Chapter Four

"Itís healing up very nicely," Dr. Getz told me.

"How much longer do I need these band-aids on my head and neck?" I asked him.

"Keep replacing them each day for just a little longer. I want to look at you again in three days and IĎll bet we can leave them off after that visit."

He moved around from my side where he had been examining his work to face me. "Any concerns? Problems? Anything feeling slightly off or unusual since the accident?" he asked.

"Nope," I replied too quickly. So I was growing hair where I couldnít before and couldnít where I could before. It was obviously because of something accident related, probably even brain damage related, but I wasnít about to become their guinea pig to find out. "Thought Iíd stick with the bald look for a while though," I said, noticing he was looking at my head. (But what else would he be looking at. That is what he had been working on.)

I donít know if he sensed I was lying or was looking for the razor marks or just further admiring his handiwork but he reached up and rubbed his finger along my head just above the old hairline. I watched his face, hoping he would be satisfied with my explanation. (63:137) came to mind just as plain as the nose on my face, you know, just out of sight but you still know it is there.

"Well," he said, pulling his hand back away from my head, "make the appointment with Katelynn on your way out and Iíll see you again in three days."

"Yes, sir. Thank you," I said and turned to walk out.

63:137. Another brain fart, I thought as I left the room and headed for the counter in the waiting room. I hadnít wanted to tell the doctor about my hair, and I really didnít want to tell him about this. It was nothing anyway. Random numbers entering my head like freshly remembered names of old forgotten friends. I didnít need them probing around my brain to figure out why. I didnít even need to know what the numbers meant. If this was going to be the worst of the aftershocks from the accident, a hair reversal and random numbers floating around my head, I could live with that.

I stepped up to the nursesí reception desk to make my appointment with Katelynn as instructed. I liked Katelynn. She was very pretty. Long dark hair, mysterious, smiling eyes. She had come in to change the bandages on my head a few times before I had left the hospital. I always had to make a point of looking anywhere but into her eyes as she would wrap up my head. I was afraid I would get a hard-on if I were to look into those deep blue eyes while she gently caressed my crown. That would have been embarrassing.

"Do we need to set you up for another?" Katelynn asked as I approached.

"Just one more, I think," I said.

"I like the bald look on you," she said. "Itís really you. You planning on keeping the chrome dome?"

I didnít know if she was just being nice or if she meant it, either way it sounded good coming from her. "Thanks," I responded. "Yeah. I thought Iíd keep it clean for a while. See if I can get used to it. You really think it looks okay?"

"Sure it does," she said with a smile. "So when does he want you back?"

"Oh, um, he saidÖthree days," I stuttered. My mind was still back on the "sure it does" part of her reply. If such a pretty woman right around my own age truly thought I looked okay bald, then I figured I could get used to the face that looked back at me in the mirror eventually.

I watched her long, nimble fingers pluck off an appointment card from a stack of cards and write down the date three days away.

"Howís eight-thirty AM on the eighteenth?" she asked, looking up at me again.

"Thatíll work."

She wrote down the time and held out the card. "Weíll see you at eight-thirty then."

I took the card from her hand and said, "29:29...I meanÖyesÖsee you then," and quickly turned away towards the door.

What the hell was that? I thought as I left. Just another brain fart, I guess. But this time the thought had actually made it to my lips before I had known I was thinking it. It made no more or less sense than the other seemingly random numbers that had infiltrated my thoughts at various times. It was totally and completely meaningless to me. In fact, before today, I hadnít even experienced any of these weird "memories" for a few days and had almost all but forgotten the few times it had happened. It was the hair phenomenon that had stolen my attention.

I left the hospital and hailed a cab for the ride home. I hadnít been car shopping yet, but then I didnít need to go out too much. It could wait until I was ready to start looking for a new job. I got into the cab and gave the driver my address. I told him it would take us twenty minutes to get there and then instructed him of the route I expected him to take. He leered at me a bit in the mirror and that was fine. I knew we wouldnít have to chit-chat now for twenty minutes.

I leaned back and settled into my thoughts for the ride home. 29:29. And what was the other one again? 63:137? I think that was it. 29:29. 63:137. Nothing. For the life of me (just a figure of speech) I couldnít imagine what the numbers stood for or meant, or why they were popping into my head for no apparent reason. I decided Iíd rather think of Katelynnís eyes again and they, along with her long dark hair and sweet smile, got me the rest of the way home, seventeen and a half minutes after we had left the hospital. I tipped the silent, compliant cabbie an extra ten spot and went inside.

* * * * *

The rest of that day and the next two were once again eventless. I spent the days as anyone would recovering from major surgery--played a lot of solitaire, did a lot of crossword puzzles, and I stared a lot at the new face in the mirror. In spite of Katelynnís kind words, it still didnít look like me. But it was obvious that my hair had chosen to abandon the mountain top and settle in the valley. There was still not a stubble, not even a single strand of hair peaking out of my smooth dome up top. Yet I was trimming my new beard and sideburns on a daily basis.

