“My God, is that you, Asher? We thought you were
dead!” The short fat man stopped before the bench as people
swirled through the huge lobby. The Johns Hopkins hospitals
were known throughout the world, and all nationalities appeared
to be represented in the crowds coming and going.
The gaunt, sandy-haired man looked up from his newspaper. “It
wasn’t for want of trying,” he said coldly.
Benton sat heavily, wheezing. He put down his briefcase. “I
had nothing to do with it, you know.”
“You were there, Benton,” said Asher. He folded his newspaper
and sat looking levelly at the other man.
“But it was a tradition,” Benton whined. “It was part of the
“They put me out of the car with no clothes in the middle of the
Connecticut countryside on the coldest night of the winter. It
was a blizzard.”
“They were supposed to leave you a blanket.”
“Well, they didn’t,” Asher snarled. “Let’s not mince words.
Clarke did it because you all knew I was gay. He said so when
they threw me out. ‘Die, faggot!' is what they yelled when they
drove away. I spent two weeks in the hospital and lost three
“I’m sorry,” said Benton. His face reddened as he gasped for
air. He coughed violently and swallowed. “You know, they found
the car buried in the snow two days later. It had gone off the
highway into a ravine. The bodies of both Clarke and Dennis
were still inside, frozen stiff.”
“Good!” Asher hissed. “I wish you all had been killed.”
“We thought you’d been thrown clear. The police searched the
entire area but by then the snow was so deep they couldn’t find
anything. You never came back.”
Asher got up and straightened his long white coat. “I
transferred the moment I got out of the hospital. I finished
here at Hopkins,” he said.
Benton struggled to his feet. He gasped for breath. “They say
I have tumors throughout my lungs. I’m here to consult with some
“That would be me,” said Asher. He turned and walked away.
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