Dr. Yes by Bruce Harris.
Dr. Ben Hamilton, known to his mainly affluent Surrey patients as Dr. Yes, for reasons which will become apparent, hurried along to his surgery; he only had five minutes before his first appointment, and he was a conscientious man. The fact that being almost late could not be said to be his fault Home Counties morning traffic, demanding at the best of times - didnt detract from his sense of urgency.
Taking a job in such a well-heeled place had excited some disapproval, particularly from one of his mates from Brum. Youll make money, but theyre not your people, are they? Gibson wisdom take note. Gibsons wisdom had actually led Gibson into private medicine, giving his admonitions an empty feel, but Ben still knew what he meant. He justified the comfortable life by being good and thorough, punctual and attentive. Rich people were people too, he told himself; wealthy old ladies ailments were no less than anyone elses, and if occasionally they werent really ailments at all, he should counsel, not condemn. It was called holistic medicine; still an ideal, whoever the clientele.
He hurried past the waiting room door, noticing several regulars, and gratefully reached the consulting room. He was a lean, agile thirty something, good-looking in a rather dishevelled, tousle-haired way, and free of extraneous flesh mainly because he took his running and gym activities as seriously as he took his job. Some patients would marvel at him still being single, though most, thanks to the receptionists Helen and Beth, knew the doctors seven year relationship with a young woman Kate had recently ended, seemingly mostly because of the lack of a proposal from Ben, even though Kate had shown little enthusiasm for marriage (I dont want to be your chattel, Ben, which seems to be what its about). This had shaken the doctors confidence in the significant other stakes, though secretly he found himself quite enjoying some of the freedoms which Kate had previously confiscated.
Annie Dermott was first in the queue, as she had a habit of being. Annie in her sixties was large and growing larger, probably the source of most of her problems, though the doctor was too gallant to say this in so many words. Annie fixed an expression of martyrdom on her face and turned her head slightly to simulate girlie like innocence, leading the two of them into a well-practised routine.
Bothering you again, Doctor, and nothing earth-shattering really, though you did say even the smaller problems still might need sorting out.
Yes. The Doctor nodded, keeping his eyes and attention on Annies face.
Well, Im having trouble sleeping again, and you know those pills you started me on last time?
They dont seem to have worked out too well, and I really do need sleep, dont I?
So could we perhaps talk about trying something else?
Thank you; hope Im not being too much of a nuisance, am I?
Yes I mean no, sorry. Lets look at what else might be possible, then.
Annie nodded her satisfaction. Its nice to talk frankly about these things, isnt it, Doctor?
Just a mile and a half away, in her penthouse on the edge of the town, Mimi Stone, born Rhoda Karelski, ex Mrs. Edelman, Mrs. De Thaune and Mrs. Callagio, was gazing out at her impressive view and, for once, deriving precious little satisfaction from it.
Mimi, for all her sometimes effusive showbiz personality, was neither a fool nor a fantasist, and she was still digesting the news which a crestfallen hospital consultant had told her two days before. But it wasnt the consultant she was thinking about, nor the daunting near future his words had implied; it was Dr. Ben Hamilton.
Mimi generally steered clear of the NHS, having heard the stories of trolleys in corridors and six-month waiting lists. Britain, generally, she liked; people minded their business and you werent being savaged by asshole shock jocks every time you dated another guy or needed to unload another crumb bum of a husband. The downside she could live with, as long as it didnt touch her, and the NHS didnt touch her at any point. The kind of doctors she saw were smooth, Saville Row suited guys, with properly carpeted offices and smiling receptionists who hurried her through as soon as shed stepped out of the limo.
For some months, Mimi had known, right down in her heart and soul, that something was wrong with her, and all these jerk doctors had soothed and flattered her, regularly blowing smoke up her ass, to quote her first and probably best husband, director Sam Edelman, womanising punk as he was. They treated her like a neurotic old dame, wasting their time, if expensively, and way back when, maybe she had been, but not this time around.
Eventually, in desperation, and having heard a bit about Dr. Yes from a few girls she sometimes met up with in town, she got on his books and saw him. And sure, he said yes a lot, but he also, quietly, firmly, with that English smoothness which found you agreeing to stuff even before you knew what the hell you were letting yourself in for, referred her to a place where they did a lot of tests. Yes, she had to wait sometimes, and yes, some of the tests were pretty intimate, but everyone was nice, even if the coffee was shredded up shit and the tea even worse.