I had practiced my answers and even shaved my head a couple of times for effect, just in case. I really didnít want Dr. Getz probing around my brain. I didnít actually think they would open up my head again if I let them in on this current phenomenon, but they would still want to do tests and who knows what else. While some people might thrive on that kind of attention, I am not one of them. I have always just wanted to do my time as quietly and comfortably as possible. Live and let live.

I woke up and showered on the morning of what I figured to be my final return to the hospital. I didnít bother replacing the band-aids this time. I was sure Dr. Getz would concur. I spread shaving cream over my head but then just washed it off. It was the smell that I was after. I called for a cab and was told it would be about 45 minutes before one could get to me at that time of the morning. I told the dispatcher that would be perfect and took the morningís Star Tribune crossword puzzle out to the garage to wait.

* * * * *

"Are you okay?"

It was just after eight. My appointment was for eight-thirty. I had called the cab a little before seven knowing theyíd be busy with the morning commuters, trying to make sure I wouldnít be late.

"I was just trying to call you," Katelynn said. Her eyes were red and teary. She sniffled as she spoke. It was very obvious well before I approached her counter that she had been crying. "We will need to reschedule you to see Dr. James."

Well that meant I probably wouldnít need to pull out my rehearsed responses, but obviously the cause for this switch was not going to be good news.

"Are you okay?" I repeated. I have a real soft spot for tears, especially ones falling from such a pretty face. "Whatís happened? Is Dr. Getz okay?"

"We just found out that Dr. Getz died of a heart attack this morning shortly after waking up. He was just getting ready for work in his bathroom. His wife called for the ambulance but he had died before they even arrived." She paused, sniffed, and trying to remain professional, she asked, "When would you like to reschedule for?"

"Oh, no." I said. "Iím so sorry." What can you say? So I asked Katelynn for the third time, not yet getting a direct answer to the question, "Are you going to be okay?"

"Yes," she said with a deep breath. "Iím fine. Itís just so suddenÖand his wifeÖI feel so badly for her."

"Well I donít think I really need to reschedule." I looked left and pointed to the area now hidden deeply in sideburn action along the right side of my head. "I think he was just going to say we were done anyway."

"Well," Katelynn sniffed, "you should still probably have Dr. James confirm that. But under the circumstances Ö" She stood and stepped around the counter getting a closer look at the rear of my head where the rod had entered. Only a red scar remained. "Öyouíre probably right. It does look practically healed to me." She smiled. Such a pretty, sad smile.

"Well, then, um, I guess I should go," I said reluctantly. I hated to leave her here in her tears, but I mean really, what could I do? She was going to be having a tough enough time repeating the sad news to all his patients as she tried to reschedule the dayís appointments. She didnít need me hanging around. She was still standing next to me and I instinctively reached out my hand as I said, "Iím really sorry for the news."

I donít know if Katelynn thought I was holding out my hand for an invitation or if she just really needed a hug after receiving the news but she ignored the gesture to shake hands and stepped closer, into my arms, wrapping her own tightly around my back. I returned the hug and after a very long few seconds she stepped back and looked at me through eyes newly filled with fresh tears. Our hands were clasped in front of us. She smiled bashfully. "Thanks," she said. "I needed that." She took a deep breath. "Okay," she let go of my hands, "back to work. Thank you, John."

"Yeah," I said, ignoring the thought that was actually pushing its way to the front of my mind. (29:29) "Take care, Katelynn. Give my best wishes to his wife for me."

I turned and left the building.

* * * * *

Chapter Five


Michael

Front Desk

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The Master Plan

Chapter One
Chapter Two
Chapter Three
Chapter Four
Chapter Five
Chapter Six
Chapter Seven
Chapter Eight
Chapter Nine
Chapter Ten
Chapter Eleven
Chapter Twelve
Chapter Thirteen
Chapter Fourteen
Chapter Fifteen
Chapter Sixteen
Chapter Seventeen
Chapter Eighteen
Chapter Nineteen
Chapter Twenty
Chapter Twenty-One
Chapter Twenty-Two
Chapter Twenty-Three
Chapter Tweny-Four
Chapter Twenty-Five
Chapter Twenty-Six
Chapter Twenty-Seven
Chapter Twenty-Eight
Chapter Twenty-Nine
Chapter Thirty
Chapter Thirty-One
Chapter Thirty-Two
Chapter Thirty-Three
Chapter Thirty-Four
Chapter Thirty-Five
Chapter Thirty-Six
Chapter Thirty-Seven
Chapter Thirty-Eight
Chapter Thirty-Nine
Epilogue