Where does the time go was the question that Donald Murphy pondered when he awoke on a Sunday morning. It didn't seem like a year had gone by, but it had and today was his thirty third birthday. He felt just the same as he did a year ago physically, but he knew that the aches and pains would eventually start as he advanced in age.
As he was taking a shower he thought he had a good meal to look forward to as his mother had insisted he come over to celebrate his birthday with her and his father. His mother was a good cook and beat the food at the fast food restaurants he normally ate at. His culinary skills were as they say, "Nothing to write home to mother about."
It was a very good meal as he had anticipated with a salad, a large beef roast, plenty of roasted potatoes and carrots, and homemade chocolate fudge cake which was his favorite. Don was thankful that the cake was devoid of candles celebrating his birthday.
Dad was his usual sort asking Don about what was happening in his life or at work. He seemed to enjoy hearing what his son was doing in his life. Dad said that things were going good at his insurance agency although the curtailment on the use of telemarketers had hurt a little. He said that the large amount of accounts he had were now the prime generator of new business although the direct insurance marketers were nibbling at his total number of accounts.
Don's mother presented him with a gift wrapped box after the meal. Judging from the box's size and shape, Don guessed that it was either a shirt or a sweater. He was partially right as it was two long-sleeve shirts, both of which were nice and from a name brand shirt maker. His mother insisted he try the shirts on as the sleeve length was always a concern because of the length of Don's arms.
Don had taken his shirt off and was reaching for one of the shirts when he heard his mother standing behind him say, "What's this?"
"What do you mean?"
He felt her hand rubbing his back and heard, "You have some spots here that don't look right. Maybe it's nothing, but I think you should go and see a dermatologist."
'Do you really think so?"
"Yes I do and I would feel better if you did see a doctor and have him or her take a look."
"Do you know of anyone I could go to?"
"I go to Doctor Allen who I think is good. I'll write her phone number and address down for you."
Don phoned the next day and was able to make an appointment for an exam in five days. He didn't think there was anything to what his mother saw, but he knew there would be no peace and quiet until he told his mother a doctor had looked at his back.
The doctor's office was located on the second floor of a building in an upscale shopping mall. The office looked new and was nicely furnished. Don noticed there were two people sitting in the waiting room. He was asked for his insurance card and given a clip board with some paperwork to complete when he introduced himself to the receptionist at the front desk. Don could see that where he worked and the name of his insurance carrier were the dominant questions on the paperwork he completed. He knew this was because the Doctor wanted to insure she would get paid for her services.
He took a seat in the waiting room after completing the paperwork. A young lady stepped into the area from a door that opened and called out his name about five minutes later. He rose and followed her into an examination room. The young lady introduced herself as Sandra and asked him to take a seat. She went over and confirmed what he had answered on the questionnaires. She asked him if he wanted a gown to put one when she was done questioning him. He said he didn't need one as he would take his shirt off and roll his Bermuda shorts up for the exam. She left the room saying he would be seen shortly.
It wasn't that long before the door opened and a woman who was out and out beautiful walked in. She was probably just short of thirty years old and about five foot nine or ten inches tall in the shoes she was wearing. She had on a white three-quarter length lab coat. Her rimless eyeglasses enhanced her very attractive face which his eyes were drawn to.
She was carrying a clipboard in her hand and said, "Mr. Murphy, I am Aria Powell, Doctor Allen's physician assistant and I will be doing your exam. Doctor Allen will be in after I'm done to confirm my findings. Will you please stand and we can get started."
Don stood and thought that going to the doctor does have benefits. Don was a little mesmerized by her pretty face and those rimless eyeglasses she was wearing. He watched her she was doing her exam and writing on the clipboard. The glasses adding to her beautiful face made for a lethal combination. He could see a ring through the plastic gloves that she was wearing, but he couldn't tell if it was a wedding, engagement, or some other type of ring.
"Are you married?" he asked.
"No, why do you ask?"
"All the pretty women I meet are usually married."
That remark caused a paused in her doing the exam and maybe a slight blush on Aria face, but then he heard, "Are you married?"
"No, why do you ask?" He thought he would give her response right back to her.
"All the good looking men I meet are usually married."
