Entertaining Angels

"Ah, you're here to have your sutures removed."

"I…" John stepped back from the large bearded man who had materialized from behind the consulting room door. "Where's Doctor Barnes?"

"He's out for the week - he had a family emergency. Now let me see…"

John pulled his right arm close to his body. "Who are you?"

"Locum. Sit down so I can…"

"Yes, obviously. But do you have a name?"

"Doctor Heller." He pointed to his ID.

"I don't…"

"Pleased to meet you!" Doctor Heller extended his right hand. John took it. After a perfunctory jerk, he pulled John's hand close to his face and examined the palm. "Six stitches. You'd avoid this sort of thing if you stopped cutting bread into your hand."

"You weren't given access to my medical records so you could criticize the way I make toast."

"Hmm? No, of course not. Well… Lidocaine." He started rummaging through a drawer.

"Lidocaine? To remove sutures? I've only met one or two people in my whole career who imagined they needed that. I certainly don't."

Doctor Heller turned back. "Of course. I'll just…." He picked up a pair of forceps from the table.

"I don't think those are sterile."

"Of course they are."

"No, I've been in this office before, and Doctor Barnes keeps the sterilized instruments over there."

"I made sure..."

"They were sitting there on the counter when I walked in. I've already had one infection in this hand, and I bloody well am not getting another because you can't be bothered to get up and..."

"Fine!" Doctor Heller walked over to the cabinet John had indicated and pulled out a handful of forceps still wrapped in plastic. He slammed them on the desk next to John.

"Those are the wrong size."

"And I assume you know where Doctor Barnes keeps the ones of the correct size?"

John opened his mouth, then shut it, and smiled grimly. "You know what… this is… I'll just do it myself. I've done it before!"

"You need two hands…"

"I'm an army doctor!

"You were. But that doesn't give you an extra pair of hands. And now that you're suffering from post-traum…"

John stood up. "No! I'm not going to sit here and listen to some moron…" He started for the door.

"Moron? I trained at Barts, too, and…"

John turned back and pointed a steady finger at Doctor Heller. "You do know that a medical degree and no bedside manner doesn't make you some sort of House, right?"

The doctor looked puzzled.

John sighed and turned back toward the door. "Why do I—"

"Goodbye, John."

John paused in the doorway for one moment, shook his head, and marched out.