The doctor, typically a voluble and garrulous fellow, paused briefly
before delivering the news. His eyes were grim and his jaw was set in
a particularly uncomfortable-looking way. Test results in hand, he
Anna’s sensitive gut churned in response. A dramatic pause in the
midst of getting the test results from your annual checkup was never a
good sign. At least, it was a reliably bad sign in the soap operas.
The dramatic pause usually meant you were about to hear some ominous
diagnosis, like a brain cloud, followed by a dire prognosis of three,
maybe four months to live.
Of course, the upside to that in the soap operas was that it was the
perfect excuse to take your recent inheritance, and go on holiday in
the Azores or some made-up tropical island nation. There you would be
kidnapped for ransom by a gregarious, charismatic freedom-fighting
local guerrilla leader, fall madly in love with him, and then
discover– just as you were on the precipice of leaping off a cliff to
spare Fernando the grief of watching you waste away slowly–that a
medicine man had a miraculous indigenous cure for brain clouds, made
from a local plant and some squished bugs.
But Anna didn’t have any recent inheritance. She didn’t even have a
401k big enough to cash out and fund a holiday in Akron, much less the
Azores. Also, she was not really the sort of girl whose presence and
demeanor screamed “Kidnap me! I’m worth a fortune!” If her appearance
conveyed anything, it was more along the lines of “acceptable
Imperialist cannon fodder for La Revolucion!”
So it was pretty unlikely she’d find a Fernando, or a medicine man, or
even a good dramatic cliff to leap to her tragic death from. Looking
at it from that perspective, there was really no upside to her
impending brain cloud.
At this point in Anna’s rapid-fire inner monologue, the doctor cleared
his throat. Then he cleared it again, more loudly.
Then he turned quickly and vomited in the small trash receptacle in
the corner of the exam room.
Anna watched in rapt horror as her doctor continued to projectile
vomit into the waste bin for several minutes. The potent smell was
awful, sending her own already-churning stomach into a boiling
disaster area. She grabbed a handful of scratchy tissues from the box
next to the exam table, covering her nose to avoid retching over her
Finally, the doctor righted himself, grabbing a clutch of brown paper
towels and wiping his sweaty face.
“I’m so sorry, Miss Turnbuckle. It seems I’ve contracted a bad case of
salmonella poisoning. I thought I would be fine, but evidently I was
wrong. That’s what I get for buying those tacos from a food truck, I
suppose. Still, the chorizo was excellent.”
Anna gaped at her disheveled general practitioner, unsure of what to say or do.
“Oh, and your test results are perfectly normal. See you next year.”
With that, he grabbed up the waste can and bolted out of the exam