The Good Doctor
I felt like shit, my nose was running, my throat was scratchy
sore and every bone in my body ached. Unfortunately Jason felt
even worse than I did and had settled down into two basic modes;
the first was twisting in my arms and trying to get me to put
him down and of course as soon as he was standing on the floor
he wanted me to pick him up again. The second was just to lie
in my arms trying to breath through his stuffed nose and not
saying anything, just looking pathetic.
“Dad, I wanna go home.”
I smiled at him. “We’re way
to sick to go home. You especially. Besides Dr. Malvic is
gonna make you feel all
Jason twisted in my arms again and buried
his face in my chest while he hung onto my tie. “You
sick too, Dad?”
“Yeah, not as bad as you but I’m
sick too, Jason.”
“He’s not gonna hurt me is he, Dad?” His
voice was faint and plaintive as only a sick little boys voice
“No but you may have to have a shot.” Jason started
to whine. “Jason, I might have to have one too. And they
don’t feel any better when you’re old. Anyway,
you’ve had shots before and you didn’t die or anything.”
I had my topcoat on and a muffler and
I still felt cold. Jason felt like a blast furnace. There’s something about your
kid being sick that is fundamentally gut wrenching. Dads are
suppose to be able to make bad stuff go away but I felt like
I’d be lucky to make it through the rest of the day.
Fortunately at that moment the nurse came over and knelt down
next to me.
She gave Jason a pitiful lopsided, “I’m sorry
your sick,” smile. Then turning to me she said. “Mr.
Cortland, Dr. Malvic is totally jammed up but if you would
be willing to see Dr. O’Connor I can get you right in.
I know that he’s not your regular doctor but the whole
city is sick.” I had never even laid eyes on Dr. O’Connor
and the only thing that I knew about him was the he was new
and yet there was something else nagging at the back of my
mind about him.
“Right now I’d talk to the
janitor if he had graduated from medical school, actually
even if he was just the janitor
at a medical school. Can he see us right away?”
“Yep.” She held out her arms for Jason. “Just
come with me.” Jason laid his head on her shoulder in
a way that twisted my heart and I wondered for the millionth
time what it was costing him not to have a mom.
We walked past the scale that she always
weighed everyone on and she said that she’d worry about
that next time we came in. We really looked like hell. I
wanted to just lean
against the wall of the corridor and sleep.
She got us settled in a room and I tried interesting the little
blast furnace in a small plastic toy from a box of them but
he was having none of it and was back in my lap in seconds.
We were both kind of dozing off in a fever-induced haze when
the doctor knocked on the door and then walked in.
All that I could think of was how the
fuck can he look so good when I feel so lousy? He had blond
hair, falling slightly
over his forehead, which of course accented his gorgeous blue
eyes. Fuck, I look like I’ve been dragged behind a car
for about six blocks. It didn’t fucking matter. He could
have been Brad Pitt, I was too fucking sick to care, well a
Suddenly we’re getting this really big smile from his
chiseled features. “Hi Mr. Cortland. Nice seeing you
“Again?” I wanted to lie
down and sleep for about a year.
His hands were already moving smoothly
throat. He whipped out a flashlight and tongue depressor. “Yeah,
the block party. We had a beer together.” He ran his
hand through Jason’s hair and then quickly shoved the
tip of one of those thingies they use for checking out ears.
He was fast and confident and he had the thing in and out of
Jason’s ears before he realized that it was happening
“Jason, can you open your mouth
for me? I have to use this little piece of wood to hold your
tongue down so that
I can see your throat. Okay?”
Idiot, idiot, idiot!!! I just remembered!! This guy had just
moved in two doors down from me.
Jason nodded a tentative yes.
Dr. O’Connor moved quickly, apparently realizing that
Jason’s permission was a sometime thing. Within seconds
he had checked out his throat, grabbed a swab and rubbed it
for a split second in Jason’s throat, called the nurse
handed her the swab with instruction and turned his attention
I said. “You’re my new neighbor.” Duh!
I could probably get him to sign commitment papers for me
“Don’t look so stricken. You feel like crap and
my guess is that you’ve felt this way for a couple of
days.” Me smiled at me. “Not all cylinders are
firing.” He reached over and tugged lightly at my tie. “You
mind? You’ve got your hands full with Jason and I need
Maybe it was the flu that seemed to be
eating its way through my brain but I no longer seemed to
be able to put together
sentences and I really didn’t care.
He pulled my tie loose and then undid the top button on my
shirt. Was it my fevered brain reading too much into this or
did he do this more slowly than normal?
His hands were warm and moved slowly
on my throat feeling for swollen glands. I don’t think
that it took much searching even to me they felt like baseballs.
“Hmmm. Some pretty good swelling here. Open your mouth.” He
did the same thing to me that he did to Jason.
He pitched everything that was disposable,
washed his hands and sat down at his desk. “Well, pretty much you two
have got the same thing. We won’t be sure till the cultures
come back but I’m thinking strep throat and in Jason
case an ear infection too.”
He rummaged through the desk drawers
and then got up and pulled some things out of a cabinet. “Take these. When you get
home I want you to take a whole one and Jason a half of one.
Here’s a prescription and you can get it filled tomorrow.
This stuff will last you till then. In the meantime you need
I must have given him a “you gotta be kidding,” look
because he said. “Really! I mean it! The thing you need
most now is sleep. The pills are gonna make Jason even sleepier
than he is now so take advantage of it.” He looked me
directly in the eyes. “No work tomorrow! Got that? Rest,
or this is gonna get a lot worse.” He pulled my shirt
closed and for a moment there I just wanted to lay my head
on his chest.
