Love’s Passion marches on

Copyright 2014 by Stephen W. Hines


With the song “Tonight, Tonight” from West Side Story running through her head, Sarah rang Dr. Chutney’s doorbell. She had never seen his place before. Not a bad looking pad, she thought, as she stepped back to admire the Greco-Roman terracotta frieze that bordered the driveway, hydrangeas drooping over the esplanade.

The butler opened the door. “Please come in, Miss Samuels. Dr. Chutney is expecting you, as you may have realized. You will find the party on the patio, drinking. My name is Mackintosh. Could I get you a scotch? I think I’ll have one myself.”

Sarah hesitated. How could she let him know she didn’t drink? “Why no, thank you, I don’t drink while I’m off duty.”

She found the guests all cozily ensconced on the patio. There was an air of festivity about the gathering, but there was a note of uneasiness too. She wondered if the others sensed the nature of Dr. Chutney’s troubles. Were there other sensitive souls like herself at the gathering? Was he going to confide in them also? She decided to mingle with the gaily-strewn Chinese lanterns and the gaily strewn guests to find out more about this sense of unease she sensed.

She had not mingled more than a moment when she realized there was something strange, all right. Where was Dr. Chutney himself? He was not on the patio nor in the pool nor in the Jacaranda overhead. She sidled over to the patio doors and looked into the house itself.

At first, she couldn’t see anything. Then, as her eyes became adjusted to the light, she noticed the solitary figure of the Chief of Surgery standing by the fireplace. She went in and stood beside him in a moment of silent vitality. Their hands trembled electrically. Their eyes met, and for several sacred seconds they stared at one another–until their eyes watered. Finally, they averted their gaze and stared at the fireplace, which was unlit but interesting.

Sarah agonized in Dr. Chutney’s presence. He seemed so near, yet so far away. What she could do to break the spell she didn’t know. Then the phone rang.

Mackintosh answered it, and as he did so, his countenance changed from what it had been to something darker. He hurried to his master’s side, and as he whispered in the doctor’s ear, she saw Ransom’s face go white. As she glanced down to be sure she wasn’t standing on his foot, she heard him croak in a whisper, “Yes, tell him to come over. It can’t be avoided any longer. His condition has reached a crisis. Tell him–midnight.”

As the butler returned the phone to its cradle, Sarah saw Dr. Chutney pass both hands over his face. He was dripping wet and trembling. She could stand it no longer. Deciding that the direct approach was best, she took both of his hands in her own and in her tenderest voice said, “Dr. Chutney, dear, sweet, Dr. Chutney, won’t you tell me what is the matter? You look as though you’ve seen a ghost.”

Dr. Chutney allowed himself to be drawn away from the view of the patio doors and they sat down together on a love seat. After a moment’s struggle, during which Dr. Chutney seemed to throw caution to the wind, he said, “I have seen a ghost, Sarah. It’s my own! It is the ghost of a dreadful mistake I made that has haunted me relentlessly for some time now. I have committed a blunder, a surgical blunder, Miss Samuels. Yes, and now it has come back to haunt me! But before I go further with my confession, dear little one–for it is a confession I’m making–you must promise to help me.”

His voice rose. “You must promise to redeem me and my career from utter ruin!”


Love’s Passion continues to get hotter

Copyright 20114 by Stephen W. Hines


“Come, come nurse Samuels. Surely you can use a better word than that. I hope we will not continue to hear such sentimental simpering from one of our own! We are professionals here. Our highest duty is to give every patient the kick in the rear he needs to get him our of here. Don’t talk to me of love. The little brats grow up, don’t they? No doubt we’ll whip you into shape in no time. They all come out of school muttering like you at first, but we set them straight! Now wipe those tears off your face and stop trembling. You’ll get used to me after a while and find me gruff, but kindly, with a heart of gold. Now beat it, the both of you.”

But before Sarah could leave St. Luther’s for the day, go home, and throw herself on her bed in anguish, she still had to visit the surgery. Darla and Sarah soon arrived at a green baize door marked “Surgery–Off Limits” and went in.

