I stood at the glass window, fingers barely touching it. Such was the cleanness and sterility of the hospital that no sooner had my fingers left a mark did the cleaner wipe it away. I stepped back to let him continue his work, surveying the scene before me. Arthur lay on the bed, dressed in a white robe. The room itself was padded, devoid of any other furniture aside from the bed. I sat and clasped my hands to stop them trembling from rage at the injustice of it all. It terrified me how far people would go to delude themselves, to indulge in their own fantasies…
Not long ago, we had been in a hospital not as patients, but as workers. We had been fellow doctors, but whilst I was a run-of-the-mill doctor, more prone to assisting than operating, Arthur was truly the rising star of the hospital. He had the charm, heart and ability to become the leading surgeon of the hospital. That was why this fate was so degrading, so unfair to him that my heart ached when I saw him prostrate on that bed. A patient had arrived at the hospital. The fact that I even knew this was unusual. In such a crowded environment, patients were usually identified by how severe their injuries were before we had time to find their identity. But naturally, as soon as the mayor arrived, the whole hospital focused on him.
Apparently, he had suffered a heart attack, collapsing in his flat. The mayor was a popular figure in public office. Few people had issue with him and he had introduced a number of reforms to benefit the under-privileged in his time. Many people considered him to be an almost saint-like figure. Honestly, I had always felt somewhat intimidated by him. To be such a powerful figure and to be so well-loved, it was terrifying to think what would happen if he was ever harmed. The effect on the people would be devastating. People cared for him too much. Arthur was one of these people. He often expressing his admiration of the man since one of his student plans had helped Arthur afford the fees for his education. As such, upon hearing about the mayor, the terror I saw on his face was almost palpable. He immediately insisted to be the surgeon in charge for the operation. Coincidentally, I was the assisting doctor and we moved swiftly to the operating room. It wasn’t a complicated procedure. A basic operation had him in a stable condition within minutes.
However, after the surgery, I decided to take a look at his medical history. Arthur had collapsed in a heap after performing the surgery and I felt responsible to determine whether the mayor’s life was in any danger. I found it curious that he had no history of cardiac disease, or of any medical problems whatsoever. I remembered that the police had demanded a blood test to be done on him and I rushed to check the results.
I walked through the corridor, flipping through the report. My blood ran cold as my eyes raked over the sheet of paper. His blood was filled with a number of drugs, all of them highly illegal. Every drug was one he had fought tooth and nail to be prohibited. We had saved the life of a man who was playing an entire city for fools. I met with Arthur, showing him the blood test report. I expected a burst of outrage, devastation, grief as the colour drained from his face. I saw his upper lip tremble and his eyes begin to water. The last thing I expected was to have the report torn apart before my eyes.
Before I could protest, he was screaming something at me about how I had fabricated the results, how I was trying to destroy a wonderful man. I began to get angry, screaming back and I turned on him, ready to get another copy of the report when I felt a blow smash into the back of my head. I whirled around in shock. Despite the pounding in my head, I could see now with blinding clarity how transfixed Arthur was by the mayor. How far he would go to protect a man he believed to be a virtuous person. Of how he wouldn’t allow this image to be tarnished no matter what. I faded away as he continued to rant, my last sight before I lost consciousness to be of him regarding me with disgust.
When I came to, I was handcuffed to a table with a man on the other side of the table asking me questions tentatively. Did I know who I was? Why did I interfere with the blood test? Did I know the mayor personally? My mind was too foggy to process any more than that, the feeling of being interrogated so surreal that I couldn’t even answer. The man pursed his lips when I finally managed to tell him my recount of what had happened and he motioned to a guard at the door. The guard handcuffed me completely and lead me out where I was met with a truly heart-wrenching sight.
Arthur was writhing on the floor with two guards attempting to restrain him. He continued to scream “I’m not crazy!” in a demented manner, refusing all attempts to pull him to his feet. “Mayor, please save me, I just wanted to help you! Please!” The cries were not unlike a child in a pool crying for its mother, before slowly weakening and drowning into the depths. Tears streamed down his face, liquid dripped from his nose and his cries were becoming incoherent, becoming almost a gargle. He eventually stopped moving, allowing the guards to heave him up, while my guard stood there shaking his head sadly.
I turned to him, my tone low and pleading. “Do you believe me?” He shook his head before urging me along. “You’re not right in the head. The mayor wouldn’t do something like that,” he said. It wasn’t said with malice and there was no trace of ulterior motive. All I saw in his eyes was devout belief. The mayor’s image couldn’t be a lie. The city’s fantasies were fact. We were simply some crazy doctors who suffered a sad fate, cooking up a story for ourselves to excite our lives. A few days later, I was allowed to view the mayor on television. He was sobbing inconsolably, extending his thanks to the “kind doctors” who had saved his life and their families, wishing us a swift recovery and hoping that one day we could meet again as friends.
He had visited us only hours earlier, laughing at us from behind the screen like a child would at a circus animal. It was an act. The city and Arthur still believed that the mayor was a good man. Even as the mayor could be seen mocking us, Arthur pawed at the window begging for help. Even when the mayor walked off in disgust, sneering at the man who had saved his life, Arthur smiled happily, confident that he would come back to set him free. No one would ever be allowed to know about the mayor’s dark side so I knew we would never leave. The fantasy would continue, unbroken since there was no way people would be able to accept the truth. Reality was something people would not accept, and who could blame them? The fantasy was so much kinder than reality.