Chauffeur to the stars
My neatly pressed white coat crumpled and stethoscope swayed, as I pressed the pillow hard down over the patient’s face. The last golden sun of the day filtered through the hospital window, dappling the pale wall with fading light - impeccable.. poetic timing. And then it was done.
With the incessant noise on a hospital ward, it never ceased to amaze me how many times a heart monitor alarm goes unnoticed. A little muffling and tweaking and it could take hours for anyone to notice.
‘Do no harm’ the Hippocratic oath of the doctor. Broken, shredded and trampled on the floor of that hospital room.
The deed was done. The world, a little brighter. My tally of darkness far exceeded by the soul just released.
‘Sister Dotty, lovely evening, that’s me done for the day’, A broad smile, as I exit the room. All perfectly normal. It always pays to notice the details, like the ward sister’s name badge on the way in when you’re totally anonymous and just another Doctor among many. Sister Dorothy, on the badge but playing the odds, Sister Dotty is far more likely - suggesting a closer acquaintance. Have you ever noticed that if you say hello to someone by name they’ll pause, floundering for your name so as not to be rude and many times you’re halfway down the corridor before they realise they have no idea who you were? They then begin the process again, thinking ‘but I really must know him, he knew my name’. Forgetting entirely the name badge on their uniform, positioned where most people ignore it. A wave, a friendly smile and I’m gone, merging with all the other white and blue Samaritans.
I like to think I have the moves of a ballroom dancer as I glide the halls, whistling a little ditty. (Did I mention I once did some salsa classes with a World Champion in Rio? Beautiful girl… shame how it ended). The tune, a little Jazz perhaps, one of the greats, Brubeck or Coltrane. Smiling at the nurses, auxiliaries and porters as I slide through the maze that is a modern hospital. ...Never forget the little people.
A careful route, designed to avoid corridor cameras. (Hospitals never have enough money for the latest security.) Sailing through wards of the sick and the dying. My target, an unmanned exit, the alarm would be clanging as the door swings open, if it weren’t for that little foam wedged between the striker and bell. You’ve got to love the old technology. Simple, efficient ..and easy to disable.
The patient would have died one day, they all do - I just help them along. A chauffeur to the afterlife. I like that. It suggests a smooth and luxurious transport to another world. I provide a quality service. Admittedly one most don’t realise they need.. at least initially.
It’s a real benefit in my kind of work to be average. You don’t want to stand out, you don’t want the casual observer to linger and consider too much. A feather touch, just enough to get in and out. People’s memory often fills in the blanks for them which edges them further from the truth. I see some young kids with tattoos on their necks or hands or whatever and I think how stupid, you’re making the game too easy. It’s easy to identify someone with a cross on their hand or neck. Why make it easy? Are you mad? Maybe that’s where prison tattoos come from the stupid and unlucky all passing the time together and getting strength through ink, when all they’re really doing is increasing their chances of future failure. Not me. No sir. I’m not making it easy for anyone.
I’m an average height, about 5’8”, which is handy because it's one of the things you can’t disguise. Not ugly but not too handsome either, I walk that line down the middle, I can get a smile from a pretty nurse but she might not spot me in the crowd without my wink. Average build, not too skinny and not too heavy, thankfully nature has gifted me that physique with a little help from my gym. My hair is a dark blonde, heading to brown but witnesses have even said black. My eyes are a piercing blue which is unfortunate but thankfully coloured contacts can reinvent. If you knew me you’d listen for the whistle. Three or four notes which I can’t help escape. My Ode to Joy perhaps. A sure sign ‘the game is afoot’ and I’m having fun. A gambler would call it my ‘tell’ no doubt. I generally go with whatever dress the job requires and I pay attention to the details here. One small thing out of place, a stethoscope without it’s diaphragm for example, can start alarm bells ringing in my supporting cast. My shoes are almost literally my Achilles Heel. I like quality handmade, English shoes. I pay a lot for my shoes, much more than most, but I expected each pair to last me a lifetime - and more than the lifetime of many of my ‘clients’. I believed that shoes maketh the man. If you’re on the job, the right pair of shoes for the right occasion, can make all the difference.
If you reflect on that, they’ll be looking for a ghost, average everything who whistles occasionally, glides more than walks and wears nice shoes. I’ll take my chances with that description.
One of the reasons for what little success I can claim is my chameleon-like ability which has its foundation in a deep empathy for people. I liked to think of myself as a people person ...right up to their end.
...And so the first domino fell and the only question was whether I could outrun the inevitable wave, as it snaked through my life. Powerful patients have powerful friends. Powerful friends grasp power with hard boney fingers and object in the strongest terms, to any ghostly chauffeur releasing their sins to the stars.
[Creative Writing end of Course Assignment. Had to be written in 1st person and no more than 1000 words.]