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He saw the feral hog tearing through the flesh of his best friend.
Coach Jacobs and the football team led Chandler to the ring. A burly feral hog, its eyes burning red, stared at Chandler, thumped its hooves, menacing its huge tusks. Chandler was draped with giant pink triangles that rustled with the wind. The hog responded to the movement and charged. The players guffawed as the tusks tore through the pink garment into the flesh. Chandler woke up drenched in sweat and rushed to the bathroom. The noise awakened his guest who rushed to see what was this commotion.
Chandler was shaking as he dried his face with a towel. He was too upset and couldn’t read Marc’s lips. Marc held him and tried to calm him down. Chandler looked at the window that faced the street; “Death to sodomites” was spray-painted on the glass. Marc stood petrified as Chandler rushed out and washed the graffiti.
“What is going on?” asked Marc, when Chandler went back inside.
“I’m sorry, I should have warned you about the bunch of bigots who live in this town before coming to live with me. Some people think it’s sinful for two young men to live together.”
“Is it sinful to live with a friend?”
“To live with a gay friend.”
Marc gaped and his face turned pale.
“Are you all right, Marc?”
“Keep away from Coach Jacobs and his friends.”
“I couldn’t stand away and watch him play doctor. The boy had a broken bone not a dislocated shoulder.”
“You embarrassed him in front of his team, Marc. Not to mention his vendetta against me.”
“He accused me of slandering his name because I refused to inflate the grades of one of his football players. He wants to drive me out of school.”
“Maybe I should go to a hotel or something.”
“I won’t turn my back on a friend because certain people do not approve of our friendship.” Chandler held his hand. “Don’t let them scare you, Marc.”
“They don’t. I’ll have a word with him.”
“Don’t. I don’t want you confronting those people. It’s better to keep away.”
“I came to this town to start a new life not to mess up yours.”
“It will be all right, Marc. I’m sure the town people will fall in love with you once they get to know you. You’re an incredible person.”
“You always knew how to cheer me up.”
“So, how do you like working for Dr. Bailey?”
“He is a very nice person. We get along just fine. Thanks for telling me about the vacancy.”
“I’m glad. Listen, go back to sleep. You have to start work tomorrow.”
“What about you?”
“I’ll finish grading some papers and go to sleep.”
Marc looked at the window and said, “They spoiled the paint.”
“I know you worked hard to paint the house.”
“Never mind. I didn’t have enough money to pay the rent somewhere else.”
“Don’t worry about it, Marc. You’re always welcome here.”
He watched him go to the bedroom and close the door. He knew that he would not be able to sleep that night and many nights to come.
Chandler graded some papers and returned to one of his novels. He tried to add a scene or two before he goes to sleep but his mind kept drifting back to Austin and the happy days that he spent with Marc. Their parents were business partners and they spent a lot of time together. Marc even coached him in tennis when they were teenagers.
He looked at a photo of Marc on his desk; Marc had won a tennis trophy and he had a beaming smile. Chandler wondered why the smile had faded away. Marc looked pale and emaciated and his blue eyes had lost their shine.
Marc drove to the clinic early in the morning. Dr. Bailey was arranging his files when Marc came in.
“Good morning, doctor.”
“Good morning, Marc. You’re early.”
“I thought I could use the time to get acquainted. Do you need help with those files?”
“Thanks, I’m almost finished.”
Marc sat down tugging at his shirt.
“How do you like it here?”
“You look quite pale. You didn’t sleep last night?”
“I’m sorry about what happened with Coach Jacobs.”
“We were lucky I got there in time to treat the boy.”
“Coach Jacobs has seen all kinds of football injuries before. He thought he could help.”
“I appreciate if he sticks to coaching football and leaves me to do my work.”
Dr. Bailey patted him on the shoulder.
“This town is not like Austin, son. It’s one big family. By the way, you never told me why you quit your job and came to live in Acorn.”
He touched his heart and said, “I came for this…”
He laughed and said, “Chandler told me it’s less stressful to live in a small town; I guess he was wrong.”
