by Jim Harmon





They worked on the rhythm together like a pair of jazz musicians, improvising, experimenting, finally hitting the mutual beat of their impassioned bodies . . .





Joel Cardy had been there two weeks before he realized something was wrong with Adam Smith’s hospital. Something damned wrong.

Cardy leaned back against the tiled wall and smoked his cigarette thoughtfully. I’m slipping, he thought. I should know the doctor game by this time. But what is it? Cardy asked himself.

What is old Adam up to under the counter? Is he supplying the local hopheads with the happy powder? Or are some of these white uniforms supplying special massage to the sex-starved patients?

He shook his head. All he knew was that there was something wrong. In the two weeks since he had come here, he should have discovered the wrong note, but he hadn’t even looked into the nurses’ bedside manner. But then, after what he had been through, he wasn’t feeling himself. Or anybody else.

He looked down at his hands. They weren’t any too damned steady. Not good for much.

And yet those same two hands were capable of tenderness, of love, of gentleness when need be, force when that was called for. Yet sometimes you didn’t always know what was called for. For instance, he wasn’t yet sure in the case of Cindy.

“Dr. Cardy?”

That was her voice. He had heard her footstep, caught scent of her perfume. That was why he had been thinking about her. Again.

“Yes?” Joel called out to the girl. “I’m in here—washing up.”

“Are you decent?”

“Come and decide for yourself.”

As he saw the slender, yet full-bodied form of Cindy Wallick flow through the doorway, reflected in the mirror over his wash basin, Joel felt his hand clench together. He needed a woman, he decided. No. I need that woman.

Turning from the basin, he let his eyes drift across her in a kind of non-tangible caress.

Beneath the starched white uniform, high, young breasts thrust out with the dewy perfume of womankind. Below the breasts the uniform clung to a flat belly and fell into a pool of shadows around the loins.

Smiling to himself, he decided that like Lamont Cranston, he was going to find out what lurked in the shadows.

“Dr. Smith is arguing with the receptionist again,” she said. “I just wanted to get as far away from him as I could.”

Cindy lighted a cigarette, and offered another to Joel.

“Doesn’t he wash up after an operation?” he asked.

“I haven’t been here long enough myself to know what he does,” Cindy replied, “But this time he left his patient and went out to the office and started in on Helen. I feel sorry for her, poor thing. I think she’s in love with him.”

Cindy’s face showed her feelings clearly.

“He certainly gave you holy hell over nothing this morning,” she continued. “I don’t know how you can stand it. It seems every day since you’ve been here he’s had something mean to say.”

Joel had little choice. It was take what Smith dished out or start over. Go back six months and go through another hell of looking for a State Medical Board to give him a chance. Start over looking for a doctor who would trust him like a dedicated beginning doctor, not like a jailbird.

“Since I came here,” Joel said, “It’s been one case after another of women wanting examinations and abortions.”

“And the run of the mill minor cases,” added Cindy. “For a clinic, it’s sure a strange one.”

The door of the washroom opened abruptly and Dr. Adam Smith marched in.

He was puffing strenuously on a cigarette, his surgical gown was open, and he was slapping a pair of rubber gloves against his leg. He glowered at Joel and Cindy and tossed the gloves onto a table.

While he struggled out of his gown, Cindy gave Joel a knowing look and started to leave, but Smith stopped her. “Don’t rush off on my account, young lady,” he growled. “If you can watch this young nervous Jervis wash up, the spectacle of my naked chest isn’t going to demoralize you.”

Smith accepted a fresh cigarette from Joel with a quick nodding of his leathery head.

“Never cut open a woman before, Cardy?”

Joel shook his head, negative.

“Well you might as well get used to it.”

Joel watched Smith thoughtfully while the old surgeon scrubbed his arms. Then despite his better judgment, he mouthed the one question he had to have an answer to.

“Was that abortion necessary?”

“Of course it was!”

Joel wanted a better answer than that. “She was young, healthy, and I found no symptoms that indicated the need for an abortion,” Joel said.

Dr. Smith stood up, stretched his back and rubbed his loins with a balled fist. Then he turned to face Joel. “I didn’t hire you because of your reputation for diagnostics, Cardy. Keep that in mind!”

Smith waited for anything more Joel had to say, but Joel contained his anger and left quickly before he said things that would destroy the only chance he had to make a comeback as a doctor. A comeback from a career that had never really begun, unless opening an office and hiring a nurse—who works for nothing because she loves you—and treating a sore throat, and writing a prescription for thyroid extract can be called a career.

“Joel,” Cindy said when Smith left, “I know it isn’t logical, but I can’t be logical all the time, even if I am a nurse. I’m a woman first, and it’s a woman’s right to feel things. A woman’s feelings are just as real and just as right as a man’s thinking. You men can rationalize and think and plan and debate coldly and logically all you want, but when a woman intuitively knows something, nothing you can say or do will change it.”

