Expert Opinion

Expert Opinion

A Story by Delmar Cooper

 


 



Expert Opinion

Sister Dominica examined Alain, then looked over at me. “Is
his father with you, in the waiting room perhaps? It’s all right
for him to be in here.”

“No sister. His father is not with us.” I didn’t say, “His father
didn’t come with us.” No, I didn’t say that because I did not
want to lie, and I didn’t say, “His father is no longer with us.” I
didn’t say that because I did not want to tell the truth. But, her
question worried me.

“Is his father from Medellin? I have heard of men from Medellin
who had things like . . . . Oh, men who are, well, men who are
like Alain, you know?”

I understood then, and relaxed. She knew nothing. There was
no dreadful diagnosis she wanted or needed to tell only to both
parents. She wasn’t asking where his father was, just who he
was. “His father is a sailor.” The nursing sister waited, seeming
to expect something more.

“Look, is something going around? Alain coughs all the time.
Have the other sisters treated coughing children?” Affirming my
words, Alain summoned a deep, phlegmy, chest cough. “You
see? Like that, all the time now.”

“You brought him in just for the cough?”

“Sister, sometimes bad things start with just a cough. I wanted
to take no chances.”

“You may get him dressed now. The cough? Simple congestion.
Use any over the counter syrup that has guaifenesin. I’ll write
that word down for you. Just read the label. Air in Bogotá isn’t
good these days, too many cars now, too much exhaust. Modern
times they say, progress. At least we don’t have all the drug
problems they have up north.” She ran her hand lightly over
Alain’s back and guided him off the table. “And, you’re sure
about Medellin?”

Perhaps it was only the air. Outside the clinic Alain coughed
three times in racking succession. “Mamma look, Italian ice.
Can I have an Italian ice? Do they have cherry? Please Mamma.”
Just the thought of Italian ice seemed to stop his cough and I
bought him a small cherry scoop. Maybe this is all in his head
or in mine?

“A good ear, nose and throat man. That’s what you need for
Alain.” My mother never lacked opinions. She watched all the
television doctor shows.

“The nursing sister said it was bad air and..."

“Sister? Nuns don’t give a s**t about a boy’s body. Now,
collection plates? That’s something they know. They understand
money pretty damn good. How can a woman who never spread
her legs for a man understand children? You find a Jew. Jew
doctors are smart, know how to fix things.” Mother knew all
about it. The sun had risen and set on her Jew, Dr. Weismann.
He put up with her for years until he finally smoked himself to
death.

“He seems better. I’ll keep him inside today. Maybe it is only
dirty air.”

“Right. Don’t listen to your mother. That’s how you got Alain in
the first place. If you had listened to me..."

“Enough Mother. I’m glad to have Alain and I would change
nothing.”

“No, no changes whatever. Your little nameless sailor boy. Sure,
sure, I believe all that s**t. But, I tell you his father was from
Quito. There are men like that in Quito, high up in the
mountains. I’ve seen too many doctor shows about heredity to
be wrong, and I know there are men like that in Quito. Not
exactly the seashore resort, Quito, but you can make a baby
anywhere. Here, rub his chest with menthol cream.”

The menthol cream smelled nice but did nothing for Alain’s
cough. In the morning it was no worse, and no better either. My
aunt, who is not quite as crazy as her sister, told me about an
old woman who had been born up in the Andes. She told
fortunes and hexed away warts, but it was said she could draw
thrash from a child by sucking his breath. It wasn’t that long a
trip and my aunt took us in her car.

The woman gave us tea that smelled like rosemary, but had no
taste at all. “You aunt, she told me you were to bring this boy.
Is shy? He shy?”

“Alain? No he is just trying to be polite. We’ve been working on
manners. He wants to please me. Very outgoing, not shy at all.”

“Sorry, I say wrong. Is modest? Bashful? I want to see naked.”

