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Heart   By: (1927-2002)

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Transcriber's Note:

This etext was produced from Amazing Stories January 1957. Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that the U.S. copyright on this publication was renewed.



Monk had three questions he lived by: Where can I find it? How much will it cost? When can you deliver? But now they said that what he needed wasn't for sale. "Want to bet?" He snorted.

Systole ... diastole ... the Cardiophone listened, hummed, and recorded; tracing a path of perilous peaks and precipices on the white paper.

"Relax!" Dr. Rostov pleaded. "Please relax, Mr. Monk!"

The eyes of Fletcher Monk replied. Rostov knew their language well enough to read the glaring messages they transmitted. Indignation ... " Don't use that commanding tone with me, Doctor! " Protest ... " I am relaxed; completely relaxed! " Warning.... " Get me out of this electric chair, Rostov! "

The physician sighed and clicked the apparatus off. Swiftly, but with knowing fingers, he disengaged his patient from the wire and rubber encumbrances of the reclining seat. Fletcher Monk sat up and rubbed his forearms, watching every movement the doctor made as he prepared to study the results of his examination.

"You're fussing, Rostov," he said coldly. "My shirt."

"In a moment."

" Now, " said Monk impatiently.

The physician shook his head sadly. He handed Monk his shirt and waited until the big man had buttoned it half way down. Then he returned to the Cardiophone for a more critical study. A fine analysis was hardly necessary; the alarming story had been told with the first measurements of the heart machine.

[Illustration: Money buys anything, I tell you anything!]

"Cut it out," said Monk brusquely. "You've got that death's head look again, Rostov. If you want to say something, say it."

"You were tight as a drum," said the doctor. "That's going to influence my findings, you know. If you hadn't refused the narcotic "

Fletcher Monk barked: "I won't be drugged!"

"It would have relaxed you "

"I was as relaxed as I ever am," the other man said candidly, and Rostov recognized the truth of his analysis. Monk lived in a world of taut muscles and nerves stretched out just below the breaking point. Tenseness was his trademark; there was no more elasticity in Monk's body than there was in the hard cash he accumulated so readily.

"Well?" the patient jeered. "What's the verdict, you damned sawbones? Going to throw away my cigars? Going to send me on a long sea voyage?"

Rostov frowned.

"Don't look so smug!" Monk exploded. "I know you think there's something wrong with me. You can't wait to bury me!"

"You're sick, Mr. Monk," said the doctor. "You're very sick."

Monk glowered. "You're wrong," he said icily. "You've made a lousy diagnosis."

"What was that feeling you described?" asked Rostov. "Remember what you told me? Like a big, black bird, flapping its wings in your chest. Didn't that mean something to you, Mr. Monk?"

The industrialist paled. "All right. Get to the point," he said quietly. "What did that gadget tell you?"

"Bad news," said the doctor. "Your heart's been strained almost to bursting. It's working on will power, Mr. Monk; hardly anything else."

" Get to the point! " Monk shouted.

"That is the point," Rostov said stiffly. "You have a serious heart condition. A dangerous condition. You've ignored eight years of my advice, and now your heart is showing the effects."

"What can it do to me?"

"Kill you," said the doctor bluntly. "Frankly, I can't even promise that the usual precautions will do any good. But we have no other choice than to take them. The human body is a miraculous affair, and even the most desperate damages sometimes can't prevent it from going on living. But I won't mince words with you, Mr. Monk. You're a direct sort of person, so I'm telling you directly... Continue reading book >>

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