He laughed at her remark since she gave it right back to him which caused her to laugh as well.
The laughter was cut short as the door opened and in walked an older lady who introduced herself as Doctor Allen.
Doctor Allen conferred with Aria and he could feel his back being touched while they did this. He could hear their conversation as three areas of concern were discussed.
Doctor Allen said to Don, "There are three spots here that I don't like and I think they should be removed and tested just to see what they are. We can do that now if you want.
"Well I do have the time and if you think it should be done, let's do it now."
"If you'll lie down on the table we can get started."
It was a non-painful procedure except for a little prick he felt before she excised the three growths. He was told that he would be called and told what the lab results showed about the growths in about a week. He was given some anti-biotic crème to apply and told he could get dressed.
Don left the office after paying his deductible for the office visit. He phoned his mother to tell her of his visit and said he would hear what the biopsy of the three growths that were removed showed in about a week.
His mother said, "It will either be the receptionist or Sandra who will call to give you the results. The doctor or her physician assistants are usually too busy to do that unless it's something serious. Call me when you hear what they say."
Don was glad he phoned his mother. While she was nice and caring he knew she would hound him until he saw a doctor about those growths. He was glad his mother had seen them since he didn't and he wondered how many people do look at their backs. That's something that is tough to do even with mirrors. He thought the best way to do it is to have someone look at your back. He chuckled a little as he knew a few female friends who he thought would be happy to do that, but that would be somewhat of a weird request to make either before or after having sex.
Don had forgotten about the doctor visit until he heard the tune on his cellphone play about a week later.
In answering the call he heard, "Mr. Murphy, this is Aria Powell from Doctor Allen's office."
Her pretty face immediately came to his mind.
"Yes, Aria, what can I do for you?"
"We have received the results of the biopsies and I thought I would discuss them with you."
The thought immediately ran through is mind that there was something seriously wrong if Aria would be calling him to discuss the results. The biopsies had showed melanoma was the thought that crossed his mind.
"Go ahead and tell me the bad news."
"There is nothing bad, why do say that?"
"Well, since you're making the call, I thought..."
"Mr. Murphy the biopsies showed two of the growths were pre-cancerous and the other one was benign. There is nothing for you to worry about. The doctor would like to see you for a follow-up checkup in six months."
Hearing her say that brought instant relief, but he then wondered why she had made the call as opposed to who his mother said would do that. Was this an effort on her part because she wanted to meet him? That was a thought out from left field that went quickly through his mind. What the hell he thought, she can only say no. It was time to test the waters with her.
"Thanks for the good news and clarifying that. I instantly became worried when you called because it was you and not a nurse calling to give me the results of the biopsies. Thanks for calling as that worry is now gone. Now, please don't take this the wrong way but are you involved with someone because if you aren't I would like to ask you out to dinner. Don't hesitate to say no if that presents a problem and please call me Don."
There was a pause on Aria's part but then he heard, "I wasn't expecting you to say that. In answer to your question there is no significant other at this time and you seemed like a nice guy in the short time when I saw you. So yes, I would like to go out to dinner with you."
Aria gave Don her address, phone number, and e-mail address. He told her he would pick her up at seven on Saturday.
Don was proud of himself that he had asked Aria to go out, but he now had another worry. He had a long time ago admitted to himself that he was a worrier. There's no question that Aria had a beautiful and sexy face and besides her height and maybe her age, that's all he knew about her. He remembered that she was wearing a lab coat which shielded her body which prevented him from gauging how it was at that time. He hoped that her figure complemented her great face.
The days at work quickly passed by and he now found himself at the door to Aria's condo. He pressed her doorbell button with some trepidation on his part and thought "What will be, will be."
Aria opened the door and the worries about what the rest of her looked like immediately vanished. She had on an A-Line dark grey dress which encased her slim figure and highlighted her womanly curves. She was wearing her auburn shoulder-length hair down. A single strand of pearls and three inch high-heeled shoes rounded out a very attractive package. Don thought that she looked as good as or better than any of the Hollywood stars you see in the movies or on television.
Don walked into her condo and with a little bit of a smile on his face, said, "You clean up well kid."
