Dan Quinn, the animal doctor, stood behind his examination table, his arms folded, his eyes flinty and determined. His stern expression remained as a man walked in carrying a basket. In it was a towel wrapped around a large bird.
“Hello, Mr. Blank.”
The man nodded.
“Dr. Quinn. Your secretary said I could come in a minute ago, then asked if I could wait a few seconds. Is everything okay?”
“Oh, yeah. False starts are a part of the game here at Quinn Clinic, and Secretary Mack has done it a lot lately. Probably need to fix that”
“Where’s Secretary Beasley?”
“He’s pretty much always a step late in getting here. I’m going to work with him, though.”
“I see. This is Norb, my pet falcon. He seems under the weather. Dr. Shanahan used to take care of him, but since he no longer works for you, can you take a look at him?”
“Of course, Mr. Blank.”
Mr. Blank set down the basket, giving the doctor a good look at the bird..
“I’m not sure what’s wrong, Dr. Quinn. He seems healthy, all of his parts are working. He just seems out of sync. Been this way for about two years. But lately, he seems to have taken a turn for the worse.”
Dr. Quinn stroked the bird’s head. The falcon seemed listless, confused.
“A fine example of the species. Fast and physical.”
A slight smile appeared on the doctor’s face, then disappeared as he resumed his impassive pose and expression. He looked Mr. Blank in the eye.
“This bird has more talent than he is showing today. We know what we need to do. We need to fix it.”
His gaze remained as the two men stared at each other for what seemed an eternity. Finally, Mr. Blank broke the uncomfortable silence.
“So what are you going to do?”
“My staff and I are going to look within ourselves. This is where we see what we’re made of.”
There was no change in either his posture or his expression.
“How, Dr. Quinn?”
“By being honest with ourselves. By doing it for each other, for the brotherhood.”
Mr. Blank seemed confused, but relieved.
“Okay. If you can, I have faith in you.”
“We have to get back to basics, to what we’re all about.”
“So you can help my bird.”
“It’s all about doing what needs to be done, about working hard and digging deep.”
“Yes or no?”
“I think so. I believe in myself.”
Mr. Blank felt a twinge of hope.
“Shouldn’t you look at him? Should I take him out of the tow….”
Mr. Blank was startled by Dan Quinn’s sudden urgency.
For the first time, the doctor seemed agitated.
“We need to keep him feeling warm and secure. If we remove the towel, if we uncover him, we’ll have to cover him afterward, and I don’t think I can do that.”
Mr. Blank was profoundly confused.
“O-okay, then. What about Nurse Trufant?”
“Oh, no. Not anymore, anyway. Nurse Trufant can’t cover a bird like that. A pheasant, maybe, or a chicken. But he needs help to cover such a fine specimen.”
“What about Nurse Campbell?”
“I’m afraid all Nurse Campbell is good for these days is running around in circles. A pity, really. I mean, he still looks good doing it, you know. but he can’t really do anything. I’ve tried to make him comfortable, but he just…can’t…ah, well, you have to appreciate his style. I think he still brings a lot to the team.”
The bird suddenly squawked, as if in pain.
“Dr. Quinn, you have to do something!”
“BRING ME THE TUGGLE SERUM!”
After yelling so loudly, Dr. Quinn returned to his calm demeanor and stoic expression. He looked Mr. Blank in the eye.
“This bird appears to be suffering from acute Hampton’s Syndrome, a malady common with falcons indigenous to Atlanta. We just need to get the serum in him, and he’ll be fine. I have one bottle left in the back.”
The door behind the doctor flew open. A figure rushed into the room, carrying the bottle. His quick gait suddenly stopped as he ran into a chair and fell over. As he sagged to the floor, he tried to hand Dr. Quinn the bottle, but it fell out of his hands. The bottle dropped to the tile floor, smashing to pieces and dashing any hope for the falcon’s recovery. The falcon, seemingly aware of his predicament, took a last gasp and expired.
Dr. Quinn’s expression did not change as the fallen man got up. The two men exchanged high-fives.
“Wow. Tough luck. Get ’em next time.”
“YOU’VE KILLED MY BIRD!”
“We tried. Oh, wow, how rude of me. Mr. Blank, Nurse Freeman. Nurse Freeman, Mr. Blank.”