“Hey, Doc! I brought you something special.” He hopped off the exam table and rummaged in a grocery sack that sat in the corner chair. When he moved, the scent of stale cigarettes and dental decay filled the room. He plopped a small cardboard carton on the counter beside me. “It’s a creamy, vanilla protein drink.”
“Oh. Ok.” I wasn’t sure what to do with it. “Thank you?”
“Listen, baby. Drink it cold, OK?”
“You can’t call me that.” I had already warned him stop at his last visit.
“Why not, baby?”
“I am leaving if you don’t stop.”
He walked across the room and stood behind me, putting his hand on my low back.
“God, you look great.”
I moved toward the door. “Your blood pressure is awful and it is killing your kidneys.”
“Look, I don’t really care if I die…”
“So why are you here, then?”
“To get a physical. But I don’t want you to save me.”
“Fine. Stay here. They will be in in a few minutes to draw your blood.” His hand was on my shoulder again. I shrugged it off.
“Thanks, baby!” He called as I closed the door behind me. My last vision was of him reclining with his arms crossed, grinning his semi- toothless grin.
I placed the sweaty carton of “vanilla protein drink” in the wastebasket at the nurses’ station. No way in hell was I putting my lips on that. Not ever.