The Shimmering Bubble by William Wortman
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A weeklong meeting in California ends and a weary Dr. David Jacobs boards his flight home. Kathleen, a lovely and intriguing flight attendant welcomes him. There is instant attraction. While waiting for departure they banter. Scotch and fatigue lull him to a fitful sleep after take-off, but he doesn’t sleep well. Ghosts from a hidden past cause recurring nightmares. Friends know nothing about this, and he cannot tell them.
Thirty years as a surgeon and his wife’s recent death compound his problems. Kathleen’s curiosity is piqued by words muttered as he dreams. Who is “Scott?” Where is “Erzerum” and “Capo Posillipo?” Why does the name “Michael” bring tears to his eyes? Who are these people? Most importantly, she asks herself, why should she care? Why does this man she has just met evoke deep emotions and feelings long suppressed and denied? He awakes, she queries him, but her perception threatens to reveal ghosts he can’t expose. He leaves her questions unanswered.
David bids farewell at the airport. He promises dinner if she has a future layover. Kathleen intrigues him and her memory remains vivid. His Medical School class is holding its reunion and he’s there for the evening’s festivities before proceeding home. Many classmates attend: Sexy Sarah, her husband Allan the Gas Passer, Texas Charlie, Marty the Slob, and Moosie the class clown. All, he reflects are interestingly intertwined, tied by bonds in and beyond their profession.
Some absentees are the ones Kathleen has asked about and their memories torment him. As a writer he needs to tell their stories if he is ever to be free of their ghosts. On his late wife’s death bed he promised her to do just that, but he procrastinates. Kathleen calls. She has an unexpected layover. Would David like to see her before she leaves? Would he be interested?
On impulse he invites her to the reunion dinner and she accepts. His friends are amused but supportive, especially Sarah. Excited but apprehensive David realizes Kathleen could hold answers for him to many questions and needs and possibly help finally put to rest many of the ghosts. We meet a number of his colleagues. They discuss themselves and others from their past. What role do each play in David’s life? All have a poignant story to tell.
Between the Prologue and the Epilogue David tells their stories in a series of narratives. But he must eventually face the past he has tried unsuccessfully to forget. And that might mean revealing secrets long kept hidden.
Tinkerer, traveler, former sailor, Naval Officer and spy, William Wortman is a retired OB-GYN married to an attorney. They live with Benzie, a Schnauzer, in North Carolina. When not being otherwise creative, this wine connoisseur and gourmet chef divides his time between writing and helping direct his wine and beer importing and distributing company. He has been published in the Journal of the American Physicians’ Poetry Association, MEDIPHORS: a Literary Journal of the Health Professions, the Journal of the Southern Medical Association, Patient Care Magazine, regional newspapers and other nontechnical journals, and (under a pseudonym) several national magazines. In addition to editing the Société Mondiale (wine) and Turning Spit (features) portions of Gastronome the National Journal of the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs, the oldest food society in the world, he has served as National Vice Echanson (VP) of the Société Mondiale. He wrote by invitation the chapter on Obstetrics and Gynecology in Pfizer Pharmaceutical’s book, A Career Guide for Medical Students, (published by Mark Powley & Associates) a copy of which was given to every graduating medical student in the United States. He has two grown children and four grandchildren. His motto is: “The fear of death can be eliminated by the ubiquitous joy of living!”