"Doctor Doom, calling
Doctor Doom. Doctor Doom, calling Doctor Doom."
The mechanical voice passed down the corridors and crossed through the hospital walls.
"Doctor Doom, calling Doctor Doom," the voice continued singing out the name over and over again.
"Who is Doctor Doom?" a visitor asked the receptionist.
A draught of cold air announced a door opening. Wearing a dark belted coat with the collar raised and the shine of snow on his hair, the newly arrived looked as if he had been brought bysome storm rather than by a large car.
"That's Doctor Doom," whispered the receptionist to the visitor.
"Good evening, Doctor, they are calling for you in room 21."
With his face half-hidden inside his coat collar a voice answered, "Good evening," and continued on his way to the lift. The visitor stared at the doctor till he was inside the lift. The lights in the corridor cast an amber light, making the atmosphere warm and romantic, which at the same time was totally false.
The lift doors closed silently behind Doctor Doom. When he got out of the lift the double vision the doctor had was that of a woman writing at her desk and the blackness that could be seen through the window. The only light came from her table lamp.
"Good evening, Mary. Is the call for the patient in room 21?"
The nurse reacted machine-like, "Good evening, Doctor. Yes, it's for room 21. The patient says she can't sleep."
"What does she want me to do? I have been called out just for that at this time of night?"
"Yes, Doctor. The patient refused to take any medicine without you being here in person."
Doctor Doom removed his coat and went into his own small bathroom. Hung his coat up on the door, washed his hands, and put on a white overall, which was whiter than the snow outside the hospital.
"Mary, accompany me, please. Let's go and see room 21."
The doctor and the nurse went into room 21. From the centre of the ceiling there was a weak pilot light, which was sufficient to see the patients by. A nurse was sitting at the bedside of an elderly lady, who did not look the least bit ready for sleep. In a voice typical of an elderly complainer the lady said, "At last you've come, Doctor. You shouldn't have made me wait so long. The nurses want to give me a sleeping pill, but as I don't trust them I preferred to wait until you arrived."
The clock on the wall showed four o'clock. Doctor Doom went to a trolley with medication, cotton wool, tubes of creams and syringes, on it.
"Now don't you worry. I'm giving you something that will help you sleep for quite a while. Nurse raise the patient's sleeve, please."
The nurse raised the sleeve, the doctor cleaned the place with alcohol and gave the injection slowly. The nurse lowered the sleeve of the complainer who now had a slightly idiotic look on her face due to the effect of the drug.
"Thank you, Doctor, for having come out," the nurse said.
"Just make sure it doesn't happen again!" The doctor answered. "The patient will sleep till lunchtime. So you can relax. I'm off home. No more nocturnal calls, please."
"I'm very sorry, Doctor, for having got you out of bed at such a time and on such a night, but we were afraid of a scandal."
The doctor went into his bathroom took off his overall, washed his hands, combed his now dry hair and put on his coat, picked up his briefcase, and left.
Mary was at her desk, "Good night, Mary."
"Good night, Doctor."
Downstairs the amber lit corridor was empty. The receptionist was reading and the night guard had his attention fixed on closed-circuit screens with which he observed the corridors. Doctor Doom opened the main door and received the snowstorm full blast in his face.
"Is that Doctor Doom who's just gone out?" the night guard asked.
"Yes, he always answers all his calls. Not like others in this hospital," the receptionist replied.
Doctor Doom was very
tall, slim, and handsome. However, none of the nurses or female
doctors had fallen in love with him as he was so aloof. Doctor
Doom's patients were all women and they all did as he ordered, to
the envy of the other doctors.
The night of the snowstorm was one of many, when the doctor had to wake himself up, get dressed and put on his face of professional sympathy and understanding at an anti-social hour of the morning. Only he knew what his true feelings were.