“This is surgery, Sarah,” Darla began. “Over there, sharpening a scalpel, is Dr. Lance Buboes, and there are Drs. Smithe and Wayne (pointing), and nurse Murphy and nurse Simpson. Am I going too fast for you?”

As Sarah dried her eyes and tried to clear her head, she began to pay attention to what Darla was saying, and she noticed one of the surgeons had his back to them. “Who is that standing over in the corner with his back to us?”

“Oh, I’m glad you noticed him. That’s Dr. Chutney. Maybe you’ve heard of him–Dr. Ransom Chutney. He’s the strong, silent type. He often uses his eyebrows to browbeat the nurses. A real terror. Some of us think he suffers from a Secret Sorrow. We often find him tearing up over Good Housekeeping in the waiting room.  Let me introduce you. You’ll find him fascinating–if you can get him to talk.”

“Dr. Chutney, could you speak with us for a minute? I would like to introduce you to our new nurse,” Darla asked.

Dr. Chutney, who had not seen them approach, started as though shot, but regained his composure quickly and turned around.

“Dr. Chutney, this is Sarah Samuels, who will be in pediatrics. Sarah, this is Dr. Chutney, our Chief of Surgery.”

As Sarah gazed upon Dr. Chutney’s full visage, bells went off. She was utterly stunned by his dark, handsome masculinity. He had chest hair growing out his ears. He was the spitting image of Hugh Jackman, Brad Pitt, and Miley Cyrus, depending on which mood he chose to be in. His mood changed several times while he stood before them. It was as though he were Mt. Rushmore being swept by the seasons.

“Why, how do you do, nurse Samuels? I hope you will like it here at St. Luther’s.”

Sarah regained her voice. “Yippee! I think I’ll like this place just . . . that is, I hope . . . I’m sure I will have a satisfactory adjustment here, Dr. Chutney. Nurse Dunn has been showing me the ropes. I’m so excited that I shall at last be able to put the noble ideals I learned at school to work for the betterment of humankind.”

She noticed a sudden change sweep over the noble young doctor (for so she sensed him to be). He darkened visibly. “Yes, noble ideals, noble ideals . . .,” he murmured for several minutes, looking like a troubled eagle.

Then, suddenly, he came to himself. “Yes, nurse Samuels, noble ideals. Never forget them. Always live by them. I’m sure they will serve you in good stead.”  He spoke with an odd intensity, as if his own ideals not only guided but also hound him.

It was all such a mystery.

They bid each other goodbye, but as Sarah left, words could not express the strange, almost wonderful, emotions that coursed through her veins. Who was this man who had suddenly made her heart go pitty-pat in a drum solo? What did she know about him? What had he murmured about ideals? Why did he give the impression of being a driven, almost desperate man? Was there more to medicine than money perhaps? She couldn’t say.

And so the mystery of Ransom Chutney, M.D., became ever more of a preoccupation as the months flew by. She simply could not fathom his behavior. At times he seemed almost suicidal. Once she caught him actually holding a scalpel to his throat, but he’d gotten out of that situation by saying he was shaving. Another time she found him floating face down in the therapy pool. When she revived him, he said he had “slipped” and fallen in.

So it went until the day Sarah found a note in her mailbox. It read: Dear Sarah, I can’t stand it anymore. If you will come to a little informal gathering I’m having this evening, I will tell you all. I need your help. Desperately yours, Ransom Chutney, M.D.

As she pondered the message of this personal note, her eyes bulged. So at last she was to know. She felt like flying or at least like leaping tall buildings with a single bound. He was going to take her into his confidence! Sarah literally floated through the rest of her day. And now she lay on her bed, reflecting, reflecting. . . . What would she find tonight? Would it be love? Or only more mystery?

[To be continued.]

Love’s Passion Alight continued (being entry two)

Copyright 2014 by Stephen W. Hines


. . . . Naturally, Sarah had been persecuted for coming from the wrong side of the tracks. High school had been a nightmare for her. So she had redoubled her scholastic efforts and decided on a career in nursing because it was a truly noble profession where one could serve others–and show creeps and snobs like her schoolmates what real deserving virtue and humility were. Sarah wanted to do good but be tough.

