediately. We are now requesting that the premises be vacated immediately.”
“But, Mr…uh…Berkowitz, what will become of the people who live in this neighborhood, who depend on this clinic for their well being, where will they go?”
“Doctor, I’m sure your intentions are most noble, but this building is unsafe. Would you want to be examining a sick child and have the building collapse? Of course not. All of your patients will be more than welcome at the County Hospital Clinic.”
“County? That’s five miles away. Do you expect our patients to walk?”
“Doctor…Barnes, I will not argue any further. The decision has been made. This building will be demolished and County Hospital will assume the care of your patients.”
“I won’t leave. I’m staying right here,” defiant words came from behind me, from Miss James. “You’ll have to cut my arm off to get me to move.”
At that moment there was a faint “click” and my dear wife handcuffed herself to a sink which was behind the reception desk.
“Misty, if you could please hand me baby Rose. Thank you.”
And, there we were, a stand off. On the one side were three carbon copy bureaucrats waving legal papers and, on the other, Miss James and Rose, battling for the little people. I was putting my money on my wife and baby.
The three men looked at each and then at Miss James and then at each other again.
I think she may actually win.
A voice interrupted the confrontation.
“THERE IT IS, THAT THREE HEADED MONSTER.” it shouted. Milo Campo returned.
“I’ve finally tracked it down after all this time. You won’t get away from me this time you vicious rhino. Black as night with a black heart to match. You’ll pay for what you did to me.”
“That’s a real rifle he’s pointing,” I whispered to Evella, who was standing close to me. Maybe we should get down.”
She nodded and we both stated to lower ourselves to the floor, as did the others in attendance.
My wife and Rose, they’re stuck.
“Prepare to pay,” Mr. Campo hissed through clenched teeth as he pulled the trigger.
Shots were fired and then there was a short scream. I jumped up and shielded Miss James and Rose, just in time to see Elsa jump, pirouette and push Jacobs, Binder and Berkowitz out of harm’s way. Evella tried to tackle Mr. Campo as he kept shooting, only now his rifle was pointing harmlessly at the ceiling, knocking out the lights and setting off the sprinkler system. Finally, the shooting stopped as Wild Fingers and Evella wrestled the gun away.
There was another scream as Eva knelt beside Elsa, who was lying in pool of blood.
I ran to her side as sirens whined in the distance.
Misty hung up the phone and shouted, “Ambulance and police are on the way.”
I felt a very thready pulse on Elsa as she smiled at me, struggling to breathe.
“Good doctor,” she whispered to me in English.
The pulse vanished.
I started CPR, but Eva stopped me.
“Please,” she said, “Please, don’t; you gave her a few minutes of peace and joy, but let her go. Just remember; remember the smile on her face and remember her dancing.”
Eva looked at her mother’s lifeless face and buried her face in her chest. Tears streamed down her cheeks when she looked up.
You know,” she began, trying to speak through her tears, “I had never seen her dance before. Oh, I’d seen newspaper clippings and photos in her scrapbook, but never the real thing. You gave me a gift that will be with me forever. And, I will be able to watch her happiness over and over.”
She had recorded her mother’s dance on her phone and now the graceful beauty of that dance would live forever.
The police came and took Mr. Campo away in hand cuffs. Jacobs, Binder and Berkowitz left their papers with the day shift crew who started to appear and begin the task of moving everything out. The police cordoned off where the shooting had occurred and went through the motions of performing an investigation. I resigned myself to looking for a new work venue.
My dear Miss James, however, remained defiant.
“Call the papers, call channel twelve,” she screamed, “I can see the headlines:
‘Bureaucrats try to oust Mother and Baby.’
“All the publicity will surely keep us open.”
“Are you sure about this?” I asked. “Is this what’s right for Rose?”
This cannot end well.
But, our luck was about to change.
I heard a car screech to a stop outside the clinic and looked up to see a big black limousine.
Even more trouble?
A burly chauffeur stepped out and opened the rear door. Out stepped a woman dressed in pink, bright pink which shimmered as the morning sun outlined her perfect figure. A broad white hat and dark glasses shielded her face. There was the sparkle of emerald and diamond earrings and emerald and diamonds rings adorning her perfect beauty. As this mystery woman walked closer, ignoring the police barricade, I realized I knew her.
I looked up at the sky and was not disappointed as Pegasus circled overhead. There was a faint whinny as that noble equine acknowledged me.
