Jane was very happy with her new job as a receptionist at the dance school. It was a definite step up from the waitressing she had been doing for so long at the bar and grill. Not that Bistro 30 was a bad place really. The clientele was steady, and the tips were good. It was just…well, the drinking. As Jane sat at the desk sorting receipts she thought back.


Dr. P looked at her intently as she sat on the padded exam table. She shifted uncomfortably on the white paper cover. He stood leaning against the counter, her file in his hands, studying it again. There was a frown on his dark, tanned face. He looked up at her and the black eyes were kind.

Jane really hated that. The kindness. Fuck him! Rich Indian shit with your fancy schools. She called him Dr. P because that is what everyone called him. None of the Americans could start to pronounce the twelve-letter last name. It would have been better if he had been mean to her, harsh. She was used to that. Used to men talking down to her like she was a three-year-old. A stupid three-year-old. Just because she was slight of build and on the short side. With her huge green eyes, men couldn’t help talking to her like she was, what? A life-sized doll?

Jane braced herself. She didn’t like the look on Dr. P’s face. He had ordered an intense series of gastro tests on her. All of which she was sure were unnecessary. It was just a little upset stomach, that’s all. She had them all the time. Some Pepto-bismo and aspirin….

Dr. P coughed and cleared his throat. “So, Jane. We got the test results back. I told you it would take some days, right?”

She nodded. I’m not stupid. Get on with it already.

“It looks like what I thought. Gastritis.”

“Gas what?”

“Gastritis. It’s an inflammation of the stomach lining.”

“Well, so? Can’t you give me something for it and I’ll be on my way.” Jane started to inspect the posters on the wall.

“Ah, well. It’s not quite that simple. I think we discussed that this is kind of unusual in a person your age.” He glanced at the file again. “Twenty-nine, I believe.”

She nodded; disinterested.

“Right,” he closed the file. “Also, we touched on the subject of alcohol and how that might be affecting the condition.”

She continued to stare off into middle distance.

The doctor sat down on the exam room chair. “I will have the nurse give you some pamphlets on proper care for you to read at home.” He paused and waited.

“Okay,” she finally said and looked at him. It was obvious he had something else to say.

“Jane, it is important you understand that what you have is not fatal, but it is chronic, and it will not go away on its own. With proper diet and staying completely away from alcohol…” his eyes flicked to her face, “you should see rapid improvement in your symptoms and should be well on your way to being your old self.”

“Okay,” came the monosyllabic response.

Dr. P glanced into the file again. “Ah, did we discuss the amount you have been drinking per day?”

“Yeah, we did. I don’t know for sure. Maybe a couple of beers a day at the bar.”

“Ah, couple of beers,” he studied the file again.

“Look, Dr. P.” Jane was starting to get defensive. “I’ll follow your dumb plan. I can take the stuff or leave it alone. I’m not an alcoholic, for God’s sake!” She crossed her arms over her chest and frowned.

“Oh, no. No one is suggesting anything.” He smiled at her warmly. “We just want you to get better. Right?”

Jane uncrossed her arms and let them drop into her lap. “Yeah, okay. Right. You’re just trying to help.” She folded her hands together and head down, examined them.

“Exactly,” Dr. P reached out and gave her arm a little pat. “We don’t want this thing progressing into…. something…more serious.”

She jerked her head up to look at him.

He smiled again, affably. “Nurse will be in to give you those pamphlets in a minute. I’m leaving a script for those antibiotics we talked about. See you in about two months?”

She nodded her head, face down toward her lap again.

“Fine. See you then.” Dr. P opened the door and closing it behind him, dropped the chart in the metal bin next to the door. He hit the button for the nurse and walked away shaking his head.


Continued Part III