[an error occurred while processing this directive] ZEPHYR Magazine
  
                              T H E
  
                      E S T A B  - L O I D
                ---------------------------------
                Issue #7                  3-15-86
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            A weekly electronic magazine for users of 
                The Establishment BBS (894-6526)
                owned and operated by Thane Smith
  
                    Editor - Gene B. Williams 
   
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                            (c) 1986
 
THIS ISSUE:
 
     It's fiction time again!
     This week's story was actually written several years ago, 
and was published in a trade journal for commercial pilots. Weird 
place to see such a story, really, and I was amazed that they 
bought it. Especially since they didn't buy or use fiction.
     Fair warning:  The story could be rated as a "PG-13" or even 
a soft "R". I kinda wondered if I should even put it up, but then 
figured that the users of this board are mature enough to not 
have the story corrupt their lives.
     But if you're sensitive, you may want to skip it.
 
  
 
                    THE $3.75 (plus tax) MAN
 
 
     It had been one of the worst crop dusting accidents in 
years. While making what should've been an ordinary pass over the 
field, the stick had come off in his hands, causing the plane to 
go spinning out of control. The plane did as much of a half 
gainer as possible and smacked into a field of asparagus. His 
last conscious thought was, "I HATE asparagus!"
     Fortunately he'd done all repairs to the plane with Scotch 
tape and old clarinet reeds (to cut costs). The collision cracked 
it like an old, dried-out eggshell, and threw the pilot free of 
the wreckage and into a pile of insecticide, burning oil and 
creamed asparagus.
     Smelling profit, three ambulance services arrived. While 
they fought over custody of the victim, paramedics attempted to 
separate him from the now boiled asparagus, taking care to place 
any stray fingers and feet on the stretcher with the pilots. 
Finally, a coin was produced and it was decided that the pilot 
would be rescued by Bud's Ambulance Service, which was fortunate 
as they were well known for their efficiency. They only dropped 
him twice in getting him aboard.
     In keeping with their reputation, the trip to the hospital 
was extremely quick. All 17 miles were covered in two hours. The 
drivers took only 30 minutes for lunch, and thoughtfully passed 
up their noon appointment at the local massage parlor.
     The hospital personnel, too, were on their toes. The head 
nurse set aside her movie magazine with hardly a grumble and 
politely asked the driver only the most essential questions for 
admittance.
     "Got any money?" she asked.
     "Uhhhhh," groaned the pilot.
     "You'll have to speak up, sir. (God, what a mess he's making 
on our nice, clean floor.) Now - insurance?"
     The pilot answered by allowing his right hand to fall off.
     "Name? And billing address?"
     Silence.
     "Sir, you'll have to cooperate if you want us to operate." 
She broke into hysterical laughter at her joke. The pilot failed 
to see the humor of it, and said so by aiming a spurt from a torn 
artery. She agreed that it wasn't all that funny after all, as 
she wiped the stickiness from her face. She turned to her 
assistant and said, "Get this man to an operating room immed
iately!" (He's making a bloody mess in the lobby. Too many sick 
people around will give us a bad name.)
     Just then another miracle occurred. A doctor was actually on 
duty. Grudgingly, he set aside the fourth floor candy striper and 
consented to save the life of this poor man (with the rich 
insurance company). "After all," he reasoned, "I took the 
Hypocritical Oath. And besides, I could use another Mercedes."
     So, only 18 hours after the crash (the doctor decided that 
the candy striper should wish him luck - in private), the pilot 
found himself staring into the bright operating lights.
     "Scalpel," demanded the doctor. "Sponge. Suture. Clamp. 
Kleenex," he requested, blowing his nose soundly.
     This was the doctor's big chance. For year's he'd been 
watching reruns on television. He was almost an addict. (He'd 
served his internship on "General Hospital.") And, if a cowboy 
like Lee Majors could be put back together, then so could this 
schmuck.
     Piece by piece he mended the broken body of the driver. 
Using a delightful shade of Coates & Coates he sewed the fingers 
back in place, and the hands back on the wrists. He cursed softly 
when he realized that he'd sewn the left hand on the right arm, 
and vice versa. After toying with his personal asthetics, he 
decided that the left hand should go on the left arm after all.
     An old episode of Star Trek came to mind as he carefully 
soldered the nerve endings together. (He made a mental note that 
50/50 acid core solder didn't work very well on nerve endings, 
and determined to get resin core next time.)
     Six hours, two coffee breaks, a half hour off to watch his 
favorite soapy, and one candy striper break later, the pilot was 
resting safely in the ward in an anesthetic coma. He finally 
opened his eyes, and through the blur wondered why his right hand 
had two pinky fingers while his left had two thumbs. But, happy 
just to be alive (more or less), he decided to let the matter 
pass. Might be a good conversation piece, anyway.
 
