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Dr Hills reflections.

READING MATERIAL: Spoon River Anthology

Reflections

of Good Ol' Doc Hill

By Bonnie Ann Elliott

Based on the Spoon River Anthology by Edgar Lee Masters

Synopsis:

The night is mild and clear with a breeze blowing gently in the trees. We see only the light of one building and a lantern hanging from the post above it's door. From the road in front, a figure begins to become more clear as it enters the subtle light from the building. It is a male figure of some years with a black satchel, stains on his rolled up sleeves, and a coat over his arm. He moves in a tired manor towards the light and gets to the door of Burchard's Bar. He can hear voices within.

He enters. The interior of the gas lamp lit bar is slightly clouded with smoke. The bar has a warn look as does the face of the barkeep. The men at the far end of the bar are engaged in conversation of a political nature but are in apparent agreement. There are 4 others at a table nearer the back of the room and are a rabble with words, drinks, cards, and jesters. The Barkeep inquires as to the unusual visit of Doc Hill in his establishment at this late hour. Burchard says to the Doc “ This isn't a

house call is it Doc Hill?” his sad tired eyes smile a bit at his own wit.

Doc Hill replies “ I just need a whiskey to close this day. It was not a pleasant one.”

“ I had guessed at that. The last I saw you was when the Miller woman passed.” Burchard says as he grabs a glass off the back and a bottle from the rail.

“ I've been doing this for years and was trained to handle the losses in my schooling; but it just is never easy to lose one.” Doc says as Burchard pours from the bottle.

“ I heard from the rabble in the back. I guess the preacher would say he has gone to a better place. Well, that depends on which man of the cloth you speak to about it. I know one that would say his path will be all fire and brimstone.” He replaces the cork and the bottle then leans against the bar. Both men shake their heads and then the men at the far end signal for another round. After Burchard has moved down toward the opposite end and started to serve the other men Doc Hill takes his glass gives it a little swirl as he gazes into it and drinks the remainder at once. He picks up his bag and coat then nods down the bar at the others.

He heads out the door onto the street again and continues in the direction he was headed. We watch him walk out of the light being cast on the street. He walks in the dark and can barely be seen for a moment until he pauses in front of a house and says softly to himself “ Em, my sweet Em. The hour is late.” He continues on in thought and we slowly start to hear his thoughts as he heads to his home for the last time.

As he walks past a grave yard on a hill you can hear the sound of flowing water as he thinks “I'm so tired; I'm so weak; it's hard to lift me feet. It won't be long before I'm sleeping; there.” He pauses very briefly and turns his gaze to the hill. I regret very little but the giving of the laudanum prescription to Julia Miller. I should have know it was much more then adjusting to married life and worry for the baby. I will never forgive my cowardice for conspiring with Mrs. Sibley. I did the deed and should have just faced the consequences. I regret that as well. I had to think of Em though. Sweet Em. If she had not been involved I would have, I hope; faced the admonishment. My wife couldn't love me any less. I'm a coward to have involved myself in hiding her adultery and ridding herself of the evidence. All because of the indiscretion she perceived? She had no evidence! But I could not risk my sweet Em; never. What ever the priest says; I still say that only God knows and makes a marriage. I only made a willful mistake in my youth. I'm a disappointment to her every day and pay for it still. Em; Em is from God. I could never regret my sweet Em. Well, at least I didn't handle Mrs. Sibley's issue the way Doc Meyers handled Menerva's problem. Poor man; no one is guiltless but some take up the cross of their mistakes and others. There but for the grace of God go I. Thank you father.

As he steps up onto his porch and enters the door quietly he continues in thought “I wish I could cure diphtheria, rubella, polio, and consumption but I do not have that power.

I always do my best to help everyone and never trouble myself about their place in this world or ability to pay. I feel that I am right in that. He continues as he ascends the stairs in the dark interior of his modest home.

“ I'm so very tired” he says to himself in the dark of the bedroom he has just entered. He sets down his things on a chair near the moon lit window and in the moon light we see his old hand hang his trousers over a wardrobe door. Then we see him in a night shirt lie down in his bed with his head on his pillow and close his eyes.

Daylight streams through the leaves on the tree outside the window; shining in on his warn leather satchel and coat as they lie over the chair by the window. We see Doc laying in bed looking pale and simultaneously we hear a female voice howler angrily “Will, your breakfast is cold! I've gone to the trouble; you could at least have the courtesy to eat while it's warm!” as the room's door opens. Mrs. Hill enters the room and looks at the bed with a scowl and then her expression changes to one of courousity as she approaches the bed. She says his name once more with no anger as she reaches out to touch his corpse. She retracts her hand rapidly and turns and leaves the room.

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