Chicken feed. People always laughed when Ben Johnson told them he worked for chicken feed. That’s what he did: deliver chicken, hog and cattle feed to farmers and ranchers on over a thousand miles of land in the Plains States, mainly the Dakotas. Yeah, it brought a smile to their faces when he told them but, right now, Ben’s face wore a grimace of pain. He was focused on getting back to Minot, his home, as quickly as his truck and this damned case of the trots would let him. What the hell had he eaten to give him something this god-awful? He squirmed uneasily in his seat as his belly and guts rebelled for the umpteenth time. He could not get to Minot’s Walter E. Feckle Emergency Clinic soon enough.
The Walter E. Feckle Emergency Clinic sat unobtrusively in a one story building off Second Avenue in downtown Minot, next to the “Why Not Minot?” billboard erected by some civic-minded citizens a few years back. Walter E. Feckle, a successful plains farmer had, many years ago, used his fortune to create the small clinic that bore his name and had funded positions for its small staff of doctors, including one for blood relatives, like his great-grand daughter, Dr. Beverly Baudot.
Beverly Baudot was the spitting image of Reese Witherspoon in Legally Blonde, except not as smart. The good graces of family connections had gotten her a position at the clinic after a number of less than stellar performances at more recognized centers elsewhere. Beverly tried to make up in enthusiasm what she lacked in professional knowledge. Fortunately the clinic was also staffed by other physicians whose skill and professionalism attempted to cover any discrepancies caused by Beverly’s presence. The head of staff was the handsome but aloof Dr. Brad Zilfer, a Christian Slater look-alike, who Beverly admired and lusted after.
It was the handsome Dr. Zilfer who walked in on Beverly and her patient, Ben Johnson, as Beverly, wanting to impress Dr. Zilfer, explained the results of her tests. Ben Johnson wore an expression of both concern and pain on his face as his listened to Beverly’s prognosis.
“Yes, it says here on page 178 that all such occurrences should be treated with some antibiotics as well as …”
Dr. Zilfer interrupted with incredulity: “Page 178 of WHAT?! Are you using a novel to treat this patient?!”
Beverly, startled, responded: “Why, yes, they come in quite handy and this one, The Seneca Scourge by Carrie Rubin, is very well researched and written.”
Dr. Zilfer’s eyes grew large like a two ripe melons. “You realize that it is a book of fiction and, however well written, cannot be used to diagnose a patient.”
Beverly retorted “But its medical topics, especially with regards to pathogens, are as good a job of medical research as you can find. Besides, it’s so much more interesting than a boring medical journal.”
“Dr. Baudot,” Brad became formal in his indignation, “we are physicians, not fiction readers. We can’t have our patients believing that we get all our information from dime store novels.”
“But I told you, it’s NOT a dime store novel. It’s a well-written and well-structured book that explains exactly how a pandemic occurs.”
“Pandemic!” Dr. Zilfer nearly jumped out of his uniform, “We are dealing with a bad case of diarrhea, not a pandemic! Do you realize what alarms you could raise if you start spreading the word that we have a pandemic on our hands? We had enough trouble last month when you misdiagnosed that case of measles and we had half the town thinking that we had a breakout of cholera.”
Beverly sighed. This was probably not the best moment to tell Dr. Zilfer about her reliance on Diseases for Dummies. She could have prevented her mistake if only The Seneca Scourge had been in print a month earlier. She hoped Carrie Rubin would be starting her next book soon.
Read more here about Carrie Rubin’s new novel The Seneca Scourge.]