Of course, she never made less than an A in any of her courses in high school or college. She joined many organizations to prove that she was a joiner and did much church volunteer work to show that she was a volunteer. She made all of her own clothes and became an excellent gardener to supplement her meager diet with fresh vegetables. Sometimes she even gave her folks left-over produce. She even learned how to raise chickens in the attic so the family could enjoy fresh meat and eggs.

And her privations had not been in vain. They had won her a full-paid scholarship to State University.

All she had to do to keep her scholarship was to work from eight to five in the food center; then knock-off for half-an-hour before doing light, miscellaneous research from 5:30 to 10 pm; then knock-off until midnight, when she went to work as a guard in a potato factory.

Yes, all the years of privation and starvation had paid off. She had won her coveted cap and degree–with honors–and now stood before the green baize doors of St. Luther’s Hospital, wondering, wondering what she would find waiting for her behind them.

* * *

     Sarah got up from the bed and stretched a bit. What had she been looking for? What had she been looking for at St. Luther’s Hospital when she had first come to work several months ago?

     She sat back down on the bed and let her mind wander, which it readily did when she was thinking.

     Yes, there had been adjustments to make, but she had been ready and eager to make them. She knew what to expect from the real world of nursing; her high school and college study had prepared her for that. Also, she had wet her own bed as a child and knew what that was all about. Little could shock her.

     Still, there had been some surprises.

     For one thing, St. Luther’s Hospital had been so large, larger than even she had been led to expect by her own expectations.  It had been impossible to get acquainted with very many people. Everything was so efficient and functional–and understaffed.

     Sarah’s thoughts now flew to the one who had become her best friend. What a support she had been! From the very first day she had been taken under wing and shown what ropes there were to show by Darla Dunn. Sarah couldn’t imagine how she would have survived without Darla. The two nurses had had an impressive melange of experiences.

      There had been that confrontation with head nurse Borden, who had ordered Sarah to give enemas to everyone in intensive care. That had been the first time that she had stood up for what she thought was a preferable course of treatment: laxatives.

There had been the hospital itself to learn, with its multiple floors, dead ends, and corridors leading to who knows where (and the morgue of the living dead, but maybe her imagination was getting away from her). And where were the restrooms? It had all been so confusing.

Especially upsetting had been the strain of meeting all of those people! There was the peculiar fellow in Room 405 who kept proposing to her, and the funny old woman in 406 who kept tearing her bed sheets up and setting them on fire.

Then there were the doctors. They were the most perplexing lot of all. Some were curt and dismissed you with a slap on the head, while others were just as nice as a starving used car dealer trying to sell you a 1957 Cadillac. Many of them seemed preoccupied with their specialties and somehow out of touch with reality. Doctor Adams in particular seemed a zombie until someone would mention yachting. Then it was yawl this and yawl that. You’d have thought he was from Alabama.

Most troubling of all had been her intense but confusing relationship with Dr. Ransom Chutney, Chief of Intestinal Surgery. She remembered well (or was about to remember well) her first meeting with him. It had been, in fact, during her first day of her clinical life. . . .

Darla Dunn had set off at a break-neck pace, and they had covered floor after floor and mile after mile, stopping to greet a myriad of faces. There had been nurses Pursley and Hanon, Drs. Wheately, Morris, and Joeblownowski. She had been told that she would work in each section of the hospital for a week to familiarize herself with procedures before being turned loose on patients. She would work a week in surgery, a week in pediatrics, a week in dianetics, and a week in splenetics. She would also work a week in the kitchen and the laundry. Not stone would be left unturned in her training.

For instance, there was this Borden woman.

When Darla first took Sarah to meet the head nurse, they found her sandpapering a hypodermic. She seemed perturbed at being interrupted. Darla had put on her cheeriest smile and made the introductions.

