Postcards From the Ledge (and Other Extraordinary Folk): Some Men Go Crazy

Ken Painter By Ken Painter, 6th Dec 2014 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>General Fiction

Join me in a stroll through an eclectic collection of short stories filled with gay and straight characters in the mid-Michigan communities of Lansing and East Lansing and surrounding areas as they laugh, love, and find their lives intertwined in inexplicable ways. (Some of the stories - not all - contain softcore male/male sex scenes, and some of the material contained has been previously published on Wikinut by this author and have been modified from it's original form.)

The Gathering of The Unfortunate Ones

Nurse Baditude stood with a stiff smile and her clipboard firmly in hand as the patients filed into the minimally-appointed waiting room. At precisely 8:00 a.m. a loud, blaring bell rang, and so she began a cautious announcement to the seated attendees.

“Thank you all for coming.” She forced her best political grin and continued. “Due to severe cutbacks in the health insurance industry and the medical profession in general, we now find it necessary to see all our patients at the same time, and so that’s why you’ve all been gathered here today.”

The hands shot up like fireworks, and some of their owners didn’t wait to be called upon.

“But I’ve gotta be to work by nine,” shouted a thin man rising in protest from his seat in the back. “How long’s this all gonna take?”

“Well, sir, we should be all wrapped up by four this afternoon. Now if you’ll just be seated, we can get started.”

Two more patients, an elderly woman walking with a cane and her daughter, entered the room to find that all the seats had been taken.

“I’m sorry ladies, but you’re tardy,” the nurse chided. “We have 32 patients scheduled for today and only 30 seats, so you’ll have to sit on the floor or over there on the window ledge.” She pointed to the window in the rear where the hot sun came beaming through.

The elderly woman was about to protest, but the thin man jumped up and cut her off. “Aw, never mind. I’ve gotta go. Here you go, ma’am, you can have my seat.” He shot a parting look of disgust at the nurse and beat a retreat to the door while the elderly woman’s daughter sat on the floor next to her.

“As I was about to say,” Nurse Baditude droned, “the doctor will be here in a moment, but first it would be a good idea for any of you who are chewing gum to deposit it in the red container on the wall behind you.”

There were no hands this time. A young man with a gold ring in his nose protested, “Why do we have to do that?!!”

“Because that’s the rules! Chewing gum is against the rules!”

Several muffled obscenities later those who had been chewing gum reluctantly deposited it in a waste container marked Hazardous.

Before the nurse had completely disposed of the waste container episode, a fat man interrupted her with a question. “Since we’re gonna be here for awhile, what’ll we do about lunch?”

“Oh, lunch will be provided for you.” Nurse Baditude smiled at the suspicious group.

“Yeah?” The fat man continued, “What’ll it be?”

The nurse questioned the sensibleness of answering this so early in the morning, but all eyes were looking at her intently waiting for a reply, and she really didn’t need an uprising on her hands, so she confessed, “You’ll be served prepackaged, individual slices of cheese pizza between 11:45 and noon.” Her confession was met by a chorus of moans.

As if on cue, the reasonably young, blond doctor entered the waiting room pushing a
portable chalkboard. He moved slowly over to Nurse Baditude’s side and whispered into her ear. “Should we arrange them alphabetically by their name or their complaint?”

“Let’s do it by complaint today, just for a change of pace.”

The doctor nodded his agreement and waited for his introduction. “I’d like to introduce you all to Dr. Dotoolittle who will be examining you today,” the nurse began, “ but before he does I’m going to pass out these pretests for you to fill out. Please make sure that you print legibly.”

“Nurse, I don’t have a pencil or a pen,” complained a voice in the second row, and several other voices agreed with her.

“What!” The nurse scolded, “You came here unprepared?”

Her frown was met with an angry silence and the sheepish nodding of heads.

“Oh, very well then!” Nurse Baditude disappeared behind a counter for a moment and returned with a box of cheap ink pens marked Blarney Drugs & Auto. “Remember,” she warned them, “these are only loaners!”

While the patients filled out their pretests, the doctor kept looking nervously at his watch. After a few minutes he announced, “Please try to hurry up. We have Nurse Baditude for only a few minutes more.”

“Only a few minutes more!” The pregnant woman on the right sounded incredulous.

“That’s right,” the doctor announced. “Due to all the economizing, our good nurse serves all the doctors in this building only twice each week. We’re lucky to have her today till 8:45 and then again on Thursday from 1:45 till 2:30, and that’s it!”