Now she was paying the price for not having been to Dr. Yes a long time ago. Now she knew. And, because of all those ass-kissing pretend doctors, it was too late. Six months, maybe nine if she was a good girl, meaning giving up just about everything and more or less living on dry bread and glasses of water. Soon after, the hospice. Soon after that, curtain down.
Dr. Yes, she thought, must know by now, and Dr. Yes was the kind of guy who would manage to work this round to being his fault. O.K., Mimi thought, she had no illusions left about guys as a general species, such as the Nazi reptiles who chased her old Ma and Pa out of Poland, such as Edelman who couldnt keep it in his pants, De Thaune who was always too soused to get it up out of his pants and Callagio who mainly wanted to get into other guys pants, but now and then, a goddam angel manifested itself into human form and soft-talking Dr. Yes with the lovely eyes and the interestingly tousled hair was one of them. She might have to beat herself up about what had happened; he shouldnt, and, as far as Mimi was concerned, he wasnt going to, and she was already sure she was going to go the hell to his place and tell him.
His appointments finished, Ben got ready to go to the running club, where he would do his regular distances, linger about in the shower and then get himself an Indian meal delivered, strong and hot, one more little bonus about being Kate-less. O.K., they were consolation prizes for the empty bed and the echoing flat, but they were better than nothing.
His bleeper on the desk went off, and, as usual, about fifty possibilities had already gone through his head by the time he picked it up and answered it. Reception calling.
Doctor, theres an American lady here, said the unmistakable tone of Beth Feltham, and the slight pause between American and lady conveyed her opinion precisely. She is on your list - recently, yes, but on it all the same, and she wants to see you urgently. She is, apparently, unused to making appointments. Shall I tell her were not and give her a time tomorrow?
Ben put his bag back down on the floor. Hed seen the hospital report on Mimi Stone.
No, Beth. I know what shes here about. Send her through, please.
He was still on his feet when the knock came. He opened the door himself.
Miss Stone come in, please. Sit down.
Dont you start Miss Stoning me, buster. Mimi will do nicely. Im not a goddam Miss anyway. Im still technically married to that faggot Callagio, though Ill be damned if Im carrying his crummy name around with me.
As on previous occasions with this lady, Ben felt he was losing the agenda almost immediately. He sat down beside her, rather than retreating behind the desk, and the unexpected positioning did manage to quieten her momentarily.
Mimi, Ive had the report from the hospital. Im sorry about the news, and Im even sorrier that we didnt get to you and sort this out earlier
Now that, doc, Mimi interrupted loudly, with a tone and a raised admonitory figure which shut Ben up immediately, is exactly why Im here. You, guy, should not be sorry; you, guy, are a goddam prince besides all those horses pricks who kept on jerking me along with indigestions and wind. Wind, for Chrissake. What in the hell am I, a walking fan? O.K., the news aint good, but Ive had a hell of a time and I dont want to get to be so old a broad that I cant get up off my ass and Im dribbling in my pants. So what the hell? Anyway, I have a plan do I ever have a plan, she finished, leaning forward and touching the doctor on his bony knee.
A plan? Ben managed to say, resisting the urge to edge his chair backwards.
You betcha. Doctor to hell with that, Ben, can I call you Ben? Good Ben, Im loaded, son, still loaded right up to bursting, however hard all the chisellers and swindlers have tried to get it off me, Mimi has too much goddam savvy for any of them. In a few months, when Callagio stops fooling around and settles, Ill be loaded some more. And am I leaving it to three jerks, one female and two male, whove crept their way out of my womb and been trying ever since to do the chiselling and swindling themselves, because all of them are just like their goddam fathers? No, the hell Im not. Ill tell you just what I am going to do.
Bens eyes opened wider and his mouth began to open, but Mimi had already resumed, seeming to feel any interjected question was superfluous.
Im going to hire a yacht, Ben boy, a big blonde baby, with a skipper and a crew, and Im going to take my ass around the world one more time, seeing it all and doing it all. Im going to need a personal physician, and I do mean physician, son, I dont do toyboys and I aint starting now. Come with me, Ben, and see the world while youve got the chance, boy. Those two babbling broads at reception let it out that youve just bust up with your femme fatale forgive me, son, but a kid of four could get those two to blab their hearts out for two chews and a goddam lollipop and youre free, and youre too good a guy to be free for long. Dont believe the hype, son, we dont all prefer jerks and bandits. This place can get in a what the hell is it locum, for six months Ill pay for the guy myself if need be and the sad old girls who come in here for their regular smoke up the ass can live without you for that long. Tell me, now, Ben, what do you say, son?
Ben realised a smile seemed somehow to have slapped itself on to his face.
Yes! he said.
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