“Medusa…” I began, but she held up her hand.
She gave me a light kiss on my cheek as I took her hand and led her into the clinic lobby where she removed the hat and sunglasses, allowing her long silky hair to fall about her shoulders. She was even more beautiful than I remembered.
“I see you’ve moved up in the world,” I observed.
“My life is a rollercoaster. The fruit of immortality, I suppose. He’s good to me, fun and rich and generous. Which is why I’m here.”
“You’re going to make a donation to the Dr. Barnes Survival and Party Fund?” I asked facetiously.
She looked me in the eye and then answered, “Not quite, but close. Have you seen the new building going up a few blocks over? The fancy one?”
“Yeah, I was wondering what it was going to be.”
“That, dear Dr. Barnes, is going to be your new home, that is, the new Clinic. I read about the budget cuts and I was worried that this clinic might be in line to get the ax.”
I was speechless for a moment and then I said a soft, “Thank you.”
“No,” she replied, “Thank you.”
She looked down at the floor and then stared into my eyes again.
“I was cold and you made me warm,” she explained. “For that simple act of kindness I am grateful. And for all the acts of kindness you and the people at this clinic perform, we are all grateful and indebted to you.”
She reached into her Chanel purse and fumbled around for a moment before pulling out a big manila envelope.”
“Here are all the details. There is an endowment of $150 million to keep the clinic funded. The new clinic will have a larger waiting room, eight exam rooms, a procedure room, a complete lab which will be properly staffed, Radiology with a CT Scanner and ultrasound, also staffed, a kitchen, storage and doctor’s offices. You also have my pledge that you will not want for anything as long as I’m alive, which, as you know, will be a long time.”
“I don’t know how to thank you, for myself and all the people who live here. When will it be ready?”
“About two months from now.”
“And between now and then?”
“You’re stuck here, I’m afraid.”
“But, the building’s been deemed unsafe; we’re supposed to vacate.”
“Ah, yes, that. Politics and graft. My husband did some checking. Some of our less scrupulous political servants were trying to get this space at a cut rate price. They bribed a City Inspector to condemn the building so that they could put up some sort of shopping mall or low rent housing or something. Whatever, they’ll be on their way to jail soon.”
“Did you hear all that, Miss James?” I turned to my wife, still handcuffed to the sink. “I guess you can set yourself free.”
“Yes, it all sounds wonderful,” Miss James answered. “Now, if you’ll just get me the key, I’ll set myself free.”
“The key? What key?” I asked.
“The key in the desk in the back. It’s where you keep your stuff. I found these cuffs back there and came up with the idea to chain myself to the building.”
“I’ll go look, but I’ve never seen those handcuffs before. In the meantime, maybe Medusa would like to see beautiful baby Rose?”
I took Rose from my wife and handed her to Medusa and went into the back to find the key. I searched high and low, up and down, back and forth, but there was no key. I had no choice but to report my failure and suffer Miss James wrath.
“WHAT, NO KEY? DO YOU EXPECT ME TO STAY CHAINED TO THIS TOILET FOREVER?”
“It’s a sink,” I corrected.
She tried to kick me. Medusa once again came to my rescue.
“I think I can help,” she offered, “rather, Pegasus can help.”
“What can a horse do about handcuffs?” Miss James wondered, showing a distinct lack of faith and understanding of things mythological.
“I’m game to try anything,” I added.
Medusa let out a loud long whistle and Pegasus alighted outside the clinic door. Medusa whispered in his ear and he turned around so that his hindquarters faced my wife.
“Close your eyes,” Medusa commanded.
Both myself and Miss James closed our eyes. There was a sharp noise as Pegasus gave a precise kick and the handcuffs opened up.
Miss James rubbed her wrists as she got up and bowed before the winged horse.
“Thank you, both of you,” she addressed Medusa and Pegasus. “I wish you both a long and happy life.”
I also thanked them and walked Medusa to her limousine.
“Will we see each other again?” I wondered out loud.
“Perhaps, should the opportunity or need arise. I have a special place in my heart for you. The envelope I left has the name of the builder and architect for your new clinic. Good luck and be happy,” she advised as she climbed into her fancy limo and drove away.
“Rose,” I said, holding up my daughter, “I think you are due for a change. A diaper change.”
Miss James and I carried her to the back.
“And, just what were you doing with handcuffs?” she asked as she grabbed my arm.