She put her craggy head on Alain’s back and pushed his
shoulder blades apart with her hands. She listened for about
five minutes until Alain began his impolite, restless, flitter
flutter. “Heart strong. Little fast, but strong.” She ran her hands
all over Alain’s body and seemed particularly interested in his
nails and pinched the flesh between his fingers and toes. She
stroked the skin of his ankles up and down with the backs of her
fingers, and probed the base of his spine just north of sodomy.
“The father, he Peru man, no? Men like this boy sometime in
Peru they say.”

“His father is a goddamn sailor. What about his cough”

“Cough? Oh, I give you a tea, fix up good. But probably just bad
air.”

* * *

The allergist was a very nice man, not a Jew, but obviously good
at his job. His office was wallpapered with diplomas and awards.
He had a soothing professionalism that wasn’t a bit cold or
distancing. Alain seemed to take to him immediately, sensing
the genuine interest behind his avuncular, familiar manner.

“It’s an allergy. The scratch test confirms it.”

“Thank God. I was worried about lung disease and every fatal
illness I’ve ever heard of.” I was so relieved that tears welled up.

“Normal reaction, to fear the unknown. Relax, you did all the
right things. This isn’t a common allergy, it’s extremely rare
here, but all allergy treatments are essentially the same. First
we treat the symptoms. Medication to quiet the reaction. An
injection today will jump start the process. Pills every day for a
week, and then a pill as needed. In your son’s case we won’t be
able to easily isolate him from the allergen, but the pills will
keep him on track.”

“I’ll be sure he takes the medicine. Is there no way to keep him
away from the, what did you say, the allergen?”

“Don’t worry he’ll probably grow out of it, and it will stop when
he gets old enough to groom his own . . . to groom himself
properly. Tiny organisms that live on avian mites are the cause.
His father isn’t Chilean by any chance? I ran into men . . . in
cases like this in Chile.”

“I don’t talk about his father much. Frankly, I did not know him
well. We were together only briefly. I never even learned his
name, but he said he was a sailor. He told me that when he had
to sail again he would never be able to sail back. He said that.
That, and he said he would never be able to forget me either.”

“I see." The doctor tousled my boy's hair and stroked his back
affectionately. "Alain, you are lucky to have your mother’s eyes
and good heart. Perhaps when you are older and more
developed you will sail like your father. Well, give him the pills.
Call me if he runs a fever that baby aspirin won’t reduce or if he
is still coughing after a day or two. Oh, and if his wings begin to
molt, even a little, bring him straight in.”

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

© 2020 Delmar Cooper


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Featured Review

It must be a terrible situation to be in to not know anything about the sperm donor besides that he was a sailor. (I'm a former sailor and that makes one wonder) It seems in each separate opinion there is more of an effort to probe for knowledge about our heroines past than there is about the boy. Which I find somewhat funny and provoking.
You story shines with the dialogue. I want to say that. It reminds me of a short story that looks somewhat like a script that could easily be adapted into a short film. It definitely doesn't struggle to keep you interested, that's for sure.

Posted 1 Year Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Delmar Cooper

1 Year Ago

Thanks for reading. I had read some magical realism before writing this. I may have caught some of.. read more



Reviews

Honed to perfection. Take a bow.

Interesting choice of name for the boy, opened up all sorts of possibilities in my mind.

Nice to read you again.

Beccy.

Posted 2 Months Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Delmar Cooper

2 Months Ago

Oh, the name. No hidden agenda I once worked with a guy from Peru his name was Alain. Simple as tha.. read more
Beccy

2 Months Ago

Doesn't change the possibilities.
Imagined flights of fancy being such
wonderful bal.. read more
Delmar Cooper

2 Months Ago

Must be wonderful to have such a balmy soul. I envy you.
[send message][befriend] Subscribe
rew
Well well, what do we have here?
For a start lots of white showing that is a good thing
A mass of black print overwhelming the page overwhelms the reader as well.
Quito, high in the Andes?
So, children, from high altitude parents living at or below sea level in an industrialised city it's more than possible to have chest infections
but this isn't about that it is about a mother of a half boy - part bird with a nod towards some sort of strange sex.