     The nurse entered. "How are you feeling?" she asked sweetly 
while checking his wallet and pockets for spare change.
     "Not bad, considering," he answered. There was a strange 
nasal quality to his voice. He noticed that the nurse was staring 
open-mouthed at him. "What's wrong?" he asked.
     "You're talking with your nose!" she stammered. "Your mouth 
isn't moving, just your nostrils." She moved quickly to the door 
to locate the doctor.
     "Uh, would you mind turning off the light before you leave?" 
he asked. "It's a bit noisy."
     After a thorough examination, the doctor ascertained what 
the problem was. ("Damn," he thought, "I gotta lay off the 
belladonna when I'm operating.") Somehow he'd soldered the nerve 
endings in the wrong places. Terrible as the situation was, it 
WAS kinda funny, and he found it difficult to keep from laughing 
whenever his patient talked.
     The Chief Surgeon of the hospital didn't find it quite so 
humorous and demanded an explanation (before he had the doctor 
shot). 
     "Well," giggled the doctor, "Nurse Barkley was tickling me. 
I guess I must've wired him up all wrong. I connected the mouth 
nerves to his nose, and the ear nerves to his eyes. He can still 
see with his eyes, but he also hears with them. Must be confusing 
for him, especially when he blinks. It's sort of embarrassing. 
Nurse Smith got quite a shock when she touched his toe. We're 
still trying to get the toe to lie down flat again."
     "You idiot!" exclaimed the Chief (supressing his own 
laughter). "This could give the hospital a bad name. Worse, it 
could give ME a bad name. You'll just have to operate again. (And 
I left Jessie for this?) We'll have to give the patient a 10% 
discount, too, damn it all. After all it IS our fault.
     "Now, get to it, doctor. And send Nurse Barkely to me. 
(Tickling, huh? Hmmmm. Should be an interesting chewing out. If I 
threaten to fire her, she'll be willing to . . .)."
     The operating room was made ready again, washed down quite 
thoroughly with Ajax and Lysol. ("You're sure he's not Italian," 
asked a nurse holding a bottle of Dawn.) The steel operating 
table and surgical instruments were placed in the deep freeze to 
make them the right temperature.
     The pilot was interrupted from his lunch, where he was 
attempting to shove a cheese sandwich through his nose, and was 
wheeled into the operating room. A nurse brought in a large 
rubber mallet and clipped the pilot on the head. ("Gotta cut 
costs, y'know," she explained. "After all, you're getting a 10% 
discount.") The doctor came in with a candy striper clinging to 
his leg.
     Through the fog of the mallet anesthetic, the pilot heard 
her screaming something about an interesting bulge around her 
belly. He saw the doctor hand her a technical instrument that 
looked very much like a straightened coat hanger, and, just as 
the doctor was explaining the medical significance of the 
instrument, the nurse clouted the pilot once more, for good 
measure, and the room went black.
     When he opened his eyes again, the light was no longer 
noisy. However, it did have a peculiar odor. "Am I okay?" he 
asked through his ear. He found that all sound in the room ceased 
whenever he closed his mouth. Gently he tilted his head back, 
aiming his nostrils at the doctor so that he could see better. 
The doctor was clutching the side of the bed in a fit of 
laughter.
     "Oh, shit!," he guffawed. "Here we go again."

  
 
                         UNTIL NEXT TIME
 
     I hope you enjoyed the story. It has some references that 
perhaps belong in a game of Trivial Pursuit - but that adds to 
the fun of it. (Try to find them.)
      
     Next week?
     I'm not sure. To be honest with you, this issue was prepared 
ahead of time - for a situation where I'm under a deadline crunch 
and just don't have time to put together a new issue. (Try taking 
care of all your other responsibilities and putting out an 
additional 3000 odd words per week, and you'll see what I mean.)
     So, next week?
     I guess you'll just have to come by then and find out.

Zephyr Magazine is © Gene Williams. All rights reserved.