Friday, August 29, 2014

The Trial of Mrs. Randall

When Jake and Patty decided to not have children they took a lot of criticism for it. But one doctor offered them the chance to never regret their decision. What he didn't tell them, what they couldn't know, was how it would tear their lives apart. 

“Ahem.”
She looked around vaguely for a moment before her eyes found the source of the disturbance.
“Mrs. Randall, I’ll ask you again, can you tell us the role of Dr. Olson’s procedures in the tragedy of January seventeenth?”
She furrowed her brow, looked at the lawyer, then the judge and then back to the lawyer, “If you really want me to…”
“We really do,” said the judge.
***
With that, Mrs. Patricia Randall explained why she and her husband went to see Dr. Robert Olson. They’d been married for over ten years and finally decided that they weren’t going to have children. Her husband, Jake, was going to have a vasectomy so that she wouldn’t have to keep taking birth control.
They’d gone in to see the doctor, but since they didn’t have any children, there were a series of talks, evaluations and confirmations required. First, the nurse talked to them for a long time, asking them if they were really sure that they didn’t want kids. Then the doctor came in and asked the same questions. Finally they were sent off for a psychiatric evaluation, separately, and asked the same questions.
It’s not as if their parents and friends and sometimes complete strangers hadn’t grilled them already with the standard litany of questions.
“Who will take care of you when you’re older?”
“Don’t you like kids?”
“What about the future?”
“You’d make great parents. Why won’t you do it for the kids?”
And of course, “Isn’t that selfish of you?”
But still, after all the cajoling and interrogation by friends, family, nurses, doctors and psychiatrists, they still came to the same conclusion. Jake and Patty didn’t want kids. The vasectomy was performed, Jake recovered in a few days and the couple went on with life as usual. Jake went back to work selling computers and Patty continued with her travel agency – yes, some people still use travel agents.
Months later, after they’d forgotten about the procedure, they received a letter from Dr. Robert
Olson. It was vague, but in it, they were invited to discuss the results of the vasectomy with him, in private.
Jake worried that something was wrong, reasoning that doctors don’t invite you to talk in private if they aren’t telling you that you have cancer or something. Patty reassured him, but she didn’t delay in making the appointment with Dr. Olson.
When they arrived at the address, they both noticed that it was a much nicer building than the clinic where the original procedure happened. The landscaping was immaculate and the waiting room had real, wooden furniture instead of pressboard and veneer. The magazines were even recent and unmarked by crayons and jam-encrusted toddler fingers.
They both settled in for a long wait, standard operating procedure for their usual doctor visits. So they were surprised when the nurse called them back the moment the clock struck ten-thirty – the time of their appointment. Stepping into Dr. Olson’s office, they both gawked at the dark, wood shelves lining the walls and filled with leather-bound books. The mahogany desk centered on the far wall was wreathed by light from the French doors. Later Jake remarked that it felt like they were walking into Mr. Burns’ office at the nuclear power plant. The only thing missing was a stuffed polar bear in the corner.
“Please come in, sit down,” Dr. Olson said. “I’m so happy you came.”
After they shook hands and settled in to the plush chairs, the doctor addressed the reason for his letter.
            “The two of you are the perfect candidates. After all our searching and researching, we’re so happy to have finally found you.” 

***
Read the rest of the story here

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