Doctor Harmmert consulted at the only health center in his hometown, Preskreeps Town, a place where he was considered a kind of protective god on Earth who had a remedy for everything and everyone, even those rude and ungrateful neighbors who were suspicious of the professionalism and diligence of Angel Face, as he was referred to by those on the majority side, in which the courteous and grateful abounded and, of course, the sycophants, and even the super sycophants.
On a Summer afternoon, when there were no more patients on the list, the doctor was about to turn off his computer, but he couldn't avoid the impulse before closing the browser, entering the website of his bank to check his account and, voilá, the amount was this time slightly but sufficiently higher than that of his last access a couple of days ago. After, now yes, saying goodbye to his computer until the next day, he quickly left his office and left the old building that housed it with a firm step and a feeling of pleasure in the direction towards his house, where his beloved wife was waiting for him.
— Where is my darling? Where is my sweet kitty hiding? -Harmmert asked honeyed and impatient, knowing that he brought good news.
— Are you home already? I'm upstairs in the dressing room, trying on a garment -Mrs. Harmmert replied soberly and with a certain disdain.
— Come on, hurry up, I have something very important to tell you!
— I'm coming, I'm coming... you always arrive at the most inopportune moment -Matty snapped, that was the name of her sweet kitty. Words, by the way, that could be tempting fate if a bad day Angel face really came at an inopportune moment ... for example while she was messing around in bed with the cute kitty with which she used to do it.
— Oh, my beloved Matty! Do you know what month we are in?
— And what is that about... Mr. Pill?
Although Dr. Harmmert was really called Philip, she used to jokingly address him in private as Mr. Pill instead of using the acronym Phil, which irritated him enormously.
— You know that I deeply detest that you address me in that way, Matty.
— With what you enjoy and delight in prescribing and prescribing all kinds of pills, all kinds of drugs, even to those hypochondriacs who do not suffer from anything, to those women who come to your office to spend the afternoon so that someone listens to their gossip and regrets, to those children, adults and grandparents who are jabbed with two hands without informing them, without asking for their consent, deceiving them, forcing them in the name of science to protect themselves from a ghost that appears and disappears, restricting their free...
— Matty, stop it, don't go on, I forbid it! -Mr. Pill roared exalted and angry.
— Sometimes I think you should change the little sign with your name on the door of your office for one with Mr. Pill on it -Matty added sarcastically and pleasantly as she took a cigarette from her gold case that Mr. Pill had given her thanks to those increases that his bank account reflected on a recurring basis.
— Why do you insist on humiliating me and destroying me? Sometimes I think it gives you pleasure to do this with me -an already impotent and calm doctor Harmmert said between sobs. By the way, that the impotent thing perhaps had to do with the skirmishes with Mrs. Harmmert in her bedroom previously mentioned.
— Poor thing, I'm even going to think that you have a conscience... despite the fact that lately a large part of your clients, yes clients, because that's what they seem to be, junkies waiting for their dose... they are served on the phone, without bothering you in the least about their condition... how good this thing about the bug has been for you...!
Indeed, for some time the doctor had been more like a telephone operator for a hot line or for a technical support company; yes, although he was not present and teleworked... he prescribed and prescribed.
Dr. Harmmert, who only a few minutes ago had left the health center where he worked with a gleam in his eyes, was now collapsed on the sofa, dazed and not knowing what to say. Matty did not miss the opportunity.
— Tell me, honey, what is that so important that you had to tell me and that could not wait?
Mr. Pill, downcast, kept his eyes on his shoes. When Matty had already turned around and headed back upstairs to continue trying on her haute couture clothes, her husband reacted...
— Wait Matty, please wait.
Matty stopped, turned again, and being aware of the psychological control she exerted over that corrupt and not empathetic beast, she fixed her feline gaze on the still glassy eyes of her husband, waiting for his words.
— Do you remember the trip to those paradisiacal islands that I had promised you for this Summer if everything went well? -Dr. Harmmert said, knowing both he and his wife that if everything went well had to do with those fluctuations in his bank account, with those frequent incomes which also sometimes, unexpectedly, stopped; incomes that came from of the great family, his one true family, whom he served with devotion, skipping the Hippocratic Oath, before which, since his time at the University, he posed with a serious face, full of dignity, while inside he was giggling.
— Important things are difficult to forget, dear... and although I know that sometimes I am a little mean to you, you know that deep down I do it for your own good, to clear your conscience... you know that I could not live without you... -Matty replied. Her cajoling words, as usual, were slowly making Mr. Pill recover his countenance. By the way, that expression I could not live without you was literal, because Matilda perfectly knew that her life, as she lived it, would be impossible to carry out without the checking account and the extras of her husband. Yes, Matilda, this was the name of the doctor's manipulative wife, who rarely addressed her as Material, given her tastes and preferences for a lifestyle embraced by luxury. Unlike the discomfort he felt when she called him Mr. Pill, Matilda used to show indifference, and even pleasure, when her real name was replaced.
