February Update: From the Doctor’s Office…

Doctors officeIt’s been an interesting week in Watervalley… one with a rather curious ending.

Christine has been attending several bridal shows in Nashville and candidly, she’s been rather secretive about the whole wedding plans. All I can say is, Boom! I couldn’t be happier.

Early on I offered a few opinions about the big day. Dumb mistake. I quickly learned that long before I say “I do,” it’s better if I simply say, “I do what she says.”

Things have been hopping at the clinic. Lester from the Farmer’s Co-op came by on Tuesday, all sniveling and bleary-eyed. Having never graduated to anything resembling maturity, Lester patriotically celebrated President’s Day by getting drunk at the Alibi. He was hoping to find some female companionship. Apparently, none of the ladies were wearing thick enough beer goggles. At closing-time he made it to his truck and… not much further. He slept there, froze, and caught a cold.

“Lester, what were you thinking?”

He sat on the exam table looking dejected and penitent, his head cocked a little to one side. His voice was a croaking monotone. “Well, at the time I was thinking I was going to get away with it and not have to explain anything.”

It occurred to me that Lester had probably been submitting this same answer to similar questions since grade school.

But, by the end of the exam, he had recaptured some of his fortitude. “Hey, you’re not going to tell anyone about this, are you, doc? I mean, I’ve got a solid ladies man reputation to maintain. I wouldn’t want to lose any street cred.”

I stared blankly, amazed at Lester’s blissful lack of self-perception. “No sweat, Lester. Your secret’s safe with me.” He left soon afterwards.

That Lester. I can’t honestly say that he’s lost all of his marbles, but there’s definitely a hole in the bag.

On Thursday Reba Kinzer brought her husband, Oni into the clinic, thinking he had the flu. His face was puffy red, his eyes swollen, and according to Reba, he was running a fever of over 102. But his temperature in the exam room was barely 99. Reba was dumbfounded.

“I put it under his tongue like I was supposed to, doc.”

She frowned and folded her arms, intently staring at nothing in particular, searching. Then, after a noticeable revelation, her countenance completely changed. “You know, doc. I bet I used the dog thermometer by mistake. It tends to run high.” Having solved the mystery, Reba seemed quite pleased.

Oni…not so much.

Watervalley’s resident earth-child, Sunflower Miller also came by. She brought a dozen bags of a special herbal tea mixture she had concocted, claiming it was the ultimate cold remedy. Lucky me.

“Sunflower, I truly don’t understand your particular brand of crazy but I’m sincerely impressed with your total devotion to it.”

“I’ve put a lot of study into this particular blend, doctor. It has superior healing capabilities.”

“I see. Study, huh? Where from?”

“The internet.”

“So, you’re equating my medical degree to a Google search?”

“Oh, sorry. I didn’t realize you were allergic to objectivity.”

“Gee, Sunflower. That hurt. I not sure we’re building team skills here.”

“Now you’re laughing at me.”

“That’s not true. I’m actually laughing near you.”

“You don’t much like me, do you Dr. Bradford?”

“Sunflower, I adore you. When we’re done here I might just kiss you. Maybe even on the lips.”

Her response was cold silence. But her soft Norwegian eyes gave her away. Sunflower knew she wasn’t making a convert out of me, but she also knew that I deeply admired her. In fact, it was more than that. I honestly and tenderly cared for her. She had an energy, a kind of fresh exuberance that belied her sixty plus years. On so many levels, she was simply beautiful.

Eventually, she rose from her chair, offering only an amused smirk. “I’m going to leave these here in case you come to your senses.” She exited quickly, apparently concerned that I might make good on the whole kissing thing.

Friday morning Estelle Pillow stopped by and asked to meet in my office. She was wearing fresh white running shoes and a pink jogging suit trimmed in shiny sequins. She greeted me with a full body bear hug.

“Good morning, Estelle. Prepping for a marathon?”

She laughed whimsically. “Only if the ‘marathon’ is hyphenated with ‘shopping spree.’”

