The surgeon stared longingly at the patient’s charts and let out a prolonged sigh. Heart rate? Normal. White blood cell count? Average. Any sign of blood borne illness? You guessed it. None. He hung the clipboard back on the gurney and walked out of the room, hands in his pockets. Medical science just isn’t what it used to be, he thought. It used to be fun and exciting! After you stitched up the patient, there was no telling what could happen! They could get a staph infection and lose a limb. They could get a blood clot in their leg and have to have it amputated. They could get hepatitis from the saw that I used to cut off their arm. Now it’s all “sanitize this” and “antibiotics that” and “oh no, doctor, put away the saw! We can save the leg!” Pathetic. Medical professionals these days don’t have the gumption. They’re a bunch of pussy footing nancies too hung up on saving lives to get what it’s like to be real surgeons! I have half a mind to-
“Doctor! Excuse me, doctor!” The surgeon turned around to see a young woman, barely out of high school, hobbling over to him on a pair of crutches.
“What do you want?”
“I… I just wanted to thank you for everything you’ve done.”
The surgeon flipped through his recent memories. Did he hold the door for her or buy her a soda or… “Oh, you’re that girl who I erm… saved. What do you want?”
“I just wanted to thank you… that’s all I guess?”
“That’s it? Well, you’re welcome, then. Have a nice life.” The surgeon started walking away but she just hobbled on behind him.
“Is something wrong? Did I say something or maybe-”
“No. Everything is fine. Everything is 100% routine, run of the mill, a-okay fine. Now, if there’s something you need then you have a call button next to your bed. I have places to be.”
The girl clanked down the hallway. The surgeon went to his office, closed the door behind him, and shut off the light.
* * *
“Doctor! Doctor, are you in there?!” A resident bashed his fist against the surgeon’s door. The surgeon flicked on the desk lamp, rubbed the crud from his eyes, and rolled his chair over to the door.
“I thought we agreed that now is nap time.”
“Yes sir, we did sir. But one of your patients, a 19 year old female who had a wound in her leg drained, she’s having complications from the procedure. We need to take her for emergency surgery.”
“Comp… complications? What kind of complications?”
“It appears that the incisions in her thigh have become infected and the infection is starting to spread throughout the rest of her body. We gave her the most powerful antibiotics that we have, but it’s doing little to stop the infection. We’re afraid that we might have to amputate.”
“Am-am-amputate?! Really?! This has to be a dream!”
“I know, sir. A real nightmare, sir. You must feel just awful, sir. If you want, we have a couple of surgeons on call who could do the procedure instea-”
The surgeon jumped to his feet. “No! No no no no no, nobody is performing this surgery but me. Go! Get the patient prepped!”
The resident scrambled down the hall. The surgeon pulled a worn oaken box from under his desk and placed it on his lap. He unlatched it and carefully opened the cover. He pulled out a hacksaw, covered in splotches of corrosion, and caressed it tenderly with his fingers.
“It’s been so long, old friend.”