Chapter 1: Loomings
Call me Dr. Ishmael. Some years ago—never mind how long precisely—having little or no money in my purse and nothing particular to interest me, I thought I would go to medical school. I wanted to feel an enlarged spleen and learn the circulation.
Chapter 2: A Bosom Friend
It was the evening before the start of a long rotation, and I had to find quarters. I had been assigned to share a call room with another student. It was late and I dimmed the lights and fell into a disturbed sleep. Suddenly the lights flashed on, and a sight unlike any I had imagined came before my bleary eyes. It was a huge man, covered in tattoos, with strange piercings and wires sticking from his ears.
“Nizetameetya,” he mumbled. He pulled off his shirt, and I could see a large caduceus motif filled the canvas of his back.
“Watchaheerfaw?” he asked. It was some time before I could translate his strange island dialect. His name was Queequeg and he was from the island of Long. Before the sun had risen, we were best of friends. Better yet, we had been assigned to the same medicine service.
Chapter 3: The Hospital
A strange old building was the Pequod Hospital, an outreach of the Nantucket General Hospital. It was a hospital of the old school. The wooden floors were shiny with use and the walls a dim yellow. It had the distinct odor of disinfectant with a trace of stale urine; it smelled like a hospital. The spirits of patients lingered in the air.
Chapter 4: The Warning
As we entered the lobby, a student in a short white coat stumbled by us. Bedraggled, he was splattered with nameless filth. His name tag read “ELISA.”
“Doing a rotation are you? At the Pequod? You on Ahab’s team are you? It’s not too late to switch services. Not too late. Too late,” he said as he staggered off.
Chapter 5: Two Squires
We entered the ward and met an intern, Dr. Flask. A short, ruddy young fellow. Very pugnacious concerning scut. He was bent over a patient’s arm prodding for a vessel. He looked at Queequeg.
“Oh lord what have we here, are you a medical student or a freak show?” he barked. Queequeg pushed him aside, pulled a needle from a loaded pocket, and without hesitation plunged it into the patient’s arm, hitting the vein instantly. He turned toward Flask, who was now smiling broadly.
Several minutes later, a second intern named Dr. Stubb walked in. A mellow dude, neither serious nor intense. He was calm in a code; fearless in the face of an angry family. He constantly twirled a drug company pen, revolving endlessly around the fingers of his left hand. During rounds, while taking a history, perhaps while asleep, that ballpoint spun continually on a journey nowhere. It was hypnotizing.
Chapter 6: A Knight
I smelled him before I saw him. It was a scent of the islands, of roasted beans and cinnamon. It was Dr. Starbuck. He held the largest cup of coffee I had ever seen.
He caught my eye and rightly read my thoughts. “It’s a triple soy latte with a twist,” he said between sips. I never saw him without a cup in his hand. Lattes, espressos, cappuccinos—cold or scalding, frothy or black, Kona or Colombian—these were his passions. It was only about the divine essence of the bean that I saw him show his true emotions.