Chinatown, Honolulu, Hawaii, Tuesday, February 12th, 2019.
Dr. Chen Huang (aka "Eileen") was sipping from a mug of Kona coffee in her office on Maunakea Street, just off King Street, in Honolulu's Chinatown. Dr. Chen was also savoring the early evening peace. It was 8:15 p.m. and, as usual, King Street had been closed to traffic at 8. Although office hours continued until 9, Dr. Chen's last appointment, for 8, had been cancelled by telephone an hour before.
The appointment had been for a Ms. Wo Fat, an 81 year-old woman who had been a patient for decades. But it had been a vaguely familiar male voice that had cancelled the appointment. Dr. Chen recollected that Ms. Wo was the widow of a high-end importer to the tourist trade. The husband had died several years ago, of a stroke. He had not been Chen's patient, so she had not known his vitals, but she could not resist guessing that the ultimate cause of his death had been salt, probably French fries. That Mr. Wo was dead made the caller's claim to be him very odd, indeed. Yet the voice ...
Dr. Chen was, herself, a second-generation Vietnamese-Chinese-Hawaiian. (Her father's family were Hoa -- VietNamese of Chinese extraction). Her parents, both teachers, had been among the boat people who fled the country in 1975, when the North Vietnamese captured Saigon. As of the most recent census, she knew, there were about 9,000 Vietnamese in Honolulu County. The stories her parents told her, their only child, born in 1980, about the war years had inspired her -- goaded her, really -- into being an exemplary student at every level of her education, from pre-school to Med School.
After completing her studies at the David Geffen Medical School of UCLA, Chen had caused her parents great disappointment by putting up her shingle in this neighborhood of "Left-Behinds." That she was also credentialed at Honolulu's prestigious Queen's Medical Center might have soothed some parents, but not hers. As Dr. Chen knew from an undergraduate class in American History, at U. of H., the aspirations of the boat people for their children were similar to those once created by the Great Depression, for earlier parents on both the Islands and the mainland.
Dr. Chen, whose parents had both died during the early years of the new millenium, was now 38, and still unmarried, without even a significant other. She was aware that she could be considered a poster child for that hoary and cruel witticism about people who were "married to their job." Married to her job? Not really, although, ten years in, she still loved it. Chen's specialty was Cardiology, but she advertised herself as a General Practioner. She was unsure whether this choice represented false modesty, or was a way to troll for patients with a broader net.
Dr. Chen's P.A. and nurse both worked from 8-5, Monday through Saturday, and she was between secretaries, which was why she was now alone in the office. She was enjoying her peaceful mug of coffee and ruminating about the cancelled appointment when the Intercom buzzed, startling her. Carefully placing the mug on the beer mat on her desk, she hurried to the front door of the suite where, always security conscious, she pressed the Call buzzer, and asked, "Who?"
"Armande," said a weak male voice, the same voice, Chen immediately realized, that had cancelled Ms. Wo's appointment an hour before. With a sigh, she buzzed him in, thinking to herself, "What is it this time?" And "this time" a thought that shocked even the doctor followed the first one: "Why can't they kill him already?"
As if the fates had read this wicked thought, through the door staggered the man she had been thinking of, his white shirt spotted with blood. As she knew, the other name of this notorious man, who had introduced himself to her as "Armande Molto," was Geistmann. Although she had learned this through a bit of Internet trolling, by his second or third visit, Chen sensed that she must always use the alias in addressing this dangerous, probably psychopathic, patient.
"Help me, Chen," he whispered, and staggered through the reception area into the examination room, where he flopped onto the table, which was luckily covered with a fresh length of white paper.
Chen took a moment to return to the reception area, where she re-locked the door, and then hurried back to the examination room. "Armande" had passed out. Cursing the late hour, because her helpers were both gone, then realizing how much explanation this saved her from having to make, she wheeled over an IV cart, extracted a plasma bag from the fridge, and began to replenish the patient's obviously depleted blood supply.
Half an hour later, he was awake. The back of the exam table had been raised 45-degrees, and he was further restoring his bodily fluids from a large plastic cup of apple juice. Still pale, he smiled weakly at the doctor.
"You've saved me again, Eileen," he said. "What is this, the eighth time?"
"That's right," she said.
Geistmann could tell from her tone that she was less than glad to see him. From his reclining position, he made three small bows. "Elica thanks you. Iosup thanks you. I thank you." Seeing that the ploy of bringing his family into the speech had fallen flat, he tried again. "Victims of brutality and crime across the globe all thank you, Eileen." That got him a stink eye, and she silently went behind the table and cranked it back down to the prone position.
"Instead of bullshitting me, Armande," she said, still standing outside his field of vision, "you need to sleep some more. While you were out, I gave you a shot."
The "shot," of course, had been imaginary, since sedation is a very bad idea for patients suffering massive blood loss. Chen idly wondered if placebos worked, with psychopaths.
Since Geistmann never panicked, she knew he was only pretending when he said, "But I can't fall asleep now, Eileen, they'll be after me, And you could become collateral damage!" She knew him well enough to guess that he had realized "the shot" was imaginary. Without replying, she removed his running shoes, replaced the bloody shirt with a light-blue scrub top, and covered him with a cotton blanket. When she saw him drifting off, she returned to the office to warm up the coffee pot, and waited beside the machine for the automatic shut-off to click.
"Mr. Molto!" she mentally sneered. "Boom boom." For she had learned, early on, also from the Internet, that "Molto" was a Tagalog word for "ghost." She posthumously thanked her late parents for not having chosen the Phillipines as their destination. Maybe Geistmann could take out his fellow-psychopath, the elected leader who was currently terrorizing the populace of those unfortunate isles.
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