Athelstan Wyck had just put on his coat and went out the door
of his apartment. He looked at his watch. It was already 2:30pm
and at 2:45pm he had to be at Dr. Charles Renfew's for the annual
health check-up. It was his first visit with this doctor because
he had just moved from New York to Los Angeles here a month ago
and therefore had to change doctors. Now he hoped that he didn't
have a sickness or disease. He felt a bit uneasy as he couldn't
quite picture this new doctor. He had come to trust the one in
New York. That one always explained what he was going to do next
during an examination.
Athelstan only had five minutes left now and the doctor's house
was still a few streets away. He walked faster. Quite out of breath
he reached the door. He rang the bell and entered the waiting
room. He was the only one there. The waiting room smelled of disinfectants
and was painted in a repulsive white. A few wrinkled magazines
lay about and a badly nourished plant stood in a corner. The window
opened to the backyard and he sat down near it in order to look
outside. Even though it wasn't cold he felt a little chill. Then
the door opened and an assistant in a white coat appeared. Unfriendly
she told Mr. Wyck to follow her. She directed him to Dr. Renfew's
office. The doctor, who also wore a white coat, was heavy, had
only few and uncombed hairs left and had a conspicuous nose. He
welcomed Mr. Wyck with a shake of his callous hand and a sly smile
and pointed him to a chair. After he had recorded the personal
data, Athelstan had to take off his top and move over to the examining
table. First the doctor checked the respiration and the reflexes
of the knees, then he took a blood sample. As the doctor saw the
blood he suddenly seemed distracted. He appeared spaced-out and
apologized quickly before walking out a door. Athelstan didn't
feel at ease anymore at all. He opened the window to catch fresh
Meanwhile Dr. Renfew was in a room next door. He swallowed some
kind of pill that he got out of a cupboard. He was dizzy and he
had that tingling sensation in his fingers again. This had occurred
several times in the last few weeks and afterwards he couldn't
remember anymore what had happened. If he had told anybody about
it, he would have had his license revoked.
Now too he had lost control. He took a scalpel from a small table,
put it in his pocket and returned to his patient. When he saw
the doctor he immediately closed the window and obediently sat
back on the examining table.
With a dull expression Dr. Renfew approached Mr. Wyck and said
that he now would have to examine his throat. He also asked useless
questions like if he had his tonsils removed and if he had ever
had yellow fever.
With a flashlight he examined his mouth, nodded affirmatively
and turned around. Athelstan didn't notice how Dr. Renfew took
the scalpel out of the coat pocket. Else he surely would have
made a dash for the exit and would never have returned here. With
one hand hidden behind his back the doctor walked back to the
"Now we want to check if your spine is straight. Could your
roll over on your stomach, please?" he proclaimed. He fumbled
on the spine, raised the scalpel into the air and rammed it between
Mr. Wyck's ribs. After a suffocated scream he laid still on the
table because he was dead. The doctor turned the body on its back,
crossed its arms over the chest and brushed the hair out of its
face. Then he grabbed a chair and sat next to the examining table.
Dreamingly he contemplated the body. As he looked at his desk
a few minutes later he noticed his daily planner where he marked
the appointments. He saw that the next patient was due at 3:10pm
which was ten minutes from now. He suddenly realized what he had
done and was aware of his guilt. Again he went to the nearby room.
There he grabbed a new scalpel and sat back down on the chair
next to the body. For the last time he had a good look at the
body then he committed suicide. With a banging noise he fell over
backwards. The blood stained the white coat.
At 3:10pm the unfriendly assistant called the next patient, Mr.
Phillys Scrubb, who suffered from osteoporosis. Painstakingly
he followed the assistant who walked fast just to be mean. She
held the office door open for him without looking inside herself
and impatiently slammed the door shut again.
Mr. Scrubb entered and expected the doctor to sit in a chair behind
his desk. Instead he saw him laying on the floor covered in blood.
He knew immediately that he was dead and limped to the assistant's
office as fast as he could. "Quick," he yelled with
a raspy voice, "the doctor is dead!"
The assistant hurried to the doctor's office with another employee,
a cleaning woman who worked for Dr. Charles Renfew for years already.
"What has happened?" the cleaning woman asked. The assistant
replied: "Like every day there is a dead patient on the table,
probably murdered by the doctor. But today our dear doctor himself
lies dead in there."
"Mr. Wyck," whispered a soft, likable voice, "wake
up. I'm sorry about the delay but the doctor got sidetracked.
You must have fallen asleep in front of the window." The
voice belonged to a friendly assistant in jeans and blouse.
Dr. Charles Renfew, a slim, groomed man with glasses, about 29
years old, welcomed Athelstan.
Copyright © October 1980, Wasty and Whiskey, The Doctor Is Dead
German title: Der Arzt und der Patient
Reading time: approx. 5 minutes
Last updated February 12, 2001 by Martin Mathis, e-mail lastbandit.com