Summary: A Trapper John MD story – Modernizing the way Trapper does things turns out to be a real chore for the woman who’s installing the new computer system at the hospital. Trapper finds she has a turbulent past, emotionally and physically, and digs in to find what makes her tick. Rated: T (161,6570 words)
Matter of the Heart
All Trapper wanted to do was clean up, get some coffee and breakfast, and then go to his office, close the door and stretch out. His morning had started earlier than usual with back to back emergency surgeries. He hated days that started like this.
His shower was relaxing, and he lingered there enjoying the feel of the warm water cascading down his back. Coffee and breakfast were enjoyable enough with Gonzo to keep him entertained. But when he opened the door to his office, he stopped in his tracks, causing Nurse Shoop to run into him. “What is that?”
Ernie Shoop had tried to intercept him…to prepare him for what he was about to see, but he walked into the office like a man on a mission, proving to be too quick for her. “Good morning, Trapper.”
“Ernie, we’ve already had two surgeries, and it’s barely six a.m. All I wanted was to come into my office and try to find something normal in my day.” He looked back at her and glared, pointing at the contraption on his desk. “This…is not normal.”
“Yes, well, the project manager in the hospital’s data processing department insisted on setting up your computer as one of the first. She said upper management needed to understand the system to set an example for everyone else.”
Trapper walked to his desk, looking down at the box and monitor with a scowl. “I don’t want a computer. I don’t need a computer. Call her and tell her to come take it out.”
“Why don’t you tell her yourself? She’ll be here in…” Shoop looked at her watch, “…fifteen minutes.”
Smiling sarcastically at Shoop, Dr. McIntyre said, “I’ll do just that.”
Shoop grabbed the door knob to pull the door to, but before she stepped out, she stopped and looked back in. “A word of advice, Trapper…tread lightly.”
“Tread lightly,” he repeated under his breath, looking at the closed door.
Nurse Shoop had already met the woman who stepped off the elevator, so she observed everyone else as they turned around and watched. Though the woman was immaculately dressed in a slender black skirt covering her knees, a white blouse with a short tie, and a fitted jacket that matched her skirt, her bearing made the people in the hall stand with their backs flat against the wall as she passed. Her blonde hair, drawn up into a bun so tight it looked painful along with her sharp-looking stiletto heels, a posture that would make any drill sergeant proud, and an expression that said, “Don’t waste my time,” made them all rush to get out of her way as if they were hiding from a hungry, prowling killer shark.
“Good morning, Nurse Shoop.” Without waiting for Ernie to return the pleasantry, she continued. “Would you please direct me to Dr. McIntyre’s office?”
Smiling, even though she knew the gesture would be wasted, Ernie replied, “I’ll take you. I have some patient files to drop off. This way, please.”
Trapper didn’t look up from his seemingly never-ending paperwork at a knock on the door. “Come in.”
“Trapper, Ms. Haverty from data processing is here to see you, and I have the charts from your surgeries this morning.”
Standing, Trapper gave Ernie a smile as he took the charts from her and waited for her to close the door behind her. He turned his attention to Ms. Haverty, extending his hand over the desk, “Ms. Haverty, John McIntyre. What can I do for you?”
Without shaking his hand, she said sternly, “Dr. McIntyre, you know why I’m here, but I’m sure you don’t know the circumstances. Mr. Slocum said you might be difficult to work with. I assured him that I would personally handle your computer training.”
“Well, in that case, let me make your job a little easier.” He sat down and flipped open one of the charts. “Take it out of here. It’s crowding my desk.”
She continued, ignoring his last statement. “And I can assure you, Doctor, it is so easy a caveman could use it.”
Trapper looked at her over his glasses. “That may be true, but the simple fact is that I don’t need it. I have no problem organizing my time for paperwork, and I have a secretary to help me. What I do not have time for is learning about something I don’t need.”
“Dr. McIntyre, the only people who don’t like computers are ignorant ones. Once you see what this ‘magic light box’ can do for you, you’ll think it was the best invention since sliced bread.”
“I seriously doubt it. Now, if you’ll excuse me, my work here is saving lives…not playing with toys.”
She smiled. “Very well, Dr. McIntyre. I’ll see you in Mr. Slocum’s office in…oh,” she looked at her watch, “…about fifteen minutes.” Wasting no time on his reaction, she was out the door before he looked up again.
He frowned and drew in a heavy breath, then threw his pen on the desk, mumbling, “Arnold and his money-making schemes.”
Trapper was still fuming when the phone rang. “Hello, Arnold. Has it already been fifteen minutes? Never mind. I’ll be right there.”
Nurse Gloria Brancusi stood behind the desk at the nurse’s station looking through a stack of paper from the inbox. Ernie had just returned from Trapper’s office. “Ernie, did you see this?”
She looked over Gloria’s shoulder. “No, I didn’t see the announcement, but I did meet it.”
Snickering, Gloria asked, “It?”
“We’ve already had a visitor from the basement.”
“That must be an awful place to work. There are no windows down there, so no natural light.”
“From what I understand, there’s only twelve of them down there.”
“But why not put them in some empty office space on one of the floors?”
“Haven’t you been keeping up with what comes in that inbox? There is no empty office space. We’re full.”
“Good morning, ladies,” said Jackpot Jackson, stopping to pull a chart behind the front desk. “Have you heard about the new Systems Group down in the basement?”
“Ernie and I were just talking about that,” answered Gloria.
“They’ve already got a nickname – the ‘shrooms,’” said Jackpot as he studied the chart.
“That’s not nice,” said Ernie.
Closing the chart and walking around the counter, Jackpot stopped and leaned in. “It fits. They come in early, go straight down to the basement and don’t emerge until after dark in the evening. They’re all in black suits and white shirts. What else could they be doing in the basement but growing mushrooms?”
“You’ll find out soon enough,” said Ernie, smiling. “We’re all supposed to be trained on the new computer system. It’s supposed to replace a lot of the paperwork we have to deal with around here.”
“Technology,” said Jackpot, shaking his head. “With all the new technology in medicine and now technology that’s supposed to reduce our paperwork, we’ll all soon be looking for a new career.”
“Oh, I don’t think it will ever be that bad,” said Ernie.
Jackpot spoke over his shoulder as he turned to leave. “Would you like to bet on it?”
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