The Radiologist.




The old radio about slid from the bedside table into the wastebasket. A thousand viral plagues on losing a third smart phone, muttered his colon; that old snooze alarm was the pits.

Crawling into a sitting position, he stared vaguely toward the bathroom door. One lone sparrow, out on the deck, chirping the hour. Slowly, what day it was and what should happen first unfolded in his aging consciousness. He picked up a caramel from the dish by the bed, unwrapped it, and put it on his tongue. The saliva came into his mouth, and his eyes opened from the sugar. This was his morning ritual. Meditation, recommended by Tom’s secretary, was out of the question; fourteen years working the x-ray light table had blown out his focus factor, anyway, and letting the mind go that deep was dangerous.

Dangerous to go back as far as that “C” in Inorganic. Maddening how one freaking grade could mark a future. No medical school for him, with that blot on his record. Diagnostic Radiology had been the closest second on the list, and taking it meant a solid salary and a whole, longer list of imports and home brews to come home to after a shift. Given the limits, he’d chosen well.

Peeling off the ale-smelling T-shirt and briefs, he tried to ignore the email, chiming away. Damn the quotas. He felt the acidic stomach creeping. That God forsaken Cancer Center had been messaging all week; where were the referrals? There were two protocols to complete by budget, and at least three empty spots to fill. Well, damn the protocols. He’d have himself a freshly rolled cigarette.

Tom was an asshole, anyway. Big man. Big son of Tom, Senior. Free ride to Jefferson, choice for residency, first nod for the Center’s directorship. His pick of girls out front, the works. But, perfect for the job, as usual. Big benefactor to all the non-profits, big beer brewing bastard. Perfect.

He stared, this time seeing clearly, at the pile of films. Too bad if the haters didn’t like that he preferred the old fashioned way. Digital may be hip, but he’d always had the eye. A gift, that eye; couldn’t be taught, couldn’t even be bought. And, he had it. He knew an anomaly at three feet.

Statistics were also his forte. Rifling through, he knew what he’d likely find. There’d be one in every forty with in situ, several calcifications. Probably none with any marked lesions this week; there were only nine in the pile, total.

Images, opacities, vascularities. Funny how it had all looked to him, the first time. Like those shots of the moon from NASA. Each crater exactly like the next, to the naked eye. But, just invite one experienced pilot who could read terrain, and suddenly the moon itself was a secret civilization, complete with mining operations, tunnels, and landing strips.

He allowed himself his usual, half-glance across the names.

The acid state in his belly morphed into all-too-familiar contraction. Hating it whenever he saw one. Even moving here from Indiana, he’d come to know many families in this region at the breweries. He felt the familiar creak inside his head, as his brain began its revolving rotations. Cognitive dissonance was a bitch.

“Protocol”. Whatever crazed son of a pharmaceutical rep had come up with that one? Some ex-commissioned officer in the man’s navy? The label for a treatment plan, passed trial, in “residency” for two years to gather more observable data. Like the two hundred, candy-striped short sleeved button downs that appeared at the Mall, a “special purchase” bargain shipment up from the Carolinas where, either they didn’t sell, or the whole candy-striped short sleeved thing had run its course. No matter. They’d sell in small town America, particularly for eleven ninety five a crack.

Funny how one submission from him would set the whole ball rolling. One call back, for magnification, was all it usually took. One more positive, one more confirmation by oncology, and one protocol: complete. Just in time for budget review.

He hated that he could tell. He hated that he knew the difference between a calcification and a lesion. Hated that he had the power to call it. Better that some numbskull just make a read error. Idiots would oil the whole machine nicely. He hated that he knew. Knew exactly what he was doing.

With only that damned sparrow on the deck ledge heralding any of it, he quietly sorted the films. Seven for neg; two for pos. Damn the natural sunlight, streaming in the window. Damn the quotas. Damn the kickbacks, never any for him, either.

He sat back, looking at the old radio clock, watching the next minute flip over. He’d finished early, rare enough. Time for a little online indulgence. He flipped through the videos. Where was she…..perfect C cups, large areola…..he had the eye, after all. Ah, there. He half-glanced at her name. Candy.






