Grollman sat at the table in the library next to Dr Walker’s office with the other renal fellows and Dr Irvin Trucker waiting for something to happen.  Grollman’s head was covered by a black cloud, a real peasouper.  He felt more like a nephologist than a nephrologist.  That morning he had gone on rounds with Dr Trucker and those renal fellows who could be persuaded to show up at 7 AM.

Trucker had graduated from Mineralwater in the same class with Milton Lance.  And though he was several years older than Milt, he was junior to him in the academic pecking order.  He was still an assistant professor, while Milt had recently become an associate professor.  Though extraordinarily bright and knowledgeable, he was intimidated by Milt and awed by Dr Walker.  He made up for this by being a real dork to everyone else.  He was so mean that everybody liked him.

At exactly 7 AM everybody met in the cafeteria to drink coffee for an hour.  Grollman didn’t know who his fellow rounders were and didn’t soon find out because no one talked.  After 60 minutes of scowling into his coffee cup, Trucker got up and headed for the elevator leaving everybody bobbing in his wake.  Grollman was the next to last bob and almost missed the morning’s last elevator to the medicine floor.

Dealy Hospital was Mineralwater’s county hospital.  It served as the teaching hospital for the medical school.  The hospital’s governing board and officers were appointed by the county commissioners who controlled its budget.  This arrangement saved the state the expense of building a teaching hospital for the medical school and ensured that the school and the hospital would hate each other until good triumphed over evil, until the lion lay down with the lamb, and until congress went on a kosher diet.  The school’s faculty provided free medical care for the indigent patients that filled all of Dealy’s beds.  The school was still years from realizing how screwed it was by the one-sided contract it had signed years ago with the hospital.

William Black was one of two clinical fellows.  His job was to present the patients he had seen over the previous week that needed faculty input or who he thought had some teaching value.  Grollman’s fellow bobbers were a gang of students, medical residents, and a few research fellows seeking a respite from veterinary medicine.