Looking at me he said. “Do you have someone to take
he seemed to remember something.
“Sorry. Do the best you can. The most important thing
is to stay in bed. I realize that that will be easier for Jason
than for you.” It occurred to me that the neighbor who
lived between us was Eleanor Benson. Eleanor was a dear lady
of seventy something who knew absolutely everything that went
on within a fifteen-block radius and used every opportunity
to pass the information on to whoever would listen. Obviously
from his reaction she had already told him that my wife was
I really don’t know how the hell I got out of bed the
next morning. I did feel better but that was just marginally
better than death. The thing is that the doorbell was ringing.
As I passed the bathroom I decided that whoever it was deserved
to die but I wasn’t sure that I had the strength.
When I opened the door it took me a few seconds to realize
that it was him. For one thing he was wearing faded blue jeans
a blue check shirt and a tan leather windbreaker. The white
lab coat was nowhere to be seen. He lifted up a large pot that
he had it his hands.
“Soup. I figured that you wouldn’t have time……………..or
strength to cook. This is beef barley…………..kinda
my specialty.” He smiled. “Make you strong like
bull.” A phony Russian accent that made me smile.
I kept pushing out of my mind the fact
that I looked like shit. “Come on in, Doc. You make
soup for all your patients?”
“Only if they live close. You get like a mile away and
you’re outta luck.”
As we were walking towards the kitchen
I said. “You’ll
stay for coffee? I’m desperate for adult conversation.” I
turned and looked at him. “No work today?”
“Would you believe that I’ve
worked the last twelve days straight? Everyone has the flu
but even doctors get a
day off every once in a while.”
Did I mention that those faded and worn
jeans really accentuated his hard little butt and packed
crotch? I was trying not to
think about it. I hadn’t shaved, I hadn’t showered,
I felt totally grubby, well actually grubby and sick.
“Sit down, Doc. I’ll make us some coffee.” Something
occurred to me. “I can’t keep calling you Doc.
It’s reminds me of my grandfather.”
I sat at the table facing him. “He used to call everyone
Doc so that he didn’t have to remember their names.”
He looked up from the table, those eyes hit and some weird
chemistry was happening, like seeing a star being born out
of the nothingness, one moment there was dark empty space and
the next thing you knew there was this bright twinkling light.
He smelled of soap.
I set a couple of coffee mugs on the
table and sat back down all the while continuing to look
into his eyes. “We should
have this in a moment.”
He reached over the table and felt my
name is Peter but I also answer to Pete.” He smiled and
showed the most incredibly white teeth. “Your not as
hot as you were yesterday.” I missed his hand when he
took it away.
I laughed at the double meaning and said. “Gimme a break,
Pete, I haven’t even had a chance to shower.”
I got up and walked over to the counter
to get our coffee and when I turned back I saw Jason climbing
up onto Pete’s
“My God! He never does that!”
Pete had one hand on Jason’s forehead and the other
checking for swollen glands. I guess you can’t turn off
being a doctor. He looked at me and smiled. “Kids have
always liked me.”
When a guy is sitting down and wearing faded old jeans his
cock and balls have a way being pushed up against the fabric
and the fabric is always faded even more in that particular
spot. Just looking at it you know how soft the old denim would
I threw a piece of bread in the toaster
for Jason and asked Pete. “What can I do to thank you for the soup…………and
to welcome you to the neighborhood.”
“Can you cook?”
“Pot roast or sweet and sour pork. So far those two
have gotten me by. I’m really good at ordering in restaurants
though.” I put butter and jelly on Jason’s toast
and then cut it into three triangles like he likes. “And
besides immediate evidence to the contrary I clean up pretty
I set the plate with the toast on it
within Jason reach. “Careful
that he doesn’t get that jelly on you.”
Pete looked up at me and grinned. “I don’t worry
about stuff like that.” Whamo!!! That chemistry thing
again. “When you deal with sick people all day you learn
to tune out the little stuff.”
Did I have a “This Man is Gay Even Though He Used to
Be Married and has a Little Boy” sign on me? I may be
sick and god knows occasionally stupid but even I in the pathetic
state that I was in knew when someone was coming on to them.
No! Gotta be Eleanor. So she put things together. Well she
has all day every day to sit and think about her neighbors
and if you really did think about it me being gay wouldn’t
have been such a total stretch.
Jason took a bite of toast and twisted
his head and looked up at Pete. “Am I still sick?”
Pete smiled down at him. “Yep,
still a little bit sick, you better take it easy today.”
Then with a more serious look on his
face. “Well, I
better get going.” He looked from Jason to me. “My
prescription still stands. Sleep!”
I got up with him. “Ah………..so how
about Friday……….for dinner?”
Pete was pulling on his jacket and then
flashed those eyes at me. “Sounds good if we can make
it sevenish. I have to work that day but I could be here
After a fast shower and even faster shave
I threw on some sweats, grabbed a heavy blanket and went
into the family room
with Jason. “Watcha doin Buddy?”
“Watchin TV, Dad.”
I pulled the cushions off of the sofa and wrapping the blanket
around me I laid on my side against the cushions and watched
television with Jason. After a little while Jason edged backwards
until he was leaning against my chest and I pulled the blanket
over the both of us. After a bit he turned and looked up at
“Will we see Doctor O’Connor
“Even if I get well?”