I just love the title of Chapter 2 of The Intern, Our Lady of the Golden Arches, but, to be honest, I can't take credit for it. The credit belongs to my brother-in-law, who told me a story about how he and his brother used to skip mass on Sunday morning and go to the McDonald's nearby, which they dubbed, 'Our Lady of the Golden Arches.' For some reason that phrase stuck in my head for over twenty-five years, and it dropped out last week--making a big thump on the countertop--when I started the second chapter of The Intern.
For those of you who haven't heard about The Intern yet, it is a novel I am publishing on Wattpad, one chapter at a time, as I write it. Why, you ask? (Or, as my friend Andy said: Peter, you're a doctor; don't you have hemmorhoids to cut off?) There are three reasons: 1) I love the challenge of serialized fiction, a throw-back to the early days of radio, because you have to get it right the first time; 2) I am trying to build a following, and the best way to do that as an author is write stuff--preferably good stuff--you be the judge; 3) I have always kicked around the idea of writing a novel loosely based on my internship, which I remember vividly. So, without further ado, Our Lady of the Golden Arches:
Our Lady of the Golden Arches
Our Lady of Perpetual Mercy Hospital had been standing on the corner of 112th and 2nd for over one hundred years, and yet everyone had referred to it as ‘Our Lady of the Golden Arches’ ever since the McDonald’s restaurant had been built next to it in 1974. And that included the few remaining Sisters of Perpetual Mercy who ran the place as well as both of the intern’s parents, who had met there during their own internships in the eighties. (That the intern might have chosen a different hospital for her internship had been out of the question since the time her father had bought her a toy doctor’s kit for her third birthday.)
The intern pushed open the back door at 4am and trudged across the empty parking lot, passing through the spruce trees some previous administrator had planted in a failed attempt to shed the hospital’s moniker. She passed inside the restaurant and stopped in front of the counter without glancing at the menu. In the 8 months of her internship at Our Lady of the Golden Arches, she had frequented this place every day and yet had never gotten anything other than black coffee.
“You again?” the woman behind the battered linoleum asked her.
The tall, almost gaunt woman set two cups of coffee on the counter. “I saw you coming.”
Cindy nodded her head in acknowledgement. “You want something to eat?”
The intern shook her head. “No, thanks.”
“You ain’t some kind of aneroxic, are you?”
“If you are taking a history on me, Cindy, your bedside manner could use a little work.”
“This ain’t no hospital and I ain’t no doctor, Sweetheart, so I could care less about my bedside manner.”
“In that case,” the intern replied, “isn’t that the pot calling the kettle black.”
Cindy splayed her arms and spun around, causing her black apron to flutter. “What’s the matter with me? You sayin’ I’m too thin?”
The intern took a sip of her coffee. “No, not at all,” she lied. “I think you look good.”
“Is this some kind of half-assed come on, Sweetie? Cuz’ I don’t go that way, no matter what bullshit my ex keeps spreading around.”
The intern laughed, assuming she was making a joke—but in truth she was never a hundred per cent sure what Cindy meant by anything she said. She thanked Cindy for the coffee—it was free for the interns and other housestaff—and headed for the door.
“But if you’re looking, Honey, I might be able to rustle you up a date.”
The intern wanted to keep going, out the door and into the hospital where pre-rounds were waiting, but she couldn’t help herself from stopping.
“What did you hear?”
“I hear everything, Sweet Pea.”
“In that case you know I’m seeing someone,” she said, and immediately regretted how snooty she had sounded.
“Horse-mouth?” Cindy laughed. “A nice-looking girl like you can do better than that, Honey Pie. Much better.”
A terrible curiosity possessed her, but she wouldn’t give in. “Nice-looking girl?” she replied. “Is that some kind of half-assed come-on?”
“If I was coming on to you, Sweet Cakes, you’d have no doubt about it. None at all. And besides, a well-bred girl like you—ain’t no chance you could handle me.”
Ok, I hope you liked the first part of Chapter 2. If you want to read more, clink on the link below, and please follow me on Wattpad, vote for the story, and leave a comment. Thanks again for your support. And don't be deterred by Wattpad, it's free and easy to join, and there are lots of other stories to read if you are interested.