1. Mabel Stuart Doesn’t Live Here Anymore

Mineralwater Medical School loomed over the Mineralwater Navigation, Irrigation, and Drainage Canal like a nauseated vulture. The school was born into corrugated shacks nine months after a premature ejaculation by the state legislature on the day after the Pacific fleet went down at Pearl Harbor. The state university had wanted a medical school and lobbied intensively for one. They made the mistake of launching their campaign in the legislative session that began after their football team went three and eight. Mineralwater, which had wanted a new VD clinic, was given the medical school on condition that it never be affiliated with any university. The legislature failed to appropriate any money for the school, so the shacks which housed the superannuated VD clinic became the medical school campus. The shacks, temporary naval reserve buildings from the first world war, had disappeared 10 years before Richard Grollman arrived to be a nephrology fellow, but their scavenging glower persisted like a literary smirk. A new research building, a new hospital, and a new library could not soften the ominous air that the medical school exhaled as an anamnestic vestige of its jerry rigged beginning. Grollman thought for a twitch that he was in Transylvania instead of where he was as he entered the research building which was alleged to be the domain of the nephrology section.

No one on the building’s first floor admitted to any knowledge of the nephrology section’s whereabouts. After a half an hour of going in a square Grollman came to an elevator that was next to a sign that said “This elevator does not go to nephrology.” Since it was the only one he had found that was working he got in it in defiance of the sign. Next to the buttons was another sign that said

“Nephrology is not on the fourth floor.” He pressed four. When he got off he faced his last nephrology sign of the day; it said, “Nephrology is not here.”

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