By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
While the two nurses are running all over Tijuana (they would have us believe) for Valium, Gladys chain-smokes cigarettes, tapping her feet and fingers like an imperious Valley housewife. I sit there quietly, studying my longtime friend. No one would suspect her love for pharmaceutical drugs. Her look is conservative -- her years of accountancy have chiseled her features. But when the subject of drugs comes up, she lights up like a crazed hippie. She starts sputtering at the simplest inquiry. She’s the absolute last word on every drug. She pores through a PDR like a phone book. No one dares argue with Gladys when it comes to dope.
My trance is interrupted by the arrival of a visitor (er, I mean patient). Dr. Gomez leads her to an adjoining room (I guess that was the examination room). Gladys is getting impatient and goes to check on the doctor (the door was left open). An astonished Gladys returns, squealing, “There‘s a patient in there, and Dr. Gomez is doing an exam! I’ve never seen that before in my life. There‘s a woman lying on a table.” I shrug my shoulders. I admit, it does seem out of place. We go back to smoking our cigarettes.
Finally, Nurse Oscar and his accomplice return, all outta breath, with the dope stuffed in their shirts and pockets. Why does all this feel illegal, even though it’s supposedly not? They pile the bottles on the desk, stacking them according to price, as we start counting out our cash. No Blue Cross--Blue Shield here, baby.
The nurses are ordered out again. The examination has begun. We each hand over our driver‘s license to the good doctor (Gladys nods to me that it’s okay), and he sits at his typewriter. And what a typist he is. Now I‘m convinced that all his medical training has not been in vain. I mean, a legible prescription? He grunts and wheezes as he taps out every letter with the utmost precision, paying close attention to every detail of our names and addresses. He’s a bit absent-minded now, and has to be reminded of which drugs go with which prescription. Gladys is only too happy to go over it again, enunciating each syllable like a precocious child in a spelling bee. The doctor continues tapping and then tears the prescription from the typewriter like an author banging out the last line of a novel. He‘s obviously pleased with himself that he has once again fulfilled his God-given talent. Oh, the healing powers of the medicine man! He hands us each our prescription while Gladys instructs that we stuff our bottles of pills in various hiding places. (Hey, I thought this was all legal, what do we have to hide?) We have a little goodbye chitchat with Dr. Gomez and shake hands. The two nurses appear again, this time with an order of soup, beans and rice. Dr. Gomez and Nurse Oscar have had a hard day’s work. Time for an early dinner break, perhaps then a siesta, then back to the yellow pages and typewriter. The tools of the medical profession.
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