Gary donned a black suit, black gloves, black soul. The effects of Gary’s actions were felt by every patient in the hospital. It was child’s play for him to fly under the radar. He committed egregious actions. It was too easy. He did it again, and again, and again, and again. The great deception was that he rarely, if ever, got the blame. After all, there was always someone else that would take it for him.
Gary waltzed into Ward 4. Smells like coffee breaths and hands overly enthusiastic for pink hygiene. It was probably the posters of senior doctors washing their hands with a smile (even the nasty ones). Damn, thought Gary. He put away his Infect-360-No-Scope Pistol. Sometimes, when the hospital staff were less conscientious, he could use it. The best bullets were the ones that even the carbapenems couldn’t touch. But Bed 15 was safe for today. It’s okay, thought Gary. I’ll just wait until a medical student does an IV cannula incorrectly. I’ll be back another day. Just you wait.
Gary left Ward 4. He went into Ward 5. More posters, more smiling consultants. Why do they always look so happy washing their hands…?
Regardless. This is the post-op ward. Gary pulled out a tiny sticker from his black suit pocket. Blood cells liked adhering to that sticker and clumping together. The medical staff’s judicious use of heparin made it harder to put this sticker into people’s femoral veins, but nonetheless, Bed 3 looks like an easy target. After all, their clotting disorder hadn’t been diagnosed yet.
Gary reached into the vein, placed the sticker on the inside wall, and left it be. It would take a few hours, but eventually a clot would form, the leg would go red and swollen, and — hopefully — the clot would travel up into the lungs. Virchow made it as easy as 1, 2, 3. Sometimes, Gary could get away with it effortlessly, especially if all the patient ended up having was a mysterious sinus tachycardia. Even if he couldn’t take the patient away completely, he could at least take a bit of their lung. Such were Gary’s joys.
After leaving Bed 3 to succumb to his fate, Gary started going towards his next destination. Gary took the stairs, classy guy that he was, and went through the fire entrance door. Doesn’t anyone read the big red bold letters that say “DO NOT KEEP OPEN”? He glanced at a medical student heading towards him: the student clearly had had one too many chocolates in his life and was subsequently wide enough to disobey the other set of instructions: “DO NOT OBSTRUCT”. This was the consequence of stress binge eating. Chocolate would not be able to save that student from the VIA, however. No matter how many boxes he ate. Gary brushed past the sweaty medical student, internally applauding him for his herculean stair-taking efforts. I’ll see you again, thought Gary, entering Ward 2.
This was not a place for Gary to get up to mischief today. Instead, his intention was to go there to revel in yesterday’s exploits. He spied the girl working at the U-shaped desk…perfect. She was surrounded by staff, files, computers, and sadness.
Mary the resident was having a goddamn awful day. The patient that she was in charge of yesterday died. Mary had completely missed the ticking time-bomb that exploded in the patient before Mary could diagnose it: the AAA. The story was written all over her face, so Gary read through the chapters one-by-one. Chapter 1: Loud Beeping Noises. Chapter 2: Panicking Nurse. Chapter 3: Panicking Mary. Chapter 4: Code Blue. Chapter 5: Stand Down, Code Blue. Chapter 6: The Family’s Reaction. Chapter 7: A Blur. Chapter 8: Remorse. Chapter 9: It Was All My Fault. Chapter 10: It Is All My Fault. Chapter 11: It Is All My Fault.
Chapters 9 to 11 was what kept Gary unseen.
The beaming Cardiology consultant walked in, aura radiating. She was a light bulb personified. The consultant had worked with Mary when Mary was but a wee intern. “She was brilliant! Worked so hard and was so bright! I loved her!” thought the consultant. The consultant remembered when they used to be an intern, too. Cynicism eventually got to her too, as it did every consultant, but — strangely — it did not budge her optimism an inch.
But the consultant clearly felt the air surrounding Mary today.
“What’s wrong, Mary?”
“Oh! I didn’t see you there, Dr. Waldenstein.”
“Please, Mary! We’re friends. Call me Ella.”
“So — I’ll ask again. You’re not the perky Mary I grew to adore. What’s wrong?”
“Yesterday, I killed a patient.”
At this point, Gary smirked. He got away with it again. Again, and again, and again.
“Now, Mary…can I tell you something?”
“It wasn’t you that killed the patient yesterday.”
“What do you mean?”
The consultant then dug up a painful memory of her own. This was what her own kind boss had said to her a great many years ago. It had made all the difference. Thinking back to it made her revisit all of the guilt she felt when she had thought she was responsible for her own patient’s death, too. How bitter that pill was to swallow, but how useful it was now.
For the next ten minutes, the consultant explained:
“It wasn’t your fault. It was Gary’s.”
Gary felt uneasy. Black suit, black gloves, black soul. The effects of Gary’s actions were felt by every patient in the hospital. It was child’s play for him to fly under the radar. He committed egregious actions. It was too easy. He did it again, and again, and again, and again. The great deception was that he rarely, if ever, got the blame. After all, there was always someone else that would take it for him.
But today, that person was not going to be Mary.
Mary felt better.
She would eventually also become a cardiologist.