The doctor parked his car in the basement of the apartment building where he lived, went up the stairs and opened his front door. He poured himself a glass of milk and went into his study. The list of his patients was in a folder on top of his desk. His first appointment for the next morning was at nine o'clock. Switching off the light, Doom went into his bedroom and got intohis bed which he had had to abandon in bad humour an hour before.
During the day, Lorinda
replaced Mary behind the desk on the floor where Doctor Doom
worked. That morning the sky sent out a sad and intense light.
Doom was in his office with the third patient of the morning. The
woman was around fifty years old and the doctor was speaking to
her, "It's a very simple operation, no need to worry."
The woman didn't want to be operated on, but the doctor, with his mysterious air of knowing everything and with those eyes of an indefinable colour, were all too much for any woman. In the end they all obeyed him.
"If you think it's necessary, Doctor, I'll have the operation. When will it be?"•
"Ask the nurse at the desk, she can give you more details. Good morning."
And the doctor accompanied the patient to the door.
"Lorinda, please help this lady fix a date for her operation."
When the door had closed behind the doctor, the woman said to Lorinda, "What a wonderful man, and his office smells so nice."
Lorinda made no remark about the doctor, she knew him very well.
With his headphones on,
the doctor was sitting in his armchair with his eyes closed
listening to music, trying to get himself psyched up before his
"Doctor Doom calling Doctor Doom your presence is required in the delivery room."
Lorinda knocked on his door on hearing the announcement. It was closed. She pressed a button on her desk. Still there was no reply. The loudspeaker continued calling for the doctor. Lorinda knocked once more and heard a noise coming from inside the office. The door opened and the doctor was standing before her. "What do you want, Lorinda? Don't you know that I'm being called to go to the delivery room?"
Lorinda, who was used to the doctor's eccentricities, remained silent. The doctor seeing that Lorinda had no answer added, "You knocked on the door for something, didn't you? And now you are embarrassed to tell me," and speaking more to himself than to Lorinda said, "Women. Women. I know I'm irresistible but this is ridiculous, now even the nurses. What I have to put up with!" Humming to himself, he came out of his office, leaving behind him a smell of masculinity.
"The patient's ready, Doctor," the nurse told him.
"Get out a pink blanket, it's a girl." He went into the delivery room, to help a new life enter the world.
The mother and her baby
were glowing. "I'm very grateful, Doctor, I'd like to name her
after you but I don't know your name."
"You don't need to know it," replied the doctor. "Why don't you call her Mary or Lorinda their names are prettier and more appropriate than mine, and they are much prettier than me."
"Doctor, you're joking."
The Doctor wore a pink carnation in the buttonhole of his overall and he gave it to the nurse, saying as he left, "It's for the mother." Until the new mother received flowers from her relatives, the flower given to her by Doom would be the only way of knowing that something worth remembering had happened.
It was three o'clock and
the Doctor had been working since first thing in the morning. He
wanted to eat something and go home.
"Doctor Doom calling Doctor Doom your presence is required in room 21"
The elderly lady who had had him called out in the middle of the night was sitting in a chair in room 21. A heavy blanket covered her legs and she had a long face. The nurse whispered in the doctor's ear, "I'm sorry, Doctor. I know you wanted to go home but she is unbearable. Having woken up so late, at nearly one o'clock the first thing she did was urinate. She screamed for the bedpan like an hysteric, saying she was going to wet the bed. After that show came the next one, the bath. She insisted on having a bath just when we were giving out the patients their lunches. To keep her quiet we gave her permission for a bath. The third question was the food. As she ate so late and on top of that she eats slower than the other patients, we've at last got her into a chair."
"What exactly is the problem, here?" the doctor asked.
The complainer said, "Doctor, the nurses don't want me to go back to bed. They say I must wait until dinner is over and I don't want to."
Doctor Doom said in a gentle voice, "Madam, allow me to give you a piece of advice. It would be much better for you if you went to the common room where some films are to be shown this afternoon."
The elderly lady couldn't believe her ears, "Doctor, so you really want me to go to the common room?"
"Yes, Madam, that way the afternoon will seem to be shorter and more interesting."
