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"The Good Doctor"

This is about an unusual doctor... 
maybe now, a former doctor. 
I’m calling him Doc Barnes because that’s not his name. 
He has enough problems. 

We met him through some friends 
when we had a medium emergency. 

His office was a humble wooden building, 
with old Florida jalousie windows, 
and a coat of faded yellow paint. 

The office was fairly crowded with folks 
who didn’t look like they had money to pay. 

When we finally got to see the doctor 
we were a little worried 
because he looked more like a veterinarian, 
or a farmer, or maybe a rancher, 
in his faded jeans and plaid flannel shirt. 
He joked around a lot, 
but he took care of our problem 
and didn’t overcharge us. 

We later got to know him a little and went to his home, 
which was a little building behind his office. 
Inside, the décor was pure Star Trek. 
Doc was a Trekkie. 

As we talked 
I began to see that he was not like other physicians. 
He made house calls every evening, 
and he phoned patients on his own 
to see how they were coming along. 
He bowled instead of playing golf, 
and he didn’t socialize with other doctors, 
which may have been his downfall. 

He was trying to help his ex-wife, 
who was hooked on drugs. 
He still loved her 
and hoped to see her drug free and reunited with him. 
She was a sweet, pretty woman, 
but way too skinny. 
I don’t know how her problem got started. 

She seemed to be off the drugs 
and asked him for a job as receptionist in his practice. 
As I said, he loved her, 
so she got the job. 
I believe they were both really trying. 

Drugs became missing from his place 
and there was an investigation. 
He didn’t turn his wife in, 
and he put up no defense. 
He took the rap, 
and his practice was closed down. 

Later, we heard from friends 
that he was working in a walk-in clinic 
south of town. 

The next time we saw him was on Channel 9 TV. 
They were doing one of their exposés 
to boost their ratings. 

The investigating team had found 
that some of the medicines being dispensed were outdated. 
Remember, Doc Barnes did not own this clinic. 
He was just working there, 
and probably assumed that all the medications were OK 
because his had always been. 

The slimy TV reporter stuck the mike in Doc’s face and growled, 
“Using outdated medicines, 
what kind of a doctor are you?” 

Doctor Barnes kept right on tending to a patient, and said, 
“The best.” 

They closed down the clinic, 
and we’ve lost track of our friend. 

He cared about people, 
and he gave them all the help and medicine they needed, 
without worrying about covering his own backside. 

We have a friend across the street 
who has advanced cancer. 
His doctors won’t give him enough painkiller to stop a toothache. 
Are they afraid he’ll get addicted, 
or are they just covering their butts? 

I wish our neighbor had Doc Barnes. 
He’s “The Best”. 

Copyright © 2003, Jan. 23, 2005, Jack Blanchard. All rights reserved. 
Reprinted by permission.


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