"There is always a philosophy for lack of courage."—Albert Camus

Thursday, January 06, 2005

O. Henry At The Bar

What this blog needs is a bit of short fiction to add some zest. Here is an unpublished little thing that I did a few years ago.

ADVANCES IN AN AGE by JDH


Dr. Parkinson quivered with excitement at the prospect of meeting his hero. After years of research, he had finally discovered the location of the man he admired most. He stood before the door of the Lawd-Have-Mercy Rest Home, atwitter and agog.

"Gotta calm down, gotta pull myself together," he mumbled to himself, eventually working up the courage to ring the old-fashioned bell. A female human being in white, her face locked in an expression of stupendous boredom, opened the door. He quickly bustled down the hall.

"Oh, why if it isn't Doctor Parkinson," burbled the cheery, chubby lady behind the desk. "Here to see Doctor Alzheimer?" The mere mention of the great man's name set him stammering and twitching in a frenzy of anticipation.

Soon he was ushered into the common room and introduced to a very old man with a pointed goatee sitting and staring vacantly into the middle distance; then again, it might have been the long distance; truthfully, it may well have been the short distance.

"Doctor Alzheimer," he began to babble, his eagerness uncontrollable. "I'm so thrilled to meet you, sir. I have so admired your work."

He stopped for a moment, struck by the old man's demeanor - wait, could it be disdain? Alzheimer looked down on his work - and who could blame him? Oh, no, this is so humiliating. Well, nothing left to do but just keep on blurting.

"Yes, sir, my disease is nothing compared to your disease. I feel like a humble acolyte meeting a great master. Tell me, how did you do it? How did you discover such a wonderful disease?"

Dr. Alzheimer did not answer immediately. An uncomfortable silence filled the room, broken only by the maddening tick-tock of the clock on the wall. Will he just ignore me?, thought Parkinson. Am I a nonentity in his eyes? Is he just above the fray, oblivious to the feeble attempts of younger doctors to grab at anything, a symptom, a syndrome, almost anything - you name it, they'll name it?

Finally, after minutes that seemed to stretch into lifetimes, the great man responded. His voice was surprisingly firm, still the mellifluous tenor of his youth.

"Disease," he said. "What disease?"

No comments: