tagLoving WivesA Clean Well Lighted Place

A Clean Well Lighted Place

bydtiverson©

A few months back I wrote a piece called "A Man of the World". It sank without a trace. But, quelle-surprise!! I started getting emails asking me to continue the story of one of its minor female characters. I didn't have a clue about how to do that; until a guy who has given me some great story ideas in the past, told me about his nephew, a former Ranger. The real story was one of those overdone, "nurse runs off with doctor" tales. But my buddy suggested a truly clever plot twist; which allowed me to satisfy both requests. So Rick at rkv330, this one's for you and thanks. - DT

*****

A CLEAN WELL LIGHTED PLACE

"Rangers Lead the Way," we won that motto on bloody Omaha Beach and that is the phrase that describes us best. I'd been with the Rakkasans prior to Ranger School. But, when I got out I was offered a post with the 75th Ranger Regiment, which putatively traces its lineage back to Rogers' Rangers, of French and Indian fame. THEN, I spent an intense period of "quality" time in Paktia Province; working with the locals on both sides of the Afghan border. Pashtuns are a tough and merciless lot, which might explain why Afghanistan has been a speed-bump for every Western nation from the Macedonians, to the British, to the Russians, to us.

Most guys stay for the full twenty, when they get their Ranger flash. But my mind was changed by one incident. It was a moonless night and we were manning a checkpoint on the Kabul-Gardez road. They don't use Ranger units for mundane things. But G2 had gotten the word that there was going to be a suicide bombing at the University in Gardez, and our squad was the only force available.

The darkness is absolute in the valleys of the Hindu Kush and you can get the impression that you're the last people on earth; sitting on a desolate stretch of road in that ancient and unforgiving land. Around midnight, we heard the grinding of something big approaching our position. So we turned on our tac-lights; just to warn whoever it was to stop. What we illuminated was a big cement truck and It was headed for us at a high rate of speed.

We flashed our tac-lights, nothing happened. We flashed them again, still no slowing down. At that point the vehicle was no more than 100 yards away. Everybody was aware that the mixer could be full of enough Semtex, or C-4, to blow us ALL to kingdom-come; and it wasn't stopping. So the Top told us to light it up. I emptied the 30-round box magazine of my SAW and I think I was the squad member who showed the MOST restraint. The juggernaut careening toward us was THAT intimidating.

The truck eventually drifted to a halt. The first brave soul to inspect it found no explosives, just cement. The problem was that there was one older guy and two kids. The 13-year-old was the one who had been driving. The older guy looked like he was sleeping in the back seat. We had no way of asking the 13-year-old why he didn't stop. That was because he, his dad, and his brother were ALL emphatically dead. We didn't suffer any consequences. We had done everything by the book. But I still couldn't lose the image of those two little boys and that bloody cab. So, I opted out at the end of my hitch. I had had enough of killing. Now I wanted to help people.

I decided that the best way to achieve that purpose was through some kind of medical field. I knew that, at age 31 I was too old to go the traditional medical school route. Moreover, I didn't have the academic background. But the Physician's Assistant program looked like something I could handle. I was nervous when I went down to interview. I had a leg up on admission because of my veteran status. But I had gotten one of those on-line bachelor's degrees. It was in biology, not nursing, or anything medical. Nonetheless, six years as a combat medic made me spectacularly well-qualified in their eyes.

Once you are in a Ranger unit, you are a grunt; until somebody tells you otherwise. So I never fell under the Article 25 definition. But, I had done the 18-week medical training course at Fort Sam Houston and that MOS was what I did for our Unit. Accordingly, that autumn found me attending classes at the UW School of Medicine and Public Health, right between the two lakes off Delaplaine Court. That was my first exposure to the medical establishment.

Medicine has its fiery hoops, just like the military, and I quickly learned my place in the great scheme of things. The members of the medical faculty were at the top of the food chain. They would normally walk to work right across the water of Lake Mendota. Then there were the medical students. Oddly enough their shit didn't stink. The hospital administration and public health people thought all of the docs were incompetent, especially when it came to the essence of delivering quality medical care; paper work. Then there were the nurses and the PA students. We were too numerous and unimportant to be noticed by the great and good.

