Home > Surprise Delivery(2)

Surprise Delivery(2)
Author: R.R. Banks

Until now, at least.

“I apologize for the delay in touching base with you,” she continues. “We're a small organization with minimal administrative staff, so sometimes it takes a little longer to process all of our applications.”

“That's quite alright,” I reply. “I understand.”

“Anyway, I thought we'd take a few minutes to chat about your application.”

“That would be fine,” I confirm.

She pulls a file out of the bag that's sitting next to her chair and I notice my photo clipped to the front of it. She sets it in her lap and opens it up, flipping through the first couple of pages, as if familiarizing herself with the information. I can already tell she’s a sharp woman and I have a feeling she knows my file front to back already. Not knowing what theatrics are for, I sit back in my seat and sip my coffee, content to let her play it out. My credentials speak for themselves.

“You have quite an impressive resume,” she says. “The letters of references you provided are impeccable.”

“Thank you,” I tell her.

“Tell me, if accepted, what would be your ideal posting?”

I have to bite back the sharp bark of laughter that threatens to come tumbling out of my mouth. If accepted? I do my best to stay humble, as my folks taught me, but I also know my own worth. Their organization would benefit tremendously from having me on board – I'm one of the best surgeons in all of New York. I've busted my ass to get to where I am and I'm proud of all I've accomplished.

But like I keep telling myself, it's as much about politics as anything, so I have to play the game.

“Honestly, my ideal posting would be a place like Syria,” I say.

She looks a bit taken aback by my reply. I guess some folks get into an organization like this just to pad their resume or make themselves look and feel better. I'm guessing most folks would list their ideal posting as someplace where bombs aren't falling, and bullets aren't flying. Not that I blame or judge them for it. I mean, who wants to get shot at?

For me though, that sort of setting would be ideal.

“Syria?” she asks. “May I ask why you'd want to go to a place like that?”

“Because that's where I think I can do the most good,” I answer honestly. “I think my skills would be wasted going someplace just to give vaccines and inoculations or whatnot. I think going to a place where people actually need surgical help would be the best use of my talents.”

“Sorry, I don't mean to sound so surprised,” she says. “It's just that not many people actually request to go into a region embroiled in a war.”

I shrug. “I'm not most people.”

“Clearly not,” she replies. “Usually, we have to assign people to that region and split their tour time between there and someplace else.”

“I'd be happy to do my entire tour there. No need to split my time,” I say, then add, “If accepted, of course.”

“I mean, you do realize the conditions there are terrible. And your safety absolutely cannot be guaranteed –”

I sip my coffee and look at her, unflinching. “I understand that and accept the risks inherent with such a dangerous posting.”

She eyes me for a moment. “And you'd sign a waiver to that effect?”

“In triplicate, if need be.”

Andrea laughs softly. “I'm sure that won't be necessary,” she says. “But, I'm curious about why you're so willing to go into a place that's so dangerous, given your – background.”

“I think the people there need help. Too many people are dying,” I say. “I think there is probably a shortage of doctors who can patch them up and get them back on their feet.”

“You're not wrong about that,” she confirms softly.

“My family – my parents, really – instilled a desire to help people in me. A desire to do good in this world,” I explain. “They taught me to always respect human life and help those less fortunate than myself – to always be willing to lend a hand when and where I can.”

“They sound like extraordinary people,” she tells me.

“Yes, my dad was, and my mom is,” I reply softly.

She purses her lips, obviously understanding my meaning. “When did your father pass?”

“About ten years ago now.”

“I'm sorry for your loss.”

“Thank you,” I nod. “And as far as my background goes, it's because of it that I can afford to take the time away from the hospital.”

She nods and jots something down on a page in the folder. I don't enjoy feeling like I'm being interviewed or that I have to prove my worth. My resume and accomplishments speak for themselves.

“That's definitely a plus,” she informs me. “Though we do offer a small stipend –”

“Keep it,” I interject, waving her off. “Use it to bring somebody else on board. Call it a two for the price of one deal.”

“I've never been able to resist a good bargain,” she laughs.