The curiosity that the beginning of this brief tale generated was enough for this self-confessed and well-known none story reader to continue to the very end but I had to go back over it for clues.
A Condor or Angel.

regards from rew

Posted 4 Months Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

rew

4 Months Ago

Honor - Honour
it reminds me of an old joke:
She offered her honour
he honoured.. read more
Delmar Cooper

4 Months Ago

I will steal that one, thank you. Here's another I stole:
There once was a man named McGrude.. read more
rew

4 Months Ago

ah ah ahaagh!
This is top-notch writing in every respect. Wow! I'm very envious of how smoothly this reads, how I felt so compelled by the reading, the entire way, and how your storyline feels so fresh & authentic & unexpected. I did not feel one single bump about anything. You can't come up with a tighter story than this. I just read a book of John Steinbeck shorts & he has nothing over you, not one bit (((HUGS))) Fondly, Margie

Posted 4 Months Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Delmar Cooper

4 Months Ago

You are to kind to compare me to Steinbeck. I read him a lot when I was in high school and enjoyed .. read more
Hi Delmar

I am not going to repeat what's been said below about what the story means, etc. I have my own ideas and it would be great to read what happens next.

Main thing I enjoyed personally was the dialogue which I found really engaging. The repeating of the ran into men in quito, brazil, chile etc. was genius.

Posted 4 Months Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Delmar Cooper

4 Months Ago

Thank you for reading. I have a lot of poetry in my inventory but only because this Café is riddle.. read more
I rarely read stories, something about attention span, but I enjoyed this for your enjoyable language usage, making a fairly common scenario into an entertaining read
Also, I am now faced with the daunting task of finding a slot for 'phlegmy' in one of my no-sophisticated efforts

Posted 4 Months Ago


It must be a terrible situation to be in to not know anything about the sperm donor besides that he was a sailor. (I'm a former sailor and that makes one wonder) It seems in each separate opinion there is more of an effort to probe for knowledge about our heroines past than there is about the boy. Which I find somewhat funny and provoking.
You story shines with the dialogue. I want to say that. It reminds me of a short story that looks somewhat like a script that could easily be adapted into a short film. It definitely doesn't struggle to keep you interested, that's for sure.

Posted 1 Year Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Delmar Cooper

1 Year Ago

Thanks for reading. I had read some magical realism before writing this. I may have caught some of.. read more
A very strange little story here. I may be wrong, but my experience as a nurse tells me that Alain is an abused child who has a severe case of Thrush. There are nuances of sexual abuse & or exotic disease in the various doctors’ and old woman’s questions. But then again, the webbing and reference to avian mites and molting are very confusing. Is he allergic to birds? Is he a bird? I’m stumped.


Posted 3 Years Ago


Delmar Cooper

3 Years Ago

Not every story is destined for success. I got some good feedback from the Café and other sources .. read more
Annette Pisano-Higley

3 Years Ago

Sounds interesting and it’s a good story as it stands. Great style, description, detail, imagery, .. read more
I love that one!... The mother worries, but also everybody trying to guess about the father background.

Posted 3 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Delmar Cooper

3 Years Ago

Ada,
Thank you for reading and finding time to comment on my story.
Enjoyed this Delmar, the mother's persistence especially. It says a lot about intuition I think.
A mother knows when something is not right. A good mother anyway... one who knows her children.
Happy ending, hooray! I was wondering if if was going to be lung cancer or something.!

Posted 4 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Definitely an intriguing start to something ... I miss your presence in this place. I especially miss your brutally honest critiques and your way of forcing me to look at my stuff in a new light and make it better. Come back. Visit me.:)

Posted 5 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.


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Added on December 25, 2015
Last Updated on December 19, 2020

Author

Delmar Cooper
Delmar Cooper

Trussville, AL



About
I write- a little. I don't write to reinvent the wheel, or discover fire. I just drag along from sentence to sentence hoping for a spark. more..

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