It had been a week since Dr. Luka Kovac had arrived in Chicago. During that
time, he'd found an inexpensive marina to dock his boat and had gotten a
telephone hooked up. One day he took a long ride on the El--an interesting
experience. He was trying to familiarize himself with the city and check
out where some of the hospitals were located.
Now he was almost out of money and it was time to find himself a temporary
job until he decided that it was time to move on. He preferred to work in
hospital ERs. At medical school his training had been emergency medicine.
The employment agency advertised that it specialized in finding jobs in the
medical profession. Luka sat in the waiting room and stared at the latest
issue of 'People' without paying any attention to what he was reading. He,
along with other job seekers, were waiting their turn to be called for an
A young woman with a clipboard in hand stuck her head in the door and asked,
"Dr. Luka Kovac?"
Luka tossed aside the magazine and got to his feet. He followed her into a
small cubicle and sat down in a cramped chair.
The woman sat down at a small desk and said, "Dr. Kovac, you have an
impressive resume. But may I ask why you've had so many jobs?"
"It's Kovac," he politety corrected. "I prefer part-time work in emergency
medicine. I'm just not interested in a permanent position at any hospital."
"I see. I notice that you came from Croatia. May I ask why you left?" the
"I got tired of the war," Luka replied, not revealing the tragedy that had
occurred in his life.
"Well, Dr. Kovac, you may just be in luck. The ER department at Cook County
General Hospital is looking for a part-time attending. I'll give you the
phone number. Ask for either Dr. Romano or Dr. Weaver," she said and handed
him a slip of paper. "If this doesn't work out, come on back and we'll try
and find you something else."
"Thank you," Luka said as he slipped the paper into his shoulder bag.
"I'll show you to the door," she said and got to her feet.
Downstairs in the lobby, Luka stopped at the payphones and rummaged in his
pockets for the necessary change. He dialed the number and dropped the
coins in the slot, listening for the ring.
"ER," Randi said when she answered the phone.
"I am Dr. Luka Kovac. Could I please speak to either Dr. Romano or Dr.
"Just a minute," she said and looked to a woman sitting near by. "Dr.
Weaver, there's a Dr. Kovac on line 2."
She took the receiver, saying, "This is Dr. Kerry Weaver."
"Dr. Weaver, my name is Dr. Luka Kovac. I understand that you have an
opening for a part-time doctor in the ER," he said.
"We do," Kerry replied. "But we haven't started talking to applicants just
yet. However, if you're in applying, could you be here in an hour?"
"I can," Luka told her.
"All right. Come to the admit desk in the ER and I'll either meet you there
or have someone else meet you," Kerry said.
"Okay. Cook County General in one hour. Got it. Goodbye, Dr. Weaver,"
Luka said. He hung up the phone and headed for the door.
Kerry hung up the phone and turned to the desk clerk. "Randi, could you
please page Dr. Romano and tell him that I want to talk to him down here?"
"Sure thing," Randi replied.
Five minutes later Romano showed up in the ER and located Kerry. "What's
going on?" he asked.
"Robert, I scheduled an interview with an applicant for the new part-time
position. I think that we both need to talk to him--together. After all,
you are head of the ER," she said.
"All right," Romano replied. "Call me when he gets here."
After leaving the employment agency, Luka stopped in at a nearby coffee shop
to pass the time and get something to eat. Earlier that morning, he'd been
too nervous to eat, wanting to get his visit to the employment agency over
with. He was anxious to find a job and start work. Not only for the money
but to keep his mind occupied. Working kept him from the memories that
often threatened to overwhelm him.
"Here you are, Sir," the waitress said as she she set down his cup of coffee
and ham sandwich.
"Thank you," Luka told her.
"If you need anything else, just let me know," she said and hurried away.
Luka finished his sandwich and sat drinking coffee. He kept an eye on the
clock and finally decided that he'd better get to County. He hastily paid
his check, leaving a tip before heading out to the El.
When he'd ridden the El several days earlier, Luka discovered that the train
stopped fairly close to County. He took a seat, and waited impatiently for
the train to start moving. This interview had came up sooner than planned
so he was glad he'd worn his best suit to the employment agency.
The train finally came to the correct stop and Luka got off, heading for the
hospital. He didn't want to start off by being late.
At precisely five minutes before the interview, Luka approached the admit
desk and said, "I'm supposed to meet with Dr. weaver and Dr. Romano."
Randi looked up from her magazine to say, "Oh, you must be Dr. Kovac."
"It's Dr. Kovac," he politly corrected.
Randi turned to the young Latino nurse standing nearby. "Chuny, could you
please escort Dr. Kovac to the lounge?"
"Sure thing, Randi," Chuny replied, staring up at Luka. "Come with me, Dr.
Luka sighed, resigning himself to the fact that no one was going to get his
name right. He followed her to the lounge.
"Right in here," Chuny said and pushed open the door.
The two doctors were seated at the table. Kerry looked up and said, "Please
have a seat, Dr. Kovac."
Luka sat down and looked from on to the other.
Romano glanced up from his clipboard and scowled. "Do you have your resume
with you, Dr. Kovac?" he asked abruptly.
"The name is Dr. Kovac," Luka politly corrected. "And I do have my resume."
He reached in his shoulder bag for the document.
"Whatever," Romano said and almost grabbed it from Luka. He scanned it for
a moment, frowned and pointed out something for Kerry to read.
She put on her glasses and studied the item that Romano had pointed out.
After a minute, she looked up and said. "I see that you came here from
Croatia, Dr. Kovac. Could you explain why you left?"
Luka sighed, he really hated those kind of questions. There was no way he
was going to tell these people the real reason why he had to leave. "I got
tired of the war," he replied. "My home was in a war zone and I wanted to
live someplace safer."
"So you decided to come to Chicago," Romano said sarcastically and looked at
the resume again. "How well do you know American medical terminology?"
"I know it very well. As you can see, I have lived and worked here in the
United States for a number of years," Luka told him.
"How come you've worked in so many different hospitals?" Romano persisted.
"I was only interested in a part-time position," Luka answered. "Usually
the hospitals were looking for someone to fill the position permanently.
So they didn't need me very long."
"Are you liscenced to practice medicine?" Romano asked.
"Yes. And if you won't take my word for it, then go check with the
liscencing board," Luka replied, trying to keep his anger in check. he was
getting very irratated with both the questioning and the other man's
A beeping sounded and Romano checked his pager. "Well, I'm due in surgery.
He's all yours, Kerry." He actually looked relieved as he hurried out the
"Dr. Kovac, we'll do some checking with some of the hospitals you worked at.
We'll get back to you," Kerry said. "And we may also be talking to other
"I understand, Dr. Weaver. Do I consider this interview concluded?" Luka
"Yes," Kerry told him. "Do you need your resume back?"
"No. I have more copies," Luka replied and got his feet.
Kerry studied him for a moment. She had to admit that he made an impressive
sight with his height, dark hair and eyes. And those movie star looks. The
black and grey clothing he wore only emphasized his attractiveness. Still,
she could understand Romano's dislike. Dr. Kovac was at least a head taller
than the surgeon. And Romano didn't like how short that made him appear.
"We'll be in touch," she said.
Luka nodded and headed for the door of the lounge. As he opened it, he
almost ran into Lucy Knight.
The medical student seemed lost in thought as she headed for her locker. As
the door opened, she looked up at the tall man striding towards her. She
quickly jumped back, startled, and dropped the chart she held.
Luka stopped to pick up the chart and hand it over, saying, "Here you are."
"Thank you," Lucy said, distractedly and stared up at him.
"You're welcome," he replied and continued on down the hall.
Kerry glanced at the resume, randomly picking out a hospital to call. She
dialed the number of the ER at Key West Medical Center.
At Key West, the desk clerk answered, "ER. What can I do to help?"
Kerry replied. "I'd like to please speak to the head of your ER."
"That would be Dr. Allen," the desk clerk replied. "Hold for a minute while
I get her."
"Dr. Rita Allen," the ER chief said when she picked up the phone.
"Rita, it's Kerry Weaver. I'm calling from Cook County General Hospital in
Chicago," Kerry said.
"So, Kerry, what's the reason for your call?" Dr. Allen asked.
"I'm calling about a doctor who worked for awhile in your ER back in '97'.
The name is Luka Kovac. K-O-V-A-C. Do you remember him?"
"I know who you're talking about. He's hard not to forget," Rita said.
"He just applied for a part-time position here in the ER. I'm just trying
to chcek on his reasons for why he only stays a short while at any hospital.
Can you tell me why he left?" Kerry asked.
"We didn't need him for very long. And he didn't want tostay permanently.
He was a good enough doctor but kind of quiet and withdrawn. Kept to
himself a lot. Whenever someone's question or statement got toop ersonal
for him--he'd either quickly change the subject or just quickly walk away,"
Rita told her.
"I asked why he left Croatia and I got the impression that it was the wrong
question to ask," Kerry said.
"One more thing, Kerry, that I recall about Dr. Kovac, was that he really
got along with kids. He was gentle and patient, taking time to talk and
reassure them. I always thought he would've made a great pedciatrician,"
Dr. Allen said.
"Thanks for all the information, Rita. I'll check with a few other
hospitals about Dr. Kovac."
"Maybe we'll see each other at the next medical convention. Kerry, let me
know what you decide about Dr. Kovac. I may be wrong but I get the
impression that life has dealt him some hard blows," Rita said.
"I'll let you know. Bye," Kerry said and hung up the phone. She stared at
Luka's resume, trying decide which hospital to call next.
After finishing the interview, Luka headed directly outside, ignoring the
admiring stares of Randi and Chuny. He was angry at himself because that
Dr. Romano's attitude had put him on the defensive.
"You think he's going to work here?" Randi asked as they stared at the
"Mmm. I hope so. He's a lot better scenery than what we have now," Chuny
replied, a gleam in her eyes.
Luka boarded the El and found a seat to himself since he was
in no mood to
talk to anybody. At the moment, he wasn't even sure that he wanted to work
at the hospital. Especially if he had to be working with that Dr. Romano!
He had worked with a lot of different doctors at the various hospitals but
Romano was definately the worst. If he had a choice, he work with the other
doctor. She didn't ask stupid questions and at least tried to say his name
Finally the train reached the stop closest to the marina and Luka got off to
walk the rest of the way.
As soon as Romano was finished with surgery, he headed down to the ER in
search of Kerry. Finding her alone at the admit desk, he asked, "So what
did you decide about that Kovac guy?"
"Robert, I checked with three different hospitals and was told the same
thing. He only wanted part-time work, was really good with children and
kept to himself. He didn't leave because he'd done something wrong. I
can't really turn down his application just because he makes you look
short," Kerry pointed out.
"There's something about that guy that I just don't like," Romano persisted.
"Robert, we need a part-time Doctor and he's available. I'd say that we
just hire him while we look for another attending. In fact, I already have
someone in mind.," Kerry replied.
"It's up to you--you'll be working with the guy--but keep an eye on him,"
Romano told her.
"I will," KErry promised.
When Luka got back to his boat, he changed out of his suit and into shorts
and a T-shirt. He felt too restless to stay on the boat so he decided to
take a long walk by the lake.
The day was nice and he stopped to watch a group of school kids on a field
trip to the lake. They had just gotten ice cream cones and were now walking
along the cement dock, pushing and shoving.
Luka had moved close to the shore and looked out into the distance. He was
trying to decide if an ice cream cone would taste pretty good on this hot
day. But not chocolate even though it had once been his favorite as well
as his son's. Nowadays he couldn't stand the taste of chocolate anymore.
His mind made up, he headed for the ice cream stand.
By the time Luka got back to his boat, he was tired out from his long walk.
Now all he wanted to do was collapse onto his bed. He'd slept very little
the night before and was more than ready to fall asleep. He kicked off his
shoes and sprawled face down on the pillows.
The ringing of the telephone awakened him several hours later. He sat up
and reached for the phone. "Dr. Luka Kovac speaking."
"Dr. Kovac, this is Dr. Weaver at County General. We're going to be short a
doctor tomorrow and I was wondring if you'd be available to come in," Kerry
"I can. What time do you want me?" Luka asked.
"At 7:00 in the morning," Kerry answered and paused. "Dr. Kovac, did I wake
you up? You sound half-asleep."
"It's nothing. I was just taking a nap--went for a very long walk. No job
so it gets boring. I'll see you at 7:00a.m., Dr. Weaver," Luka replied.
"Okay. Goodbye," Kerry said.<
"Goodbye," Luka said and hung up the phone. He stared at it, looking
thoughtful. Only time would tell how long he'd stay in Chicago.
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