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The Operating Theatre

by Beverley, Napier, New Zealand


Our kitchen has evolved into an operating theatre complete with Head Surgeon, Head Nurse and two orderlies. The Head Surgeon, dressed in clinical whites and surgical cap, operates in a room of pristine white and pale blue. Voluminous shroud-like cloths cover bench tops, the stove, servery and frig. The Head Surgeon is assisted by the Head Nurse a furred creature with a loud voice. Orderly One is largely ornamental. He tends to moan off camera to Orderly Two about how much it is all going to cost. He grizzles about not being able to find anything and has a tendency to disappear to the club in times of stress. Orderly Two does all the work, makes cups of tea for the Head Surgeon and on the imperious cry of the Head Surgeon, empties the operating theatre of all that is moveable. The Head Nurse has a very close relationship with the Head Surgeon and although he is at the centre of everything, does little work.

The Head Surgeon decides that the insides of the cupboards need painting and orders the removal of cupboard contents by Orderly Two. The mess is frightful. Sauce bottles and jam jars etc. etc. cover every surface. The Head Nurse tips over the rice container and skids about on the rice grains. The Head Nurse also finds an elderly, half empty packet of cat crunchies and gets his head stuck in the packet. The Head Surgeon has to use all his operating skills to extract the nurse's head.

Orderly Two is given a heap of helpful hints by the Head Surgeon. "You will probably want to get rid of half this stuff from your cupboards. It has been my experience that most woman clutter up their cupboards with a lot of junk!" (silent grrrrrrr from Orderly Two) The Head Surgeon continues, oblivious, "Shall I get you some boxes to put surplus stuff in?"

Orderly Two from the depths of a cupboard. "No thanks!!!!"

An electric sander is produced and plugged in by the Head Surgeon. The Head Nurse is delighted. He adores the sander and gets inside the cupboard, preparing himself for a pouncing session. The noise drives Orderlies One and Two crazy and they both vanish from the scene. Orderly One decides to go and play snooker for the afternoon. Later Orderly Two goes back to the kitchen for more orders. The Head Surgeon and the Head Nurse are smothered in dust as is everything else in the house. Orderly Two feels like crying with frustration - it has been going on for weeks.

The Head Surgeon paints the inside of the cupboards all the while giving a commentary on the evils of the previous painters. How they didn't sand anything, didn't plane down the sides of the cupboards so they didn't stick, - they were slap-happy types in and out in a day or so, went on the Head Surgeon. When the painting is finished the Head Surgeon intones that he will put on one more coat before he goes home and, joy of joys, the next day Orderly Two could put back the contents of the cupboards. We celebrate with a cup of tea and then the Head Surgeon goes off to tackle the ceiling of the bathroom.

As Orderly Two stacks the tea dishes in the crowded sink she hears a meow from the Head Nurse. She stoops down and sees that he is stretched out languidly on the wet paint in the bottom of the cupboard. It is more than a humble orderly can bear. She opens her mouth and screams for the Head Surgeon.

It is such a frenzied cry that the Head Surgeon comes running and stoops down for an instant diagnosis of the patient/nurse. He lifts a paw, or tries to. The patient is stuck to the floor of the cupboard! The Head Surgeon is perfect in an emergency. He puts out his hand and roars 'scalpel'.

The newly appointed Theatre Sister knows exactly what he wants. She dives under the debris and unearths the instrument. She slaps the scissors into his hand with the cool efficiency of the professional.

It is a long operation of incredible delicacy. The patient, possibly lightly anaesthetized by the smell of paint, tries to play with the Head Surgeon's fingers. But we both know the slightest nick on the tender skin of the patient will result in an eruption that will tear out a lot of said patient's fur by the roots. Orderly Two eases a cloth under the body of the patient as the clipping continues. It is obvious that if this is not done he patient is going to restick himself on the paint. The Head Surgeon has to have his brow mopped by the Theatre Sister as sweat is running into his eyes.

At the end of it all the Theatre Sister is a wreck but the patient and the Surgeon seemed fine. "I think we had better take you outside for a breath of fresh air," the Surgeon murmurs to the moth-eaten patient as he cradles him in his arms. The patient kisses the ear of the Head Surgeon and they disappear out the back door.

The Theatre Sister has had enough. She has found a glass on the floor behind the dishwasher and knows that there is a half bottle of wine in the frig. She collects both and goes off to get drunk.


Editor's note:

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