AS GOD IS MY JUDGE
The number of diseases that originate from unknown causes
is far greater than those that come from mechanical causes.
His mind was superior to the computers of the day. He had countless facts stored ready for instant recall. He could formulate biological theories and solve chemical formulas. He made brilliant diagnoses, lightning fast calculations, and rational decisions, but when it came to making judgments there was some indefinable quality he lacked.
Daniel Victor Glass, Sr. sat in his black leather, executive chair admiring the display of his degrees and certifications on the paneled wall behind his desk¾Bachelor of Science from the University of Maryland, Doctor of Medicine and rotating internship at Johns Hopkins, resident and chief resident in Obstetrics and Gynecology at Mt. Sinai Hospital, New York, post graduate fellow at Fertility Institute of Massachusetts, Fellow of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology. All were mounted in mahogany frames that matched his elegant desk.
He took a bottle of eighteen-year-old Macallan single malt scotch from the credenza behind him and poured three fingers into an engraved, old-fashioned glass that was given to him by the pharmaceutical giant that paid him outlandish fees for consultation. Searle had also rewarded him handsomely for his role in the clinical research that proved Enovid to be an effective oral contraceptive.
He had Baccarat crystal that he reserved for visitors whom he honored by sharing a drink with them. Of course, on those occasions he served ice from the silver bowl with matching tongs and soda from a spritzer of the same pattern. He sniffed and sipped the whiskey enjoying the knowledge that it was expensive and, therefore, good.
He swiveled to the left and looked at the floor-to-ceiling bookshelves of polished walnut displaying an unparalleled collection of medical texts and bound volumes of all the preeminent medical journals including those of his specialty, Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Surgery, Gynecology, and Obstetrics. The remarkable thing was that he had read them all and could quote chapter if not page. He delighted in the formidable memory that had allowed him to breeze through medical school at the age of nineteen, impress the professors, and be the envy of his classmates.
In the middle of the shelves was a humidity-controlled, hermetic, glass enclosure with soft, indirect light that displayed his collection of first editions: Gray's Anatomy, American Edition, 1859, Etienne Stephane, Introduction to Antisepsis for Obstetrics, 1894, William's Textbook of Obstetrics, 1902. But in the center was his prize, Chirugical Books and Writings of the noble, highly learned, and esteemed philosopher and physician, Philippus Theophrastus Bombast von Hohenheim, Paracelsus, published sixteen hundred and five. Not bad for a poor boy from the back streets of Baltimore.
Daniel did all of his medical reading at his office. At home he had an equally impressive literary library in which there were all of the Greek classics, the Russian novelists, and the French existentialists. His first editions featured Nietzsche and Shaw. He collected and read the romanticists, but considered them children's stories.
His contentment with his possessions and himself was interrupted by a light tap on his door. Miss Dove, Daniel's girl Friday, entered quietly. She wore a pale blue smock over a light gray sweater and a dark gray skirt. The crepe sole shoes silenced her fast-clipped walk that enabled her to be everywhere Daniel wanted her to be. Her light brown hair was pulled back from her face showing hazel eyes, a small nose, and thin lips. Her make-up was minimal-light eye shadow and pale pink lipstick. She was the epitome of efficiency, and, perhaps, other than the Secretary of State, she was the highest paid secretary in Washington, DC. Apologetically, she said, "Dr. Glass, your son is here. Shall I send him in?"
Daniel, Sr. looked up from the latest Journal of the American Medical Association he had read and memorized in the half hour before he had drifted into his indulgent reverie. "I suppose so." He murmured, "I wonder what he wants now?"
Dan walked in wearing green scrub clothes and a wrinkled white lab coat. He was slender and might have been five-ten had he stood more erect. His black hair was curly and longer than Daniel liked. His dark brown eyes were so like Mallory's that Daniel almost winced every time he saw them.
"My God, Dan, don't you ever wear decent clothes?"
"Glad to see you too, Father. Sorry to spoil your day."
"You're too late, your mother has already done that. She wrecked the Cadillac." Daniel took a sip of his drink. "Thank God, I don't let her drive the Mercedes or Jaguar."
Dan stood in front of his father's desk. "I guess you never had a wreck, huh, Dad?"
"Right, and I'm the only one in this family who hasn't. No one seems to have any respect for personal property these days."
"You have enough for the whole world." Dan plopped down in the chair by the window.
Daniel ignored the comment, sighed, "You don't have a clue about the value of a dollar, and it's not because I haven't tried to teach you."
"Been reading Eugene O'Neill again?"
"What do you mean by that?"
Dan smiled and stood up, "Long Day's Journey Into Night, Act One, Tyrone." Dan extended his arms and in an exaggerated stage voice quoted, "'You've never known the value of a dollar and never will! You've never saved a dollar in your life!'"
Daniel hesitated, struck by the similarity to his statement and surprised by Dan's exact quotation. He was annoyed by Dan's challenge but quickly recovered. "I would rather take Jamie's part, 'Oh, all right. I'm a fool to argue. You can't change a leopard's spots.'"
"Touché," Dan said, bowing. "I'll stay with Tyrone, 'No, you can't. You've taught me that lesson all too well. I've lost all hope you will ever change yours.'" He sat down and threw one leg over the arm of the chair.
Daniel paused, "Well, now that we have that charade over, what do you want? You don't come here to honor your father."
Dan jerked upright. "Me? What do I want? Not one thing, but my dear wife of whom you are so fond insists on an addition to our house."
