A Happy Ending

May 6, 2011
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Pulling up his hood to fight the October chill, Jeff continued his brisk walk to the doctor’s office. It was only a short walk from his office building; about five blocks, but the gusting winds made him loathe every inch of it.

This check-up was an important one, but he wasn’t nervous. Why should he be? He ate right, exercised regularly, and got plenty of sleep each night. This check-up was routine and was required by his firm. The firm’s insurance company left nothing to chance and required these check-ups, only to ensure good health.

Jogging the last few steps, Jeff strode through the automatic doors and was greeted by the manicured air of the doctor’s office. He hung his coat up on the polished brass coat hooks, checked in with the attendant, and had a seat in the nearest armchair. Straightening his checkered tie, he consulted his pocket watch. He was early, but it didn’t matter. The firm had given him the day off for this health check. As their newest member, straight out of law school, they had been more than willing to get him cleared to work. The firm had more clients than usual lately and was short-handed, in need of young lawyers to join and help. As he was one of their new best and brightest, most of the firm was at his beck and call, seeing to his every need. Life was looking up, and there was nothing that could hold him back.

Smiling disarmingly, the attendant called his name and gestured for him to follow her. With a nervous grin, and a small check of his grease-slicked hair, Jeff got up and quickly followed her back to the exam room. As he was left in the room, awaiting his doctor, he began to wonder at his luck. As soon as this check-up was over, he could get right to work and start earning his salary, who knows; maybe he’d get a raise! Soon he would earn a small fortune that he could use to take over the firm! He’d make them work for him night and day, with low pay! Those poor old schmucks thought he would work for them and never question their authority? Not only would he question them, he’d be their undoing!

The door opened, and a short bald man walked into the room. He was an older doctor, and had worked at the clinic for over thirty years. He enjoyed these check-ups, as they were simpler and much more relaxing than his high-strung regulars. The regulars were always panicking, always convinced that some new disease or disorder was about to overtake their immaculate health. He cracked a smile and said, “How are you today, Mr. Adamson?”

“I’m fine, thank you,” Jeff replied.

“What brought you here today? Any pains you’re worried about?”

“No, no just following protocol, the company wants to make sure I’m fit before they have to pay for me,” he answered.

“Well, I’m sure they’ll hear a good report from me,” the doctor said with a smile. With that, he went to work, putting Jeff through a few exercises and jotting notes down on his chart, constantly wrinkling his nose at the strong scent of Jeff’s cheap cologne. He would nod or shake his head during each test, though he would occasionally have a puzzled look on his face. He would repeat this test and maybe a few others, but still the answers would elude him.

“Is everything okay, doc? We seem rather stalled up here,” Jeff questioned.

“Well, everything seems alright, there just seems to be a few inconsistencies here-but I’m sure it’s fine,” the doctor replied hastily.

“Is there anything else you want to do, just to be sure?”

“Yes actually, I’m glad you asked, I’d like to take a blood sample and have you get an MRI. I’m sure you’re fine, but I have to be certain,” the doctor answered. He opened the door and gestured for Jeff to follow him. After a small prick and a boring scan, Jeff was back at home. He’d tried to return to work, in hopes that they would consider him cleared, but they’d hardly allowed him in the door.

“I’m healthy, I swear!” he’d pleaded.

“I’m sorry Jeff, but we can’t let you work for us until you’ve been cleared by the doctor,” his boss had told him.

Back at home, his thoughts were driving him mad. What could be wrong? He’d always been healthy! He’d always taken care of himself! When would the doctor call with his results? He had to be fine, he just had to! He had never done anything detrimental for his health; the tests had to clear him.

His phone rang, jerking him free from the creations of his horrid imagination. He darted across the room, yanked the phone off its cradle and hastily answered, “Hello?”

“Hello, Jeff? This is Nurse Hodgkins from the clinic. We got your test results analyzed, and I’m afraid I have some bad news. Your tests indicate that you have a degenerative disorder. There is nothing known that we can do for you, I’m sorry. At our best predictions, you have about four months left. You may have noticed the occasional shaking. This is one of the symptoms of the disorder, and you will probably notice these tremors occurring more and more often. Don’t worry, this disorder isn’t able to be transferred so your friends are safe, this is a genetic disorder. You will probably notice other problems in these last few months, including a lack of responsiveness, erratic movements, and sudden blackouts. Please make any necessary preparations for yourself and your family. Do you have any questions, Mr. Adamson?”

Jeff side-armed the phone across the room. How could this have happened? How? Erratic movement, blackouts, only a few months left to live? This was terrible! What should he do? What could he do? He could end it all right now, that’s what he could do! He could take his own life and prevent his suffering; cheat the disorder from making him suffer. Maybe he would, but how could he do it? With a gun, and make it quick? Or with a knife, slow? Maybe use a noose? No, no he couldn’t do that. He’d always been afraid of pain, terrified of it actually. There’s no way he could end his own life. That settled it, he couldn’t kill himself, there was no way he could do that to himself.

He knew what he could do, he could live his last moments to the fullest, that was it! He had always wanted to go bungee jumping, to feel the air rushing past him, the empty abyss below. He would live his life to the fullest; enjoying what he had always wanted to try but had been too afraid.

There he was, on the edge of the abyss. People were all around him, watching and waiting. He took one step back from the bridge’s edge. Ready, he leaped over the side and began to fall. Down and down he fell, feeling the air rushing past him, watching the ground draw nearer by the moment. Down, down.

He had done it; he had lived his life to the fullest! And while he hadn’t worked up the courage to cheat the disorder, he hadn’t needed to. The ground had done it for him. He had had the time of his life those few moments, just enjoying the fall.

As the turbid river washed his proud body away, the crowd slowly dissipated. Lawyers were quite the drama queens, weren’t they?

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