"I'm not sure."
The nurse took the doctor to one side, "If she goes back to bed now then tonight we'll have a repetition of last night's performance. Do you like the idea of losing two nights' sleep?"
"Madam, the nurse is going to take you to the common-room now. You are going to have a good time being with other people, and a couple of good films."
"If that's what you want, Doctor,." said the woman reluctantly.
"You'll like it too, I'm sure. Good afternoon."
Doctor Doom went to speak
to Lorinda, "I don't want any calls tonight. As far as I know
there are no operations and no deliveries. Please tell Mary for
"Yes, Doctor. Rest well. See you tomorrow."
Wrapped up in his dark overcoat, Doctor Doom left the lift, crossed the hall, said good evening to everyone there, and passed from the heated hospital to the grey cold of a January afternoon. Nobody saw the smile on Doom's face.
"Doctor Doom you are
wanted in the operating theatre. Doctor Doooom." The loudspeaker
sent out his name like that of an owl screeching.
Doctor Doom was wearing a yellow theatre gown. It was the colour he had chosen.
"What have we got today?" he asked .
The unconscious body was that of a woman. All her body except the top part, which was to be worked on, was covered; she also wore knee-length white cotton socks. The operation was to prolong her life. The doctor was meticulous, and at the end of the operation the doctor gave the following instructions to the nurse, "She must be taken to room 24 as soon as she wakes up, and please have me called."
The rest of the morning
was a never ending chain of women entering and leaving the office
of Doctor Doom. There were all types; elderly, middle-aged,
young, those with cancer, sterile, and pregnant. They set out on
the trip to his office from the hospital entrance: crossed the
hall, got into the lift, and got out at his office, they never
spoke among themselves.
And as a background to all these comings and goings was the incessant voice calling, "Doctor Doom, calling Doctor Doom."
On hearing his name called out the doctor's patients felt thrilled. Each one thought of him as her own particular property.
The temperature had risen enough to melt the ice. The floor was dirtied by the ladies wet shoes, and the marks all went in one direction, to Doom's office.
When his patients went to see him they put on their best clothes. The mixture of perfumes, deodorants, and hair sprays would have confused even the best bloodhound's nose. Nevertheless, in the Doctor's office it was his smell of masculinity that predominated over any other.
Why did Doctor Doom enjoy such success?
"There are millions of other doctors but there's only one Doctor Doom," the women said who went to his office.
What is Doctor Doom's secret?
Doctor Doom wore success as if it were made to measure.
"Doctor Doom go straight away to room 24."
"Lorinda, I don't think I'll be long," and he left Lorinda and went with long strides to room 24.
The woman recently
operated on had recuperated consciousness. The woman smiled at
him and grabbing at his overall said to him, " Doctor, I'm very
grateful and I feel very well."
"I'm glad to see you better." He took out of his lapel a yellow rose and placed it in the woman's hand. "This flower will brighten up your life and now with your permission I must go. I have other patients to visit. Good afternoon."
"Good afternoon, you'll return won't you?"
"Of course, and now rest."
Doctor Doom was in his
office, the headphones were on and his face wore an expression of
pure pleasure. His white overall hung on the bathroom door. The
red velvet curtains were closed. The noise of vehicles passing
over the melting snow did not penetrate that refuge. Was Doctor
Doom sleeping or was he on watch?
All the hospital corridors were amber lit even those where Doom had his office. In winter, night comes early and at five o'clock the nurses began to close the curtains, leaving the image of a cold and inhospitable night outside. While inside the atmosphere was warm.
"Doctor Doom your presence is required in room 30. Doctor Doom."
Lorinda would soon be going off duty. She knocked on the door, the doctor opened it, "Do you want something, Lorinda?" with an ambiguous tone in his voice.
"You're wanted in room 30, the new baby."
"I shan't be long."