He could tell she was taken back a little by his remark. With a smile on her face she responded, "Thank you kind Sir, you should see what I look like when I really try to dress up."
He laughed at her remark and when he could he said, "You are going to make some men's hearts beat faster and some women angry when they see how good you look."
"Thanks, it's nice to hear you say things like that."
Taking a light coat with her they left her condo and went to Don's car which was a black two-year-old Porsche 911 convertible.
Aria seemed impressed by the car as she said, "I have never ridden in a Porsche."
"It's a toy that I treated myself to. I would put the top down and take you for a nice spin on the interstate and then into the country if it was a little warmer. I think you would enjoy the ride and the wind blowing your hair."
At the restaurant Don was right about Aria's appearance. He could see both the men and the women giving her looks as they were shown to their table. Don couldn't help but feel good that she was his date tonight.
After they were seated and placed a drink order Don said, "Other than you being the best looking Physician's Assistant I know, that's about all that I know about you. Please tell me about yourself."
"Well, I initially had hopes of going to med school after getting my undergrad degree. My college grades were good and the MCAT score was above average, but not by much. The three schools I applied to said thanks, but no thanks. I then looked into the Physician's Assistant program and was accepted at the University of Iowa whose program is nationally ranked. In doing the program, I decided on dermatology as the area I wanted to specialize in. It seemed to me that in specializing in that area would be enable me to keep pretty regular hours. I enjoy what I do and I think this PA program is a field that will grow and expand into the future."
'This is the first time I am hearing about the Physician's Assistant program. It sounds interesting and maybe something more students should consider entering, especially with an ever decreasing job market."
"A great majority of the new med school graduates want to specialize or do research. There is a great need for practicing doctors that isn't being met which is why our country attracts a lot of foreign doctors. This shortage creates a need that the PA program can satisfy. While we're required to be supervised by a physician this doesn't mean we need to be in the same building or that we can't do things or make decisions on our own. If we have a problem or concern we can communicate with a physician anywhere there's internet access via Skype or video cameras. I think you are going to see more and more medical satellite offices staffed by PAs in days to come."
"What do you think will change as to treating patients?"
"I wouldn't be surprised to see the future a medical practice consisting say of five doctors and maybe fifty PAs. Some of these doctors would be in something like in a control room with computer monitors and could be called upon if a PA needed some assistance. These PAs and Doctors would be located in the States they are licensed to practice in. I think that's the future of what is to come.
The meals they ordered were brought to the table while the conversation continued.
"Now that I told you about myself, how about some reciprocity and you tell me about yourself."
"It's somewhat different from you in that I took my undergraduate degree in civil engineering. My dad had a friend who worked for the State Department of Highways. His friend told me to consider applying there which I did and I was offered a job, maybe with this friend's help. I liked the work which basically was asking for bids on highway construction or repair projects. Once we received and reviewed the bids, we selected one of the bidders to do the work. Contracts are signed and then we supervised the contractors in house or assigned outside supervisors to make the work done is in accordance with the contracts and there were no cutting corners."
"How did doing this work go for you?"
"I must have done well because I was promoted a few times and reached a position where my job unfortunately was at a political appointee level. My new boss was a recent political appointee who was a big fundraiser for our Governor and was using some of our workers to promote the Governor's re-election campaign. This unfortunately is against the law and he knew that it was and he knew that I knew it was. Instead of fighting him on this and causing a stink, one of the large companies we dealt with made me a job offer that was considerably more than I was making."
"What did you do?"
"I checked with my boss to see what his reaction would be if I left the Department. He was happy to see me go for a number of reasons. He had a friend he wanted to bring in to replace me and my leaving would solve the problem of how he could get rid of me. He nicely inferred that if I never mentioned or said anything about the work he had the employees doing for the Governor, he wouldn't blackball the company who made me the job offer from receiving any new State business. Usually that happens if it was thought that the company was stealing the State's employees. He hasn't done that and things have worked out well for me so far. I did make some friends at the State Highway Department who still look out for me and like the work I do. Because of that a good number of our bids are accepted by the State. Some of the bids they approve specifically require that I be the supervisor on the some project or manage other projects they have approved."
"Is what you are doing now much different than what you were doing with the Highway Department?"
