Gray Medicine (Day 21)

Dr. Farmgood was a fat, barrel of a man. He entered the exam room red faced and panting. His coat stank of stale cigarettes. Lifting the clipboard to his face, he glanced over it and then looked at the patient. Todd, who was six, was screaming hoarsely. Todd’s dad ran his fingers through his hair as he paced back and forth. Strained and tight, his face defined stress.

Clapping his hands once, Dr. Farmgood tried a friendly smile that turned into a wince as Todd raised his pitch. “What seems to be the trouble?”

“His ear hurts.” Todd’s dad explained over the kid’s wailing.

“Looks like an ear infection.” Dr. Farmgood felt something spasm painfully inside his head. “Oy.”

“What can you do?” Todd’s dad grimaced.

“I could give him some antibiotics that will also knock him out for a week.”

“Really?” Relief and guilt warred in that one word.

“Yeah, it’s what I did with my own kids. All five of them had ear infections, bad one’s too.”

“It’s not illegal or anything?”

“Nah, you see, a doctor’s prescribing it.”

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