The Sample

Tommy was behind the rest of the group, who had already finished their initial interview with the doctor. But Tommy was left behind because the doctor wanted to ask more questions of him.

He was interested in the x-ray photograph of Tommy’s face where the left eye socket showed an irregularity. He needed to know how the hair line fracture occurred and why it wasn’t listed in any of Tommy’s medical records.

Once the doctor was satisfied that the old injury would be of no problem to the future airman, he sent him on his way. “Just go down the hallway and turn left, following the red line,” the doctor instructed. Tommy dutifully did as he was told.

The red line led to a doorway with a sign on it. The sign said to knock first and this is what Tommy did. A muscular man opened the door and Tommy stepped inside.

Once inside the muscular man went behind a long counter, reached down and pulled out a clear plastic container. He handed it to Tommy and said, “The restroom is right there.” He pointed to another door on the other side of the room. “Go fill it up,” he added. Again Tommy dutifully did as he was told.

Once he was finished he took the container back to the counter. The muscular man was not there, so he sat the plastic container on the counter and stood there waiting.

Suddenly the door behind Tommy burst open and a young man who looked to be in a terrible rush stepped inside the room. He had not bothered to read the sign that said knock as he just came in and closed the door behind himself.

He stood next to Tommy, his eyes searching around the room as if he were looking for the next thing he was supposed to do. With out warning he reached up and grabbed the plastic container of clear yellow liquid and started drinking it.

At the same time the muscular man returned from a side door behind the counter. He wrinkled up his nose in disgust as the young man finished off the last of the liquid.

The young man set the now empty container on top of the counter and smiled at bother Tommy and then the muscular man. Neither of the men smiled back.

The muscular man behind the counter lifted his brawny arm and pointed at Tommy, “You pass.” Then he pointed at the young man standing next to Tommy, “You, I want a word with.”

Then he added, “Just follow the red line to the right as you leave.” And even though Tommy felt very sick to his stomach, he dutifully did as he was told.

Later he would wonder what had happened to the guy who had been behind him.