"I basically do what I was doing when I was working for the State. The State Highway Department publishes a list of projects with specifications they want to do and we prepare bids on projects we're interested in doing. When our bids are accepted, we hire the contractors we know do quality work and make sure it comes in at or hopefully less than what we bid. There are penalties if we are late and bonuses if we come in early on the project. The Highway Department sometimes just assigns the managing of both large and small projects for us to handle. We're subject to their periodic inspections, but my company does good work and completes the projects as bid and on time. We don't cause any problems which is a big plus as far as the State is concerned."
"Enough about work, let's talk about something else and leave work for another time."
Aria agreed to the proposal and Don was glad that she did. He was impressed by her command of the language, how she expressed herself and her knowledge on a number of topics. He hoped he impressed her with his knowledge and opinions. He tried to play a little devil's advocate on some topics, but she handled his questions quite well. She came back at him with some questions that he thought he handled, but maybe with a little difficulty. Lingering over a second cup of coffee, he didn't want the evening to end and somewhat reluctantly paid the bill when it was presented.
He told her on the drive back to her condo that he really enjoyed himself tonight and hoped that she did to. He asked her if she would like to go out next Saturday. Don said there was a comedy club that he had been to a few times that was worth a visit.
Aria said, "I also enjoyed myself tonight. You're an interesting guy and you also know how to make me laugh and feel good about myself. You have a way of teasing me that keeps me on my toes which I enjoy and makes for a fun evening. Yes, I would like to go to the comedy club with you."
He told her he would pick her up at seven as she left the car.
Don thought it was a great date on his drive home. He would have liked to receive a goodnight kiss from her. While he didn't, he hoped that maybe he would sometime in the future. He'd bet it would be something that was worth waiting for. Don sensed that there was something beneath her cool, controlled exterior that intrigued him. He was already looking forward to Saturday and being with her again.
Don's cell phone played a tune during the week and when he answered it, he heard, "Don, this is Linda Jamison, how are you doing?"
"I'm fine Linda, how are you?"
Linda said she was fine. She was a nice girl who Don had bedded a few times. He backed off from taking her out anymore when he thought she was starting to get serious with him. It seemed like she understood he didn't want to get serious with her which changed their relationship to more of a platonic one.
"The reason that I'm calling is that one of my friends from work is getting married and I was hoping you could come to the reception with me. I would like to go with a guy there and not go stag."
'When is it?"
"Gee, I would like to go with you but I'm committed to something on Saturday that I can't get out of."
The conversation ended shortly with Don giving her two names of male friends who they both knew that he suggested she consider asking. One of the fellows he mentioned was Stan Osgood who Don knew was sweet on Linda which is why he recommended that she call Stan.
As far as he was concerned, he wasn't going to give up a date with Aria and Saturday couldn't come soon enough. He was having constant thoughts about her. Saturday eventually did come and he found himself eagerly wanting to see Aria as he pressed her doorbell button.
Don was in for a surprise because he wasn't looking at Aria when the door opened. He was looking at a fellow almost as tall as he was and maybe one or two years younger. He was a good looking guy and Don wasn't sure what to do or what to say.
"Please come on in, I'm Zack and Aria will be ready shortly."
Don was still at a loss for words.
"Can I offer you something to drink?"
"No thanks, I'm good."
Was this Aria's roommate or boyfriend or what was going on?
Aria walked out of the bedroom just then dressed in a black sweater and tan slacks. Don thought she looked good, but then again she always looked good.
Seeing or sensing Don's surprise or maybe by the look on his face she said, "You didn't tell him, did you?"
"I didn't have the chance."
"Don, I'd like you to meet my older brother Zack. He's a Navy pilot back here on leave and he surprised me with a visit."
Don felt a large sense of relief as he smiled and shook Zack's hand.
"Sorry for not saying anything sooner but the look on your face when I opened the door was priceless. It was nice meeting you and I'll be on my way."
For some unexplained reason Don reacted by saying, "Do you have plans for tonight."
"No not really, why do you ask?"
"Well I'm going to take Aria to a comedy club and you're welcome to come along."
"It's nice of you to ask but are you sure I won't be interfering?"
