TOUCHER

WRITING, An intro

I love to write!  Does that qualify me as a writer?  Technically, when I write a grocery list, I’m writing, ergo, I’m a writer.  But I don’t write epic novels such as The Old Man And The Sea.  That’s best left to ‘real’ writers.

I write because I love to write.  I’m even compelled to write.  But I’m often questioned as to ‘where in the world did that come from?  Honestly, most often I simply don’t know.

Many of my ideas hit me in bed, usually in those twilight minutes between sleep and semi-wakefulness.

I seldom write what I dream.  And I’ve yet to master directing my dreams.  They simply have a life of their own.

I usually write from memories of events and locations, you know, time, people, and places.  But more often than not, these times, people, and places are a strange jumble and mix, throughly stirred by a large ‘what if’ spoon. 

I know, I’m beginning to sound as though I have no idea where my ideas come from.  I don’t.  And that’s the fun part.  I can sit back in total innocence… and write to my heart’s content!

TOUCHER

© 2020  Bill Murphy 

“Good morning everyone!”  It was the cheerful voice of Dr. Celia Burns, Chief Pediatric Resident of St. Clemson’s Hospital.  Across the city, thousands of other workers were greeting one another with typical Friday Morning cheer.  But at St. Clemson’s, TGIF had little meaning.  The hospital was a city which never slept and hadn’t since day one.

The cheerful doctor was striking.  Although in her late forties, she’d easily pass for the early twenties.  The long blonde hair and turned up nose gave her that Doris Day type beauty.   

The doctor made her way into the nursing station, picking up the day’s patient roster along the way.  At the opposite end of the long counter stood Harvey Goodwin, the Speech Therapist who came in three days a week.  She walked up to him, and placing a hand on his arm remarked, “Well look at you Harv! You got a new style haircut.  Looks nice.”  

The touch to the arm was not simply an act of familiarity.  It was a habit.  Celia Burns was a toucher.  All of nurses around the central desk received a light touch, as had elderly Mr. Bowman downstairs, the hospital’s ever present greeter.

“We need to talk Celia,” said Harvey.  The use of her first name was not a lack of respect, nor of misplaced informality.  It was simple friendship.  They’d long since gone beyond the co-worker point, to one of sincere friendship.  Or so she thought.

“OK.  What’s up?  Your place or mine?”

“Funny,” he replied.

“How about lunch, in the cafeteria?” she asked.  “I hear that the Hospital Board is making their quarterly rounds today, which means that I’m expected to follow all the rules, like taking lunch.”

“I see they have grill cheese and tomato soup on the menu today.”

“You know me well,” she replied.

“Good.  Then I’ll see you at twelve.  I’ll have it ready for you, hot and hot coffee too.”

With that, she turned and was off to make her morning rounds.

                                              ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~    

The cafeteria’s intent was to divid the seating area between hospital staff and visitors. But in practice, with only one serving line, it had never worked out that way.

He found a table in the back, off to the side and near a window.  The surrounding tables were occupied by visitors, most with noisy children.  So much for the better, he thought.  When he saw her at the doorway searching for him, he quickly got up and took her soup to the microwave for a fast re-heating.  She arrived at the table just as he was returning the now steaming bowl.

“How thoughtful,” she remarked.

“You deserve it,” he replied.

“Now, what’s on your mind?  Just why, pray tell, do we need to talk as you say?”

“Eat up now.  We’ll talk afterwards.  We don’t have a lot of time you know.”

They ate silently.  And as always, the soup and sandwich were wonderful.

When they’d finished their meals, she sat back in her chair, ready to hear the mysterious what and why of her friend’s need to talk.

She reached her hand across the table with the innocent intention of touching his arm, as she had the habit of doing.  This time he surprised her.  Just before her hand touched him, he pulled his arm away.

Their eyes met.  There was question on her face… and shock.  She could not read his.

“What’s going on Harv?  What’s the problem?”

“It’s more of an issue… and issue with me.  I need to get something off my chest, before…” he paused for a long moment then began again, “before it becomes a problem.”

“Let’s have it,” she said, “And shoot straight, please.”

“OK.  Here goes,” he began.  “You’re a toucher.  And that’s Ok.  That’s you.  But that’s not the issue, not really.  The issue’s not with you, but with me.  

“Go on,” she said.

“I’ve known you for, what, almost two years now.  The amazing thing is, from the very first time I met you and you placed that warm hand of yours on my arm as you do… as you to almost everyone, I felt something.  I felt something wonderful, something special, something electric. 

“Wow!” Was all she could mutter.

“It was not like some school-boy who’d just experienced his first kiss… but it was close.  And the scary thing is, it’s happened every time since.  I’m not sayings its love.  It’s not and I know it.  But it’s something, something like it.  Celia, I’d be much more comfortable if it was something more… more physical.  Lust is something more common, more everyday, and perhaps, more controllable.  But this is different.  And it happens with every touch. 

She sat for a long moment, thinking.  But she was speechless.  She had no idea how to respond. 

“Why are you telling me this?” She finally asked.  “Why now?”

“Why? He asked.  “Why not.  I’m most uncomfortable about this.  I don’t want it to happen.  I certainly don’t need it to be happening.   I’m a most happily married man Celia, and I want it to stay that way!  But when that ‘tingle’ begins, I feel guilty… guilty when I shouldn’t be feeling guilt at all.  What I’m saying is, I’m just tired of all this stupid guilt, the needless guilt that I can’t understand.  And I’m tired of being afraid, afraid that I could be lying to myself and to my heart.”

BUZZZZ – BUZZZZ – BUZZZZ – BUZZZZ 

Harvey rolled over and fumbled for the button on the infernal alarm clock.  Finally the deafening noise stopped.  Daylight filtered between the louvers of the venetian blinds, illuminating the bedroom in the soft glow of morning.  He’d had that dream again, the dream he’d begun to call the Touching Dream. 

Polly didn’t stir.  Her auburn hair half covered her beautiful, sleeping face.  Saturday.  Good, it was Saturday, he remembered.  She didn’t have to work on Saturdays.  But this was the second Saturday of the month, and he pulled the morning shift every second and fourth Saturdays of the month.

He showered.  He shaved.  He brushed his teeth and dressed.  Then he made a quick cup of instant coffee, grabbed a pop-tart and his car keys, and was off to the hospital.  It wasn’t a long drive, twenty minutes at most.

He parked and when inside, saying hello to Mr. Bowman as he entered.  After a short elevator ride, and a shorter walk down the corridor, he was at work. 

“Good morning everyone!”  It was the loud and gravely voice of Dr. Celia Burns, Chief Pediatric Resident of St. Clemson’s.  

Here it comes, thought Harvey Godwin.  

Behind her back, everyone called Dr. Celia Burns, ‘Bigfoot Burns.’  The former farm-girl turned pediatrician could most probably lift a horse.  She was huge… in all directions!  About all that she lacked was a complete covering of hair!  Bigfoot Burns was a fitting moniker.

Here it comes! 

“Good morning Harvey,” she bellowed, as she slapped him on the back, almost knocking him across the room.

Nope.  This Celia was nothing like the Celia of his dreams.        

                                                     ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

1 thought on “TOUCHER

  1. Loved the story. However, there was one minor mistake. “The cafeteria’s intent was to divid the seating area between hospital staff and visitors. But in practice, with only one serving line, it had never worked out that way.” My background in printing and editing our anthologies has made small things leap out at me. Obviously, you meant to say “divided” and most readers likely read it that way. I love reading what you write. Keep up the great work.

    Like

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