Bart slowly scanned the large stretch of land in Eastern Oregon that he called home. The sun was approaching the horizon, bathing him in an eerie orange.
He bought the land with a major investment he made just after World War II. He did well with the cattle, until he sold them a month before. The sale put into a safe trust for his grandchildren, provided they took up a marketable trade.
He put his back to the rock, and watched the sun go down.
As his final breath left him, it was his last call.
Teresa’s eyes slowly started to open as she turned over and mumbled. She saw her husband sitting up and the lamp turned on. Stifling a yawn, she sleepily looked at his back.
“Why are you up?”
Her husband turned around and smiled a weak, sad smile.
“They called me in. A patient is barely holding on.”
Teresa glowered at this, and lowered her eyes a bit. Lately this had been a common occurrence, and she did not want to wake up to an empty bed anymore. She was clearly unhappy, and Rahim Carlson, her husband of over 5 years, knew it.
“I really wish they’d quit calling you at night. I mean, why can’t they find another surgeon?”
“Honey, the next closest thoracic surgeon to us is down in Thousand Oaks. That’s nearly 2 hours away.”
Teresa slowly sat up and rubbed her green eyes. She smoothed her satin chemise as she looked up at him, wisps of blonde hair falling in front of her face.
“Maybe we should think of moving somewhere else. You’ve been doing this for more than two years now!”
Rahim looked at her, and gave a funny smile.
“I’ve thought of that too. Right now, though, we are here in Bakersfield for a purpose. They need a thoracic surgeon of great quality. The good news is that the prospect from USC Medical Center is looking at Bakersfield General for a move. If we can get him in, I can look for another surgeon’s job somewhere else. But that’s almost 6 months down the line.”
She sat, slumped in defeat as she knew there was nothing she could do.
As he was buttoning the top button, he looked at her. This woman, his wonderful wife, was in need and he felt like there was nothing he could do. He had his duty, and he had his wife. He studied her face, every part of her that was exposed to his vision, and sighed to himself. He looked in the mirror, and stood stony for a moment. Teresa knew this. It was his “prayer stand”, where he would ask the Lord for guidance. As she got out of bed and turned towards him, he turned back to her, a slight smile on his face.
“I just had a thought…give me a moment,” he said, as he grabbed the phone. He quickly dialed a 10 digit number and waited.
“Hey, Smitty. Sorry for waking you up so early. You doing okay?” He waited a moment, then launched right in. “Hey, you know how you said you wanted to take a shot at doing some surgery up here at Bakersfield, right? I just got called in, but I can’t make it to the hospital in time. It would take me about 4 hours to get there. You’re closer, would you like to take a run at it?”
He paused again, a flit of a smile running across his face.
“Great! Call up Nurse Chelsey Marks, and have her connect you with Brian Markinson. You remember him, right? He’s in charge of night shift, and should be able to accomodate you. I’ll call him in just a moment and get you cleared.” He waited a moment. “You got it! We’ll talk next week, okay? Uh huh! Bye.”
He then proceeded to call Dr. Markinson and inform him that he was unable to make it. He was, unfortunately, detained and wouldn’t be able to make it there on time. After a little shake-off, he closed the phone, and proceeded to take his shirt back off.
“What do you think, Teresa? You still want me to stay the night?”
Teresa looked at him, as she slowly walked over. She put her arms around him and laid her head on his chest.
“I hate the fact that you actually lied to your bosses to get out of work tonight. But in this case, I will forgive you.”
Rahim looked at his God-given wife, and smiled.
“Sweetie, you’re worth it even if I would get fired.”