“Me, I thought they were yours,” I answered. “What could I possibly do with a pair of handcuffs?”
“I can think of a few things,” Miss James remarked as she bent over to change Rose’s diaper, trying to hide the smirk on her face.
Saturday, May 10, 2014
“I don’t know why we’re getting married here at the Clinic. We could have had the Grand Ballroom at the Hilton for nothing. With our luck, the preacher will probably get mugged on his way here,” I commented to my expectant betrothed. “And I still think we should have waited until you delivered. A couple of weeks wouldn’t have changed anything.”
Miss James gave me a look which said, “We’ve been through this a million times, don’t bother me anymore,” and then she spoke, “I do not want to have my daughter called a bastard, even for a few weeks.”
“I know, I know,” was all I could say. “It won’t be much of a honeymoon,” I muttered under my breath.
“Did you say something?”
“I said I hope Curley and Cupcake can still carry a tune,” I replied loudly.
“Uh huh. Oh, here’s my mother. I’ll see you shortly.”
“OK, lovely nurse,” I replied as Miss James met her mother outside the exam room I was using to get dressed. “Wait, wait, I need you to help me tie this …,” my voice trailed off as she vanished, “…bowtie.”
I’m in trouble now. Where’s that card with the step by step instructions.
I wrapped the black strap around my neck, crossed and folded just like in the diagram and ..nothing, at least nothing that resembled a bowtie.
Whoever invented ties hated the human male; probably the same person who invented high heels, some sort of equal opportunity tormenter.
I fixed my cummerbund and made one more effort to tie the bowtie, once again without success; I looked out at the arriving guests. I saw Daniel arrive with the Cichellos, faithful mutt Becky at his side, and motioned for him to come over.
“You look pretty spiffy,” I pointed out. “Everything OK at your new digs?”
“Can’t complain, three meals a day, warm place to sleep, cable TV,” he answered.
“Good, good,” I said. “Listen, can you do me a big favor? We’ve got about an hour until this shindig starts. Do you think you can run over to the thrift shop and see if they’ve got a black bowtie, one that’s already tied? Here’s twenty bucks, keep whatever you don’t spend. And remember, pay for the tie, don’t steal it.”
“Sure thing, Dr. Barnes.”
He and Becky ran out the door to Aaron’s Thrift and Smoke Shop; I threw the troublesome bowtie in the trash. Once again, I peeked out into the clinic waiting area, which now was a makeshift wedding chapel, and saw guests milling about. Mona “I’m a wedding consultant, not a planner” Avery was adjusting flowers on the crude altar which had been erected at one end of the waiting room. She turned around and watched as our guests filed in and made their way to their seats or chatted with each other. Mona’s eyes grew wider and wider as this bizarre assortment of visitors arrived.
First there was Mrs. Cichello, with Andrew, then Crystal Blue and the Wicked Queen, each dressed in spandex body suits, followed by the seven dwarfs from the Enchanted Emporium. A few seconds later Evella, Goddess of the Night, arrived, dressed in bright blue fishnet instead of her usual black. She took a seat near the front next to Caleb, who was sitting with his ever present sketch pad and colored pencils. Policemen, winos, addicts, hookers and some who just looked curious passed through the doors and took seats near the back. I heard the familiar “Da, da, da, daaa…” chiming as Captain Surgery and Dr. Cloud alighted outside the door and took their seats close to the front. The massive figure of Roachman with Super Rat perched on his shoulder burst through the doors and marched to the front, taking a seat in the second row. I suppose it was all too much for our wedding planner, all these curious, odd and extraordinary folks we called friends, because I saw Mona sneak out the back. We never heard from her again.
I felt a pull on the tails of my tux and turned around to see Daniel, waving the bowtie in front of me.
“Thanks, kid,” I said, “Uh, you can stop waving it, I see that you were successful.”
“I’m trying to get it to dry,” he replied. “They only had a pink bowtie, so I bought some black paint and painted it black, but it’s still drying.”
I touched the bowtie and a black spot of paint dotted my finger. As a matter of fact, paint was dripping onto the floor and spots of smooth silky pink were appearing. I looked at my watch and thought it might be best to try to tie my original bowtie one more time. I went over to the trash and found the waste basket was clean as a whistle.
Just my luck, they don’t empty the trash for weeks and today some unseen trash gremlin decides to actually clean up a bit.
“Looks like I’m stuck with your black and pink bowtie, kid. Thanks for your troubles. I’ll see you at the reception.”
