Thursday, March 5, 2009

Back in the Saddle.

"I don't know why they called me," he was saying, "This guy is MEAT. I'm a 'borg doc. If he needed a circ re-section or a limb switched out, then you call me, got it?"

"Sorry." The intern stammered, "We--we needed a consult and-"

"Kid", he said. "Forget about it."

Priest exchanged looks with the attending, who was shaking his head. The serv-nurse whirred nearby, keeping pressure on the wounds while changing the empty IV bag out of its little carousel. Another bag snapped into place almost instantaneously, the flow of drugs virtually uninterrupted.

"They cost a bundle, you know. Full body prosthesis."

"Really? I didn't know--"

"If they don't have the money to buy a Ferrari, then they sure as hell can't afford a new body. They go into hock to the government for the rest of their life. They send 'em wherever, to do whatever. In the end, they take the parts out of 'em and give them to poor people. The poor buggers end up just chunks on a coroner's table. "

The intern blanched. O'Brian, the attending, looked amused. They had worked together on an off for nearly fifteen years.

"IF they can't pay, kid. If."

The intern looked forlorn.

"Look, it's not like I can do anything for him. Like I said, I'm a mechanic."

Priest pushed away from the table and got up to leave, snapping the gloves from his hands and tossing them into a hopper. He drew his slate from it socket on smart bed and ran a finger across it, bringing it to life.

"What I can do," he said, keying commands into the device, " is send him up to surgery. He needs a new kidney. "

The orderlies appeared almost immediately to wheel him away, the smart bed silently maintaining his vital functions. Katherine Hollister was stepping around them to check the man's vitals on the display. He nearly bumped into her.


"Yeah Kathy?" he looked up from his slate, noticing her for the first time.

"What're you doing here?"

"The kid here called for a consult, I drew the short straw."

"Well, it's good to see you."

"You still flying evac?

"No, I'm back in the ER, now. Have been for a while now."

"It's good to see you too, Kathy. You look good."

"So do you." She said, turning to follow the smart bed. The thing was already halfway down the hall, making its way around the various obstacles toward the elevators. "I'll see you later, okay?'

"Sure thing." he smiled his lopsided half-smile. She alway made him feel like he was twenty years old again. "Take care of yourself, Kathy."

"You too, Priest."