"My God! What for? You have four bedrooms and three baths for the two of you." Daniel reached behind him and poured more whiskey into the glass. Speaking softly was Daniel's attempt at sounding casual. "And by the way, when are you going to get her pregnant?"
Dan bristled, then smiled. "I've seen the way you look at her. You wouldn't want to volunteer to do that for me, would you?" He leaned back in the chair and stretched his legs in front.
Daniel stood up, pointedly turned his back to Dan, and paced in front of the bookshelves. Dan's accusation was more on target than Daniel cared to admit. He even thought one of the reasons Dan had married Leah was to taunt him. Dan didn't seem to be affected by Leah's provocative display of her figure-low cut dresses, short skirts, tight jeans and shorts. Daniel had trouble determining if her seductive attitude toward him was a promise of what was to come or if she was just teasing him to get what she wanted. He had no doubt she was a cunning young woman-she'd had to be to survive that family of hers. And was her interest in Dan just because he was a professional, a "doctor," with high income potential and more social standing than she had ever known. Although her education was limited-anything less than a doctorate was limited to Daniel, and two years of college didn't qualify-she was bright and seemed to know what she wanted. He was chagrined that he was unable to figure out what that was. He didn't feel in control when he was with her, and that was unacceptable.
Daniel took a book from the shelf and thrust himself into his chair. Dan was looking out the window but turned back and smiled. "Don't get all uptight. Leah just wants a large family room so she can entertain your wealthy friends. She thought we could do it if we got a loan from you. I told her she should ask you; that way there would be no question of your approval."
Daniel held the whiskey glass up to the light tilting it back and forth. "You never paid off the last two."
"You wouldn't want us to be indebted to strangers, would you? What about the family reputation?"
He picked up the book he had taken from the shelf and held it up to Dan. "Breuer and Freud's book, Studien ûber Hysterie." This was another technique-change the subject. "Did I ever tell you about the time I met Anna Freud in Zurich?"
"I thought it was Vienna."
"That was another time." Daniel now spoke in a calm, deliberate manner. "I was guest lecturer giving a presentation on the emotional response to hysterectomies of women who had never conceived. She said it was the best discussion since her father's original work on the subject of hysteria. I quite enjoyed talking to her, and, of course, I had read and memorized everything Sigmund had written."
"Is that when you asked her to treat Mallory?"
Daniel's eyes blazed. "Why would I ask her to treat Mallory?" he said, glaring at Dan.
"Well, only you would know that." Dan glared back.
"That's enough. Get out of here."
Dan stood up and turned toward the door behind him. He stopped, looked over his shoulder, and said, "Remember, Leah wants her room, and I'm sure she would be most appreciative." Dan laughed and slammed the door.
Daniel entered his private bathroom through a door to the left of the bookcases. It was more like a dressing room complete with shower and a large closet. He washed his hands thoroughly as if he had just completed a contaminated operation. As he dried them on a soft, blue towel, he looked at his wrinkle-free, fifty-six-year-old face in the large mirror. His dark brown eyes were large but under the prominent forehead and heavy black eyebrows they seemed well proportioned. His nose was straight but a little more rounded at the tip than he would have preferred.He smiled showing straight, white teeth, thanks to the best cosmetic dentist in New York. He would never have that kind of work done locally.
From the spotless counter, he took a brush, monogrammed DVG, and brushed his dark hair straight back. Thinning a little, he thought, but not bad. He turned his head to the left and right to brush the gray at his temples-definitely distinguished, he concluded. He pulled the silk, paisley tie tighter against the spread collar of his white-on-white cotton shirt. He stretched his five feet eight inches, sucked in his trim waist, and buttoned his coat. Nodding, he thought, forty-five at the most.
Leaving the bathroom Daniel walked over to the picture window that afforded a panoramic view of Rock Creek Park. He looked down on the early changes of Autumn¾the bright yellow elms, red and silver maples, dry brown oaks, and multi-shaded green conifers. He saw the beauty but only with his eyes, and he thought that was enough.
He returned to his desk. To him beauty was having a plush office in a prestigious location, a garage to protect his expensive cars from sun and snow, a suit of the finest material tailored exclusively for him, and a collection of overpriced art works for others to admire. Most of all, he appreciated the envy he saw in the eyes of those to whom he displayed his badges of worth.
He tilted his chair back and closed his eyes. He gave his imagination free rein as his thoughts drifted back to Leah. He would take her on a trip, or maybe to the Hyatt Regency in Baltimore. The room would be fragrant with flowers, and the best champagne would be chilled and ready. He would watch her undress as he sipped from a tall, fluted glass. His heart pounded at the thought of it, but as his fantasies soared he felt that awful debilitating pain start deep in his gut causing him to double over. Suddenly, he felt desperately poor—bone-chilled, starving, destitute.
Damnit! Was there no pleasure without pain? No joy without remorse?
With eyes open, he turned his chair to the bookshelves and stared at the lighted case. The words of Paracelsus seemed to glare from the ancient manuscript, "All substances are poisons; there is none which is not a poison." Everything he loved, everything he had, everything he sought was poisonous. But where was the toxicity? How could it be in a mind as ingenious as his? There was nothing about his well-conditioned body that gave the slightest hint of malfunction. Ruling out sickness of the mind or body, some would conclude it was poison of the soul, but not him—he didn't believe in that crap, another opiate of the ignorant. Whatever the origin or wherever the location, he could deal with it. He could hide it. There was a secret vault inside him where he stored his terrible secrets. The vault was dark, and he would see that no light exposed them.
© Copyright 2016 Rphil205. All rights reserved.
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