"Night Clinic" is a collection of short stories which tell the unusual events which occur at the free clinic attended by Dr. Barnes and Nurse James. Monsters, magical beasts, villains along with ordinary folks come to the clinic looking for health and hope.
"Night Clinic" is a unique melding of medicine and magic.
Quite a Character
There’s something special, unusual, peculiar, even quirky about “Night Clinic.” It’s the steady stream of character’s which pass through the clinic’s doors. Of course there are the bedrock characters, Dr. Barnes and Nurse James who provide a foundation to steady this place of healing, but their patients are something else completely.
Begin with Evella, Goddess of the Night. She’s a lady who gives the impression she has been beaten down one too many times and now has rebelled against polite society to become a caricature. But, beneath the dyed hair and provocative outfit and sharpened teeth lies a soul unafraid to point out the hypocrisy she sees around her. She rightly perceives Dr. Barnes condescension and does not hesitate to put him in his place. Their initial encounter provides Evella with valuable, life saving medical care, but in the process Dr. Barnes learns a priceless lesson: humility. Their encounter ends with these two souls becoming lifelong friends.
Later on The Raven flies on the scene. What is this bird doing in the clinic anyway? Is it Dr. Barnes’ conscience or his tormentor? This bird doesn’t show up until a later story, but once it appears it just hangs around, watching. Dr. Barnes is not sure if the Raven is a friend, foe or really a manifestation of his inner self.
Medusa, the mythological monster, is one of my favorite characters. She’s not what one would expect from Greek mythology. No snakes, no supreme ugliness threatening to turn onlookers to stone. She is quite the opposite; an immortal beauty who enchants the men around her. One gets the impression she has achieved the highest of highs, known wealth and power beyond measure, yet rejects it all. She is happier to be given a cup of hot tea on a cold night rather than accept all the riches which could be laid at her feet. Or is there more to her? Her story of immortality suggests she has played the role of some of the great beauties of history: Helen of Troy, Bathsheba, Nerfertiti and so many more, famous and anonymous.
And then there is Caleb, the artist. Is he clairvoyant? Inspired? Or, maybe just very observant and perceptive. He creates works of art which touch the souls of those around him, but also reveal the horror which lurks within the soul of humanity. He is the one Dr. Barnes waits on in anticipation, the one who reveals the truth when everyone else hides. Yet, he is also the most mysterious. I reveal nothing of his background or even his current life. He just appears, complaining of a headache, yet leaves behind his own form of healing for those who encounter him.
Mundane, magical, mystical and miraculous characters come to the clinic. Captain Surgery and Cloud, Curley and Cupcake, Mr. Spock, Darth Vader, Captain Kirk, Mr. Pire, Vince, Madam Marie and so many others show up in one of Dr. Barnes’ exam rooms. Each has a special story and each tale will make you laugh a little, think a bit more and, perhaps, give you a good cry.
I glanced at Mr. V. M. Pire’s chart before going into the room. The space for age was left blank, his vitals were: BP 60/30, heart rate 40, respiratory rate 12, temperature 92.
“Miss James, are these vitals correct,” I asked, not believing the numbers.
“Took them three times, Dr. Barnes, but there’s no need for alarm. You’ll see what I mean when you see Mr. Pire,” She an¬swered in her most professional tone.
This night gets more bizarre every minute. I took a deep breath and let it out slowly, knocked on the door, and went in to see Mr. V. M. Pire. I saw a pale young man sitting on the chair in the corner, dressed in black pants, black shirt and wrapped in a black coat. Even with his coat he looked cold, shivering, his arms held tightly across his chest.
“Good evening, Mr. Pire. I’m Dr. Barnes. What brings you in here today?” I asked in my usual doctor’s bedside tone.
“What’s that supposed to mean? Do you think that I changed myself into a bat and flew in. Or maybe I just danced along the full moonbeam. I know what you’re thinking: Another deluded, crazy who can’t cope with reality,” he spouted with venom in his voice.
“Actually, the way this night has been going, I was truly expect¬ing a vampire. Who else could have vital signs like yours and notbe in a coma? So tell me, what’s the problem? If you don’t want to say, you are free to leave. I have plenty of other sick people to at¬tend to.”