“Nurse pig . . . I. . . mean . . . nurse Borden, I would like you to meet our new nurse, Sarah Samuels. Sarah, this is Elsie Borden. She is the head of nursing here. We couldn’t . . . uh . . . get along with out her.”

Sarah looked at nurse Borden uncomfortably. In fact, she noticed the head nurse had taken out a magnifying glass and was looking at her through it.

“I think I see a bit of smut on your uniform, Miss Samuels. What have you been doing? Playing in the mud? We must do better than that around here. Ours is a life-and-death struggle against disease and despair. A person who brings dust into the hospital will, the next thing you know, be spreading staph to the patients. Staff spreading staph! Ha! Do you get it? See that you are always clean, neatly attired, and wearing white, regulation shoes. No sneakers here! Now, where is it you’re supposed to be stationed after we teach you something? Speak, child! Cat got your tongue?”

“I’ll be in p-pediatrics, sir. I just . . . I love children and–”

[To be continued.]


Love’s Passion Alight–A Story Serially Presented on these Pages

Copyright 2014 by Stephen W. Hines

     Sarah Samuels peered reflectively into her jewelry box. She was searching for earrings. Where had she put them? Bangles, bobbles, beadswas this all there was to life? She had no answers and shook her head impatiently as she searched further.

     I’ll be late if I don’t find them. Why am I so nervous? These were not the first questions she had asked herself since coming to know Ransom Chutney, Chief of Surgery at St. Luther’s Hospital. But at last it looked as though she was going to get to the bottom of their very disturbing, puzzling relationship. Almost from the time they had met, Dr. Chutney–called Chut by his friends–had seemed as thought he were under a dark cloud, as though he could see some threatening storm on the horizon–a storm that threatened their growing affection for each other. How, how, how–she spoke to herself in American Indian–had this all come about?

     As she sat looking into the opacity of her fingernails, Sarah went back in her mind over the last few years of her brief, turbulent life.

     A scene flashed before her inner eye, plunging her mind into the turgidity of her soul. It had been her first day at St. Luther’s. She remembered how she had stood before the green baize door of her first clinical experience, considering in fear whether or not to run while there was still time or to stay. But even as she hesitated, resolve entered her soul! No, She could not throw away the sacrifice of her youth on the altar of cowardice! In her epiphany of self-abasement, she realized she had nothing to fear but suffering; and, if that was to be her lot, why, she was ready. She knew the path to the top was not strewn with rose petals but rather with thorns and porcupines.

* * *

     Sarah began to drift further in reverie. She recalled how she had been born to simple, brilliant, devout parents who had sacrificed to send her through college and nursing school so that she might fulfill her life-long ambition to become a nurse, meet a rich, handsome, mysterious, frightening doctor–and marry him. Sarah thought of how her mother had worked long hours as a dishwasher during the day, and how she had worked as a cleaning lady during the night to make Sarah’s career possible. Nurse Samuels reflected on the fact that she hardly knew her mother and wished there had been time to become better acquainted.

     Oh, the curse of poverty! she thought bitterly, if it were possible for bitter thoughts to cross this sweet woman’s pure mind.

     Poverty had forced her father to supplement his meager income as a concert violinist by tuning pianos from early in the morning until late in the evening. At night, he worked at a loathsome job stuffing sausages in a local packing plant. Sarah’s cheeks flushed with shame as she remembered the coarsening effect this job had had on her father’s language. Sometimes he would burst out: “S– S– S–,” as though her were stuttering obscenities. Then, too, because of her father’s work, there was the aroma of Stravinsky and the stockyard about him. It was an odor that pervaded the home. She remembered how it had embarrassed her to introduce Mom and Dad to her friends: very often her parents fell asleep during the introductions.

     Of course, there had been the gnawing hunger, the sleepless nights full of oatmeal and gaseous discharges. Occasionally. there had been a lone apple, but mostly she just drove the birds from the bird feeder. Better them lying about in the snow than her.

     Naturally, Sarah had also been persecuted for coming from the wrong side of the tracks.