The sporadic grumbling peaked into a rousing crescendo as the patients turned in their pretests. Nurse Baditude arranged all of the patients on the chalkboard alphabetically according to their complaint and then waved good-bye to the forlorn group to assist a proctologist on the second floor.

After her departure, the doctor looked at his patients and announced, “Okay class, try not to be shy. Just try to think of this as Show and Tell.” Nobody laughed at his weak attempt at humor. “Okay . . . Well, first up is Mr. Zimmer and his arthritis.”

A bald man of 50 limped forward to be examined by the young doctor.

After a few moments of poking and prodding on Mr. Zimmer’s knees, Dr. Dotoolittle announced, “I need some x-rays of both knees, so please go back and have a seat, and when we get to the X’s I’ll send you down to the X-ray department.”

But why can’t I go now?” Mr. Zimmer protested.

“Because X-ray begins with an X, and so I’ll deal with you again when we get to the X’s.”

“But you’ve already started dealing with me. Can’t we finish up now?”

“Look, Mr. Zimmer,” the doctor explained, “I have more than 30 patients to see today, and we have a precise plan to accomplish all of this. We need to follow the rules. Now the rules could have been that we go in alphabetical order according to your last name in which case you would have been the last patient on the list today, so be thankful that you were seen first because arthritis begins with an A,” the doctor fairly well shouted at him.

With his back turned away from Dr. Dotoolittle, Mr. Zimmer muttered under his breath, “Yeah, and you’re and idiot and that begins with an I,” which got a laugh out of the first row of patients as he shuffled away to his seat.

“I beg your pardon, “ the doctor replied, but he wasn’t sure that he’d heard correctly, so he didn’t pursue it. “Next up is Mrs. Tenderfoot and her bunions,” he loudly announced ignoring the bald man’s glower.

As Mr. Zimmer took his seat, Mrs. Tenderfoot joined the doctor in front of the group. After she removed her shoes the doctor carefully examined both of her feet and toes and announced, “I’m sorry, ma’am, but I’m going to need x-rays of your feet, and so you’ll have to wait back at your seat just like the previous patient.” He shot an angry glance over at the arthritic.

Mrs. Tenderfoot opened her mouth to protest, but she quickly shut it again remembering the last futile attempt, and she quickly resumed her seat along with the others.

Dr. Dotoolittle continued on with Mrs. Hack’s cough, and he encountered no further disturbances until he called for Mr. Ringgold and his hernia. The young man with a possible hernia crept to the front of the room where the doctor found it difficult to take his eyes off the ring in the patient’s nose. “Drop your pants, please,” the doctor ordered.

“What? In front of the group? No way!” Mr. Ringgold protested. “Isn’t there some other way we can check this thing out?”

The doctor thought for a moment. “Perhaps if you loosen your belt buckle, I could reach down inside without you dropping your pants, but I need to touch you, and you’re going to have to cough. I just don’t know how else I can examine you.”

The young man looked skeptically at the doctor, but it was obvious that he was in pain, and so, without saying another word, he unbuckled his belt.

Dr. Dotoolittle carefully slid his gloved right hand inside the young man’s pants thinking all the while that it was a good thing for this patient that baggy pants were in fashion, and he placed his fingers in the appropriate spot for a hernia check while the whole group looked intently on. “Now turn your head, please, and cough,” the doctor requested.” And then switching his fingers to the other side, the doctor said, “And again.”

Removing his hand from the patient’s pants, the doctor announced, “I’m afraid that I have both good news and bad.”

Mr. Ringgold, still somewhat shocked by the public examination which had just
transpired, stood stony-eyed waiting for the verdict.

“The good news,” the doctor began, “is that you don’t have a hernia. The bad news is that I need to send you down to X-ray to find out what’s causing your pain.”

“Awwww!” The young man’s protest came out loud and disgusted. “No way! I’m not waiting around like the others to go down to X-ray!” At the mention of the others, the ragtag group of Mr. Zimmer, Mrs. Tenderfoot and four more who were still waiting to be sent for x-rays stood up and joined Mr. Ringgold in front of the doctor.

With a look of bloodlust in their eyes, these unruly patients formed an angry circle around Dr. Dotoolittle. They began closing in on him, closer and closer and closer until . . .

“Aaaccchhh!” The young doctor awoke in a pool of cold, thick sweat. Sitting bolt upright in bed he glanced over at his husband, a fifth-grade teacher, and he was sorry to notice that he had startled him awake.

“Is everything okay, Luv? What’s the matter?”

