Dr. Chapman had been valedictorian of his class in high school
and college but had finished second in his class in medical school, something
that still bothered him after 30 years of successful practice in a small city
where no one knew him when he opened his office but where today he was much
appreciated by his patients. Many of them came from all over the state to see
Over the years, he had hired a number of practical nurses to
assist him in his practice and went out of his way to hire those that might
have had trouble being hired elsewhere due to discrimination. He was proud of
his record and didnt have much turnover in staff.
Between patients he and his nurses would often discuss weighty
topics of the day, delving into difficult subjects such as religion and
politics. Most of his nurses had tried at one time or another to get him to
vote their way and they always tried to convince him to go to church, even if
it wouldnt be the church any of them attended. Dr. Chapman was always
polite but always resisted their efforts.
One day Dr. Chapman got into an interesting discussion with
Ruby, who had worked for him for 10 years. She was an excellent nurse who
always assisted him perfectly in his outpatient procedures. He paid Ruby very
well and valued her as a person and as an employee. Sometimes Ruby would bring
extra food from home for lunch and microwave it for her and the doctor so he
could try some of her cuisine, food he otherwise might not encounter since they
came from very different backgrounds. He had grown to love her collard greens
and cornbread. She could never bring too much of either.
One day after lunch, Ruby asked Dr. Chapman if murder was always
Its always wrong, Ruby, except in self defense. I
think the death penalty is wrong, too. Why execute a killer when you can lock
him up for life and give him hard labor. Any life is important.
Ruby had brought the subject up because the day before someone
in her neighborhood had killed a man who was notorious for stealing from his
neighbors when they were not at home. Someone in a car drove by his house and
shot him dead while he was getting his mail.
Dr. Chapman told Ruby that the neighbors should have called the
police about the man and let them investigate. He might have been innocent and
now he was dead.
We did call the cops, Doctor, but they never could catch
him. Thats why somebody killed him. No one knows for sure who did it but
even if they did, no one would tell. You dont snitch on anyone in my
Dr. Chapman had worked in the area long enough to understand
what Ruby was talking about. In fact, many of his patients came from her
neighborhood as well as neighborhoods that had even more crime.
Lunch was over now and Dr. Chapman had a waiting room full of
women ready to see him. He and Ruby would have a busy afternoon, no time for
conversation. But he did have one more thing to say before she helped him don
his surgical mask and gown.
Ruby, before you go home tonight, please empty the bucket
of fetuses. Tomorrows Friday and the garbage men will be coming around
That was something Ruby did every night. She didnt say
anything but with her many years of experience, she didnt have to be