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The Thirty Days of Magrat (part thirteen)

 
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“Get out of my way! I’m next. Emergency…see!” Johnson, the aggressive shopkeeper who ran the shop and storage facility at the vehicle workshop, waved his bandage covered right hand in the face of the elderly man who had just got up to take his turn for the treatment room.

Whatever retort the old man might have had was too late as Johnson was already pushing through the treatment room door.

Sitting next to the cupboard by the door, Magrat looked up from the patient file on the worktop.

“Thomas Cook?” She looked doubtful. “Recurring gout?”

Johnson sat down heavily in the waiting chair by the treatment table and shot Magrat a withering glare, bolstered by a well-practiced sneer.

“Do I look like that effing old grave dodger?” He pushed the damaged hand close to Magrat’s confused face. “And no, this isn’t effing gout. I’ve hurt my hand… Or rather that effing till did. All the mayor’s fault, if she’d spent… Anyway, probably broke it so show a bit more… Wait a minute, aren’t you that trollop from that gang of effing savages over the hill?”

Magrat and Maisie exchanged a look before Magrat, determinedly putting more effort than she thought it was worth into a smile, turned back to Johnson.

“You’ll have to wait your turn, Mister…?”

Johnson, Ignoring Magrat and her wasted smile had turned to Maisie.”

“Never mind all that. This is an effing emergency. Old man Cook and his gout can wait. I need to get this fixed right away by an effing doctor and not some murdering bandit’s whore.” He looked around as if expecting the doctor to be hiding somewhere in the room. “Where is the jumped up little medic anyway? Wasting time and our taxes pampering to the likes of thugs and scroungers probably.”

The tirade coming out of the injured shopkeeper’s mouth had caught the two nurses completely by surprise. Maisie was only just getting her wrath together so it was Magrat who recovered first. She reached for the man’s injured hand.

“Doctor Troy is out on her rounds. Just let me just take a quick look…”

Johnson snatched his hand away and stood up.

“Not effing likely. I’ve heard all about you. Beating up on kids at the school and spying on us for you tribe of cutthroat scum.”

It was at just this point that Mister Johnson felt Maisie’s hands on his shoulders and found himself, despite his best efforts, being pushed back down into the chair. Her face appeared over his shoulder.

“Now you just sit your nasty self down there so that the nurse can check your hand.” She leaned in closer so that Johnson could feel Maisie’s warm breath on his cheek. “And I better not hear another word about thugs or wasters and especially not about the young lady who is going to fix whatever is wrong with your paw.” She stood up then, arms folded across the front of her blue scrubs but staying well within slapping range.

Magrat worked at keeping her own anger in check as the man Johnson reluctantly held out his bandaged hand. Before coming to Hope Springs clinic, a man like the angry, sneering shopkeeper that now sat almost knee to knee facing her, would have had Magrat shaking like a leaf and unable to even think straight. Now, after almost a month under Maisie’s and Doc Troy’s tutelage, her mind was too busy thinking ahead about what may lay under the dirty makeshift bandage to worry or even care about her patient’s attitude.

Harold Johnson’s mutterings and complaining were now almost just background noise as she gently unwrapped the rag he had used to bandage his hand. Almost, but not quite.

Johnson was looking around.

“Look at this place. All our effing money spent on fancy equipment and expensive drugs just to be effing wasted on every workshy shirker who ambles into town.”

Under the bandage, Magrat found, well, not very much. A little bruising and a mild contusion where something had scrapped a layer of skin off the man’s knuckles. Barely even any blood, in fact, Magrat had seen worse on kids who had skinned their knees playing. Still, as Maisie kept telling her, ‘not all damage is apparent… poke it a bit, see if they squeal.’

The injured Harold was warming to his subject.

“Never used to be like this. We had a proper Mayor back in the day. Kept the riff-raff out and the bad guys in check. Proper effing doctor, too, not some slip of a kid who got herself knocked up and had to come running home to Mommy…”

Which was the moment Magrat chose to ‘poke it a bit’. Actually, she squeezed Johnson’s fingers, hard. And squeal he most certainly did.

Johnson slid off the chair onto his knees. Maisie promptly picked him up and dumped him back onto his chair where, pale-faced and with his jaw flapping like a fish out of water, Johnson only just managed to hang on to consciousness.

Magrat looked up at her boss with a big beaming smile.

“I think mister Johnson may have broken a finger or two.”



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