George and the Armadillo: Chapter 4
‘I see you have been scribbling a lot in the notebook I gave you. May I ask what you have been writing?’
‘Not much, it’s pretty difficult to write anything when you only allow me crayons.’
‘Crayons? Why do you?. . . Oh, yes, I see. Very amusing.’
‘It’s just some ideas for a new product. I’m thinking I might start up on my own if you ever allow me to leave.’
‘That’s an excellent idea, Mr. Miller – George. That indicates to me that you have a positive outlook. I will be honest, I would like to keep you here a little longer, however. I think that there may just be some things that you are still hiding from me, things it might be best getting out in the open. But as it is I am under pressure to find more beds and I do think you are out of immediate danger of repeating your. . . repeating your. . . just so.
At any rate, I would like you to consider. . .’
‘So, what’s it going to be for you today, Dr. Meshuga? We have a nice cheese salad or we have a pork chop with potatoes. If I were you I’d choose the pork chop, the cheese is Goudam or some such thing. Not British, anyway. Johnny, where does Goudam come from, Italy, is it? I don’t know why they can’t use a nice New Zealand cheddar. Johnny, get Dr. Meshuga the tray with the pork chop.’
‘Mrs?. . . Mrs?. . . um, ah, I have brought my own lunch in today.’
‘Your own! How are you going to take care of all these patients if you don’t take care of yourself? Johnny, put it down on Dr. Meshuga’s table. Now, you eat that up. You need a good hot meal inside you. Tea or coffee? Johnny, give Dr. Meshuga a nice hot tea. Now, Mr. Miller, what would you like: a nice healthy cheese salad or a pork chop with potatoes?’
‘Well, I’m with the doctor at the moment so I’ll just skip. . .’
‘Johnny, give Mr. Miller the pork chop and just a touch more sauce.’ The portly lady winked at George. ‘And it’s a nice milky coffee for you, isn’t it? I notice these things you know.’
‘Black, please,’ said George quietly.
‘Rhubarb crumble for afters, but I want to see you eat all this first.’ She rasped a laugh. ‘Come on Johnny, looks like all the rest of them are in the playroom.’
Dr. Meshuga pushed the plate off his papers. His nose gave a little Bewitched-style twitch as the faintly repugnant aroma of the stolid brown sauce caught his sensory organ but he continued without comment, ‘I would like you to consider seeing me on a private basis. . .’
‘Dr. Mushy! They’re at it again and I can’t get into the toilet to do my number twos.’
‘Meshuga, Trevor. Who are at it? At what?’
‘Mr. Benson and that slapper. Humping, same as usual. And I need to go, I really do. I said there was something funny about that scrambled egg we had for breakfast.’
‘Mr. Benson and Mrs. Winthrope seem to have developed an affection for each other,’ said George helpfully, spotting Dr. Meshuga’s bewildered expression.
‘Can’t you ask Peter to. . . um. . . sort it out?’
‘He’s not there. No idea where he’s gone.’
‘Well, I’m with Mr. Miller at the moment, can you just wait until they’ve . . . ah . . . finished?’
‘They don’t normally take more than fifteen minutes and besides, Mr. Benson tends to tail off as the day goes on.’ George said encouragingly. Trevor slowly left the office, visibly clenching his buttocks.
‘. . . eighteenth century: Delft I think we’ll find. It would’ve been part of a set of chamber pots, this one is for a lady; let’s just have a look at the bottom. . . ’
‘Timothy has probably turned the TV up. Mrs. Winthrope can be a little vociferous.’
Dr Meshuga shook his head. ‘I’ll ask Peter to prepare the paperwork as soon as he gets back. You can change into your own clothes now and you should be out of here within a couple of hours. Take care, Mr. Miller – George – and here’s my card should you need to contact me about anything at all. I don’t want to see you back here again.’
‘Good job you don’t work in a hotel or restaurant with that attitude,’ observed George, as he peeled his bare bottom off the plastic chair. He was looking forward to getting his own clothes back.
‘Ooooh, Mr. Benson, squeeze them harder!’
‘And, uh, George, could you please close the door after you, perhaps?’
* * *
‘You take care of yourself, Betty.’
George smiled at Mr. Benson, picked up his small bag and headed out, giving a small wave as the doors closed behind him, to the sound of Mrs Winthrope’s applause. . . He stood outside in the corridor for a minute, gathering his thoughts. Right, thought George, better go home, I guess. He walked to the elevator and pressed the button.
‘Why, George! George. I was just coming to see you.’
Hannah stepped out of the elevator, which discreetly left them alone together.
‘You look tired. Are you OK?’
‘Thanks George, I needed that pick-me-up.’
‘Here, I brought you some grapes. Seedless – I hate the seeded grapes – it completely spoils it when you accidentally bite through a seed, they’re so bitter.’
‘Hannah, would you like a coffee? Or dinner, maybe? I mean somewhere away from the hospital. There’s something I want to chat to you about. . .’
Hannah nodded and pushed the elevator button so it could play gooseberry to the two of them again.