Previous Challenge Entry (EDITOR'S CHOICE)
Topic: Exam( 09/12/13)
By Steve McClure
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But all that was important, right? Advancing the corporation, making the stockholders happy…. I wonder. Looking back, who thought it was important – other than me (and the stockholders)? Who really benefited? Remember that youth league coach who asked for a little help (as if I had the time)? Still, it might have been nice. I used to play in high school…even a little college ball. Actually, it wouldn’t have taken that much; I could have easily assigned the “meeting” thing to someone else. I had plenty of capable people on the payroll. Why did I always have to do it myself? No trust, I guess. And what about those kids that kept coming around selling something for one school thing or another. Wouldn’t have hurt me any to buy some of their stuff. I could have given it away if I didn’t like it (haven’t seen them in a while). And those folks from the….
“Sorry to keep you waiting,” blurts the man in the familiar white lab coat, briskly entering the room, and quickly closing the door behind. He jerks the squat, tri-wheeled stool over to where I’m sitting and plops down on it, facing me. “How are you holding up?”
“Hanging in there,” I respond breathily. “I’m a bit short of breath.”
“Fatigue,” he explains. “Comes with the territory.”
“What about the scan?” I ask, apprehensively.
Before he can speak, I read the answer in his eyes. “Jim, I’m afraid it shows further spread. I’ve just spoken with some colleagues. All agree we need to alter your regimen again to try to get this thing under control.”
The word "again" hung in the air like a cloud. How many "agains" has it been, five? …Six? I don’t remember. I lower my head and stare at the boney hands in my lap. My hands. I’ve watched my clothes grow several sizes too large. Dark circles seem permanently etched under dull eyes that only punctuate a drawn, ever thinning face. I’m but a shadow of my former self.
“As we’ve discussed before, Jim” the doctor offers, breaking the silence. “This isn’t an exact science.”
“Understand,” I acknowledge grudgingly.
“I see you’ve found some new reading material,” he says somewhat cheerfully, trying to lure me away from self-pity.
Raising the small, soft-cover to eye level, I point out, “The New Testament. One of your associates gave it to me – the nurse who administers my treatment. Nice young woman.”
“Good read?” he asks.
“I have a lot of questions.”
“I was just pondering this passage in Matthew when you walked in – the passage that talks about not storing up treasure on earth.”
“And what do you think?”
“I think…. I think I know what it means.”
“Mr. Rarity, attorney for James Dunaway?” the doctor inquired.
“Yes, Doctor,” came the reply. “I’m executor of his will. How can I help?”
“It’s true Jim was a patient of mine, but what’s indicated in your letter seems a bit…generous.”
“You’re not the first to call, Doctor,” he began. “Schools, youth leagues, charities, a church he recently had been attending – a long list, including your oncology center.”
“Still, it seems over the top,” the doctor pursued.
“Well, Mr. Dunaway had no family to speak of,” the attorney responded. “His last instruction to me was to liquidate his entire estate and divide the proceeds among this long list. As his attorney, I expressed reluctance. All he said was, ‘I’m moving my treasure’ – whatever that meant.”
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