Short story contest winner: The Mad Man


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Jesse Byrne, Contributing writer

Dr. Marvin stepped into the room. The patient sat patiently waiting.

“We can do the operation on the 14th, which is in fact tomorrow. I’m glad to say your life is going to be saved, Ms. Smith.”

Ms. Smith let out a sigh of relief. “Oh, thank you, doctor. That is the best news I’ve heard all year! I will see you then, and once again: thank you.”

“You’re very welcome, ma’am. I’ll be seeing you tomorrow.” Marvin stepped out of the room and returned to his office to complete some paperwork.

Later that night, Dr. Marvin got a call. It was Ms. Smith.

“Hello, is this Dr. Marvin?” Ms. Smith asked.

“Yes, it is. How are you this evening?” Marvin asked.

“I’m not doing well. Sorry.” Ms. Smith stopped talking; there were some shuffling noises in the background of the call.

“Oh, well, what’s wrong?” Dr. Marvin anxiously asked, worried about his patient.

“Well, I…” Ms. Smith chocked up before continuing moments later: “I um… I missed a couple of payments for my health insurance and for some reason, they changed my plan.”

Dr. Marvin was shocked. He had never heard of anything like this happening to anyone before. Something else had to be going on, but he was too shocked to ask. Thoughts spun around his head: to hear about how someone’s life could have been thrown away so easily baffled him, and he knew he had to do something.

“Ms. Smith, I’m going to see what I can do to help save your life,” the doctor said.

“Thank you, sir.” Ms. Smith was crying when Dr. Marvin hung up the phone; he left his office and walked to the operating wing. Dr. Marvin looked through every storage container he could, searching for the right item to get the job done.  Eventually, he found it. It glistened in the light of the dim-lit storage room; it was cold to the touch, and its handle fit perfectly in his hand. Dr. Marvin knew exactly what he needed to do with this object. The next day Dr. Marvin called Ms. Smith.

“Ms. Smith, I have great news for you. We can do the operation at no charge to you,” Dr. Marvin explained.

“Oh my God that’s wonderful! I’ll be right over!” Ms. Smith quickly hung up the phone. When she got to the hospital, Dr. Marvin greeted her at the door.

She walked in. “Follow me Ms. Smith. It was hard to pull the strings for this, so you’ll have to excuse the state the room is in. It’s perfectly functional; there’s just a little bit of a mess.”

Ms. Smith didn’t care. Before she got to the hospital, she thought that she wouldn’t even get this surgery to replace her heart, which was diagnosed to stop beating in 45 days. She walked into the room, and the surgery started. When she woke up, she looked around. She didn’t see Dr. Marvin anywhere.

“Where’s Dr. Marvin?” she asked confused and dazed from the anesthesia.

A nurse responded: “He’s been arrested. He saved your life but at the cost of another. He was a mad man.”