Β© Ruth Ann Scanzillo

8/7/15Β  All rights solely those of the author, whose name appears above this line. No sharing; no transcribing. None. Thank you.


17 thoughts on “The Radiologist.

        1. by “piece of writing”, you mean The Radiologist? [Extract: Please help me.Replace: Any informed help would be so appreciated.] I have no idea how to “promote further” my work, which has not managed to garner a readership beyond an average of about 10 – 15 hits per day. Is that good, for a first year? I am coming up on anniversary 1, in November…..thanks, OF.


          1. Oh yes, this post, “The Radiologist” Yes, I think its fantastic – I don’t know how to promote further, other than by re-posting, it seems to me, that what time you post can be helpful, as people see it in their “freshly pressed” lists.
            I can’t think of much to suggest – I read a load of Bukowski a few years ago, as I understand it, he had to submit his works to readers magazines, I expect all that is online these days, so maybe you need to submit links to other places? ITs all promotion isn’t it

            Liked by 1 person

            1. Oh, you mean time of DAY, i.e. at the opening of the “work” day, EST – is that when Freshly Pressed material is seen? Ironic, as many of us are nocturnal, by nature; my “day” usually doesn’t start until after 9:30 or 10 am – ! So….submitting links of my work to readers magazines…as opposed to actual formal submissions to said magazines. See, all my life…..I’ve been too busy playing to listen; too busy drawing to look; too busy writing to read. It’s a strange handicap. I am no scholar of this art, nor am I among those who are even familiar with the names of the most highly trafficked sites. A girl I know who is a published poet sent me some names awhile back, but both my attempts ended up rejected.


              1. Oh I don’t know what I mean now! I think the self promotion has to be a barrage to be successful, I know Bukowski said he was submitting poems and short stories probably several new pieces a week for decades before his efforts finally paid off, I mean, really paid off big time. I think he said his audience was European, they thought there was something in it – strange how things turn out sometimes. I know of some musicians who found a big following in the far east – you just never know. I posted something I thought was pretty good and got a few likes, then another time I posted something at 2am, and got a much better response from Australians, so I guess they just got out of bed and saw my post in the morning? I could end up being “Big” in Oz, just because of the time I post! Or – perhaps its something else, perhaps Oz has more bloggers online, or perhaps my work bores the people in my own country and seems of great interest to others? That’s another aspect again! Bukowski was trying to be gritty and down to earth, the people he wrote too and about weren’t that interested, while Europeans, miles away thought the work had depth and worthy meaning!

                I too find it incredibly difficult to consider topics like “marketability” while playing – it just gets in the way, some can I suppose, and some can’t at all, while others are most successful by getting that balance just right – some of which are probably the least creative, some the most! πŸ™‚

                Liked by 1 person

                1. You have such a clear head. You know, when I embarked on all this public display (of stuff that had sat in a drawer for years/you know the tune), my argument/defense was all about just getting into the dialogue of writers. Investing in getting published seemed silly, at my age. So, I defended my resistance to making the effort – to get published. Plus, as is so often the case, when one is not immersed in the society of writers, one can’t always know with certainty how or whether one’s work is worthy. At my age, avoiding embarrassment seemed the path to take. Months down the road, however, not noticing a steady increase in readership (Followers increased, but not hits, you know), I’d become a tad defeated, more or less; you know, thinking that I had six close WordPress blogger friends, and the rest were just stealing stuff for screenplays. That sort of thing.


    1. I ran out of reply boxes above – no, I don’t play any instruments, I meant play as in, playing at art, words, etc, I wish I could play an instrument! I do have an ear, and can learn, but I haven’t really ever tried hard at anything other than painting & drawing, at which I have my moments, tho not through expertise so much as when I just “play” πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I suppose it doesn’t matter really if one is published or not, but if you get onto a strong powerful thing, you should really pursue it to that conclusion, good things ought to be shared, got out there, one way or another, for whatever reason.

    I never understand why some peoples work gets more appreciation than others, no accounting for taste! Maybe I’ll nominate you for a prize or something, and you will go on to gain zillions of new admirers πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

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