I hung up the tie in my makeshift changing room, over the sink and sat down for a few moments to collect my thoughts.
A bride who is eight and a half months pregnant, her mother fresh off the ship from the jungles of Africa, a wedding in a dilapidated store front medical clinic, the most motley crew of wedding guests one could ever imagine, and the prospect of spending the next thirty or forty years mending, prescribing and caring for the dregs of society, is that what I really want? Look at them all; they look so happy, so excited and there is such an air of anticipation. I guess we really do some good work here. And, Miss James, lovely, wonderful Miss James, she truly is my anchor. Too late to change my mind, I guess it’s on with the show.
I touched the bowtie and a new black spot on my finger appeared. I gingerly wiped off the back of the tie so that wet paint would not mar my shirt and then I snapped it in place. I bent over to put on my shoes and then I looked at myself in the mirror. Black paint adorned my chin, which I wiped off, most of it, anyway.
This won’t work.
I took off the troublesome bowtie and wiped the all paint away, leaving a pink tie with a few black streaks. I rubbed and buffed until all the paint was either removed or dry.
Pink it is, I guess.
I admired myself in the mirror.
It looks pretty good, actually.
“Definitely your color,” came a voice behind me. “Black tux with a shiny pink bowtie. If it was my poor Lizzy, may she rest in peace, she would have postponed the wedding until I found a proper tie, but Miss James is eminently more practical and will press on, I’m certain.”
The voice belonged to Vince Smialdi, the clinic handyman and caretaker of Polly, an orange and purple dragon who had miraculously hatched at the clinic one evening. Vince had agreed to be my best man, after my friend Max had to cancel on short notice for some fuzzy, vague reason.
“Where’s Polly? You didn’t bring her, did you?”
“What do you think? It’s the Night Clinic crowd. You’ve got dwarves, vampires, werewolves, strippers and the greatest assortment of bizarre characters this side of the rainbow. I don’t think anyone will even blink over the site of a purple dragon. She’s sitting with Roachman and Super Rat. They can look out for each other.”
Vince came over to me and grabbed my hand and then gave me a hug. I looked him in the eye and saw the emotion.
“It looks like this is really going to happen,” I concluded. “We’ve got a best man, a bride and groom, and the bride’s mother. You’ve got the rings, I’ve got a pink bowtie and a spot of black paint on my chin which won’t come off. All we need is the preacher.”
It was almost time to begin and Pastor Horst hadn’t made an appearance yet.
“Don’t worry. I called him an hour ago and he promised he’d be here on time, awake, sober and properly dressed,” Vince reported.
“I don’t suppose you asked him to take a bath and shave?” I added.
“Don’t press it. One miracle at a time.”
At that moment we heard the murmur of the crowd suddenly grow louder and then a loud crash.
“I guess we can stop worrying.”
Sure enough, Pastor Gustav “Gussie” Horst had arrived in typical Horst fashion, surrounded by chaos and calamity. Vince looked out at the crowd and saw the pastor picking up a bucket and mop he had tripped over as part of his arrival.
“Looks like the pastor is functioning at his usual level. Let’s hope he can make it through the ceremony upright and without dropping his Bible on anyone’s foot or upsetting the podium. Why’d you pick him anyway?”
“Didn’t have a lot of choice. It was short notice and we don’t really have a regular preacher. Miss James thought it would be better to have someone from the community. He is ordained, after all…”
“Yeah, an ordained walking disaster. Look out there, I swear there is a black cloud over his head.”
I looked out at the now full waiting room and observed Pastor Horst standing in the makeshift pulpit and I saw the “black cloud.” Hovering above Pastor Horst was the Raven, who circled around a few times and then took a position on one of the ceiling lights.
“That’s not a cloud, Vince, it’s a big black bird, one who was definitely not invited.”
Vince grabbed a broom and started out to shoe the bird away.
“Don’t bother,” I informed him. “Even if you manage to get him out, which may not be that easy to do, he’ll be back. He seems to like it here. Just leave him alone and there shouldn’t be any problem.”
I looked up at the clock, which read seven thirty.
“Well, here we go…”
I heard singing as Curley and Cupcake began:
He is now to be among you at the calling of your hearts
Rest assured this troubador is acting on his part.
The union of your spirits, here, has caused him to remain
For whenever two or more of you are gathered in his name
There is love. there is love.
