For the most part I like being a doctor. It is a bit of school to get through but I drive a nice car, people wave to me as I walk by and I do a lot for the community. My particular brand of community service is clean up. Even doctors need to clean up and I have Nancy Morrison to help. She’s thirty-four, a valuable addition to our dedicated staff. She’s a very capable and competent nurse in my family practice. The rest of my staff likes her and gets along with her because for the most part, she doesn’t exist.

Maybe I should explain.

Everyone has a niche and let’s face it folks, your near ones might not be so dear to you. I have some friends in the right places to help me out. One of them is an attorney. Another one a Medical Examiner. Still another runs a waste management facility. We talk a lot of trash. That was a joke. But there are things that are hard to dispose of. A body is one of  them. That’s where I come in. To help people out with problems like that. If your average Joe Blow murders someone you have the body and you have fingerprints. It’s a big bloody mess when you shoot someone or stab them. Most murder weapons aren’t meant for rank amateurs. At my clinic we specialize in a humane and dignified death. People pack nice clothes for the visit if they're going to be hospitalized and our cafeteria does an above average job so their last meal is a good one. Aunt Mildred even said so and she’s incredibly picky.

That’s really how the whole thing started. We were sitting around talking, my wife and I. It’s important to have a wife and it’s even more important to have the right kind of wife. She does a lot for the community too. Tells me that so and so is running out of money to keep dad in the nursing home and really could use a week or two of sitting on the beach after their years of dedicated service. I do a lot of nursing home work. Aunt Mildred was a nursing home patient. Her potassium levels were way out of whack and the incompetent nurse called with a lab value of 129. I told her that couldn’t be right, but she insisted.

I told her if Mildred’s potassium level was truly 129 she would be dead and not just clammy and confused. Eventually we established that her potassium levels were within normal limits and her son and daughter-in-law thanked me profusely for taking care of their mother right up until the end. They liked the fuzzy pink bathrobe that my wife dropped off. That’s one of the things she does for me. Makes sure people have something nice to wear. Some of the people in nursing homes have the most appalling wardrobes. Nancy helps out with that too. I really should dismiss her, she’s the one who administered the fatal dose of insulin but she’s always there when I need her. Unfortunately for Mildred accidents happen.

My job is to make sure the accidents happen to the right people and not the wrong ones. Death doesn’t have to be an unpleasant experience. All of our patients are bathed and groomed before they head out. Some times I prescribe a mild sedative along with hydration therapy, a dehydrated corpse is so ugly to me, and a lot of people just want what’s best for mom and dad. A nice meal. Some light TV. Wheel of Fortune is very popular. A caring medical staff is just one of those things that adds something extra. Everyone tells me, you have the nicest staff. They’re so warm and caring.

That’s a bit tricky because we do have a lot of deaths. We space them out so as not to raise suspicion and for the most part the people are old and going to die soon anyways. I always make sure to stagger the pattern too. We don’t want anyone noticing that every second Tuesday someone dies on us. And that dang Nancy Morrison. She’s had more than her fair share of charting mishaps and accidental overdoses. Under doses too. A diabetic coma is nothing to fool around with and I told her to get that insulin in post haste. I try to accept my fair share of blame for the accidents but after all I am taking the risk and it is my license to worry about. I compensate people well too. At first some people are bothered by it. It seems cold and cruel and heartless. One of my former employees even called it murder. Nancy took care of her too.

You might think it’s hard to fake an employee but it’s really not. I file her taxes and her apartment has the occasional visitor dropping by for a mug of tea and Nancy’s world famous cranberry scones. I’m a bit of a chef and sometimes a bite to eat and a mug of tea lends perspective. Her apartment is attractively furnished and she has a niece and nephew that she just dotes on. You’re probably wondering how I manage all of this. It’s not as hard as you might think. Nancy is up on her continuing medical education credits.

I love to learn, even as a doctor you don’t know everything and the break is nice. My wife is a nurse too so it’s handy that way. It’s one of the reasons I picked her. That and I love her. She’s a good wife. And I am a good doctor. I never take on cases where people are bitter or angry. Just the people who want to make sure their loved ones last days are peaceful. And the people who are in a position to afford that little bit of extra attention. It’s hard to submit claims to the insurance company for watchful solicitude. And you have to be careful. Concerned. Caring. Decent. Methodical and very, very organized. It’s hard to stop the gossip and I shy away from hiring young and flighty nurses who've just passed their boards.

I’ve even had an opportunity to lend one of my colleague’s something that might be called professional courtesy. I had handled a patient of his and word had gotten back to him that Dad’s last days were just the way the family had hoped they would be. Everyone had plenty of time to visit and he was shaved and wearing his new Ralph Lauren shirt. His granddaughters had given him that for his ninetieth birthday. My friend did have a moment or two of panic near the end but I reassured him that the oncologist had told him he had two months at the longest and we could halt the procedure at any time. He calmed down a bit |after that. That and a couple of stiff drinks. I wish I could have had one too but I make it a policy to abstain from alcohol. You never know what might be mixed in there and it’s a good solvent.

Nancy and I are off for a bit now. We’re going on vacation and my wife is coming with. You have to be careful because things like this are very trying at times. It’s important to get plenty of rest and plenty of exercise. You should eat right too. Spirituality helps. Some of my patients meditate and all of my staff does. I put my umbrella drink down and smiled at my wife. She’s so good to me. Solicitous. The kind of nurse I want to have on hand when I die. I’ve already told her I don’t want to suffer. She kissed me on the cheek and patted my hand. She knows Nancy will take good care of me.

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