Monday, October 20, 2014
‘Dr Stein?’ The voice was timid.
‘Me friend told me you could help with me aterlitus.’
She carried four supermarket bags apparently stuffed with clothes and food because I am sure I could smell pizza and pepparoni. She slouched into a chair.
I examined the woman’s knees and elbows but was hesitant to ask her to undress because she wore layers of t-shirts and cast off clothes. I asked her about her family but there were none. She was probably diabetic too by the look of her skin. Her name: Rebecca Byleskowsky. That was a guess I think from my receptionist. Address. No, she had none or she wouldn’t tell me. No Social Security Card. ‘Lost it,’ she said. ‘Well, I might get another one I suppose.’
Then it struck me that this bag-day who slept wherever she could - by the look of her - would be excellent for the experiment with the blue striped pills and the patches. I showed her how to place the patches on her forehead every night. I did not tell her they were not really for her ‘aterlitus.’ I prescribed pills for the slight inflammation but of course if she didn’t have a welfare card, how could she afford the cost at the chemist!
She ambled from the surgery her sneakers slip-slopping on the beige carpet.
The door opened. ‘Dr Stein?’
She looked the same but there was a little difference, not in the voice but in her stance. When she sat down she crossed her legs with elegance and I smiled at the incongruity as her clothes were still the same, layer upon layer of sweatshirts, cardigans and a blue skirt over dark green tracksuit pants, one yellow sock, one pink sock and high heels. Well that was a shift. I gave her another twelve pills and six patches.
The homing gene. The travel gene. The wicked gene. All put into a blue and white pill. I wanted to know if humans can be reconstructed just with chemicals. Would the bag lady change?
With a cheerio, she was gone.
The door opened.
‘Dr Stein, good morning.’
I knew the voice but could not place the tall attractive woman who was well-dressed, made-up. She wore a black suit and gold jewelry. I looked at the appointments list. Rebecca Byleskowsky. I couldn’t believe it.
‘What’s happened to you? I asked rather tactlessly.
But there was the same voice, a street voice.
Well, I’ve got meself a flat. I’ve got meself a job. And those patches are makin’ me remember who I am.’
The bag lady had vanished. Here was a professional woman.
I ripped the gold-lettered nameplate from the door. I would soon be elsewhere. I had taken the nomad pills.