A man shall leave his mother and a woman leave her home
And they shall travel on to where the two shall be as one.
As it was in the beginning is now and til the end
Woman draws her life from man and gives it back again.
And there is love. there is love.
Well then what's to be the reason for becoming man and wife?
Is it love that brings you here or love that brings you life?
And if loving is the answer, then who's the giving for?
Do you believe in something that you've never seen before?
Oh there's love, there is love.
Oh the marriage of your spirits here has caused him to remain
For whenever two or more of you are gathered in his name
There is love. there is love.*
Before the song finished I made my way out to the altar and stood with Vince as we awaited the arrival of my bride. The lobby and waiting room almost made a respectable wedding chapel. Rows and rows of folding chairs took up almost all the floor space, leaving a narrow aisle down the middle. Pink and white carnations adorned the front where there was a wooden canopy above a small stage. There was a sign behind the altar, which read: “No spitting, urinating or littering allowed in the lobby or waiting room” in big black and red letters, offering sharp contrast to the decorations.
Curley and Cupcake finished their song and new music began, a funky version of “Here Comes the Bride” courtesy of Wild Fingers Dixon on the guitar. I winked at Nurse James mother, Betty James, who was seated in the front row dressed in her African kanga, and then I saw Miss James, more radiant than ever even with her big belly. She wore a light pink gown with white accents, spaghetti straps and a white veil.
Curley stood by her side, their arms intertwined, as she made her way down the aisle, doing her best to look solemn, but unable to hide her joy and happiness. Wild Fingers’ melodious guitar heightened the mood as my bride drew closer. Just before Curley was to release her hand to join mine a buzz ran through the crowd as our guests began to point up at the ceiling.
I looked up and saw a pair of black wings flitting erratically between the lights.
The Raven? Another drunken bird? No a bat.
The Raven, to its credit, took matters into its own hands and flew off its perch and gave chase. We all oohed and aahed as the two winged creatures bobbed and weaved between light fixtures and around vents. At first it looked like the Raven would easily dispatch the interloper, but then the bat would dodge one way or another and elude the black bird. The Raven made a final lunge at the bat and grabbed hold of its foot, but then the bat settled down in an empty chair and the Raven was left holding nothing but the pant leg of Mr. V.M. Pire.
“Sorry, I’m late,” he explained, a bit sheepishly, “I had to wait until sundown. I’m sure you understand.”
“Quite alright,” I answered, “but you did ruin my lovely bride’s entrance.”
“Sorry,” he said again and he stood and bowed. Everyone turned away from him, back towards the radiant Miss James. The Raven returned to his spot, perched above the gathering of guests, keeping a watchful eye over the ceremony.
The music resumed and Miss James made it to the altar without further trouble. I clasped her hand in mine as Curley took his seat between Cupcake and my soon to be mother-in-law.
Pastor Horst cleared his throat, “Hrrmph”, took a deep breath and cleared his throat again, “Hrrrmmph”, then he coughed a few more times and finally stood facing us, his face even redder than usual.
“Dearly beloved,” he began, “we are gathered here in the sight of God to join this man and this woman in holy matrimony, which is a holy estate ordained by God…”
I hope he’s not too long winded. Just hit the high points and get this over with.
And don’t pass out.
At that moment a black cat jumped up on the altar.
“OK, who brought the cat?”
Daniel’s dog, Becky, decided it was her job to rid the ceremony of uninvited felines and leapt up from the audience and dashed towards the cat and us.
“Rowf, Rowf, Grrr,” barked Becky
“Meeooww, meeeoowww,” the cat replied followed by a swipe at Becky’s nose with her sharp claws.
“Rowf?” Becky replied, she stopped for a moment and then let out a long, “Grrrrr…”
The cat darted away into the crowd of guests and Becky followed, howling. Every so often there was a shout from one of our guests as the dog and cat weaved their way in and around chairs.
“Where did that cat come from?” Miss James wondered out loud.
“At the rate we’re going our daughter will have graduated medical school before we actually are married,” I added.
Roachman came to the rescue, gathering up the cat and hustling it outside. Becky sniffed and barked at the door until she was sure the cat was gone and then took her place on the floor by Daniel’s chair.
“This is highly irregular,” Pastor Horst observed. “Such shenanigans are not supposed to be part of such a solemn and auspicious occasion.”
“It’s OK Pastor. Believe me I wouldn’t be surprised if the Wicked Witch of the West materialized right here in front of us.”
