Home Visit: Part 1
Thursday was when I had my weekly home visits for blood work. For twelve years, my flesh had been trying to poison me, but by the grace of God, Dr. Hubert caught it in time. Who knew type II diabetes would actually kill you?
After 71 years, the only way to keep the up in my gitty had been to track the number of toxins being dumped into my bloodstream by my kidneys. The first few weeks were hairy, to be sure, but Dr. Hubert was determined to keep me in business, and, after some tweaking in my meds, it seemed to be doing just that.
It was in my home that I was sitting when I heard the knock. Three sharp raps on my front door. It startled me as I perused the paper in the quiet of the morning. My, it’s a bit early, isn’t it? I thought. Ah, yes, the new doctor was covering for Dr. Hubert this week. He must have other appointments already lined up for today.
Another three raps. They came across as rude and demanding.
“Oh, I’m coming! Takes a little bit for a lady my age to build up momentum.” I wasn’t restrained to a walker or cane just yet. I suppose the devil hadn’t seen fit to take my legs since he had taken my kidneys. But still, progress was slower than it had once been to the front door.
I rounded the corner and stopped so suddenly I nearly tripped. I gasped as my hand shot to my mouth. Something horribly tall loomed on the other side of the clouded glass, hunched over as if trying to peer inside. What looked to almost be wings settled on either side of it.
No, that’s silly. Don’t crack now, you ole biddy. It’s just the new doctor. Lukas Dumitru.
I steadied myself on the wall and saw that it was indeed the shadow of a man with a large overcoat. It must’ve been the wind turning the tails of it that made it look like…
The man’s out in the cold freezing himself half to death in this February wind, let him in.
I steadied my breath and my hands and marched to the door. As it opened, a gust ran into the house. I was not sure, though, if it had been the wind or the doctor’s eyes that chilled me so. They were dots of ice with pools of darkness untouched by sanity or mercy. The man smiled down at me, but his eyes did not.
“Hello, my dear. You are Ms. Golstrub, I presume?” Dumitru’s voice was low and as warm as a fresh bowl of soup on such a cold day. I even felt a little weak in my knees from the way his deep accent wrapped around my name. But those eyes remained dead and unfeeling.
I smiled and nodded. “Why, yes, it is. Dr. Lukas, I take it?”
“Yes. I’m here for your blood test. Dr. Hubert has given me special instructions to take very good care of you, and that’s exactly what I intend to do.”
As he spoke, I could hear him clearly, but there was something quiet and intimate as if he were whispering in my ear instead of speaking above the wind, which he stood in spite of. Not even his hair was touched by the sudden and frequent gusts.
“Well, that’s very good, then.” Don’t let him see you panic. There’s something very wrong with this one, so don’t let him see. I decided then and there that once this appointment was over, I would call the office and cancel the rest until Dr. Hubert returned. A few weeks wouldn’t kill me after all.
There was a moment as we continued to stand there, he, just beyond the threshold of the door, that I considered simply closing it and ridding myself of the unnerving gaze his eyes held me in.
Finally, he broke the silence. “As much as I enjoy the fresh winter air, I would find it preferable to continue our appointment inside.”
“Oh, yes. I suppose so.” Finally, his piercing eyes released my own as he looked down and noticed my wringing hands. Oh no, he knows I know something’s wrong. But what that thing could possibly be I couldn’t quite put my finger on. I had been startled, that was all. So I did the only thing I thought sensible. “Well, come right in, Dr. Dumitru.”
He nodded and stepped through into the front hallway. Cold flurries followed him in, and I quickly shut the door. For the moment my back was to him, I was overcome by the feeling that he was hunched over me the same way the shadow had been at the door.
You mean the trick your mind played on you.
Despite trying to convince myself it was nothing, goosebumps shot up my back. I turned around a bit faster than I was ready for, and the floor tilted beneath my feet. I steadied myself easily enough on the wall, but his hand closed around my wrist.
“Are you alright, Ms. Golstrub?” Dumitru placed his hand on my lower back. I was suddenly being escorted back through the hall and into the sitting room.
I did my best to try and sound calm. “Yes, yes. It was just that sudden gust of wind froze the strength right out of me.”
