Short Story: Bloodhounds

By Goff, Beth Twiggar | Family Therapy Networker, November/December 1994 | Go to article overview

Short Story: Bloodhounds


Goff, Beth Twiggar, Family Therapy Networker


Forty years later, returning to the scene of the crime.

IN 1952, I COMMITTED A CRIME WITH MY FRIEND DRUSILLA. We were both just a year out of college.

Drusilla provided me with the doctor's name and stood over me while I phoned him. She coached me to say I was calling at the suggestion of J. O'Connor Foxel. I didn't know any J. O'Connor Foxel, but his name worked like "open sesame." The doctor understood what I wanted, a price was set and an appointment was made for the following Thursday at four. I hung up and cried.

Dm ignored my tears. "What's his fee?"

"Two hundred and fifty dollars."

She blinked. "Can you get it together?"

I wiped my eyes and nodded.

'Your mother!" Drusilla guessed. "You broke down and told her!"

"No." I planned never, never to tell my mother. "My father," I said.

"Your father?"

He'd died when I was four, so I had to explain. "See, he started this dumb little bank account for me. I suppose he meant to add to it. ... Anyway, it grew, it's mine and it'll cover."

"Hey, that's good luck!" When we were kids, Drusilla made up her own superstitions. One was that if you had good luck, you had to say so out loud. Otherwise, the good luck would get mad and take it away. She looked at me expectantly.

"Real luck," I said, and so it was. After all these years, my father was coming through for me.

"How did you discover the doctor?" I asked.

"My city editor," giggled Drusilla. "He has this secret file full of neat stuff. He told me if the FBI ever comes storming in, I'm supposed to eat it. But you don't have to worry, the M.D. is legit. Big practice, takes out tonsils and everything."

Dm and I were the same age, but at this stage of our lives she was well into being grown up, while I was still flailing about. Since graduation, she'd found a job she wanted and a guy she could count on. I'd gone off to live in the city, and came crawling back to my hometown, pregnant and disillusioned.

Drusilla took time off Thursday to chauffeur me to the appointment. It was a two-hour trip on a sparkling afternoon through blossoming countryside. I looked at this beauty and found it irrelevant.

"Are you scared?" Dru asked.

"I keep thinking of Madeline."

"Oh, God, don't!"

"Dru, she was only 14!"

Madeline, a classmate with lively brown eyes, was a great dancer and a brilliant math student. She had died suddenly and mysteriously. Gradually, we learned that Madeline's parents had taken her to a "doctor," who killed her. Her ghost was walking among us.

"Listen! This doctor today he's Harvard Medical School! He doesn't even need the money!"

"Then why does he do it?"

"Goodness and mercy. I've heard there are a lot of doctors like that sneaky but stout-hearted. The trick is to find one. We're lucky."

"Lucky," I repeated automatically.

Dru asked, "Why aren't you telling your mother? She could take it."

"I can't stand for her to know I'm so stupid!" That was one reason. There were others: Mom would feel bad for me, and I didn't want that. She would be brave. I didn't want that, either.

"Now that you've mentioned stupid, how did you get in this fix?" Dru knew I was a virgin in college, but we both had diaphragms, in case.

"Bad luck," I said. We were passing a stand of pink and white dogwood, a calendar picture. I didn't want to talk about my bad luck. But then, if Dru wanted the story, I felt I owed it to her. "It was just my same old thing, only worse. You know I meet guys, then I invent them. I imagine what I want in them. I imagine it's there. And wow, I'm in love with my own invention until it shatters. Then I die. This time, you can't believe how I believed. When I woke up, he was awful. I felt dirty. It was rough just getting away why do I do it?"

Dru moaned, "You need reality classes."

"Right." I rolled down the window, feeling the wind on my face. We'd reached a traffic circle and Dru was busy figuring which way to go. …

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