His white pressed coat crumpled and stethoscope swayed as he pressed the pillow hard down over the face of the patient. There was no other way. He knew it. They knew it. The last sun of the day filtered through the hospital window, dappling the wall with fading light - impeccable, poetic timing as always. And then it was done. With all those beeps on a ward you’d be surprised 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 a doctor. Broken, shredded and trampled on the floor of that hospital room.
Here was a man who knew his own mind. A character with clear focus and design but who appeared to others as lackadaisical. Sauntering the avenues of his chosen target with a quiet indifference, a smile here, a wink there. Afterwards none will remember much of his passing and yet everyone saw him.
To look at him you might not notice anything odd. Average high, average build, forgettable face. You’d have to work hard to spot the characteristic elements which set him apart. His piercing blue eyes were the easy win but he often disguised these with coloured contacts to reinvent himself. His hair was a dark blonde which confused the casual observer’s recollection, three different people would swear three different colours. Dress; he generally went with whatever the job required and he paid attention to the details here. One small thing out of place can start alarm bells ringing in his supporting cast. It was the shoes which were almost literally his Achilles heel. He likes quality English hand made shoes from Northampton. He paid a lot for his shoes, much more than most, but he expected each pair to last him a lifetime ...and more than the lifetime of many of his ‘clients’. He believed that shoes maketh the man. On the job the right pair of shoes for the right occasion can make all the difference.
Habitual or repeated action:
If you knew him you’d listen for the whistle. Three or four notes which he couldn’t help escape. His ode to joy no doubt. Often to be heard on his exit from a job or perhaps as he launches into the fray. If he were a gambler this would be his tell. An experienced gambler might also note a gentle and repeated tug of the left ear as he considers his options, as if it helps the cogs in his brain grind forward.
Speech in a scene:
Quietly closing the door behind him, he turns with a winning smile to the elderly afro caribbean Ward Sister. She’s seen a thing or two this one.
‘Mr Smith is sleeping Sister, he asked not to be disturbed for an hour or two. ...If I were you I’d slip off for a coffee while you can. You may not get the chance later.
Thankfully that’s me done for the day now, ...a dram of 12 year old Highland Park in my immediate future, swiftly followed by the sleep of the dead with any luck.’
‘Thanks.. Doctor…. sorry i missed your name’
‘Ferguson … Dr Edward Ferguson. I’m new in this department. Have you noticed how those cretin managers seem to love sending the new doctors all over the place knowing full well they‘ll be lost in five minutes? I think they’re just trying to torment us.’
‘Don’t get me started on the managers.. they know nothing… nothing about medicine, yet they somehow think they can make a hospital run more smoothly from their beige offices. I tell them. “Hospitals are about people. You can’t see them as numbers on a chart”, ...why Dr Jones was telling me he has to send his equipment to a third party sterilising company now the internal department has closed and 30% come back broken and useless, ...now you tell me where.. Where does that make any damn sense to any dumb number cruncher?’
Shaking his head he agrees. ‘Now don’t forget Dotty’ (sly glance at the name badge as he leans on the nurses station).
‘Mr Smith is sleeping for an hour or two.. don’t let anyone annoy him, he’s not in the best of moods right now, his wife just called him’ (Knowing glance - thirty years his junior and a Latino bombshell but clearly not a fairy tale waiting to happen - unless you consider that based on her pre-nup her life could be about to change Cinderella style).
‘Thanks again Sister, if the idiots send me here again tomorrow I’ll bring a coffee’ (glancing at her take-out cup, he interprets the international hieroglyphics that are the barista’s secret language.
‘Skinny Late - No Sugar’.
‘Doctor Ferguson, you’re welcome back on my ward anytime, Honey.’
With a wave over his shoulder and whistling a few notes, he’s off.. in totally the wrong direction for the main hospital exit Dotty notes, he sure wasn’t lying about being new here. But, she considers, folks like that always come up smelling of roses.