He smiled with bright white teeth. They were so perfect and straight they could’ve been dentures. Plenty of my friends sported them, but I preferred my own, even with the yellow coffee stains. The doctor slid me into my recliner with little exertion. Though not as heavy as I had been when first diagnosed with diabetes, I was no feather, and it felt odd to be handled as one. His hands were confident as they positioned me, and it reminded me of the way my late husband had touched me in our first leg of the journey together, with a knowing eagerness. He didn’t grab anywhere inappropriate, but you don’t get to my age without knowing what a man who wants something feels like.
I cleared my throat. “I’m sure Dr. Hubert informed you of my regular proceedings.”
Dumitru chuckled and shrugged off his overcoat. He wore a deep red vest with a blue back and a white button-down beneath. I could see his arms flex and contract against the fabric. His shirt looked soft as it brushed against his skin, and I felt the desire to run my hands along his body. I hadn’t had an urge like that take me so strongly in nearly three decades. And I didn’t like it.
“Oh, he has, my dear.” He leaned over and set to opening his case.
He retrieved a small rectangular box, then his cell phone, and set both on the end table next to me. It was one of those newer models that gave me a fit of anxiety just to look at. There were a few seconds of swiping with his lithe fingers. The nails were shaped perfectly, and I could see veins run along the tops of his knuckles. I found myself wondering what it would be like to feel one of those fingers run across my bottom lip. A soft piano melody began to float from the box.
Dumitru set his phone down next to what was some kind of speaker. “I hope you don’t mind. I prefer to listen to this song while I work.” His red lips tilted up into a smile.
“Oh, I don’t mind at all,” I responded, polite as I could be. “It’s a very pretty tune.”
He was setting out the utensils for my blood draw onto a cream-colored towel. “Isn’t it? Claire de Lune, by Claude Debussy in 1890.” His hands moved like water as he freed the pieces of the syringe from its plastic. “It is based off a French poem of the same name.” He left the plastic cover on the needle and set it onto the towel. There was another smooth motion, and his hands were on my arm with an alcohol swab. I felt my breath become labored as the piano continued its slow lullaby beneath his voice. “Au calme claire de lune triste et beau…which sets birds in the trees dreaming…”
My eyelids were becoming quite heavy at this point. I was teetering between feeling so relaxed I might’ve dozed off right there in front of him and feeling a rush of blood to my face that lit my mind afire. I was blushing like a schoolgirl as this tall doctor from Europe recited French poetry to me.
I watched his tongue and lips form around every word. They moved with a sweetness you read about in romance novels. The song began to rise in volume and energy with my pulse. “And makes the fountains sob with ecstasy…”
I felt the needle penetrate me, and I drew in a sharp breath at the sudden pain and…exhilaration? His knee was next to mine between my legs, and I could feel his muscles tense against me.
“The slender water streams among the marble statues…”
Then I saw his eyes. The pale blue that had cut through me before was now a dead yellowing that bled into the whites of his eyes. I jerked my arm back and shuddered. My mind swam as if I had just woken from a long nap. Then the final notes of the song trilled out of the speaker. “Uh, I…I think our appointment is over, Doctor.”
His brow furrowed and lips pursed. Then he offered a gracious smile with those perfect, fake teeth. “I think so, Ms. Golstrub.” The speaker and blood samples were swept into his case before I knew what was happening. “Do you have any questions for me?”
“No.” My lip trembled, trying as I might to keep my composure. “Just…please leave.” I found myself rubbing at the spot the needle had entered my arm. Sometime in my stupor, he had placed a piece of cotton and medical tape over my wound. I still felt where his fingers had been. It was cold. “I’m sorry,” I offered, “but I would very much appreciate it if you left now.”
He nodded and stood. Once his overcoat was back on, I was already a bit relieved that some of him was covered. My mind began to steady itself once more, and I stood with him. He led the way back down the hall, and I followed behind, ready to have him out. “I thank you for your time, Ms. Golstrub.”
As we reached the door, he stopped and turned to me. My stomach twisted into a knot. If he decided to do anything untoward, I would be unable to stop him as he towered over me. “I look forward to our next meeting, my dear.”
I shook my head. “I honestly don’t know if that will happen, Doctor. And please, don’t call me that.”
That disgusting and knowing smile crossed his face again. His eyes, pale blue once again, sent another chill up my spine, but I stood my ground against him. Damned if I’ll be stared down in my own home.
Another chuckle rippled through his lips. “We shall see about that, won’t we.” He dipped his head, spun on his heel back to the door and threw it open into the grey February cold. That was the last time I was sure I saw Dr. Lukas Dumitru. The thing I saw later that night…I’m still not sure what it was.