"imelda - what are you doing in here?"
the young intern looked up. doctor danielson was standing in the doorway with her hands in the pockets of her white coat and she did not look pleased.
"i - was looking for a message i wrote down - from doctor djinn's wife."
"on what, imelda? hasn't the hospital issued you your own notepad?" doctor danielson stepped into the room, her dark eyes glowing like coals in a fiery furnace.
"i must have misplaced it."
"and have you reported it missing?"
"i - no, the doctors have all been so busy - with all the patients from the great thruway accident - i didn't want to disturb them"
"oh, imelda, imelda, you are such an inept little liar - you know the people in supply and hr are not dealing with the thruway accident." doctor danielson moved up to the drawer imelda had been looking in and put her hand in it. "nothing - just as i knew." she glared at imelda. "after all we've done for you - all the hours of training - the relocation - to reconstruct you into some semblance of a halfway useful citizen - and this is how you repay us - by being a snoop and a sneak and a very naughty girl. i am going to have to report you to the board. "
"oh, please, doctor! please! i never want to go before the board again! they are so mean!"
the doctor laughed. "you think the board is mean - you have a lot to learn, young lady."
"then tell me what you were really looking for."
'i was - it's about doctor varney,"
"and what about doctor varney? what does a little worm like yourself have to do with doctor varney?"
imelda swallowed hard. "i wondered if - if the things they say about him are true. "
"that he is - a vampire!"
"well of course he is a vampire. doctor varney is a vampire, just as doctor wagner is a werewolf, and doctor zorro is a zombie. and doctor benway is a banshee and doctor gogol is a ghoul. what of it? do you think it makes them bad doctors?"
"in my village, we - we had a different way of seeing such things -"
"in your village! but you are not in your village now, are you?'
imelda clasped her hands and looked down at them. "no. the police came - and dispersed the village."
"and a good thing too. but are you grateful? apparently not. ah, it is a good thing for you we have contact laws or i would give you a good shaking,"
imelda stood a little straighter. "so - i have told you the truth. will you report me to the board?"
"i'll think on it."
"oh! and will you tell doctor varney?'
"what should i tell doctor varney? that you exist? i think that would be news to him."
a tear appeared on imelda's cheek. "oh, you are so cruel!"
"ha, ha! i knew it! so you thought a scrawny little shapeless thing like yourself would attract the notice of doctor varney! no, my child, i think the good doctor prefers more full-blooded females, if you get my drift."
a tiny spark flared in imelda's eye. "like yourself, i suppose""
"how dare you!" the doctor advanced and grabbed imelda by the shoulder, then immediately shrunk back in horror at what she had done, clutching her heart.
imelda stared coldly at her. a small smile formed on her lips. 'so doctor, it has come to this. we have each others measure now. i will not report you for violating the human contact laws - i am sure a fine set of fingerprints can be taken from my uniform -"
the doctor buried her face in her hands in despair.
'" - and you of course will say nothing to either the board or doctor varney. good night, doctor."
"i could use a drink. and a smoke." mike mean patted his pocket. his flask and his pack of smokes had been left behind when they had come to parallel 17.
"hey, you shouldn't even talk about such things here." pete paused in his recital of the laura poll case and turned halfway from the window to glance at sally who was watching doctors and wives. mac the mailman had crept up closer behind her and was watching too.
'i hope my friend didn't offend you, miss," pete said to sally. 'he didn't mean any harm."
"no. it's cool," sally answered.
'so, how's the show?", pete asked politely.
"it's ok, they've had better episodes."
imelda walked down the corridor. as she neared the end, a figure came around the corner.
it was doctor varney. he started to walk past her, then stopped.
"are you all right, intern? your eyes are a little red."
"oh no, doctor. i am just a little tired." imelda smiled up at him. "and i was thinking about the unfortunate victims of the thruway accident. i know it is a bit old-fashioned, but i was saying a little prayer for them. my eyes get a little red when i pray."
"how thoughtful. and who do you pray to, if i may ask?"
"you may ask. i pray to baalu, an obscure god but a powerful one."
"a god, not a goddess. interesting." the doctor fixed his penetrating gaze full force on the girl.
"are you a student of religion, doctor?"
doctor varney gave a short laugh . '"no, just a concerned citizen who fully supports the enlightened initiative to abolish the worst elements of superstitious hatemongering while respecting and preserving the cultural traditions of all deserving peoples. by the way, i was heading to the ward reserved for the thruway victims. a very unique and interesting complication has surfaced with one of them. i could use all the help i can get." he smiled. "unless you are too tired."
"oh no, doctor."
they both looked up. doctor danielson was walking down the corridor toward them.
as she passed them she ignored imelda, but nodded to doctor varney.
"good night, doctor."
"good night, doctor danielson."
"shall we proceed?". doctor varney asked imelda.
imelda smiled and fell in behind him. as she followed him up the corridor she turned and watched the retreating back of doctor danielson and stuck out her tongue.