He lifted his eyebrows deliberately. “And what was that little speech all about?”

“Don’t laugh at me, Joel Cardy,” Cindy said firmly. “I know that look on your face. Every time I try to say something that’s important you give me that look like I’m a brainless idiot, but I know something is horribly wrong around here.”

“Temper, temper,” he cautioned.

Cindy looked away from Joel. Her lips compressed in a cute pout. Her tiny chin was set firmly.

Joel ran a finger over her shoulder and up the back of the graceful neck.

Cindy brushed his hand away. “If you can’t listen to me when I have something to say. then don’t think you can do anything else you want to!”

Joel turned her face to him. Cindy resisted, but not too much. “You’re beautiful when you’re pouting,” he said. “It makes your eyes look like a wounded doe.”

He took her warm body in his arms and closed her mouth with his. Her lips moved beneath his and he forced them open with his tongue to touch her own tongue that played with the tip of his.

It was nice boy and girl type fun, but it wasn’t enough. He had been wanting to do more than this for weeks.

As if sensing a new urgency in him, Cindy pushed herself away from him, running her hands down her thighs, apparently to smooth the lines of her uniform, but he wondered if she were actually trying to soothe the tingling and itching in those thighs.

“I’m serious about Dr. Smith, Joel. When I first came here to apply for the job I met another nurse. It was her first time to apply for the job. The poor kid was scared.

“Dr. Smith acted real funny when he interviewed me. He said I would have to take a physical if I was hired. I said I knew that.

“That was so odd for a doctor, I wondered about it, but then I just laughed it off and forgot it that day.

“Next day I met this same girl down at the hospital coffee shop. Joel, she was so shaken I thought she was going to pass out right there. I took her to my apartment and she told me that Dr. Smith had tried to rape her!”

Joel sat up instantly. “Smith? I don’t believe that!”

“Well, I’m not so sure. Maybe she was angry because she didn’t get hired, but then maybe she was telling the truth.”

“And,” said Joel, “maybe she was exaggerating just a little.”

“Well, anyhow, Smith called me to come in, and the first thing he told me was that a physical exam would not be necessary. I thought he was some kind of nut.”

Joel ran his fingers slowly, teasingly over Cindy’s thigh. Cindy ignored the love play. “But since then I’m beginning to wonder about a lot of things. Dr. Smith keeps looking at me so funny, and he is always trying to get his hands on me any time he has half a chance.

“About the next time he pats my fanny, I’m going to kick him.”

“How about me?” Joel gave her a resounding slap.

They came into each other’s arms and stayed there. He felt the rhythm of her heart beating against his chest.

It was the time, he knew. Now. Right now.

“Come in here,” he said.

He led her, and she followed, knowing where he led.

It was a small room, almost secret room, away from the pressures of the clinic, a resting place away from the emergencies and the necessities of medicine. It was a room with a cot for doctors and nurses to catch a quick nap.

“No, Joel, nooo . . .” Cindy protested weakly, pulling at his arms.

But he knew what she really wanted, what she needed, as badly as he needed it.

In the semi-darkness of the alcove his hands found the front of Cindy’s dress. The fabric parted beneath his searching fingers and he contacted stiffened flesh.

“No bra?” he murmured.

“Hmm-mmm,” she affirmed.

“That starched cotton must scratch . . .”

“Umm-hmmmmm . . .”

He rolled the nipples between the thumb and forefinger of each hand. Responding to him, her thighs moved against his urgently.

“You’ve been wanting this as bad as I have,” he said to her.

Her arms slipped around his neck.

“I didn’t say I didn’t . . . But . . . maybe . . .”

“Shut up,” he said.

Steadily, he forced the nurse back on the cot, his hands exploring her body with complete freedom.

She purred beneath him.

“You’re right,” she gasped. “Let’s have some fun, darling. I’ve got to relax!”

Her thighs parted for him, and he stripped her white nurse’s nylons down, leaving her warm legs bare.

Her legs slid up around his now bare waist, and they worked on the rhythm together like a pair of modern jazz musicians, improvising, experimenting, finally hitting the beat.

She was twisting and writhing under him, her sweet, innocent-appearing face contorted with a lust as pronounced as his, while she hissed encouraging words to his ear, laced with profanity.

Finally, they both found what they were seeking. Her legs relaxed from around him.

Sitting up on the cot, Cindy rested her forehead against his shoulder.

“This,” she said, “isn’t exactly the right place for this sort of thing!”

“What place is? Yours or mine?” Joel asked.

“Let me show you my apartment,” she suggested.


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