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by Michael Perez

          It was already 11 pm when Dr K drove up and stopped near the nursing home building. The parking lot a

few yards away, was partly in shadows, with the treetops swaying every way in the cool summer breezes. He had rushed to get there before the change of shift, hoping to make eye contact with Alina who usually would

still be on the 3rd floor nursing station, giving report to the next shift. Evening staff people were trickling out of

the building making bee lines to waiting cars or taxis. He waited in his car watching the door so as not to

miss her on her way down. She was his latest nurse fling , “my last duchess” he thought, appreciating his

good luck yet again. 

He would not call it success that he was developed this secret rapport. The routine: he came in to see patients,  and he chatted with her in view of the busy nurses aides, surrounded by the oblivious old people in their wheelchairs. She would ask him to look in on a patient or two in their rooms. Then they met behind

curtains and clutched each other in quick hugs - but no kisses. Not yet. He still barely knew her or her story.

It was just wild, he thought, that she seemed to like him, for her to ask him nonstop personal questions that

made him laugh? She in turn laughed and looked down when their eyes met. 

          How turned off he was when that first time she called him about an abnormal blood test. He was incredulous that her English was so horrible, although she was from South India. She sounded like she did

not know what she was talking about, spelling out the name of the tests, not knowing how to pronounce it. All

that was so irrelevant now after he started interacting with her in person in the nursing station. 

          Long tight hugs and stories of her arranged marriage showed him the outlines of a person. She now spoke more of her clumsy husband who didn’t know how to be intimate without causing pain. “But I love him,” she said. “He is so good to me. “ 

          Dr K listened, between optimism and hopelessness,  of ever getting to show her sex with patience and care. 

          A call on his cell. Her number. 

“Why you come so late? “ she asked with her usual harsh tone. “Don’t lie. “

          He was searching for words. 

“I came out already,” she said. “I can see you from the car.” Then she continued with a natural giggle: “My husband came for me today. He wants to meet you.”

          “Now wait a minute,” he heard himself think. 

          Before he could debate the pros and cons of this introduction, he realized the couple was in a car a few yards away from his. A young man, grinning, came out while Alina remained in her seat, staring happily into

his eyes. 

“I’m so glad to meet you, sir. Helena loves you so much. She talks about you so much.” His South Indian skin

had a purple shade in the fluorescent light of the lampposts in the parking lot. 

         “I’m so touched,” the doctor said, turning to meet Alina’s unwavering stare and smile. 

         The husband continued: “we want you to come to our home. She would be happy. She would love if you come with us. “

         It was 11:30pm. He thought this couple could be totally innocent, or totally weird and evil. He could obey his amorphous apprehension and tell them he has patients to see inside and blow them off. But their smiles

were like entreaties that led to a garden with strange unknown fruits, the portal of a plane as one arrived at a new destination. 

          “Ok. Start driving,” Dr K said. “I’ll follow you in my car.” 

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