He calmed down, stood up, and started to pace around the room.
“I’m… I’m not sure where to start. You see, I… I’ve been having these fantasies and, well, with the full moon and everything, I just couldn’t stand it. I even went to their meeting, thought about join¬ing in their activities.”
He paused for a moment. I could see he was upset and I tried to calm him down. I put my arm around him and lead him to the chair. He almost had tears in his eyes. “Go on,” I said in a soft voice. “What are these fantasies?”
He looked at me with his dark, deep set eyes. “To be a wewuff,” he whispered in a muffled voice.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t understand what you said,” I replied with true concern in my voice.
“To be a WEREWOLF,” he answered loudly. “It’s driving me crazy. I know it’s ridiculous. I mean, I’m a vampire, the best of the best. Last month I downed six units of AB neg in under thirty sec¬onds, all from the same vic… same donor.”
“Sit down and tell me about it,” I suggested, doing my best to imitate a Psychiatrist.
“I guess it started last full moon. I was out at night, like usual, and as I was flying around the neighborhood, thinking about din¬ner, I saw a whole pack of them, werewolves. They were circling around some helpless wino and then they attacked. After their kill they all howled at the moon, gave each other high fives, and then there were the girls. Dozens of them, all gathered around these vi¬cious beasts, oohing and awing. Meanwhile, every night I’m out, shivering, looking for blood. Alone, hated by everyone, even other vampires who would just as soon cut your head off as share a drop of their precious stash.”
“It must be a tough life,” I observed.
“You don’t know the half of it, Dr. Barnes. So, a couple of weeks ago, I’m laying in my coffin, trying to sleep. It must have been noon, and I start to thinking, Wouldn’t it be great to be a werewolf? Get to wear a fur coat, not be cold all the time, only worry about being a vi¬cious monster once a month. Then I say to myself, ‘Get over it, you’re a vampire, you’re better than them.’ But, I can’t get over it; I can’t get the thoughts out of my head. I tried to talk to one of the Elders. Well, you would have thought I was wanting to become a priest, the way he reacted. After that I got scared, I guess, and then I went to see them tonight. All the werewolves were gathered together, I even went inside, tried to meet them. As soon as they saw me they surrounded me. ‘Look at sissy boy,’ they taunted. ‘Afraid of the big bad wolf?’ I tried to talk to them, but they just laughed. I left, feel¬ing more and more depressed. I just wanted to end it all. I even broke into the hospital and stole this.”
He held up a case of thrombin.
“A couple of swigs of this, then all my blood congeals and it’s the end. Well, I got scared and I wasn’t sure what to do. I saw the Clinic sign and decided to stop in. So, here I am.”
I stared at him for few moments, not sure what to say or do.
David Gelber, a New York native, is the seventh of nine sons and one of three to pursue medicine. He graduated from Johns Hopkins University in 1980 and went on to graduate medical school in 1984 from the University of Rochester.
He completed a residency in General Surgery at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas, Texas, and Nassau County Medical Center on Long Island, NY, in 1989. Dr. Gelber now is in private practice in Houston, TX.
Gelber has been performing surgery for more than 25 years, but over the last few years he began to pursue his passion for writing, initially with his debut novel, "Future Hope", followed by its sequel “Joshua and Aaron.”
These were followed by two books about surgery “Behind the Mask” and “Under the Drapes.” The apocalyptic “Last Light” and historical fantasy “Minotaur Revisited” round out his published works, while numerous articles have appeared on his blog “Heard in the OR.”
Now he presents “Little Bit’s Story” and his collection of magical medical short stories, “Night Clinic.”
He has been married to Laura for 28 years and has three college aged children. He and Laura share their home with five dogs and numerous birds.
Author Links: Site Blog Goodreads
Future Hope ITP Book One
Joshua and Aaron ITP Book Two
Behind the Mask: The Mystique of Surgery and the Surgeons who Perform Them
Under the Drapes: More Mystique of Surgery
Last Light (e-book only)
David will be awarding a $50 Amazon/B&N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. For a chance to win please fill out the rafflecopter below.
For more chances to win follow the tour HERE