Dr. James Brooks turned over in bed and looked at the clock. It was 8:05 a.m. He was a little late but thought he could make
it to the clinic on time. He quickly headed to the bathroom to wash up and brush his teeth. He looked in the mirror — same
face, different day. He laughed nervously because it really wasn't the same face. It was a suddenly aging facade marred by
the daily stress of being a solo practitioner in a changing veterinary world. He had never married. His apartment usually
was a mess — cleaned only when circumstances dictated.
After a quick shower, he hastily shut the front door and jumped into a 5-year-old sedan.
Heading down Elm Street, he shook his head and said aloud to himself, "What is going wrong down at the hospital? We were busy
last year but it's a little down this year, and I am doing everything I can to bring it up to speed."
His mind wandered to the veterinary meeting he was to attend this weekend. Jim had fallen behind in continuing education and
needed the hours to maintain his license. He knew he'd enjoy the conference but wondered if being absent another weekend would
present problems. He was away the previous weekend to attend his sister's birthday party; it had been a great time with family
Dr. Brooks had started closing on Saturdays out of self-preservation. He still came to the hospital twice daily to check on
animals when he was in town.
He turned into the parking lot at 1555 West Park — the Springdale Animal Clinic.
Kendra met him at the door. She was the clinic's "gal Friday," an over-achiever who was on top of every situation. She never
seemed to get sick and was very efficient.
Susan, his other full-time employee, mostly worked in surgery.
"Susan called in sick this morning. It's just you, me and the cat," Kendra said.
The feline in question was Fred, a feckless 18-pound clinic cat that James was not always proud of. Fred often would show
up unannounced in an exam room while Dr. Brooks was delivering a rousing exhortation on feline obesity to some "food-enabling"
client. Forthwith, things would not go well.
Dr. Brooks was in another bind. His best client, Wayne Battle, had called just after closing last night and wanted to board
Willie and Wanda, his two nervous German Shepherds, over the weekend.
Wanda was diabetic and needed insulin twice daily. Willie had bouts of bloody diarrhea when boarded and needed oversight.
He couldn't be separated from Wanda or the diarrhea became unmanageable.
Wayne was told that Dr. Brooks would be gone for the weekend but that Jenny should be able to treat his pets. Kendra said
she would double-check with Dr. Brooks in the morning.
The morning conversations
"Any calls I need to know about?" Jim asked.
Kendra frowned slightly.
"Wayne Battle called. He was very nervous about you being gone over the weekend and was asking whether Jenny 'knew' his dogs'
Jenny, the kennel attendant, was somewhat new to the practice and Mr. Battle had never met her.
"Did he say he was going to bring Willie and Wanda in?
"Didn't really say, but will call back later."
"Two others. Sandra Bramlett called to ask if there is a different heart medication for 'Samson' that she could use. She wants
something chewable and asked whether she could bring his heart pills back for a refund."