Teaser 033: Ditching the Cigarettes


I was put through my paces for a physical, once she and her assistant had recorded all my vitals. The physical wasn't strenuous but it wasn't a walk in the park either. An hour later the doctor and I sat in a room to go over all of it and her recommendations.

Before I would let her start, I asked, “A patient-doctor confidentiality may be waived by the patient, true?”

“True, though it's typically not granted as a blanket waiver, more to certain individuals.”

“I want Serena to hear this.” She rose immediately and called Serena into the room. It was what I expected. My vitals were all good for a man my age, no heart concerns to speak of, my blood pressure was excellent, everything except one area was in good shape. I knew what the “one area” would be. It's why I had a cigarette before I walked into the building and stopped at the building's public rest room to wash my hands and face.

“Your lung capacity is very low, Gregory. It's really at a critical stage and there's only one thing you can do. You have to quit smoking.”

“Yeah, I knew it was coming to this.” I stood and walked over to the waste can, pulled out my pack of cigarettes and threw it in. I turned back to both women and announced, “I'm keeping the lighter. I never know when I'll need an emergency fire.” They both laughed. “I need a prescription, all the help I can get. What are my options?”

She went over them and the most appealing to me was the pill, taken initially four times a day, stepping down from it, usually weekly. “Call me after the first week. I have to ask some questions before I can allow you to step down. It's only routine though.”

“All right.”

“After a month, I'll want to see you again. We'll run some stress and lung tests. If there's the significant improvement I expect,” and she turned to Serena, “it will make a big difference on Gregory's insurance, should he become involved with the movie.”

“That would be great,” Serena said, relieved.

“It can be a lot, can't it?”

“I've seen movies where the insurance on actors and primaries nearly broke the budget.”

“We can't have this from a skinny old man.”

As we walked out of her office into the main lobby, Serena suddenly stopped and I stopped with her. She moved in on me and put her arms around me and hugged me, not bothering to wait for me to hug her back. Her head was turned against my chest. “I'm so proud of you. You stood right up and threw away your cigarettes. It's hard quitting. I had to go through it too.”

“That's what the doctor said.” I waited until she pulled her head away. “It helped I thought you would do this right away, come up and hug me like this.” She smiled. “Now, the next stop is the pharmacy for the prescription. I think I'm gonna need one of those pills pronto.”

She released me and pulled my hand. “Should we run?”

I pulled her back. “No. We can walk. You lead. I'll follow.” We walked to her custom Audi sedan, Ray behind us, her driver at the wheel. I swallowed the first pill twenty minutes later. I hoped it would work. Gum didn't do much.


- Just Desserts, Segment FourDidn’t See That Coming” by Gregory R. Schussele, © 2021

contact me, as always: schussprose@gmail.com