Everything about that man has a double meaning. The mysterious man is what they call him. He is probably the most boring of men. Lorinda had thought a lot about the doctor, but had arrived at the conclusion that it wasn't worthwhile in spite of his being so good-looking.
The new baby's father
shook hands with the doctor, and from her bed the mother gave him
a shaky smile. The father said, "Thank you, Doctor. A present for
you," and placed an envelope in the doctor's hand.
Straightaway he put the envelope into his pocket. "It's my work. I haven't performed a miracle. It's down to modern science."
"But Doctor, until now we'd been unable to have children. However, we've got a daughter thanks to you," the proud father said.
"It's easy when you know how. I have to go now. Good afternoon. I'm pleased that everyone is satisfied."
"Not as much as we are," answered the husband.
Doctor Doom returned to his office, "Lorinda, I don't want any interruptions for a while, I want to rest."
"Doctor, I have to go home soon," Lorinda told him.
"Well then, in twenty minutes I'll be ready to leave." Doom opened his office and locked it after him.
"Doctor Doom, Doctor Doom
please go to room 21. Calling Doctor Doo-oom."
So, twenty minutes later, he left his office, he carried his dark coat over one arm, and a briefcase in his other hand.
"Doctor, room 21, they are calling you."
"Yes, I know, please look after my things. I'll be two minutes at the most, I promise you."
The grumpy old lady in room 21 was sitting at a table, "At last you've come. Where have you been?"
The nurse tried to calm the woman down with, "The doctor has many patients."
"What's going on here?" The doctor had put on an overall over a suit and he felt uncomfortable.
"I want to have a sleep before dinner."
"Out of the question. Nurse, please take this lady for a walk in a wheelchair. Have I been called to deal with such a stupidity?" the doctor asked.
The nurse turned red, "The patient refuses to take any notice of us. She only takes notice of you."
"Look, Madam, you must take notice of the nurses, they are under my orders. Is that clear?" Doom was a little put out.
"No," said the grumpy old lady. "I pay you to treat me and if I call for you then you have to come. I won't take notice of what anyone else says, only you."
"Good evening, Madam. Nurse, I'd like to see her in a wheelchair right now, please."
Doctor Doom took the nurse to one side and said, "You mustn't take any notice of her. She is the one who has to obey. This is a hospital, not an hotel."
Doctor Doom and Lorinda left the hospital together and each one went to look for their car. It was very cold and the roads were treacherous.
"Doctor Doom, calling
Doctor Doom proceed at once to the operating theatre."
The unconscious woman was an old patient of the doctor.
"She began bleeding last night like a waterfall," the husband said. "And I've brought her here because you were her doctor."
"Very well. Let's see what's going on here."
Doctor Doom knew very well what was wrong. A few years ago he had removed a malignant tumour and now it seemed to have reproduced.
The lady with the haemorrhage did not die in the operating theatre. She was put into room 20. During the whole day, and right into the night the doctor and the nurses worked on her, and meanwhile the voice rang out, "Doctor Doom calling Doctor Doom," sounded like a mediaeval canticle.
The grumpy old lady had to show herself up, "What's all this noise of coming and going?"
The nurse tried to calm her down, "Please, lower your voice. The lady in the next room is very ill. As soon as she is better there will be less noise."
"If she's so bad then she should be in another room."
"There is no other empty room at the moment."
The nurse put the grumpy lady in the wheelchair without hurting her and said, "Let's go for a walk."
"Doctor Doom calling
Doctor Doom. Please go to room 20."
"Either I'm going deaf or there's something wrong with the loudspeaker." It was night-time. Mary was sitting at the same desk where Doctor Doom had seen her on his first visit to the grumpy old lady.
Doctor Doom closed the eyelids of the cancer lady in the bed and, taking hold of the husband, took him out to the lift saying, "I'm sorry. I've done everything possible to save her to no avail."
"Yes, Doctor, I know. Thank you." The lift arrived and the inconsolable husband entered, he pressed a button and looked down at the floor. The lift doors closed and the lift took him down to the entrance.