Marc received a phone call at night that there was an emergency at 16, Lyndon Drive. He drove there as quickly as he could but was surprised to see an old abandoned building. His instincts told him that it might be a prank but he went in anyway fearing that there might be someone sick inside.
He climbed the flights of stairs to the third floor as the man had told him on the phone; the door was slightly open. His heart was throbbing so he slipped a tablet under his tongue and went in. A man clad in white sheets was waiting for him inside.
He remained collected in spite of the looming danger and addressed the man,
“I was told that there was an emergency at 16, Lyndon Drive. What seems to be the problem, sir?”
“You are the problem, doctor.” The man had a familiar husky voice.
“I don’t understand, sir.”
“It’s you and you boyfriend, the deaf teacher, who are desecrating this town with your sinful relationship.”
“Don’t play innocent, doctor. We know about you and Chandler.”
“You know absolutely nothing about my friendship with Chandler.”
“Friendship! You guys are lovers.”
“We are not at Halloween, sir. This prank is not funny.”
“It’s not supposed to be funny, doctor.”
“Am I supposed to be scared?”
“Leave this town, doctor. We don’t want a vile person treating the sick.”
“Vile?” he said, his eyes glowing with a blue fire. Marc confronted the man. He clutched the sheet and pulled it away.
“Coach Jacobs!” gasped Marc and clutched his heart.
Coach Jacobs’ face reddened with anger and embarrassment.
“This is just a warning, doctor. Leave this town,” said Jacobs and walked away. Marc fell to his knees and slipped another tablet under his tongue.
When he arrived home his face was extremely pale and he was shaking. Chandler rushed to him,
“What’s wrong, Marc? What happened?”
“Water, please,” he gasped.
Chandler rushed to the kitchen and brought a glass of water. Marc swallowed some pills and thanked Chandler.
“Marc, tell me what’s wrong? Should I call Dr. Bailey?”
“No, I feel much better now.”
“For God’s sake what’s wrong with you? You’re really scaring me.”
“It’s my heart, Chandler. I had a heart attack three months ago while operating on a patient.”
“I’m so sorry, Marc. I’m so sorry.”
“My God! I’m a doctor. I should have known better than to ignore all the warning signs. The fatigue, chest pain and shortness of breath, I had a thousand explanations for that but I didn’t bother to see a physician. God, I could have killed that patient, Chandler.”
“Did he survive?”
“Yeah, no thanks to me. That’s why I left, Chandler. Sorry, I should have told you earlier. You’re my best friend.”
“It’s OK, love. As long as you’re OK now.”
Marc looked him straight in the eyes; “I’m not.”
The next day at school Chandler met Coach Jacobs by chance. Chandler said hello and walked to his class; Jacobs stopped him.
“How is your guest?”
“Yeah, the doctor.”
“Listen, I’m sorry about the misunderstanding that happened earlier.”
“Never mind that, Coach. The boy is OK now and that’s all what matters.”
“Lorenzo, the football player.”
“Well, Coach, I really have to go to class.”
“Say hello to your friend, will you?”
Jacobs realized that Marc hadn’t told anyone about their last encounter.
Dr. Bailey left town for a couple of days leaving the clinic in the care of his new assistant. Coach Jacobs paid him a visit at the clinic.
Coach Jacobs walked in from a back door. Marc was just putting on his white coat to receive his first patient. He tried to remain composed and not show Jacobs that he was startled by his unexpected appearance.
“What can I do for you, Coach?”
“I see that you didn’t take my warning seriously.”
“No, Coach. I assumed it was just a prank.”
“Leave the town, doctor.”
“Coach Jacobs, if you have a complaint with my work here then talk to Dr. Bailey. Now please excuse me, I have patients to take care of.”
“Leave the clinic, Coach, or I will call the sheriff.”
Jacobs grabbed him by the collar and said, “Don’t you ever threaten me.”
Marc pulled away and clutched his heart. His face turned deathly pale.
