Angel of Misplaced Mercy


Doreen’s friend Kate called her a jerk who wore her bleeding heart right under the hospital volunteers’ badge.  What did it matter, Doreen thought.  First, she was helping others less fortunate, and second, it made her feel good to bring a smile to some patient’s face.  The terminal cases and those ready to cash out were most in need of a caring soul.

Like a dog.  The hospital she visited once a week for two hours had a dog.  Dogs revived patients’ interest in life, if only for the duration of their visit.  Doreen was prettier than a dog — at least as fetching as a Labrador with her long, silky hair.  Kate called her a sexual provocateur.  “You’re so tall that you’re intimidating, your breasts are too perfect, and you look like a walking baby-making machine.”

“Ha ha,” Doreen said.  “There’s only one baby.  I take care of her by myself as a single mother.  Don’t get on my case.”  Unconsciously, her hand massaged her stomach as though inviting sensation in her torso.

“I’m thinking you’re Florence Nightingale on some weird errand of mercy.  Always taking care of others.”

*  *  *

Any doubt Doreen had about charity disappeared when she looked in on Devin McCarthy with a selection of magazines.  Standing by his bedside in the private room, she asked the noncommittal question, “How’re you doing?” followed by a toothy smile.

The patient looked her up and down.  “Not so good.  Who’re you?”





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