This is a story by the members of The Vocal Creator's Saloon Facebook group. Here are the links to the previous submissions:
Part 1 Knife Skills
Part 2 The Right Thing
Part 3 Death Has An Order
When Dr. Morgan House was brought to my hospital with a grave brain injury, I had no doubt who to call - Dr. Rhiannon Blaset. I had mentored her as I had many promising young doctors, but she surpassed even me. That’s not an easy thing for a doctor to admit, but she really is that gifted.
I watched the procedure from the observation room. It didn’t take me long to realize that she was skewing the outcome.
Afterward, as she was scrubbing down, I asked, “Dr. Blaset, may I speak with you momentarily?”
She said, “Of course, Dr. Persaud. Let’s grab a cup of coffee across the street. My treat to thank you for mentoring me.”
Annie’s Coffee Shop across from the hospital is open 24 hours a day, catering to graveyard shift workers and truckers passing through. My watch displayed 8:00. I was ready to go home and sleep after being up all night, but I wanted some answers.
As we sat across from one another, coffee in hand, I couldn’t help but notice how completely put-together Rhiannon was. Not a hair was out of place. Her clothing was perfect, and I noticed her beautiful necklace. I felt disheveled by comparison.
“Dr. Persaud,” she began.
“Please,” I interrupted, “Call me Amar. That’s a lovely pendant. Not many people deserve to wear such a fancy scalpel as jewelry, but you certainly do. Now tell me, Rhiannon, why did you paralyze Dr. House?”
Rhiannon looked me directly in the eyes and said, “I tried my best. It just wasn’t meant to be.”
I barked out a laugh. “Such a trite, rehearsed speech. I know very well that is not true.” Was that the merest hint of nervousness I saw flash across her face? I couldn’t be certain.
She took a swig of her black coffee and then stared at me, accessing. She asked, guardedly, “What do you want?”
I shrugged and stressed, “The truth.” I sipped my latte.
Rhiannon took a deep breath and puffed it out her cheeks. “All right. I suppose I have to trust someone.” She paused, perhaps deciding how much to tell me. Then, she whispered, “Dr. House was in a secret society bent on sterilizing or killing people who don’t live up to their ideals of what society should become. It’s all in the guise of Doctors With Hope. They tried to recruit me. I reasoned killing him may have been a death sentence, so I did the next best thing.” She gestured with a palm up.
I nodded. “I wondered if that was the case.”
Her mouth dropped open. She shrieked, “You knew?” She looked around, realizing how loud her voice sounded. The other few patrons were ignoring us.
I explained with a much lower volume, “Dr. House tried to convince me to join about five years ago. I turned him down immediately. This is important, Rhiannon. Your actions make it clear to me that you disapprove, but did you tell them that?”
She shook her head. “No, I played along.” She looked at me with hope. “Do you have a plan of action? If so, I'm willing to assist.”
I looked down at the table. “You’re asking the wrong person. You have no idea what these people are willing to do. When I turned them down, they murdered my dog and said if I turned them in, the next to die would be my wife.”
Rhiannon gasped and put a hand over her mouth. “That’s horrible. Clearly, they need to be stopped, but there are too many of them. Oh, but I have names. Will that help?”
I thought for a bit and said, "If they're written down, be sure to keep the list under lock." I yawned and said, “We both need some sleep, but think about playing along a bit longer. Maybe more of the degenerates can be stopped like Dr. House. It’s not exactly in line with my Hindu upbringing, but you are not bound by my religion. Plus, maybe you will be assisting karma."
She smiled in a rather sinister manner. “I like that. I’m a vigilante with a scalpel.” She fingered her pendant, then yawned, and stood up. “Thank you for the chat, Amar.”
We shook hands and she left in a taxi I hadn’t realized she had arranged.
I downed the rest of my latte and walked back to my car at the hospital. At home, my wife, Sahana, greeted me with a warm hug and a tasty breakfast parfait. Shortly thereafter, I crashed on top of my covers with my clothes on.
I awoke to the sound of the doorbell and then knocking. Sahana would be teaching at the university by then, so I rolled myself out of bed to see who kept ringing and pounding. A quick glance at the clock showed that I had slept for about three hours.
The security camera showed a thin, well-dressed, bald man on my doorstep, continuing to ring and knock. I pushed the speaker button and asked, “May I help you?”
The man looked at the camera and said, “Dr. Persaud, I’m Dr. Cummings. I’d like to come in and speak with you. I’m with DWH, that is, Doctors With Hope. I won’t take much of your time.”
I knew better than to resist, so I let him in. Dr. Cummings certainly had impeccable taste. I noticed that his suit was perfectly tailored to his physique. Taking his time, he surveyed my wife’s excellent décor, and finally sat on the sofa. Still, he looked around rather than getting to the point.
Losing my patience, I complained, “Can we get on with this? I’d like to go back to sleep.”
“Fine. I am now in charge of DWH. I'm here to ask you about the operation on Dr. Morgan House. I know you witnessed it. I want to know if Dr. Blaset did anything untoward.”
I looked him in the eyes and said, “Dr. Blaset did what she could. I wouldn’t have done any better. She is the best in the business.”
“Very well,” Dr. Cummings tapped his right forefinger on his chin. “I’d also like to offer you another chance to join our organization. I assure you, with me in charge, DWH will be focusing on sterilization rather than the genocide sometimes favored by Dr. House. As well-regarded as you are, you would be a great addition. I saw you eyeing my suit. I’ll get my tailor to custom make you one as a welcome gift if you come onboard.”
I wrinkled my nose, almost involuntarily. Had bribing with a suit really loosened a doctor’s moral standards in the past? The thought sickened me. I purposely neutralized my expression and said, “As tempting as that is, I’m afraid my Hindu beliefs will not allow me to play God with other people’s lives. Also, I have no intention of reporting you, so please leave me and my wife alone.”
Dr. Cummings held both palms out towards me. “I told you, things are changing for the better. No murder. No threats. Just weeding out the poverty on the planet. Surely you agree that we cannot sustain the current population growth indefinitely.”
I ran a hand over my hair. “Thank you for the offer, but I feel I must decline. I’m going back to bed now. Goodbye, Dr. Cummings.”
“Very well,” He stuck his hand out and I shook it. He left without another word.
I watched him climb into his Mercedes and back out. I thought to myself, He’s messed up, but at least he’s not as brutal as his predecessor.
The minute he put his car into drive on the street, law enforcement vehicles swarmed in from every direction, cutting him off. I quickly shut my front door. From the window, I could see guns drawn. Dr. Cummings climbed out with his hands up, but then he made a run for it, intending to jump a wall. Rather than shooting him, officers sent a dog after him. It grabbed onto his leg before he could jump to the wall and took him down in no time. His wonderfully tailored suit wasn’t so wonderful anymore. Dr. Cummings was cuffed and taken away in an SUV. His car was towed away. So much for taking over Doctors With Hope. First Dr. House, then Dr. Cummings. Maybe they should rename their organization, “Doctors With No Hope.”
I found out the following day that Dr. Cummings was charged with tax evasion and resisting arrest. The IRS had been investigating him for years. If I weren’t worried about Sahana and myself, I could share things to add to those charges.
I wondered what all of this meant for Dr. Blaset. Who would lead Doctors With Hope next? One thing was for certain; I didn’t want to have anything to do with them.
About the Creator
Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!
Heartfelt and relatable
The story invoked strong personal emotions