Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Gone Fishing (02/01/07)
TITLE: White River Doc
By Dolores Stohler
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But that was 30 years ago, before the growth spurt of the 90‘s. As the town increased in size, new stores sprung up and a medical building emerged, complete with offices for new doctors and a clinic that handled emergency cases. For the first time, Doc Beasley competed for patients as one after another mothers took their kids to the youthful pediatrician in town. And young women with pregnancies opted for a handsome obstetrician with painted-on smile.
Doc Beasley’s smile had sparkled when, in bygone days, he’d lifted a small child into his lap and talked to him softly while examining his measles. Or when he delivered a new baby and set it to howling with a firm spank on the bottom. Now, sadly, the children were gone and most of his patients were middle-aged or beyond. There’d been only one patient this morning and now, as he surveyed the empty office that no longer employed a nurse, the corners of his mouth turned down. His salt-and-pepper mustache, longer than it used to be, drooped also and his eyeglasses misted up.
Taking one last look around the empty office, he headed out the door and hung his hand-made sign that said “Gone Fishing”. Doc stared at it for a minute. “Well, isn’t that what I’ve always wanted to do but never had time for?” he asked himself, as he hurried downstairs to meet old Sam Baker with whom he’d made a fishing date for the day. Sam had been fishing the White River for years and had pictures to prove his success. Bob used to envy him, but not today. It wasn’t an easy thing to admit your practice was going down the drain.
Doc experienced a brief spell of happiness as they cast their lines into the swiftly-flowing river and sat back to await the first catch of the day. But the fish weren’t biting. The sun grew hot that afternoon and soon was baking the bald spot on top of Doc’s head. Why didn’t he think to wear a hat? After a while Sam fell asleep and Doc was left to his own thoughts as boredom seeped in.
Then, looking down river, he spied a small boy standing on the bank looking down. Funny, but he was all alone - no sign of the kid’s parents. Bob’s brow knit in perplexity as he continued to search the banks for an adult. Suddenly there was a plop in the water. The tot had leaned over too far and was carried away by the rushing water. Then he went down and failed to surface again.
Doc was on his feet in a flash, running faster than he’d moved in the last twenty years of his life. Reaching the spot where the child had fallen, he kicked off his shoes and dove in. The water was cold and the once white rocks covered with scum. Bits of debris floated by as he searched the stream for any sign of a small body. Precious moments slipped by before he found him lying face down on the bed of the river.
Breathing hard, he surfaced again bearing the small, limp form in dripping arms. Placing him on his back he began CPR. Minutes ticked by before the small form shuddered and spewed out a mouthful of dirty water. Frightened eyes flew open while he coughed and sputtered. Lifting the child once more, Doc slowly made his way back to where Sam was still asleep. Not too gently, he nudged him awake. “Hey, got a cell phone I can use? Lost mine in the water when I rescued this tot.”
After he’d seen the child safely to the clinic and comforted the shaken parents, Doc left with a new spring in his step. Retirement wasn’t for him, he’d decided. He’d relocate to the new building and volunteer to help in the emergency room. Then on weekends he’d organize a team of volunteers to clean up the White River. God willing, he’d make his presence felt in this town again.
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