“Then why the jogging outfit?”

“Well,” she responded sheepishly. “It probably wouldn’t hurt for me to lose a little weight. This way, if I decide to exercise, I’ll be all set.”

“I’d be glad to recommend a diet program.”

“Sweetie, every time I plan on eating better I can hear my stomach having a good laugh.”

I leaned forward in my chair. “Estelle, listen. You know I worship you just as you are. But just once, wouldn’t you like to know what skinny feels like?”

She flipped her hand in dismissal. “Dr. B, I already know what skinny feels like.”

“You do?”

“Yeah, sugar,” she said defiantly. “I’ll tell you what skinny feels like. It feels like ‘Dang, why am I hungry all the time?’ Umm hmm! That’s what skinny feels like.”

Further inquiry was pointless. “So, Estelle. What can I do for you?”

“I’m a little worried about Connie.”

“Oh. Why is that?”

“She hasn’t been herself lately. She seems upset, preoccupied.”

I thought for a moment and realized that I hadn’t seen Connie in a week. “When did this start?”

“Well, the other morning I came downstairs and she was acting all zombie-like.”

“All zombie-like?”

“Yeah, sugar. She was in the breakfast room, standing by the window, just staring in to space. And boy, did she look rough. She looked like somebody mugged somewhere between her bedroom and the kitchen.”

“Did you two talk?”

“Why yes. I said to her, Connie, honey. You’re looking a little disheveled this morning. Can I get you anything? You know, like a cup of coffee, a hair brush, a self-help book?”

“And…”

“She didn’t say a word. Didn’t even turn around. No clever comeback. Nothing.”

“Hmm. That is odd. So, that’s it?”

“She said she wasn’t feeling well and went back to her bedroom. I went on to work to open up the bakery. But later that morning she texted me and said she had to go to Nashville to do some research.”

“Research? About what?”

“She didn’t say and she won’t say. But I think it’s got something to do with that letter she got about her DNA test.”

“What DNA test?”

“Connie did one of those ancestry test where you swab your mouth and send it off to a lab. The results tell you probabilities of where all your people come from.”

“And you think something in that letter upset her?”

“Don’t know. Maybe. But she’s not talking.”

“So, what do you want me to do?”

“Why, talk to her of course. Use your wily charms to get her to spill the beans. You’re practically her adopted child, for heaven’s sake. She loves you as much as her own.”

I shrugged. “Well, I can try. But there’s no guarantee she’ll talk to me either?”

“Then drug her with something. You’re a doctor. Slip her a mickey. You know, some kind of magic pill or something to get her to loosen up her tongue.”

“Oh, sure, great idea.”

“Good! How you going to pull it off?”

“Estelle? Seriously? I was joking.”

She folded her arms. “Humph. I should have known. I was afraid you’d get all principled up and not see things my way.”

“Look, if Connie’s not talking, I’m sure she has a good reason.”

“You don’t understand, Luke. I have never, and I mean never, seen my big sister act like this.”

“And you think it had something to do with the DNA letter?”

Estelle sat silently, contemplating. Then, she snapped her fingers and pointed at me. “What if Connie found out that one of our ancestors was Dracula? That would certainly freak her out.”

I was speechless. Estelle wasn’t.

“You know, come to think of it, she likes her steaks really rare. And you know what else, I’m kind of a nocturnal feeder. I mean, after dark, I’m munching on something all the way up till bedtime.”

I had somehow been transported to a parallel Watervalley universe. At the moment, it actually seemed like the most plausible explanation. I spoke deadpan. “You know what, Estelle? I’ve decided that you’re my favorite reality show.”

She shrugged. “Promise me you’ll try to talk with her.”

I nodded in resignation. “Sure. Of course. I’ll see what I can find out. I’ll drop by the bakery in the morning.”

She gave me a big hug and was soon out the door.

I’ll keep you posted…but for now, that’s the news from Watervalley.

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