"Not at all, your being in the service and probably on a ship limits the time you have to spend with your friends and family. I'm sure Aria would like to hear how things are going and what you've been doing. I know I would as being a Navy fighter pilot has always been one of my fantasies."
"What do you say, Aria?"
"Speaking of fantasies, having two good-looking men as my escorts has always been one of mine. Let's all go have a good time. We can take my car as the three of us aren't going to fit in Don's Porsche."
They did have a good time. The three comedians were funny and put on a good show. The two drinks they each had during the show added to this fun time. They went and had a pizza and another drink afterwards.
Don was enjoying listening to Zack tell about his flying experiences and was constantly peppering him with questions.
Feigning exasperation at one point in this conversation Aria said, "Men and their toys, Don has a Porsche and Zack has an F-18. What do we girls have?"
In unison they both said, "You have us!"
They all laughed at these comments.
When they had arrived back at Aria's condo parking lot Don said he had a good time as he was leaving and said he would phone Aria next week. They both confirmed the good time they had with him and Zack said it was nice meeting Don.
Don smiled on the drive back to his condo as he remembered some of the things Zack said about his flying adventures. He also remembered the sight of Aria in those tan slacks she was wearing. They showed she had a nice small butt with a cute jiggle to it when she walked. That was a picture he wasn't going to forget.
Don phoned Aria Tuesday evening. He enjoyed hearing her voice on the phone. They rehashed last Saturday and the fun they all had.
"I thought your brother Zack was a super guy. I was really impressed by him."
"Funny, he said the same thing about you."
"I would like to take you out again if you are free this Saturday."
There was a pause in the conversation and then he heard, "I have a commitment for this weekend so I won't be able to go out with you, sorry."
"That's okay, I'll give you a call next week."
There was a little more conversation before the phone call ended. Dan was disappointed that Aria wasn't available, but he now was curious as to why she wasn't. He didn't try to pry into why and wondered if she had a date with someone else. It wouldn't surprise him if she did because he could see why a lot of fellows would be interested in dating her with her looks. He hoped she wasn't dumping him.
Work during the week was interesting to say the least. Dan heard about the fiasco of a bridge that was being built by one of his competitors across a rural two-lane highway. It became apparent that the construction of the abutments wasn't properly done when it came time to mount the steel beams on the abutments on each side of the road. The abutments were not lined up directly at each other which meant that the beams couldn't be properly mounted. A little investigation determined that the project engineer spent more time at the local watering hole than he did at the construction site. Needless to say he no longer was an employee of that construction company.
A problem Don found that week on a road construction project that his company was supervising was when he did a spot check of a new road as they were just starting to pour the concrete. Doing a compliance check Don did found that the roadbed was two inches short of the amount of gravel called for in the contract specifications. Two inches doesn't sound like much but it adds up to big money. The contractor initially resisted in correcting this flaw indicating that he was a big contributor to the Governor's re-election campaign. Don told him that he didn't want to hear about that or argue with him on the point and simply told him to fix this flaw if he ever wanted to do anymore State work. The contractor reluctantly agreed to correct the problem and comply with the required specifications.
Don also got a piece of this project's engineer hide for not finding this problem. Don told him that work was like a baseball game and he now had two strikes against him, one more and he was out of a job.
Don was having coffee with Tim Chambers a co-worker, the next day. Don told Tim about the contractor who was cutting corners on the amount of gravel on the road bed.
Tim said, "You need to keep a close eye on him. While he can do good work he doesn't hesitate to try and get away with a number of things to increase his profit. Someone once told me that he was offered a week's vacation in Aruba if he approved a shortcut this contractor wanted. The project manager refused to let him get away with this change. This contractor gets jobs because he unfortunately is somewhat wired into the State, but he needs to be closely watched."
Don thanked Tim for the information and made a mental note not to use this contractor in the future if he had anything to say about it.
With no date this weekend, Don went to a lounge that catered to a little older crowd. There was a DJ playing danceable music. Don looked at and received looks from some of the women who were there. He found himself comparing them to Aria and it turned out to be a no-contest as Aria was the hands down winner. He decided to call it an early night after a few beers and headed home alone.