Friday, December 5, 2014
Excerpt from the book:
Two young doctors breezed through the waiting room like rising stars from the Screen Actors Guild. Both of them were tall, with smartly-styled dark hair and traditional white coats. One of them was passably attractive and the other, indecently good-looking. Neither a day over thirty. Men like that turn girls’ heads, thought the man sitting near the door, as a dozen people looked up from their battered copies of Hello magazine. Curiosity piqued inside him as the pair went by, capturing hearts like some people pick up fleas. Women love men like that. He glanced jealously at the girl sitting next to him, to see if she was doing a double take instead of reading her magazine like he had told her to.
And yes, she was looking, like everyone else.
“Layla!” he scolded. “Mind your own business, not theirs.”
But her gaze followed the doctors and her head turned as she tuned in to what they were saying. He couldn’t slap her – not here with all these other people watching. “Layla!”
Dr Better-than-Average was showing Dr Male Model the layout of the reception area. He seemed to be showing him the ropes – pointing out features of special interest like the new computer and the receptionist who would bring you a coffee if you asked her nicely.
“As you can see, it’s a full house here on a Monday,” said Better-than-Average, waving a smooth hand in the direction of the waiting room – which was packed with people, young and old, nursing all kinds of injuries and ailments. “It’s important to buy into our general rule that consultations should take about seven minutes.”
Dr Male Model must be the new boy, because he looked up and said, “Seven minutes?”
Ah, an idealist, maybe? A man with a conscience, wanting to do his best and give a bit more? Never mind, Doctor, you’ll soon be cured of that, working here.
“A great deal can be achieved in seven minutes,” said Better-than-Average, handing his new colleague a patient’s file. “I find it adequate in most cases. Of course, you can take a little more if you need to make a referral to a specialist, and a little less if you get something easy. Chicken pox, for example, can often be diagnosed before the patient’s bottom lands in the seat.”
He spoke in a loud confident voice and didn’t seem to care that he was breaking some illusions.
“Hear that?” whispered the man to the girl. “Seven minutes. That’s all you’ll get with him, if you’re lucky. So don’t mess it up. Understand?”
And the girl nodded. And then she looked again at the young doctor – the new boy, with the smart dark hair and the promise of a kind heart – and her face changed. She put a hand over her eyes like she wanted to run and hide.
“Can’t do it,” she said. “Don’t make me.”
And then she got up and tried to head for the door.
“Come here!” said the man, grasping her skinny arm and trying to make her sit down again. But she twisted and squirmed until she was free, and darted out of the door and into the street.