The student body itself was a revelation, especially to a guy with my background. I had enlisted at 18 and almost half my life was spent in the rigid discipline of the military. So my peers were hard to relate to. That was mainly because they were younger than I was and had never had to face the things that I had to face. You grow up fast in the Army. They push personal responsibility from the first day of Boot Camp and there is nothing like daily foot patrols through places like Kandahar, or Gardez to teach you about your own mortality. My fellow students never had that experience. So they all seemed juvenile, especially with the constant pussy-hunts and partying.

Physician's assistants do primary care; diagnosis and treatment, in out of the way places. Of course it is under the godlike eye of a REAL doctor, as many of the docs liked to point out. So, I was serving a post-grad family-medicine preceptorship, in a little clinic southeast of Eau-Clair. The place was not exactly Chicago, or for that matter, even Eau Claire. It was a small town of 1,500 souls, near the Wisconsin Dells. It was wonderful, in a place-that-time-forgot kind of way; gentle and peaceful and it was beginning to make the nightmares go away. I had seen far too much death in my previous life and I was beginning to understand where I belonged.

Small Wisconsin towns are in the middle of nowhere. So, from a family medicine standpoint I was the only game in town. I was already licensed. I had passed the PANCE when I graduated, and I could write prescriptions. But I still had to be "under orders" of a licensed physician. My supervising doc was the local family practitioner. Doctor Morton more-or-less left the patient care up to me. He would just appear once in a while to show the flag. He had lived in the village his entire life, with the exception of his time at UW Medical school, and he looked and acted like a refugee from a 1930s dustbowl movie.

He was a nice old guy who had faithfully served his community for over fifty years. I think he saw me as a son, since he was always kind to me and helpful. The office itself was in a building on the main drag. It was small, basically a receptionist, me and a nurse.

The nurses would rotate up from Madison for clinical assignments. They were mainly 22-23-year-old BSNs, either fresh out, or finishing up. The town was not the kind of place anybody would go to for fun. So my BSNs tended to gravitate toward Eau Claire for evenings out. The fact that the girls were going to Eau Claire for the nightlife ought to give you some idea how exciting and vibrant our little town was.

I was nearly 34 at that point and my only aim was to settle down. The problem was that I really didn't have anyone to settle down WITH, not that the locals didn't try. I was their version of the town doctor and there were plenty of unattached women who had made their interest clear. Even so, I had been with every type of female in my Army career; from the cotillions at Fort Bragg to the whore houses of Kabul. So, the women in that place didn't have what it took to interest a guy as jaded as me.

That changed one spring morning. Wisconsin is the pits in the winter. The snow is knee deep, the colors are black and white and the air is so cold that it freezes your nose-hairs. Then the weather breaks, the sun comes out, it gets warm, green leaves appear and it is May. I had been informed that UW Family Medicine was sending up a new Nurse Practitioner, who had actually REQUESTED the placement. That was astounding in-and-of itself, since most of the nurses they sent thought that they were being punished. I called the Doc and he and I were waiting behind the counter to interview the new girl.

As we waited, the door opened and a woman walked in. She was absolutely breathtaking. She was a Swedish blond, long, extra-thick almost white-blond hair framing a perfect oval face. She looked like she had just stepped off the cover of one of those sporting magazines; about five-six, slim and obviously fit, with long beautiful well-muscled legs in a modest business length skirt. She was perhaps 29 years old.

I should have been delighted by her unexpected arrival. However, in point of fact, I was a little irritated. This was a woman who any man would want to get to know better. But instead, I had to interview a painfully sincere nursing student. That illustrated the kind of timing I had been experiencing lately. When I saw a woman who struck my fancy I was either doing something else, or she was in the process of doing something discouraging, like walking down the street with her husband and kids.

I said curtly, "Please sit down Miss. We'll get to you as soon as we can." She said, "Dr. Morton." The Doc said, "Yes." She looked a little puzzled and said to me, "Who are you?" I snapped perhaps a little too abruptly, "I'm his PA! How can we help you?" She said just as snappishly, "My name is Eve Pederson and I was supposed to interview with Dr. Morton for his Clinical Nurse Practitioner opening."