"Doctor Doom calling Doom
please go to room 24. Doctor Doo-oom."
"The loudspeaker's got hiccoughs," the doctor said.
"Only when it has to pronounce your name," said Mary.
In room 24 was the lady who had been operated on to prolong her life.
"What's the problem?"
"She wants to know when she can go home."
The doctor entered room 24 and went up to the lady sitting in bed, "Good evening, Madam. If you like you may leave the hospital tomorrow and get back to a normal life."
"Thank you, Doctor."
"I'm happy to be able to say these words to you," and Doctor Doom presented her with two roses.
Doctor Doom earned a lot
of money, how much nobody knew. However it was obvious he was
wealthy. Seated in his chair in his office he was thinking. After
a while he got up, picked up his briefcase and his coat, opened
his office door. "Lorinda, I'm going home. I'll be back later.
Doctor Doom's car was like him - elegant, dark and silent. With a movement like that of a cradle rocking, the large car took him home.
In the city centre the shop advertisements were in great contrast with the grey sky, streets covered in dirty snow, and a wintry atmosphere. Doom stopped his car outside a travel agent's, got out, and went inside. He wasn't long in returning to his car with a pile of travel brochures.
Doctor Doom is going on a journey. Where?
The grumpy old lady was
up to her usual bad behaviour. She was refusing to leave the warm
hospital saying that it was cold in the street. Doom told her
that it had been cold for two months. The old lady insisted,
"What if I have a relapse?"
"Then you come here and you'll be examined. Believe me it's better to be at home than here."
"I see that I have to go home."
"Is there anyone to look after you?" asked the doctor.
"Yes, Doctor, but it's not the same."
The nurse stared at the doctor but his mind was on other things.
"Very good. The nurse will arrange your things for you before you leave. Good afternoon."
The smell of death he carried with him even up to his office. He didn't find it disagreeable, he was used to it. The sound of birth was also familiar to him. The sight of a woman in agony was too well-known to Doom. He put on his earphones and listened to some music, closed his eyes and relaxed. A large lamp that stood in the corner near the window gave out the only light in the office. Doom wasn't under this light but formed part of the shade. The man in the armchair appeared to be sleeping. Through his mind were passing the most provocative thoughts.
Doctor Doom was called to
see a woman who had been injured in an accident.
"Good morning, did you wish to see me?"
The woman was unknown to Doom. "Are you Doctor Doom?"
"Yes, I am."
"I asked for you because you did a fantastic job on my sister-in-law."
"That's possible, but what you have wrong with you now is not in my department. I can assure that the doctor who will carry out the operation is well practiced."
The woman began to implore him, "But I don't want another doctor. I only want you."
"I'm sorry. It is out of the question, and now rest. Don't worry. You'll soon be better and back home."
The woman was bothering him, and Doctor Doom asked a nurse to get a doctor. "Don't get so upset. The doctor is on his way."
And Doctor Doom left the emergency room silently.
The temperatures had gone
down again and the new snow fell on the dirty snow left over from
previous snowfalls. The traffic conditions were disastrous and
there was a high rise in accidents which sent injuredpeople to
In contrast to the running around in other departments in the hospital, the kingdom of Doctor Doom continued the same; birth, death, prolong a life. The doctor had already paid for his holiday and now he had only a few days before leaving.
"Lorinda, I'm going on
holiday. I've found a replacement. Goodbye."
"How long are you going to be away, Doctor?"
"You never know," answered the doctor.
At home he gave a last look around the living-room, the office and the bedroom. Doom switched off the light, left his house, and got into the taxi that he had called.
Doom had very little
luggage. Inside the plane now flying over the ocean, Doom opened
his briefcase and took out a little statue of an ancient goddess.
He caressed the figure and said to himself, "People don't
understand who I am."
While his name was being called over the loudspeaker in the hospital, Doctor Doom was sleeping with the purring of the plane in his ears.
Doo-oom Doctor Doom.