Home > Anything but Easy

Anything but Easy
Author: Susie Tate

Chapter 1


Are you even a bloody doctor?

 

Kira

“Kira, you maniac!” Mark grunted, finally dropping the remote after I elbowed him in the stomach. My face split into a wide grin as I scrambled away, remote in hand.

“Man up, Marky Mark,” I said, pressing some buttons to change over to BBC HD. “You know I gotta get my news on in high-def these days. And you were about to turn over to Say Yes to the Dress, you big queen.”

“I’m a queen and proud Ki-Ki. And since when don’t you like Yes to the Dress?”

“I think we could all do with a bit of current affairs, don’t you, Mark?” I used my best haughty tone as I flung my arm out to the rest of the genitourinary department coffee room. Apart from me and Mark, there was only a locum GU consultant who was trying his best to ignore us, and Sandra, a staff nurse so used to me that she barely even looked up from her tuna salad. “Some of us care about the world at large.”

I paused the telly and took a deep breath in. Mark held up both his hands and shook his head.

“Kira, don’t you dare si–”

I leapt off the sofa, got right in Mark’s face and went into my version of Fight the Power by Public Enemy, complete with my pop and lock rap moves.

I was cut off by him dragging me up from a slut drop and clamping his hand over my mouth. Just as I was getting into it, the fun sponge. Sandra’s shoulders were shaking with laughter.

“No. Rapping.” Mark looked at me sternly. “You are a small white English girl with hippy tendencies, not an African-American freedom fighter from the ghettos of New York.”

“We can all fight the powers that be, Mark.” I grabbed the remote and started up the News again. “But it starts with us being well informed.”

The headlines came to an end and I sat back with a dreamy sigh as He filled the screen. Mark rolled his eyes.

“Well informed, my arse. You’re obsessed . . . with a fucking Tory.”

I shushed him, my gaze intent on the glorious sight in front of me as I leaned forward over my knees to get a better look.

“Yeah,” I breathed. “Yeah, you dirty little politician, you. Wear that suit, you naughty man. Own it. Work it.”

You’d be forgiven for thinking I was watching a Magic Mike routine rather than the current Minister of State for Business, Energy and Clean Growth walk out of Number 10 Downing street and get into a waiting car. He was tall, taller even than the close protection officers that flanked him, and he filled that immaculate suit out nicely. His hair was dark but his eyes were light blue and piercing. Every time he looked into the camera during a speech, he gave me shivers up my spine.

“I love the way he ignores the press. He’s always got this stern, serious thing going on.” I flopped back with a loud groan as the image of Barclay Lucas was replaced by Fiona Bruce. I fanned myself for a minute. “Holy cockwombles. I’m so turned on I’m not sure I can cope with my clinic this afternoon.”

“This obsession is getting weird, Ki Ki,” Mark said. “I mean he’s hot, but honestly. A politician?”

“But I love his commanding presence. The way he doesn’t take any crap. He’s just like taking global warming and giving it a good spanking. He cares about stuff. And, well, he’s got a nice arse. I think. Under the suits. At least, I imagine it’s nice.”

I would agree with Mark that Barclay Lucas was not the most logical subject of a Kira Crush – there was a gaping chasm between him and my normal type (think dreadlocks, eyelids half-mast after smoking too much weed, questionable personal hygiene). But the thing about Barclay was that even if his party did support cuts to legal aid, housing benefit and didn’t fully support unions, the times I’d heard him speak on Question Time or in the Houses of Parliament (yes I might be a bit of a flake, but that doesn’t mean I don’t like to get my politics on of an evening) he had this fire in his eyes, this passion for change. Despite being a Tory, he still seemed to be bent on improving social inequality. And he was the driving force behind the Energy Revolution, which he believed would benefit the most disadvantaged in society and the environment. After nuclear fusion producing clean energy for the national grid became a real possibility two years ago, some politicians had been dragging their feet. Barclay was certainly not. And the way he spoke about it – the intense focus and absolute clarity of his words – it was impossible not to believe him. It was impossible not to believe that yes, Barclay Lucas could save this country. In fact, forget the country: Barclay Lucas could save the world.

“Well, he’s gone now so can you please . . .” Mark made another lunge for the remote, but when he was within reaching distance I smirked, leaned forward and licked his face. He had this weird thing about germs. He wouldn’t eat a pasty after it had fallen onto the canteen floor, not even when it was within the five-second rule – fussy, wasteful weirdo.

“Ugh!” he said, recoiling in horror. “You are so gross. I do not want girl cooties, thank you very much.”

“Plenty of peeps would pay good money to have me lick their faces,” I told him, before catching the locum consultant looking over at us in horror and giving him a cheeky one-eyebrow raise. He abruptly abandoned his cheese sandwich and made a dash for the nearest exit.

“Try not to scare off the locums, Kira,” Sandra said in a patient tone, shaking her head. “You know it’s hard enough to get them in the first place and he’s one of the good ones.”

“He’s a pussy is what he is,” I muttered under my breath, snatching up the uneaten half of the cheese sandwich he’d left and shoving it in my mouth. “Come on, losers. Those willies and foofs out there aren’t going to save themselves.”

“Actually Kira, you’re not doing the walk-in today,” she said. “Prof’s had to go to some type of emergency meeting. You’re covering his HIV clinic.”

I smiled. It wasn’t that I minded the bread-and-butter genitourinary medicine stuff, but once in a while it was good to actually get stuck into some difficult cases, and Prof’s clinics were full of those.

*****

I sighed and sat back in my chair to look at the gaunt, scruffy, but surprisingly still handsome, man in front of me. Surprisingly because the skin of his face was red and flaky with seborrhoeic dermatitis, his cheeks were hollow and he wore a sullen, pissed-off expression. Why had I thought that tackling tricky cases would be a nice change of pace? This guy was just depressing. When I’d seen that his second name was Lucas, I’d felt like it was a cosmic sign of how well my day was going to go. I was very into cosmic signs. For me, daydreaming about a guy called Lucas and then seeing that same name on a set of notes in front of me was a good one. I was now realising that my theory had some holes.

“Mr Lucas . . . Henry,” I said, noticing a flinch at the use of his first name, but still no attempt at actual eye contact. “Since your hospital admission with PCP you’ve been on antiretrovirals for a good few months.”

Henry had had a dry cough for long time which he had ignored until it became difficult for him to breathe. He was admitted to hospital a year ago and his chest x-ray showed diffuse shadowing, suggesting Pneumocystis Carinii Pneumonia, or PCP – a marker of the immunosuppression associated with AIDS. An HIV test was requested in his first set of blood tests and the result had been positive. The pneumonia was treated with antibiotics and he was discharged with antiretroviral medication, but he’d missed two follow-ups in clinic since then. The one time he had actually attended, Prof had described him as having a ‘flat affect’, meaning he’d appeared emotionless. Prof had been concerned, but his attempts to contact Henry after his subsequent missed appointments had been unsuccessful.

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