At that moment there was a pillar of fire and green smoke right next to me. The smoke and fire dissipated leaving a figure dressed in a tight black dress, crooked pointed black hat, waving a broom and cackling. I looked up.
Is this really necessary?
“Who killed my sister, who killed the Wicked Witch of the East? Was it you?” she screamed at Miss James who found herself rubbing shoulders with the green skinned witch.
My beloved opened her mouth, but no words came out and then I thought she was going to faint. I quickly moved to her side and put my arm around her, forcing myself between her and the Wicked Witch.
“There’s no dead witch…” I started to explain, but then our own Wicked Queen, Queen of the strippers that is, approached her from behind.
“You’re mistaken,” she whispered in the real witch’s ear. “Look around. There’s no dead witch here. This is a place for healing and joy. We try to keep death away.”
The Wicked Witch of the West did look around, all the time shaking her broomstick. Then she pulled up her black sleeve exposing her bony green arm and looked at her black watch and then she shook her wrist.
“Curses, curse that stupid spell. This isn’t right. Where are the Munchkins? Where is that brat Dorothy or that goody two shoes Glinda. Let me check these instructions,” she murmured as she pulled out a piece of faded brown paper. “Two eyes of newt, a rat tooth, a beagle’s feather, boil for ten minutes and dip broom in…”
Curley decided he needed to add his two cents and got up from his seat, “did you say ‘beagle’s feather, Ms. Witch?”
She nodded her head, “Yes, it says right here, beagle’s feather.”
Curley took the paper from her hand and put on his reading glasses. “If I read this correctly, Ms. Wicked Witch, it says ‘an eagle’s feather’ not a ‘beagle’s feather.’ The comma looks like a letter ‘b’. Here check it for yourself. You can use my glasses if it will help.”
The witch pulled out her own spectacles and perched them on her long, pointy green nose and peered through them at the worn paper.
“I guess you’re right,” she cackled scratching her chin. “It was no easy chore finding a beagle with feathers. I sort of had to improvise. Sorry for the interruption. You look lovely, my dear,” she added speaking to Miss James and then she whispered, “stand back.”
“Heh, heh, heh, heh,” she cackled and she waved her broom, winked at us, and spun around as the pillar of green fire and smoke shot up from the floor and she vanished.
“Enough is enough,” I said to no one in particular, “let’s get this show over with so we can really get down and party.”
I looked for Pastor Horst, and found him, flat on the floor, unconscious. Together, Miss James and I knelt at his side. I felt for a pulse, while Miss James cradled his head.
“He’s breathing,” She observed.
“And he’s got a strong radial pulse,” I added.
He started to arouse and opened his eyes.
“What happened?” he wondered.
“As best as we can determine,” Miss James answered, “you fainted.”
“Is the wedding over?” he asked.
“We haven’t really started yet,” I replied. “But, we are ready whenever you are.”
“OK, OK,” he wheezed, “let’s see if we can get you two married without further interruption.”
He made it up to standing.
“Join hands, please,” he requested of us. “Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today in the presence of God to join this man and this woman in holy matrimony, which is a blessed state.”
He turned to me.
“Do you, Miles Standish Barnes, take this woman to be your lawful wedded wife? To have and to hold, to love and honor and cherish, in sickness and in health, until death do you part?”
“I do,” I answered.
He turned towards Miss James.
“Do you, Portia Mathilda James, take this man to be your lawful wedded husband? To have and to hold, to love and honor and cherish, in sickness and in health, until death do you part?”
“I do,” she answered and she stared into my eyes with more love than any man ever deserved.
“Is there a ring for our bride and groo..o…m…”
Pastor Horst’s voice trailed off and he fell to the floor and began to snore.
“He’s asleep,” Vince observed
Narcolepsy? Why can’t anything ever be simple?
Try as we could, we could not arouse the Pastor.
“I don’t think we’re married yet,” Miss James remarked.
It was Madame Marie who came to the rescue.
“I’ll finish the ceremony,” she stated.
“Are you allowed, I mean would it be legal?” I asked, a bit skeptical.
“Of course, I am Voodoo High Priestess, fully licensed to perform a variety of religious functions.”
I glanced over at Pastor Horst, who was snoring away on a mat on the floor in the corner and then at my bride. Miss James’ eyes gave me her answer.
“OK, Madame, let’s get this wedding done before our daughter decides she wants to be part of the ceremony.”
