Bedside Manner: Chapter 4

Bedside Manner: Chapter 4

A Chapter by Bad Medicine

                "Wake up, Nicklaus."

 

                That gruff voice snapped the boy's eyes open faster than the lights being turned on ever could.  He hadn't been asleep, though.  Not quite.

 

                "The doctor's here,"  Gunar stated, his tone unusually subdued.  "You'd better behave."

 

                Nicklaus just offered a quiet nod.  He waited until his uncle had left the room before he finally sat up " he didn't want the man to see him wince.  He also didn't want to be seen wiping the tears from his eyes, as though he could actually hide the fact that he'd been crying.

 

                He didn't relax in the slightest when Doctor Schmidt walked into the room.  He hadn't seen the man in awhile, and he could only guess as to what his uncle had told him about the circumstances surrounding his visit.

 

                Schmidt, at least, offered him a small smile, and a quiet greeting " seemed in relatively good spirits despite the late hour, and the freezing weather.  He clucked his tongue as he placed his bag on the night stand.  "If I didn't know any better, Nicklaus, I'd think you were only nine or ten, not twelve."

 

                "Thirteen," the boy said, his voice a little hoarse.

 

                "That's right," the doctor agreed, after a little pause.  "Just today, right?  You have a lot of growing to do.  Now, let's get a look at your back."

 

                Nicklaus tensed right back up again, at that.  He wasn't eager to turn his back to the doctor, but, the sooner he did so, the sooner they would finish.  He gritted his teeth when Schmidt started to unroll the bandages that the boy had haphazardly wrapped around his torso.   He had done his best to wash the blood off in the bath " but, that didn't keep the cloth from sticking, and having to be peeled away.

 

                Tears welled in the boy's eyes, and he held his breath, trying his best not to let them fall.  He could not, however,  hold back a sniffle, or stop from gritting his teeth as the last of the bandages were peeled away.  The long moment of silence that followed didn't do much to comfort him, either.

 

                Schmidt gave a thoughtful hum before starting to dab away the blood, both dried and freshly beading up.  "There is considerable swelling."

 

                "Will I need stitches?" Nicklaus asked, giving the man an almost pleading look.

 

                Schmidt offered him a small, indulgent smile.  "No, Nicklaus, you won't need stitches."  His expression quickly drew back into a worried frown, though.  "Everything looks clean, at the moment " but, infection is a concern.  I'm going to have to apply some iodine before we put fresh bandages on."  He paused a moment before giving another, much more apologetic smile, "this will sting a bit."

 

                The boy doubted that it would only sting 'a bit'.  Having his grandfather wipe a scratch on his ankle down with iodine had hurt badly, enough.  He sucked in a sharp, hissing breath, and quite unwillingly clawed his fingers into the sheets when the iodine-soaked gauze touched one end of the first lash mark.  There were thirteen in all…

 

                …one for each year you have been allowed to live.

 

                Wiping them down with antiseptic was a somewhat lengthy process.  It was a gentle, skillful, well-intentioned torment, though, little as that did to make it hurt less.  That span of time simply didn't contain the terror, and the anger of that in which the wounds had been inflicted.

 

                "What a good patient," Schmidt said, starting to wrap fresh bandages around the boy's torso.  "I know holding still like that isn't easy."

 

                Nicklaus wasn't still, though " he was shaking.  The worst part wasn't just realizing that he was trembling, but discovering that he couldn't make it stop.

 

                If the doctor noticed, he didn't say so.  "There we are," he mused, leaning back a little to get a look at his handiwork, his mouth pulling into another small smile.  "Much better.  I'll be back tomorrow to check on you " get some sleep, don't lie on your back, alright?"

 

                "Okay," Nicklaus replied, swallowing thickly, and quietly glancing to his uncle, leaning against the doorframe.  He quickly looked right back at the floor.  He was tempted to  look back to Doctor Schmidt, and, please don't go…  The man was already out the door, though, and Nicklaus could  hear the sound of footfalls on the wooden floor of the hallway as the doctor left.

 

                Now he was alone " alone with Gunar.  He prayed that the man would just go back to bed, and let him do the same.  The boy reasoned that, perhaps, his uncle wouldn't add injuries to ones that he'd just  paid money to have fixed up.  Thankfully, he was right.

 

                "Go to bed," Gunar stated, jabbing a finger at his nephew.  "I'd better not hear one peep out of you for the rest of the night.  Understand?"

 

                A 'yessir' was on Nicklaus's lips, but, he quickly bit it  back in favor of a silent nod.  He had been given a command, and  he knew what would likely happen if he overstepped it, and it didn't matter how unintentional  his actions may have been.

 

                Gunar gave a stiff nod in return, and closed the door at least a little more quietly than usual.  Even his footfalls as he returned to his own room seemed a little slower, and a little less harsh than usual.

 

                It was a peace that Nicklaus knew would not last.




© 2012 Bad Medicine



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Added on February 29, 2012
Last Updated on March 12, 2012
Tags: Germany, WWII, family, violence, murder, nazi