Holy crap!! THIS stunning woman was the person we were waiting for!! Needless to say I started backpedaling. I said, trying to keep the flustered out of my voice, "I'm sorry Ms. Pederson, we were expecting somebody much younger." OH MY GOD!! I am such a tool!!??? She smiled at my embarrassment. She knew the effect that she had on men.

She said, "Well, I got my BSN on a Navy ROTC Scholarship. So I served the four-year active duty commitment with the Marines." She added, "I was in the Reserves when I did the Nurse Practitioner Master's in Chicago and that took me a while." Great!! She was a Squid, an officer, and maybe better qualified than I was.

Doc stepped in at that point. He had been sitting there watching me twist in the wind, a look of amused indulgence on his face. He said, "We were expecting a fourth year BSN student Eve. Not somebody who is as well-qualified as you are. What would make you want to apply for a position like this?" She turned a radiant smile on my kindly old friend and said, "I was born and raised on Buckman Street Doc. You don't remember me? I was a skinny little girl back then. But my mom still owns the Hot Spot Café."

The Doc looked gobsmacked and said, "Your Doris's little girl?!!" She grinned even wider and said, "In the flesh!!" It was rather spectacular flesh. She walked around the corner and gave the old man a hug, studiously avoiding ME. Okay!!, I HAD been a total asshole. She said, "I've been in a lot of places with the Marines. Some of them were pretty miserable. I had a wonderful childhood and I want to come home now - for good."

It would take me too long to enumerate all of the thoughts that were going through my head. A beautiful, well-educated and worldly woman wanted to work in a place where I was beginning to put down roots. She had approximately the same service background as I had; some of it obviously deployed. She had excellent medical credentials. Better yet, there was no way that we could avoid being around each other for a significant part of every day.

The interview was short, basically a background check. We would take anybody Madison sent. But it is polite to at least LOOK like you are being selective. All the time that she was talking, Eve was sitting primly, knees together and speaking with the disciplined voice of a Navy Lieutenant. Of course her voice was low, mellow and incredibly sensual.

I had a thought; but I knew that I couldn't voice it without getting in trouble with the EEOC, "Is she married?" I realized that my immediate interest in her marital state makes me sound like a horn-dog. But Eve Pederson was just THAT attractive. I knew that I COULD ask her about her service record, which might give me a clue about her marital status. I found out that she had done a tour at Balad in Iraq and two at Craig, at Bagram, which was during the time I was down south. So she understood.

It didn't take more than ten seconds to decide that she fit our needs, since she was probably better qualified to practice medicine in some place like Chicago, rather than up here. Doc said, "Where are you planning to live Eve." She brightened and said, "With Mom, she has way too much room since Dad died." Doc said, "Yes I remember, that was last year wasn't it? We were all very sorry. He was a good man." Then he added conversationally, "So what would EVER make you want to come back here? It is kind-of slow moving for a woman with your background?" He didn't add, "And your beauty." Nonetheless, I THOUGHT it.

She looked sad and said, "I got married to an absolutely horrible man, right after I got out of the Navy. I have no idea why I did it, except he pursued me so aggressively. I should have been stronger, but he was SO insistent and eventually I gave in." She seemed embarrassed as she added, "I tried, I really did. But one terrible night in Barcelona I finally accepted that he didn't love me. I was just his possession. How I found that out is far too personal to describe. But it gave me the courage to divorce him."

She got misty eyed as she said, "I was empty and apathetic after the divorce, just drifting. Then I came back here for Pop's funeral and I felt like I fit-in. This simple place was where my life was the happiest and it is the place where I want to be now - forever. So I'm looking forward to starting all over again, and this time I won't be leaving." Of course my selfish personal reaction was, "She's available!!"

Thus began our life together; delivering family medicine to the people of Eau Claire County. I was the top of the chain of command; since Doc Morton had more-or-less turned over every aspect of the business to me. He was still kindly and supportive. But he was also getting up in his seventies. It was really pretty idyllic. We were doing the normal primary care, basic diagnosis and treatment and referrals to Madison, if there was something we couldn't diagnose, or we encountered anything serious.

Eve did the intake and in most cases anything involving the women in the area. I took care of everything else, kids, families and the occasional stray female patient. My life was very fulfilling. I was a pillar of the community, liked and respected by everybody in town, and I was working side-by-side with a woman who was both beautiful and a superb friend and companion.