“Leave the clinic,” he said gasping.
The nurse rushed in and said, “I’m sorry, Dr. Connor, but there is an emergency at the local hospital, and they’re short-handed. A boy was just hit by a drunk driver on his way to school. They said it’s critical.”
“I’m on my way,” said Marc and drove quickly to the hospital.
When the nurse saw Coach Jacobs she gasped, “Coach Jacobs! How did you get in here?”
“What’s the matter, Wendy?”
“It’s William, sir.”
“William! My son?”
“Yes, Coach. You’d better be there. I will call your wife.”
Chandler had brought the boy to hospital. The boy had a serious brain injury. There was no time to transfer him to the hospital in Lubbock.
“How is he, Marc?” asked Chandler.
“He needs surgery, stat. Dr. Bailey is out of town.”
“You’re a surgeon, Marc. You can do it.”
“No,” he gasped. “I can’t operate.”
Chandler held him in his arms and shook him gently.
“You can do it, Marc. The boy needs your help.”
Coach Jacobs rushed in screaming, “How is my son?”
“Your son!” gasped Marc.
“How is he, doctor?”
“I’m afraid he needs immediate surgery. He’s very critical. We can’t transfer him to another hospital.”
“Then what are you waiting for? Why aren’t you helping my son?”
“I can’t operate.”
“The hell you can’t. You’re going to save him.”
“I can’t,” he said, his hand over his heart.
“Please, doctor, save my son.”
Marc looked at Chandler and shook his head.
“He’s right, Marc. You can do it.”
“All right,” he gasped. He slipped a tablet under his tongue and went to the operating room.
“What’s taking him so long?” Jacobs was pacing in the waiting room looking at his watch every five minutes.
“It’s a difficult surgery,” said Chandler. “Don’t worry. Your son is in good hands. Marc is a brilliant surgeon.”
“Then what’s taking him so long?”
Nurse Harris came out and told them that William was out of surgery.
“How is he, nurse?” asked the father anxiously.
“He lost vision in his right eye but he will be all right. Dr. Connor did everything he could,” she said in a trembling voice. Chandler could not hear the anguish in her voice but he read that in her white face.
“Where is Dr. Connor?” asked Chandler.
“I’m so sorry,” she said sobbing.
“What happened, nurse?” screamed Chandler. “What happened to my friend Marc?”
“I defibrillated him but…” tears rushed to her eyes.
“What’s going on?” screamed Chandler. “I don’t understand. What happened to Marc?”
“Ventricular fibrillation. I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry.”
Chandler looked at Coach Jacobs; he saw the feral hog tearing through the flesh of his best friend.
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|Reviewed by Michael Wells
|Wonderful technique of using the image of the feral hog
Great sacrifice and a superhuman hero
Very well witten
You could work that easily into a script as you did with Heart of Ghost
|Reviewed by Regis Auffray
|A soul-gripping story, Huda. You grabbed my attention and held it from start to finish. Nice job. Love and peace to you. Regis|
|Reviewed by Scott Anderson
|This is a very powerful story. The image at the beginnig compels our attention and it was a powerful techinque to use it at the ending.
the scene of the attempted lynching was very powerful. Glad that Marc had mustered up is courage to unveil the potential lyncher.
|Reviewed by Lee Garrett
|An excellent write. The opening commands attention. The feral hog as a metaphore for predudice works very effectively. The story flows well. The only thing that seemed out of balance was the extensive use of dialog. I'd have liked to see more exposition (with the same bold imagery as the opening paragraph) used in other places. Good luck with this.|
|Reviewed by Karen Lynn Vidra, The Texas Tornado
|powerful stuff, huda! very well done!
(((HUGS))) and much love, your friend in tx., karen lynn. :(
merry christmas to you and yours! happy new year too!
|Reviewed by Chris Archer
|Another doctor , and another Marc, who gives up his life to save a patient! The image of the feral hog is horrifying.
A very powerful story.
Merry Christmas, Huda