— Come here, give me a kiss and let's forget this bad time -the doctor required.
Now reconciled, Angel Face, who just a few moments ago had a silly face, took a deep breath to announce the good news.
— Fifteen days of dreams, in total luxury, as you deserve... the best hotels, its best suites, the most exquisite restaurants, the most exclusive stores for your purchases... I already have the tickets and, oh, surprise ..! We will travel by private jet -Mr. Pill expressed euphoric and entranced.
— Private jet? -Matty interrupted quickly, between disbelief and expectation.
— That's right, as you hear it, you know that my real family, the only one I have, takes care of me and cares about me, always attentive to my needs, always detailed. They are extraordinarily happy with the balance of our friendship over the last year and, as a reward and incentive to continue climbing towards higher goals, they have placed at our disposal a luxurious plane that will take us and bring us back. They have spared no resources and have left nothing to chance, which means that a private taxi will take us from Preskreeps Town to the airport. Ain't that amazing honey?
The phone in the room where they were suddenly began to ring. The doctor, who was still waiting for his wife's reaction, at the insistence of the loud bell, went to the telephone and picked up.
— Doctor Harmmert, Philip Harmmert? -a deep and resonat voice asked on the other end of the line.
— Yes, speaking.
— You do not know me personally, but Mr. Dammaiche... our liaison, whom you know well... right?
— Yes of course...
— As I was saying, Mr. Dammaiche has told us wonderful things about you and, especially, about your performance in the health center... you know what I mean...
— Yes, of course I do... I understand...
— That is why I personally wanted to talk directly, without intermediaries, to wish you and your wife a happy trip and a good vacation, as well as to tell you that in the house, which is yours too, we are proud of you and your work.
— Thank you very much for your words... Mr...
— Leave it there, it doesn't matter, it's not relevant that you know who I am, what really needs to be taken into account is, I repeat, your magnificent work and results.
— Thanks again. And I'd like to tell you, if you allow me, that the incentives I receive are spent not only on personal matters, my private life... there are also some analysis reports, some research, I don't want you to think that...
— Mr. Harmmert -the other speaker's voice abruptly interrupted in a slightly different and visibly annoyed tone-, what you do or don't do with the rewards for your efforts is irrelevant to us, it doesn't matter to us... As previously said, enjoy your well-deserved vacation and say hello to your wife.
After hanging up the mysterious voice, leaving the doctor speechless and somewhat confused, he did the same, returned to where his wife was and took a seat on the sofa again.
— Who was on the phone..? And why that paleness on your face..? It looks like if you had been talking to someone from beyond... -Matty commented ironically and eager for an answer.
— I don't know...
— You don't know?! You have a conversation for a few minutes and you don't know who is on the other end of the phone?
— He didn't want to reveal his identity, but he's someone from above, you know what I mean, from well above...-the doctor specified with a muffled and somewhat trembling voice, while with his index finger pointed towards the ceiling. It is as if the conscience that he seemed to not have, was playing a trick on him, because it should be gratifying for him that someone very important in the house had taken the trouble to call him personally to congratulate him and praise him... But, were all those compliments were focus on him... or maybe more on the results of his work? A strange and oppressive anxiety, not felt until now, seemed to overwhelm the doctor.
— It's ok, everything is ok. It was just to congratulate me on my work and let me know that they are happy and that I must continue to improve myself...
— Even if it's at the cost of cheating and harming your clients, I mean... patients -Matty snapped at him with her whip-tongue.
— Are you going to start over?! Don't you also benefit from all this?! -the doctor replied with a tense, penetrating and defiant look, such as his wife had never seen before. Mr. Pill had left the scene, and Philip had entered it.
— When do you say we should take that plane? -Matty asked sweetly.
— In three days.
— Then I think it's time to start my packing.
Philip Aloysious Harmmert -Doctor Harmmert for his most suspicious patients, Angel Face for his most ignorant and sycophantic ones, Mr. Pill for his wife and Cash Register for the mysterious voice- knew that his Hippocratic Oath was more like the oath of a hypocrite, but curiously he seemed to feel less miserable than he really was, knowing that another type of hypocrisy, obviously not as harmful as the one he practiced, was rampant in his social circles... and in his most private environment.
[Note: This short story is neither intended nor has as purpose to demonize, caricature or generalize about medical practices and the professionals who carry them out but to denounce those rotten chickpeas who have sold their dignity and honor in exchange for a few silver coins, betraying the lofty principle to which they once entrusted themselves: to ensure above all else the health and well-being of their patients. In life you can lose everything... except your soul.]