Thursday, May 7, 2009
The Sisters Darla and Evelyn. Safe from the World
Darla and Evelyn Fartle are sisters and hypochondriacs. To some hypochondria is a mental condition. To them, it is a religion. A headache is the messenger of a stroke. A sneeze means phenomena. A cough is cancer’s calling card. They live together in a two bedroom flat at 34A Glenwood Close in Cloverdale.
The sister’s weekly routine includes a visit to Dr. Larson. The gentle doctor listens to their list of symptoms, takes their blood pressure, looks in their throats and prescribes the next week’s supply of placebo sugar tablets.
Last week the sisters panicked when they heard the Swine Flu had sickened citizens Dibley in the Downs, the small village down the road from Cloverdale. Both sisters got onto the internet and researched the symptoms of swine flu. Both felt a faint soreness in the throat. Both felt a few muscle aches and Evelyn was sure her temperature was up a tenth of a degree. The called to schedule a doctor's appointment for the following day. That night Darla heard their neighbor, 72 year old Lucy May, coughing through the thin wall separating their flats. The coughing continued for several minutes. Lucy had been eating one of her delicious liver dumplings while watching on old rerun of Green Acres. She laughed at the wrong time and started choking. Darla called for Evelyn to come have a listen. Panic set in as they listened with ears up to the wall as she struggled to breath .
“If that isn’t death's cough then what is it?” Darla asked.
“You’re right sister. I’m thinking she'll be dead by morning.” Evelyn said while straining to hear more to be sure her diagnoses was correct. Both ladies, convinced it was the flu, moved from the wall and into Evelyn’s room. They debated going next door to check on her but ended up writing a poster warning everyone to stay away because of the Swine Flu and taped it to Lucy's front door. Lucy found the poster the following morning when she opened the door to let her cat out.
She left it on the door thinking the poster's proper owner would come looking for it.
Darla and Lucy drove straight to Dr. Larson’s office the next morning and demanded prescriptions for the Tamiflu they had seen on television. Dr. Larson told them he had something better and started writing a prescription for another placebo. The sisters refused the prescription and again insisted on Tamiflu. When Dr. Larson refused a second time they commandeered the leather couch in the waiting room and refused to leave the office until their demand for medication was satisfied.
Dr. Larson thought for a long time, and being a clever doctor and around handy man, he came up with a solution to keep the sisters off his leather couch and out of his office for the foreseeable future. He called his nurse and gave her a shopping list of things to pick up from Gibbons Hardware Store.
It took his entire lunch time to create his two UN approved bio hazard suits. Both he and his nurse admired his cleverness. The nurse called the sisters into the conference room and taught them how to wear the Swine Flu Protective Coverings approved by the United Nations Department of Biological Weapons. It took all her concentration to keep from laughing during the dressing. When finished, she had the sisters sign a release form the doctor wrote in his office while they were getting outfitted. The form said that because the sisters received special treatment, not offered to anyone else in the community, they had to promise not to be seen in public wearing their protective gear. The sisters understood and were very appreciative of the doctor’s efforts.
The Fartle sisters are now locked safely in their flat, only removing their protective suits for eating and bathing. Lucy is still waiting for the owner of the swine flu poster to come take it from her door. She also wondered why her meals on wheels didn't arrive that afternoon. Life continues in our Confederacy of Dunces.