A Matter of Fortune

Farquart hated his job in spite of its newness. His employment had just begun, and Farquart would have just as soon kept his old job, which was that of a petty thief. The whole village knew Farquart, all being used to seeing him in the pillory, his head and hands locked in the stocks. But yesterday the king’s guard had been marching past the stocks, the sergeant at arms saw Farquart, and took him in hand. He was taken to the castle and pushed into the kitchen. “You will steal no more.” declared the sergeant. “From now on you will work here in service to your king.” Farquart thought this was a pretty good deal until he discovered that he’d just been posted as the king’s food taster. In many kingdoms, this was a cushy job. Not so in this kingdom, where everyone despised the king who made it a point to over-tax his people and had a habit of taking daughters of the villagers into his bed only to discard them in the morning.

“Man, this kinda bites it.” mumbled Farquart, who found a comfortable place to sit to wait until it was time to do his job. When the time came for supper, Farquart dutifully tasted items from the king’s plate. He tried a green bean, some potato, and a bit of the roast duck and found it all terribly tasty and delectible. 

The sergeant of the guard watched Farquart sample the king’s food. Farquart made a noise in his throat. His hands flew to his neck and he tried to get air. He spasmed twice and lay still. When the sergeant checked him he found that he was quite dead. The sergeant called his soldiers and they slayed all of those in the kitchen. Perhaps an overzealous move, what with Farquart having perished by choking to death on a bone from the roast duck.

* * *

The Sultan lay on his pillows holding his expansive belly and moaning. His Visir had sent for the doctor and he’d come to minister to the potentate, and was now stroking his long beard and staring towards the ceiling as though waiting for a diagnosis to fall from the heavens. “This is very serious and mysterious.” he said aloud. With that, he’d returned to his little shop and set about working with his herbs and concoctions. He mixed according to the symptoms he’d observed; a bit of this for stomach woes, a bit of that for fever, and another bit for the aches. Finishing, he carried his concoction back to the palace and went again to see the Sultan. “Here, Master,” he said, proffering his liquid to the Sultan who immediately drank from the contents of the vial. The doctor had made enough of the potion for four doses. The Sultan then sent everyone away that he might sleep a while. The doctor returned to his little shop.

In the evening, he was startled when the Grand Visir appeared accompanied by a phalanx of men. The physician was very afraid until the Visir said “The Sultan feels wonderful! He has sent me here with a token of his gratitude.” He gestured, and the men lay gems, spices and gold at his feet. “Again, the thanks of a grateful Sultan.” said the Visir and he left with the men as abruptly as he’d appeared. The physician was overjoyed at his fortune, and immediately secured it by hiding it in various places about the shop. As he lay his head down to sleep that night, his mind reeled with the finery he would fetch himself on the morrow.

The night was quiet and warm, and passed with little event for the people of the physician’s neighborhood. But in the morning, the body of the physician was found, his throat cut. The shop had been ransacked, and all of value had been found and taken. 

* * *

I wasn’t pleased to be diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma. But I was and now I was sitting in my oncologists treatment room. “Are we all ready?” asked my doctor. I thought to myself that there was no ‘we’ about this, I was the one about to take treatment. I then wondered why certain professions employed the encompassing term of ‘we’ instead of just saying ‘you.’ Never the less, I nodded in affirmation and the doctor had his nurse give me an infusion of chemotherapy. In all it seemed like a non-event when it was over. They told me they’d see me in a couple of days for the next infusion and sent me home.

A few hours later I began to feel queasy. The sensation kept building and soon I was retching and cramping. Friends found me semi-concious and delerious an hour or so later. An ambulance was called for me and I was taken to the hospital. I was dehydrated, hardly had a pulse or measurable blood pressure. The Emergency Room crew worked on me for a few hours before I was finally sent up to ICU where I would spend a week.

“What happened to me?” I asked the doctor on his rounds. He told me that I had been poisoned. He reminded me that chemotherapy often was toxic, and that a fine line had to be walked between helping and killing the patient. In my case it was worse though, apparently I had a sensitivity to the toxin itself, and that produced toxic shock. 

* * *

There are often times when we look up to the heavens and scream the question “WHY?” 

Sometimes, stuff just happens.