“Oh,” the doctor thought about shrugging it off, but instead he offered, “I just . . . had a
weird dream.”


“Yeah. I was examining my patients all at the same time in what seemed like a classroom, and that was causing a lot of problems. I wanted to kill a couple of them, and some of them would have killed me!”

“Dude, in the future do I need to leave you home from Parent-Teacher Night at school?”

“No . . . no, Jeff. It’s just that I suddenly realized . . . I don’t know how you do it.”

“Well . . . it takes a lot of patience, and practice . . . even prayer sometimes.”

The young doctor thought about his clinic: all patients, prescriptions . . . and profits. “We need to talk about this some more in the morning.” He heaved a big sigh as he rolled over.

“Okay, Tim, whatever you say.” He smiled sleepily as he, too, rolled over, and he vowed to himself to drag his hubby back into that classroom every chance he could get.

What Was I Thinking? (The Teacher's Reminder)

What was I thinking when I chose to be
The lowest of peons . . . a teacher . . . that’s me!
Despised and devalued and dumped upon daily
By groups of gratuitous grumps much too gaily,
And it wouldn’t bother me but for the glee
With which all those people toss judgments at me.

I’ve been called much too lazy, but lazy I’m not!
Have you ever fallen asleep on a cot
In the back of a room half-enveloped by vapors
Arising from red ink that bleeds into papers?
Well . . . neither have I, but that’s not the real point
That I’m trying to make with my nose out of joint.

It’s just that I’m tired of being called lazy,
And overpaid, ignorant, useless, and crazy.
Just a little more praise and a little less grousing
Might prove to be infinitely more arousing
To teachers downtrodden, disheartened like me
Who didn’t choose other good places to be.

We could have been doctors, or lawyers, or actors,
Architects, spies, even mad chiropractors!
Anything might have put more in our purses
Excepting, of course, social workers and nurses,
The only two totems more lowly than we,
The teachers of our nation’s youth, don’t you see?

But money’s not really what bothers me most;
It’s the lack of respect from the children I host.
They come to me pouting and shouting their pains,
Then they promptly assault me with paper airplanes,
And curse words, and spitballs, such vicious attacks,
But I need to stay calm, I’m supposed to relax.

So I call in their parents to show them my stings,
But the parents respond, “My child don’t do such things!
My child is an angel . . . at least when he’s not here!”
(In that case, perhaps you should teach Sonny Dear.)
I’d like to respond that way. Oh, I’d love to say it!
But I maintain respect for them rather than repay it.

I just look at them sadly with pain in my eyes,
For I’ve come to know what they won’t realize.
Their kids will do anything they are allowed,
And now Mommy and Daddy have made them so proud
By defending their misdeeds, enabling their blame
To be shifted elsewhere. Their kids have no shame.

And so I, the bad teacher, I slink back to my room.
I put on my black hat, and I jump on my broom.
And I’d like to fly way off to far Timbuktu,
But I fear that the schools there would not be so new
Or well-stocked with good books and new techno devices;
However, I might rediscover what nice is.

And I might find respect is much more than a word
I read once in a history book, or that I heard
Way back as a child when in school I first thought
That I could own the whole world . . . if only I taught.
And so I recall now what I must have been thinking,
I pick up the chalk to keep my heart from sinking.

(Written by Jeff Abernathy, husband of Dr. Tim Doolittle, in a fit of despair one snowy weekend after grading 32 exams which had produced only mediocre to even somewhat horrible results, thus proving that even the best of teachers have moments when they want to slit their wrists.)

(This concludes the 2nd story in this set. Next up: "Some Men Never Go" ~ The 3rd story.)

Link to the next story "Some Men Never Go" . . . Here


Gay Community, Gay Couples, Gay Experience, Gay Lesbian And Bisexual, Gay Love, Gay Men, Gay Rights, Gays, Lgbt, Lgbt Community, Medical Care, Short Fiction, Short Stories, Teachers, Teaching, Teaching Children

Meet the author

author avatar Ken Painter
Retired Chicago public school teacher. Singer, songwriter, musician, author, & opinionated old curmudgeon. Married to my husband & living in Colorado, USA. Also a father & grandfather.

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author avatar whatistheworld
8th Dec 2014 (#)

Dear Ken,
I think your poem may be more meaningful than your article.A good work may lie in its unique observation, unique feel and unique thinking. Hope more exchanges with you. Can see that you are a characteristic person.

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author avatar Ken Painter
8th Dec 2014 (#)

Thank you very much. I appreciate this observation!

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