by Roger Ley
The white ambulance pulled into the hotel car park. A middle-aged man wearing medical scrubs stepped out, a stethoscope hung jauntily around his neck. He walked up the steps and into the hotel, the Manager behind the reception desk looked up and smiled.
‘Hello, Dr White,’ he said, as he offered him the register. Dr White filled in his name and address and wrote ‘Epidemiologist’ in the ‘Occupation’ column.
‘Your private dining room is ready, Doctor, allow me to show you through. We’ve provided a TV as you requested, I hope you enjoy the Inauguration.’
The Doctor sat and waited. A few minutes later a red Humvee arrived and a man in a military uniform stepped out and entered the hotel. He signed himself in and wrote ‘General, US Army’ in the requisite column. He noticed the manager’s NRA lapel badge and pointed to it. He winked, ‘Hope your dues are all paid up,’ he said.
The Manager smiled, ‘This way, General,’ and showed him into the dining room.
‘Hey there, Red,’ said the Doctor. They were obviously pleased to see each other and, after a handshake and a hug, began talking of old times. The Manager left them to their banter.
Soon a grey van arrived. The driver wore a lab coat and he signed himself in as ‘Professor Grey, Crop Scientist.’ The manager showed him through to the dining room and returned to his desk just as a hearse pulled into the car park. A tall, slender man in a black suit got out and placed a top hat on his head: wrapped around it was a black silk ribbon which trailed down his back. He walked up the steps, smiled thinly at the manager and wrote, ‘Mr Black, Undertaker’ in the register. The manager showed him through to the dining room.
The four friends ate a hearty meal and watched the Presidential Inauguration. They proposed toasts with fine Californian wines and talked animatedly, joking about who had contributed the most to the election fund. They reached the brandy and cigars stage as the new President started his inaugural address. The four men grinned and nodded at each other as he made his promises for the future.
Finally, the speech ended, Doctor White stood up. ‘Let’s hope this is the one we’ve been waiting for,’ he said as he walked towards the exit. The other three stood up and pushed back their chairs. War, Famine and Death followed Pestilence out to the car park and on to their new jobs in Washington.