I give her a small grin, not really all that amused. I sip my coffee and fall silent as she flips through the last pages of the file, probably just to give her something to do for a moment. Finally, she looks up at me, a warm smile on her face.

“Honestly, I think you'd be the perfect candidate,” she says. “I just need to run this by the board, who will sign off on the final approval, but honestly, I don't see anything holding you up from getting a posting.”

“That's terrific,” I say.

We both stand, and I walk her to my office door. She turns and shakes my hand, looking me in the eyes for a long moment.

“And you're sure about your posting of preference?” she asks. “I mean, it's not too late –”

“I'm positive,” I interrupt.

She purses her lips and nods. “Okay then. Let's see what we can do. I'll touch base with you again soon.”

“I look forward to it.”

I shut my office door behind her and walk back to my chair, dropping down into it heavily. Technically, nothing I told her is untrue. Everything I said is very true. I just left out a few details – details that may have changed her opinion on my candidacy. Maybe. Who knows?

The truth of the matter is that for a long time now, life has just become a bland, wasteland of nothingness. All the flavor and joy has been sucked out of my world and I don't know why. I don't enjoy anything the way I used to – not food, not people, not parties. Nothing. Everything seems so routine. Everything I do is by rote and I have no challenges in life.

That's also true when it comes to women. I've yet to find somebody who really ignites a fire inside of me. I've yet to meet somebody I connect with on a deep, meaningful level. All the women I've dated recently seem to want to be with me simply for the status of being with a doctor. That and the fact that I'm a Clyburne adds some extra appeal because I'm loaded. The women I've dated all seem to want something from me, whether it's status, position, or riches – they've all only seemed interested in my name, not in me.

I want somebody who challenges me intellectually. Somebody who challenges me emotionally. I want somebody I can sit and talk about books with. Somebody I can laugh with. I want somebody who engages my mind as well as my heart – and other lower extremities, of course. Though, I know that engaging my mind is the quickest way to get those fires of passion burning inside of me.

It sounds ridiculous, I know. I'm a guy and we're supposed to be programmed to accept a beautiful woman when she's throwing herself at us. But, I'm not like most people, as I told Andrea a little bit ago. I want more. I yearn for more. I demand more. I'm not going to be with somebody just because she looks great in a short skirt and fucks like an Olympic champion. That's just not who I am.

It's for all those reasons and more, of course, that my life has lost the vibrancy it used to have. I wander through my days feeling a little lifeless. All the edges have been dulled and the picture is fuzzy, rather than sharp. I just don't take pleasure in much these days.

Which is why I want to go to a place like Syria. I know it would get me labeled as an adrenaline junkie or a thrill seeker – and would not at all impress the board of Physicians Worldwide – which could potentially torpedo my candidacy, but I want to go someplace where the bombs are falling, and the bullets are flying just to feel something.

Having my life in jeopardy day in and day out, feeling the ground shake as the bombs go off and hearing the bullets rattle against the walls – maybe that will put some of the colors back into my world. Maybe it will give me some of the passion I used to feel back.

Maybe being in harm’s way all day, every day, will shake me out of the malaise I've fallen into – the one I fear may never be able to get out of without doing something radical.

Two

Alexis

“It was so gross and so totally freakish, I'm telling you,” she laughs. “Blood from the cut on his arm, and piss everywhere – and he was just standing on the bed singing the Star-Spangled Banner like it was perfectly normal!”

Sabrina and I howl with laughter. I'm snuggled up under a blanket on the loveseat and she's doing the same on the larger sofa. She's taller than I am, so it makes sense for her to have the longer couch. We've both got a pint of ice cream in our hands and are happily munching away, chatting about our days.

It's been our ritual to end the day catching up, since we were in school together – minus the ice cream. That's a special treat, only for now and then, so we don't blow up like manatees. We usually only have a glass of wine with our conversation, but on the tough days, we break out the big guns.

What we bring home for our evening chat is usually how we gauge how our day went. Tonight, I brought home the ice cream, which tells her that my day pretty much sucked.

“So, what did you do?” I ask.

   
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