Installment One - Installment Two - Installment Three - Installment Four - Installment Five - Installment Six - Installment Seven - Installment Eight - Installment Nine - Installment Ten
THE HUGE ROSES (working title)
copyright 2014 by Betty van den Betsy; not for reprint or publication without permission
Chapter Four, part three:
He didn’t waste time with the cliché of an opening joke, but thanked the dean and audience simply and directly, and gave credit to half a dozen students, interns and residents who had assisted with the research. He then introduced the co-leaders of the project, his “valued colleagues, Dr. Caroline Frieder, who is here to answer your questions with me after these brief remarks, and Dr. Joshua Brown, who can’t be with us. He is... in orthopedic rehab.” Dr. van den Nie smiled in acknowledgement of the murmur of amusement, then launched into the project’s background. Tory flipped open her notebook and started to scribble.
The lecture felt more like a conversation; the doctor was clearly comfortable speaking to an audience. His tone was natural, his manner relaxed, and his insights were useful. His slides illustrated key points clearly. Most of the talk related to his work with athletes, but he brought up interesting highlights from his work with the elderly at several junctures. Tory had filled four pages with notes when Dr. van den Nie finished up with some comments on the next steps he and his colleagues would take with the project, and Carrie Frieder joined him to enthusiastic applause.
Tory chose not to participate in the Q&A session. She was interested, and would have liked clarification on a few points, but the lecture was really intended for students at the medical school; she and Dr. Bachman were invited as a courtesy. She was confident, too, that as they provided data for the geriatric study, she would have opportunities to ask about the work. Neil was a different story; after quiet consultation with Emma about different casts they’d worn over the years, he raised his hand. Dr. Frieder pointed toward him, and Dr. van den Nie looked in their direction, too. His eyes narrowed as he gazed toward Tory’s handsome brother, and Tory wondered whether the auditorium lighting was bothering him. He couldn’t have been perplexed by Neil’s question; he and Emma had worked it out together, and Neil was clear and succinct – as was Dr. van den Nie’s answer.
Nonetheless, after thirty minutes of Q&A, as they gathered their coats and bags, Emma and Neil got into a heated discussion of its implications. Emma was an advocate for enforced rest; Neil was certain the learned lecturers had proven the worth of early, light exercise for injured joints. After Dr. Bachman had checked his watch twice and cleared his throat once, Tory put both hands on Neil’s triceps and pushed him toward the aisle. “Let’s go,” she said. “I want my dinner, and so does Dr. Bachman. You can argue on the way to a pizza place.”
Both twins immediately apologized to Dr. Bachman, who shrugged with his usual good nature, grinned and said, “Less sorry, more movement!” They made it back to the lobby with the rest of the stragglers, and found a small group gathered around the lecturers. Dr. van den Nie, easily able to look over the heads of the people around him, saw Tory and gave a small nod that Emma witnessed. “Right, you know him,” her sister exclaimed. “Introduce us!” She started prodding, and Tory perforce headed that way, insisting, “Dr. Bachman knows him. He should introduce you.”
Spotting their group, Dr. van den Nie made a gracious gesture and moved away from his eager acolytes to shake hands with his Bristol colleague. “Excellent work, Max,” Dr. Bachman said. “You’ve got a gift for public speaking, which makes this sort of thing much easier on your audience. Thanks for inviting us. Let’s see... you’ve met my nurse, Tory Bird, I think.”
“Indeed,” the doctor replied, extending a hand Tory took self-consciously, ducking her head as she mumbled, “Hihowareyou.”
“And these are her brother and sister,” Dr. Bachman continued. “Emma and Neil are two of Bristol’s celebrities, and regular customers of mine.” Dr. van den Nie’s eyes, usually hooded, opened wide, and he smiled warmly at the Bird twins. They all shook hands in their turns, and Emma, after the briefest greeting, launched into questions about rest versus exercise. Dr. Bachman interrupted immediately. “Emma, it’s past seven, Tory and I have an hour’s drive home, and I want my supper. Are you coming with us? Max, if you don’t have plans you’re welcome to join us, if you can stand being badgered by these two.”
“I should be delighted,” the orthopedist replied. “In fact, given Tory’s delightful hospitality when I first arrived in New Hampshire, and your willingness to collate data for my geriatrics research, I hope I can persuade you to be my guests. I’ve found Pine at the inn to be excellent. Will you join me there?”
Tory, still gazing at linoleum tiles, felt a peculiar warmth spread through her. It would be fun to spend time with the doctor, even if she was very much the junior member of the party. Dr. van den Nie turned around to invite Carrie Frieder to join the group. Keeping her head down, Tory headed toward the exit with the others, sticking close to her boss.
Even in two short weeks, Dr. van den Nie had clearly made an impression at one of Hanover’s best restaurants. The hostess greeted him with pleasure, assured him that seating a party of six would pose no difficulty, and seemed to direct two busboys and a waitress to clear a large, round corner table and set it up again without a word. Her eyebrows alone communicated the order to be quick about it.As they waited, Tory quietly studied Carrie Frieder, standing near Dr. van den Nie. The researcher was about 40, dressed in a grey wool trouser suit with a quiet sage pinstripe, and a dark green cotton turtleneck with a silver chain around her neck. Her make-up was subtle, and her glossy hair, flecked with white, pulled back into a French pleat. She had shown herself nearly as good a speaker as her colleague during the question-and-answer session, albeit with a tendency to digress on occasion. The two clearly had a strong working relationship, and Tory wondered idly if it amounted to more than that. She would certainly wish someone more like this strong, smart woman for Dr. van den Nie than a Fleurie Gold or haughty Dutchwoman.