The Monday After Armageddon

 

The First Monday After Armageddon

By

Cusper Lynn

There should, in principle, be no Monday after Armageddon.   By logic there should be no calendar after Armageddon.  But if there were to be a calendar, conspicuously absent from that calendar should be all references to Monday.  Monday is the reason, after all, that people crave Armageddon.  Monday is, for many people, the persistence of existence, the further dulling of the senses and the extinction of the heroic.   So is it any surprise that whether as a secret wish in some remote part of their soul or as some fully articulated religious cult, they should hold out for this to be the day when they, personally, get to watch the big flash that extinguishes all life?   Isn’t that exactly why people buy tickets to the movies?  To see the dress rehearsal; viruses, zombies, cataclysmic weather, aliens, war, men with axes, and rubber masks, meteors, God, Satan, politicians.  Wrap it all up in one nice package and you would have almost what every Armageddon cult craves; complete and total chaos.

Still there it was, it was Monday and Armageddon had happened.  Not the full production, Dolby surround sound, big screen 3D Hollywood blockbuster production, but Armageddon none the less.  With Friday’s legislative session concluded and the earth thoroughly scorched and salted the politicians had left town to trumpet their accomplishments.  I returned to my office and began to explain to my clients the body count from the legislative session.  Clinics, physicians, nurses and patients were now stacked up like cords of wood and the Governor was to set light to the pyre in the next two weeks.

“How long do we have?” Dr. Patricia Bellinger, director of the Women’s Health Regional Network, asked me that Monday morning.

I do not hesitate when giving clients bad news, but I did that morning. Dr. Bellinger is a gifted and dedicated physician – a rarity in the modern age – and her life’s work was being decimated by a series of changes in the state’s law and budgeting.

“As I read it,” I finally started, “the statutory language goes into effect in July, the budgeting and provision changes hit on January 1st.”

“Eight months,” she said calmly.

“Yes, I expect that there will be about three months into the next years before the full impact occurs.  But for practical purposes eight months,” I agreed.

“That was what I thought,” she said softly.

“Can I help?” I asked.

“Hmm,” she said distractedly, “Oh, no that’s alright Cusper.  We have been over this before.”

Which was true, Dr. Bellinger had asked for a work up of all scenarios that could come out of the legislative session and the one we were dealing with was the Armageddon scenario.  Still, the urge to do or say something persisted and I gave in.

“How are the partners taking this?” I asked.

“I think Dr. Joyner is considering suing,” Dr. Bellinger said peacefully.

“Who?” I asked, surprised at this information.

“Me, the Governor, the legislature,” Dr. Bellinger said absently.

“You?” I was shocked, “I know that there are several suits being ….”

“Dr. Joyner believes we should have sold out to Triream Health Corp. last year when they approached us.  Who knows, maybe she is right,” Dr. Bellinger sighed.

“Surely the officer’s notes…” I began.

“She wouldn’t win.  She is just very tired.  Her daughter was accepted to Harvard and her ex is suing her for more alimony. I think she will sue just to see what it feels like to file a suit,” Dr. Bellinger said, sounding very tired herself.

“What about Dr. Thomas?” I asked.

“Marci?” Dr. Bellinger replied, her tone rising, “She gave me notice this morning that she is exercising her buyout option.”

“I am so sorry,” I said.

“It’s okay, I have six months to get the money together,” Dr. Bellinger said, rallying.

“Have you spoken with your lawyer,” I asked, hoping to find some good news in all of this.

“We are meeting for lunch.  I had given her your Armageddon scenario two weeks ago.  She doubted it would happen, but promised me she would work up a strategy just in case.  I will see what she has this afternoon,” Dr. Bellinger said.

“Give me a call if you need anything,” I found myself fighting to keep the entreating tone out of my voice.

“I appreciate that Cusper, I really do,” Dr. Bellinger said, making no further commitment, “I have to go.”

“I understand,” I said, and then the phone went dead.

I stared off into the middle distance of my office and considered the world.   Doctors Bellinger, Joyner and Thomas were all good people and they were all dedicated servants to their patients.   The Women’s Health Regional Network was something they conceived of when they first met during their residence.  It was Dr. Bellinger who raised the money for the first clinic and it was Dr. Joyner who organized the acquisition of the other clinics.  Dr. Thomas joined them a few years later after working in a large medical group practice.   With the budget cuts, insurance reform laws and revisions of state health reimbursement programs the writing was on the wall for them; sell, close or die.  I shook my head.  Then the phone rang.

“Cusper..” I began to answer it.

“Hey, what do you hear?” a harsh voice cut me off.

I smiled, “Not much, just the end of the world.  How’s it with you?” I asked.

“Done.  Toasted, stick a fork in me,” he laughed, “I hear you were ringside of this little kaka voodoo session.”

“Yes, I watched it,” I answered Dr. Silas Martz, “was there for the final vote.”

“So the fat lady sang, and this two bit criminal of a governor is going to sign the bill and it is all over,” Silas summarized.

“Yep, you have it in one,” I agreed; it was really good to hear from Silas.

