“I know what you’re thinking,” he said to the husky staring at him inquisitively. “How many times is this idiot going to change his pants?”
He hadn’t been this nervous since his first day of medical school. Despite waking up two hours before he needed to be at his new job he found himself running late. Mentally and physically out of place in this small town, this internal restlessness carried over to even the simplest of tasks this morning.
“What the hell does a country bumpkin doctor wear anyway, Orca?” hoping in some miracle his land lady’s dog that had formed an unwanted attachment would offer some suggestion. “Okay, my white coat is ironed, I’ll go with my informal yet formal kid friendly tie with farm animals on it, and I think this pair of khakis will do. What the hell am I doing here, dog? I should have listened to my mother and been a lawyer or a financial planner.”
Checking his watch again he grabbed his back pack filled with the Washington Manual and other small pocket sized quick reference books which lined the pockets of his white coat as a resident and medical student. While now he only occasionally used these pocket brains they had become an inseparable security blanket.
Double timing it outside his new best friend followed him to his 1988 Honda Civic hatchback which he was embarrassed to still drive, but could afford. “Shit!” he yelled as he noticed a grease stain on his pants from hurriedly climbing in the car. “Shit, shit, shit! Well I don’t have time to change now. Oh fucking well. Get out of here dog, go kill a squirrel or something,” closing the door to the car.
He had been fortunate to find the mother-in-law house to rent next to a farmhouse from a recent widow even if it did come with an unwanted husky. He might have been able to buy a house, but he really didn’t plan on staying in Wynoochee longer than he had to and the town didn’t have any apartments for rent. It’s wasn’t that they were all full; there just weren’t any apartments in town. A realtor suggested he consider renting a trailer, but his mother was leery enough about him moving to some logging and farming town in the middle of nowhere. If she found out her doctor son raised in Chicago’s northern suburbs had turned into trailer trash it would bring her to tears.
Pulling onto the main road from the gravel drive he flipped through the radio again as if by some miracle all of the country stations had disappeared and someone had the sense to start a classic rock station. Disappointed he turned to his I-Pod he quickly loaded up some Petty, “I’ll be free, free falling. I should have been a lawyer. I could have gone into practice with Uncle Isaac and had a nice house in Evanston. It would have been only three years of law school instead of four of med school and no residency. Should have listened to my mother. Should have been a lawyer. What the hell what I thinking? Help people? Yeah, right.”
The ten minute drive to Main Street in down town Wynoochee passed quickly and barely another car could be seen on the country road. His new residence sat in a valley used for farming since its settlement a century earlier. Surrounding the valley hills filled with various cedars, fir, and pine created a pocket protecting the town of Wynoochee from the outside world.
Slowing down as he reached what counted as civilization, the doctor got his bearings in this still unfamiliar place as he passed the Toad Mini-Mart, Timberland Bank, the Baptist church, the Lutherans, and Wynoochee Pharmacy to reach the one stop light in town at the corner of Main and 1st. Another couple blocks of two story buildings lined the core of Main Street until businesses began to spread out again as he left the “downtown” corridor. He paid closer attention knowing the order was the funeral home, then the liquor store, and then he turned into the back of what looked like an old church.
On the side of the columned and double door entrance he paused and sighed before entering. Someone placed a temporary vinyl sign covering a more permanent marker of the business.
“‘Wynoochee Family Medicine Welcomes Dr. Roy Bloom and Is Now Accepting New Patients,’ he read. “Shit. What have I gotten myself into?”