Our start might have been a whole-lot awkward. But by the end of the first month we were as comfortable as a man and a woman could be with each other. That was mainly because it was just the two of us in the Office and THAT was for eight to ten hours a day. But it was also due to the influence of Eve's mother Doris.

I knew Doris from the diner. She was one of those force of nature personalities that you only find in a small town. I lived almost next door to her diner. So I would get breakfast there every morning. It maintained my connection with the community. But it also kept my finger on its pulse, so-to-speak.

The diner was ground zero for all of the happenings in the area. Consequently, Doris's was the place to go if you wanted to know what was going on. Her diner had been the center of town life for at least thirty years; she knew everybody and everybody knew her. She clearly loved her daughter and she seemed to have taken a proprietary interest in me; like a surrogate mom.

I lived in a little bungalow. It was a bachelor life, just me and my dog Buster. I got Buster from the Madison pound. He's big and ugly and unconditionally loyal and loving. Somebody who still suffers from hyper-awareness and other PTSD symptoms needs the calming influence of a dog.

So Buster would faithfully sit next to the reception desk, just to make it clear who loved me. A big slobbery mutt doesn't belong in a medical office. But nobody would rat Buster out; and in many respects he was as well-known in the County as I was.

Anybody who has spent any time in the Rangers can fend for himself. But Eve's mother Doris seemed to think that I would starve to death on my own. So every Sunday Buster and I would be invited to the Pederson house for the same kind of spread that I experienced growing up in a German family. The Pederson's house was one of those classic two and a half story stone Colonials, which you see all over Wisconsin. It was big and solid, light and airy and it smelled like Thanksgiving every time I visited.

Buster and I would never miss a Sunday; both of us for the same reason, the food!! Doris owned a diner, so she was a great cook. But Eve was a top notch clinician, not a chef, so the question was, "Why was EVE such a good cook?" In actuality, Eve could whip up a meal that could feed entire infantry brigades and her cooking might have been slightly better than her mom's.

I was sitting in their living room one Sunday evening; after Eve had stuffed me with something that tasted like it had come out of the kitchens of Louis Quatorze. Eve was doing the cooking because Doris had to work the evening shift at the diner. So we were all alone. Buster was leaning against my leg like all big dogs do when they are expressing affection. Eve was buzzing around in a "cute" Momma Brady apron; which was like something out of the 1950s. That was an absurd sight since it was the exact polar opposite of who Eve was, and how she looked in her normal scrubs.

She came over and sat in the chair opposite and said, "Could I ask you a personal question?" I laughed and said, "After feeding me like that, you can ask me for my entire life history including all of the dirty little secrets." She said, "Are you gay?" I said, "Excuuuuse me!!??" She said, "I was thinking about why you've never made a pass. Is it because you bat for the other team? I just wanted to know."

She was serious!!

I said, "I have never made a pass at you because you are a colleague, we work together. She said, "What does THAT have to do with it? Every man I have ever worked with has tried something with me." That shot an unreasoning pang of jealousy through me, but I sucked it up and said calmly, "It isn't that I don't find you attractive. You are stunning. But I want to work with you for my ENTIRE career; that is, if I have anything to say about it, and I would hate to ruin THAT for a fling."

I added, "I have infinite respect for you. You are a superb nurse and it would just seem disrespectful for me to try-it-on with you, while we were also taking care of the good people of this County." She said, "Okay, I get that. But we are alone here on a Sunday. If you did that NOW, it would be a sign that you found me attractive, that you actually wanted me." Then she hesitated and said in a whisper, "As much as I want you."

So there it was; finally, out in the open. I suppose it was inevitable. We were two healthy young adults. We had worked together as closely as two people can for almost a year. During that time, I never missed the chance to leer at her firm, round, bottom, her sweet taut hips, her tiny waist and her superb little boobs. I suppose she had done the same thing with me. We operated as a close-knit team and we had come to anticipate each other's thinking; so much so that it was like we were an old married couple. The people of Eau Claire County depended on us and the sense of accomplishment and esteem kept us in a contented glow of comradeship; which was indeed fertile soil for the seed of love to grow in.

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bydtiverson© 75 comments/ 124263 views/ 118 favorites

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