So, Madame Marie took her place at the head of the altar. She reached into her bag and hung some feathers and a dead chicken from the canopy and the ceremony resumed.
“Who’s got the ring?” she asked.
Vince handed the ring to Madame Marie, who held it up to the light and then took out a jeweler’s loupe to examine it.
“Eighteen Karat gold with VVS, Ideal cut G diamonds, nice,” she muttered under her breath and then she handed the ring to me.
“Place the ring on the fourth finger of her left hand and repeat after me,” she commanded. “With this ring I thee wed.”
“With this ring I thee wed,” I repeated softly.
“And the other ring?”
Vince handed the second ring to Madame, who once again held it up to inspection.
“Pretty hefty, oh and it’s engraved, also very nice,” she smiled at me and handed the ring to Miss James. “Repeat after me, ‘with this ring I thee wed’.”
“With this ring I thee wed,” Miss James said staring into my eyes, her eyes saying so much more than the words.
“Therefore, by the powers vested in me by this great state, I now pronounce you husband and wife. May the magnificent Baron Samedi bless this union of souls. You may kiss the bride.”
I gently put my arms around my dear Portia Barnes and kissed her.
“Miles and Portia Barnes? Perhaps we should keep it Dr. Barnes and Miss James,” she whispered in my ear. I nodded my agreement.
The nuptials moved on to a grand and uneventful reception which featured music courtesy of Curley and Cupcake and Wild Fingers. Pastor Horst finally woke up and resumed his place among the living and had our guests in stitches with his rendition of a debate between Daffy and Donald Duck.
It was early morning when we finally found ourselves in the bridal Suite at the Fairmont.
“It was a memorable night,” I commented.
“You have a gift for understatement,” Miss James replied. “Black cats, wicked witches, a voodoo high priestess? I’d say if we can survive a wedding like that, our marriage should be able to endure anything.”
“Look at these gifts,” I commented and I began to take inventory.
“Curley and Cupcake Play the Catskills: A Collection of Showtunes, thirty great songs from Broadway and the Movies.”
“Just my style, hope it includes songs from ‘My Fair Lady’.”
“Let’s see, a used dirty cape with a big ‘R’ from Roachman, a gift certificate to ‘The Enchanted Emporium’.”
“Not really my taste in entertainment.”
“Evella, Goddess of the Night’s recipe for butter cookies and brownies.”
“Finally, something worthwhile, although I’ll leave the baking to you.”
“An ostrich foot from Madame Marie and a miniature version of …me.”
“I’ll take the doll, it’ll help me keep you in line. I don’t think you need the ostrich foot however.”
“You’ll want this to go with the doll,” and I handed her a thin book, ‘Voodoo for Beginners.’
There were a lot more presents, ranging from cracked beer mugs someone probably swiped from a local bar to the occasional gift that actually would be useful such as a dinnerware for four and a set of satin sheets.
Finally I found the gift I’d been looking for. It was wrapped in plain brown paper which I tore off in great anticipation. Inside was a drawing, Caleb’s gift to us. I held it up to the light and we both admired the extraordinary image he had created.
It showed the two of us, holding hands and walking together. We each carried a baby wrapped in a blanket as we walked over a river, only there wasn’t any bridge. We were suspended in the sky, walking on beams of white and yellow light while below us was a raging river lined by sharp, jagged rocks. The source of lights could be seen far in the distance as we walked towards it. And, to add a bit of mystery or maybe peace of mind, a black bird flew overhead. The Raven.
The picture almost brought me to tears. I laid it against the wall.
“I know your eight and a half months pregnant, but maybe we can find a way to celebrate our wedding night?” I asked as I helped Portia undress.
“Where there’s a will there’s a way and, Dr. Barnes, I know you’ll find it,” she smiled and kissed me.
I opened my eyes and looked out the window. The Raven was perched on the ledge, but flew away when as soon as I noticed it.
“Ooooh,” Miss James moaned.
“Already?” I wondered out loud, I’ve barely started.
“Aaaw, ooooh, I think,” she panted, “I think it’s time.”
“Anytime is right as far as I’m concerned,” I answered and I gave her a letcherous look.
She took a few deep breaths.
“Oooh, Oooh… oh, yes, it’s time dear wonderful, husband doctor. Time for the baby to arrive. Let’s go.”
So, we spent the rest of our wedding night having a beautiful baby girl.
*The Wedding Song, Noel “Paul” Stookey 1972