Wednesday, November 01, 2006

A curious encounter

After finishing a long workday at the hospital last week, I was trekking through its long corridors on my way out to the parking lot when a rather peculiar experience befell me. Just as I had turned a corner and was heading down a particularly dimly lit green hallway, I felt an icy draft on my neck. Startled, I spun around to look behind me, only to see an empty hallway. Slowly I turned back around, but in doing so I bumped right into a quickly moving dark-clad figure.
“Whoa!” I said, falling back a step, and gaining a chance to size up this new obstacle in my path. Before me stood a tall, slender, pale-white man in his forties, impeccably groomed with slicked back hair and a black and red cape covering an all-black outfit. He was fumbling with a red handkerchief.
“A bit early for Halloween, isn’t it?” I asked.
“Atchoo!!!” was the only reply, and he raised the handkerchief to wipe his nose.
“Bless you,” I said, moving to walk around him and continue on my way. Before I could take two steps, though, I felt a cold hand on my shoulder, deceptively strong and firmly preventing my progress.
“Excu-use me, doctor-r?” he intoned in a thick foreign accent that I couldn’t quite place.
I nodded.
“For-r-give my intr-r-usion, but I am si-ick and need help. I seem to have caught something dr-r-eadful out in ze cold.”
I looked at him blankly.
“I’m sor-r-r-y, please allow me to intr-r-oduce myself. I am Count Dr-r-acula.”

My first urge was to point out the sign to the psych ward, but as I was in a relatively good mood, I instead decided to play along with him.
“Dracula? Don’t you live in Eastern Europe or something?”
“Y-es, that is tr-r-ue. But my friend ze Fr-r-ankenstein monster-r –- he invite me for-r a par-r-ty in ze White House. You know it? It’s called ze Monster Mash. It is always a gr-r-aveyard smash.”
“Nice! Frankenstein throwing a monster mash in the White House?! Why does that not surprise me?”
“Y-ess, well, next week, on Halloween. As you point out, I am ear-r-ly. I come for sight seeing. This Washington, what a s-splendid city.”
“Oh yeah, the sights are great. I take it you’ve been to the different monuments and museums?”
“N-no, no. No time for-r such nonsense. I visit ze Arlington cemetery, and ze unknown soldier – actually, we invite him to ze par-r-ty, but I think he don’t come. He says he must s-stand watch. And ze staircase vere my friend from ze Exorcist had so much fun. You know zis s-staircase? Ver-r-y inter-r-esting. Las-st night, I visit a place, Madam’s Or-r-gan. Mz. Or-r-gan, she under-r-stand ze car-r-nal pleasur-r-es in life. I enjoyed zis ver-r-y much. Except I have a ver-r-y nas-sty cough. So I come to you. How can you help me?”
I go through a quick history and perform a cursory exam – it turns out that our friend, in addition to his cough, has swollen tender cervical lymph nodes and white spots on his tonsils. Oddly, he feels unnaturally cool to the touch.
“Well, Mr. Dracula, I’m afraid you have a case of strep throat, in addition to a touch of bronchitis. You need a course of antibiotics.”
“Penic-cillin? I know zis medic-cine, it iz ver-r-y popular in my countr-r-y. In fact, I know wher-r-e I can find some. My fr-r-iend R-r-ush, he has a ver-r-y lar-r-ge medicine supply. He will give me.”
“That’s nice, but why don’t we get you your medicine here? Come with me, I’ll show you where.”
I start leading him down the hall towards the psych unit. As the unit clerk comes into sight I wave.
“We’ve got one of yours down here!” I call out.
She waves back.
“These nice people will take care of you,” I say. “Just head down to the lady at the desk.”
“Doctor-r your-r assis-stance is-s gr-r-eatly appr-r-eciated.” He bows formally.
“No problem. I suppose if treating the undead bothered me, I wouldn’t be doing my residency in DC.”
I start heading back out to the parking lot, but before I turn the next corner, I can’t help but take a peek back over my shoulder. The psych unit clerk is still at the end of the hall, but Mr. Dracula is nowhere to be seen.
“Where’d he go?” I call out.
She shrugs.
"Crazy patient," I mutter. Shaking my head, I continue towards the exit.