SCENE 18

 

Scene 18 opens to a black screen. Music fades out, as the caption "EIGHTEEN MONTHS LATER" appears. When the music is almost faded to silent we hear, loudly, the sound of a beeper going off. The screen is illuminated by the light of the beeper display from Richard's perspective, on his scrub-bottom waist, revealing a time of 04:15. The pager backlight goes out, black screen again. Richard takes some deep breaths and moans as he just went to bed 90 minutes ago.

 

Cut to outside call room door. Door opens, Richard emerges and recoils from the light. He is wearing scrubs, a stethoscope, and a white coat stuffed with shit. He looks completely asleep, with sheet marks all over his face. Squinting as his pupils adjust, he lumbers down the hall, yawning.

 

Cut to the inside of a patient room. Richard opens the door and walks into the dimly lit room, fighting to keep his eyes open, and losing the fight.

 

CLL patient

obviously awake and alert, speaking with a  Mexican accent

Doctor?

 

Richard

asleep, pulls out a notecard

I'm not a doctor. How do you feel this morning?

 

Cll patient

desperate, breathing heavily

Doctor am I going to live?

 

Richard looks at the patient for a moment, and then, assuming he's still in semi-dream state and hearing things, blinks hard a few times, as if shaking away an hallucination. He takes a step closer to the patient and is now at the bedside, holding his notecard in one hand and his pen in the other, ready to write down the patient's complaints.

 

Richard

How do you feel this morning, sir?

 

The patient grabs Richard's arm and pulls him closer, clings to him and looks up at him with a wide-eyed despair, as though Richard were about to execute him and he is begging for mercy.

 

Cll patient

dramatic

Doctor I have a wife and four young children. Am I going to make it through this?

 

Cut to close-up of Richard's face. Now he's got to wake up. He looks at his patient for a few seconds and blinks, having not a clue as to how to respond to this distressed man. We hear Richard's thoughts as we focus on his expressionless, motionless face.

 

Richard'S thoughts

Am I going to make it through this.     Is he going to live?     OK. What disease does he have.

Richard squints at his notecard, can't read it, looks back at patient

 

Pause as Richard contemplates this question without any expression.

 

Richard's thoughts

Who is this guy?

 

Richard squints again at his notecard without success.

 

Richard

Sir, how do you pronounce your last name?

 

CLL patient

still clutching our hero, enunciates

Jones.

 

Richard's thoughts

Mr. Jones...Mr. Jones...what does he have? Fuck.

 

Richard

One moment Mr. Jones.

 

Richard tries to get away from Mr. Jones, but Mr. Jones won't let go. On his second, more forceful attempt, Richard breaks free and walks outside. A nurse is right outside, writing on the vital signs log.

 

Richard

softly

Why is Mr. Jones in the hospital?

 

Nurse

New diagnosis chronic lymphocytic leukemia.

 

Richard inhales and exhales slowly, trying recall any knowledge of this disease.

 

Richard

Thanks.

 

Richard starts back inside the room, and stops, turns around.

 

Richard

Did you just take vital signs?

 

Nurse

still writing on the clipboard

No.

 

Richard

But you're writing on the vital signs chart.

 

Nurse

The vital signs never change.

 

Richard walks back in.

 

Richard's thoughts

CLL...god damn I don't remember anything about this disease.

 

He approaches the patient, who is now crying.

 

CLL patient

Doctor, what's going to come of me?

 

Richard looks sternly at the patient and presses his lips together, frustrated. He takes a breath before replying.

 

Richard

measured

I don't know.

 

The patient starts to sob uncontrollably while speaking to god in spanish.

 

Richard

Wait! Listen. I'm sure we have really good treatments for your disease. Don't worry. Everything's going to be fine.

 

Patient quiets down, and a hopeful smile comes across his face.

 

CLL patient

Really?

 

He wipes away his tears.

 

Thank you doctor.

 

Richard

smiles warmly

Sure. How do you feel this morning?

 

Cut to black.