“Well, Ethan, you’re a bit of a medical mystery. We’re really confused as to what is happening with you. For some reason we can’t explain, there’s no sign of any disease whatsoever. There are no HIV antibodies in your bloodstream. For all intents and purposes, you’re completely, one-hundred percent healthy.”
Ethan looked at the doctor in shock. With an incredulous expression on his face, he said to the doctor, “Can you repeat that?”
“To put it simply, there’s not a thing wrong with you.”
Ethan was basically in shock as he tried to understand the significance of his words. “Can you repeat that?”
“You’re HIV negative.”
“Are you saying I don’t have HIV anymore? How is that possible?”
“That’s exactly what I’m saying. We have no idea how this has happened. Your microcellular scan revealed a couple of previously unknown protein markers. We have no idea what their made up of nor where they came from. How do you feel about going home?”
A hopeful look crossed Ethan’s face. “For real? Seriously?”
“Yes. I see no reason why you need to stay. If we need more blood samples, we’ll contact you. I’ve already written out the discharge orders and the nurse will be her shortly to give you your copy of the orders and make sure you understand the instructions.”
“Give me just five minutes, please.”
“Of course.” The doctor held out his hand, which Ethan shook. “If you need anything, anything at all, please don’t hesitate to call the Life Sciences Center and ask for me. Good luck, Ethan.”
“Thank you for everything, Doctor.”
“You’re welcome.” With that, the doctor left just as the nurse came in with Ethan’s discharge orders.
The doctor found Chris sitting in the waiting room. “Chris is it?”
Chris stood up and extended his hand to the doctor, who stood and shook his hand. “I don’t know how to thank you for saving my brother.”
“I really didn’t have that much to do with it, but you’re welcome. Now, go and get him out of here. I’m sure he’s more than ready to go home.”
A very excited Chris thanked the doctor once again and practically ran to the ward where Ethan was waiting for him. Pulling him into a fierce embrace, he said with tears in his eyes, “I can’t believe what’s happened. I can’t believe you’re perfectly healthy!”
“You can’t believe it. Look at it from my perspective. The death sentence I had hanging over my head is no longer there. No more medications. No more sickness. I can live a normal life,” Ethan cried in Chris’s ear.
Letting him go, Chris said, “So let’s get the hell out of here. What’s the first thing you want to do when you get home?”
“I want to take a walk along the river then when I find just the right spot I want to jump in and take a nice long swim.”
“Are you feeling up to it?”
“More than up to it. I can’t wait. Then I want to go out and get laid. You know the saying ‘Save a horse, ride a cowboy’.”
Chris laughed. “You’re incorrigible.”
Ethan walked into the kitchen and spotted Chris sitting at the table. He cocked his finger at him and said in a mock authoritative voice, “Yo, Evans. Step away from the ice cream. Hello? The lights are on, is anybody home?”
Wordlessly Chris slid the paper over to Ethan and pointed to an obituary that had shocked him into silence.
July 17th. Ethan Evans, a popular resident of Portsmouth died yesterday at County Memorial due to complications stemming from an unanticipated medication interaction. Evans, twenty-six, was well known as an antique furniture restorer. He is survived by his two brothers, Troy and Christopher and a sister, Alicia. Funeral arrangements are being made by Woodlawn Funeral Home.
“What the hell? What is this bullshit? I’ve got to call the newspaper. Oh, shit. What if Troy and Alicia sees this? I’ve got to call them.” He grabbed for his telecommunicator just as it beeped. “Hello? Alicia! Alicia, settle down. It’s me, Ethan. I’m fine, better than fine actually. No, I don’t know what’s going on but I intend to find out. Believe me, I’m okay.
“Actually, for some strange reason that I’m not going to question, I’m HIV-free. No, I’m not kidding. Alicia, let me talk to you later. I have a lot of calls to make. I have to call all of my customers and let them know that I’m still alive and first thing tomorrow morning I have to call the newspaper and get them to print a retraction. Yes, I will. Bye sis.”
The next morning Ethan entered the newspaper office approached the receptionist. “Hi, I’m Ethan Evans. I’d like to speak with whoever handles the obituaries.”
“Let me see if he’s in.” The receptionist dialed an extension. “Gus, this is Sally in the lobby. I have an Ethan Evans here who would like to speak with you.”
“Hang on a sec.” She put the call on hold. “May I see some form of photo ID please?”
I’m glad I came in person. I had a feeling that I was going to have to prove I’m still alive. “Certainly,” he said reassuringly as he showed her his drivers’ license.
“Thank you, Mr. Evans,” she replied smiling. He’s so cute. I’m glad he’s still alive. I see a retraction coming! She picked up the phone again. “He showed me his license. It is Mr. Evans.”
Oh, shit! This is the third time this year we’ve gotten wrong death information from the Life Sciences Center. I need to definitely look into this. God I hope we haven’t caused too many people heartache. Gus was a definite throwback from a time when reporters believed in reporting the absolute truth and didn’t sensationalize the news to sell papers. “I’ll be right down.”
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