Things did not go well for Cat McKenzie until her husband Bud became seriously ill. His daughter from his first marriage flew down from Springfield, Illinois, and stayed for two weeks helping with the cooking and housework. Friends she had not talked to in months or even years invited her over for lunch or coffee and called her often to give her support during a difficult time. Bud slowly recovered and stayed at home for a few weeks until he got his strength back.
Bud’s daughter returned to Springfield but Cat still kept in constant contact with her friends discussing Bud’s medical scare. “The doctors said it was the worst they had ever seen” she would say. “The scary part is that he never knew he had all the bleeding. It was a ‘silent killer’”. “Silent killer,” she repeated. Cat like the effect the words “silent killer” had on her friends so she said it whenever she could fit it in. When Bud complained of being a bit tired a few months after his surgery Cat insisted he see a doctor, who sent him to specialist, who gave him a battery of tests and when those tests did not show anything he was sent to another specialist who was ever more specialized than the previous specialist and there were still more tests.
All the testing not only made Bud especially tired, but it gave Cat more fodder for conversation. She had cause to use the words “silent killer” many times in conversation. Sarah Hawley who suspected that her husband may have the same quiet disease brought over two meat pies because they heated up nicely when there was little time to prepare a meal.
Bud was starting to feel better but Cat insisted that he see a doctor in Baton Rouge that one of her friends said specialized in hard to treat conditions. Although Bud said he was mainly tired from all the doctors and tests, Cat reminded him that there could be a “silent killer” in his body and its best to be safe than sorry. So Bud drove the two hours to Baton Rouge with Cat in the passenger side talking to friends on her cell about Bud’s very delicate condition. After three trips to Baton Rouge and more tests where Bud fasted, drank radiation and had many pints of blood removed the doctor said that everything looked good and all Bud needed was rest.
Cat did not like the diagnosis so she told her friends that the doctor said “he’s like a ticking time bomb that could do go off at any time” and then she added “like a silent killer”. Bud eventually went back to work but a few months later out of nowhere he dropped dead at his desk. Cat was inconsolable but claimed “not to be one bit surprised”. The food rolled in the first few weeks but eventually slacked off and then stopped altogether and so did the visits.
Cat began feel alone and depressed so she went to the doctor who gave her a battery of tests and could find nothing wrong but did prescribe anti-anxiety medication. Cat called her friends and explained that the doctor was “mystified” about her condition and “had never seen anything like it.” She said she was going to try a specialist in Shreveport that specialized in hard to treat cases.
Chay Lemoine is a Halldor Laxness scholar with articles and stories published in Muscadine Lines, Mannlif, Grapevine, Santa Barbara Independent and Logberb Heimskringla. He currently lives in Edwardsville, Illinois.