“What did I tell you Cusper?  What did I say before any of this started?” Silas asked, laughing.

“The suits from Chicago were going to come down and put on a dog and pony show,” I quoted him.

“Yes and then I said it would be on the last day that they would get through their agenda.  11th hour, mad push and the public wouldn’t know, wouldn’t understand and wouldn’t care until it was too late,” he retorted.

“And did I ever doubt you?” I asked.

“No.  But that is not the point. Do you know what some of these coconut heads are doing today,” He asked.

“Negotiating and reorganizing,” I ventured.

“Yes!  Can you believe this?  They’ve gotta be off in lala land,” Silas said derisively, “Dr. Famuko’s army of attorney’s have been working on this all weekend.”

I smiled to myself, Dr. Famuko was who the other doctors would follow.  If he could manage to get through this they would try to do whatever it was that he, his attorneys and lobbyist were planning on doing.  He is one of the most hated and emulated doctors in practice in this state.

“So what have you heard from Clay and Silverman?” I asked after the two partners who he did contract work for.

“Clay climbed into a bottle of rum this weekend and has refused to leave his pool in West Palm.  Silverman believes that Famuko’s lobbyist put a loophole in the law and is on the phone with that piece of crap health care lawyer he uses,” Silas gloated.

“Let me guess, Hospital,” I said.

Silas silent for a moment.  “Really?” he finally said, breaking the silence.

“Famuko owns the old Pierce North Regional building,” I informed him.

“No crap?” Dr. Martz said.

“No crap, I pulled up the title on it two weeks ago,” I said slyly.

“So you knew??” Silas said, sounding hurt.

“Suspected,” I corrected.

“Damn, so the loophole?” Silas asked.

“No loophole.  Dr. Famuko is going to open a hospital.  He is partnering up with a few of the governor’s old associates,” I said.

“Jesus,” Silas said stunned, “but how…”

“He will sell off part of the clinic chain, roll part into area health campuses and affiliate everything that is left with the new for profit hospital,” I explained.

“But, but…damn…why would he take on all that overhead?  Why would he get locked up with….” Silas trailed off.

“What does the law say?” I asked him.

“Hospital affiliated facilities,” He quoted the subparagraph, “But to go through all that to chase after lower…”

“No, you don’t understand.  This isn’t his new model,” I said, picking up a paper from my desk.

“Then what is it?” Silas snapped.

“Dr. Famuko’s pay day.  He is cashing out,” I went down to the next paragraph that moved all reimbursement to a single regional facility, “He has the revenue but no hospital to sell to.   The governor’s former associates have the hospital experience but no revenue stream to set up with.  So problem solved, they form the hospital, Famuko takes payment in cash and shares,” I observed.

“ What?!?   How much?” Silas barked.

“Best guess?” I asked.

“Any damn number you can give me,” Silas cracked.

“Three quarters of a billion,” I said softly.

“ WHAT!?!  You are telling me that piece of…frikkin clueless low life, mother….barely passed his damn boards…..killed more people than the plague,” Silas ranted in apoplectic rage, “He is getting nearly a billion dollars and the rest of us are supposed to grab our damn ankles?!?”

“Yes, that pretty much sums it up,” I said trying not to laugh.

“It makes perfect sense,” Dr. Martz said, regaining his composure.  “Famuko had to know before this started, he had to know two or three years ago.”

“I expect he knew when he was lending his jet to the last governor,” I added.

“Yeah, that’s right.  He worked on the campaign and he donated to this two bit crook too,” Silas observed.

“So,” I said.

“No loop hole,” he concluded.

“Just the one to be found in a noose,” I offered.

Silas laughed and then subsided.  “You know Silverman won’t give up.  He will try to find a loophole.”

“Him and about four hundred other doctors,” I agreed.

“So it is over?” Silas said sounding suddenly tired.

“All except the law suits and the orange jumpsuits,” I said.

“Yeah, I know.  Silverman won’t give up until he is dead or in jail.”

“Clay won’t let go either, once he climbs out of the bottle he will go back at it.  Looking for a way to keep it going,” I agreed.

“What are they going to do?” Silas asked.

“The smart ones will join a health campus, join a hospital network or move out of state.  A few lucky ones or screwed ones will leave practice all together,” I observed, “My question is, what are you going to do?”

“Cusper I took a forty percent cut when they hospital cut my department four years ago and I went to work for these two chimps!  What am I supposed to do?” Silas asked.

“The same thing the rest of the world is doing, adapt and improvise,” I suggested.

Then Dr. Silas Martz, one of the high priests of the cult of Armageddon said, “You know, I bet in that last second, before a person’s face evaporates when a nuclear bomb goes off, something in their mind says ‘I will get through this.’”

“I expect so.”

“Cusper, you do know they shoot doctors,” Silas said.

“Yes, Silas, I know they do.   Daily,” I answered.

“Give me a call later if you get a chance or hear anything,” Silas said.

“I will,” then the phone went dead.

So I returned to my phone calls, talking to the dead and dying on the first Monday after Armageddon.

 

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