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    The Milkmen, Part One: Blood

    This is the first part of a two-part short story I’m working on called The Milkmen. It’s loosely based on the true yet almost unbelievably absurd history of blood transfusion. When European doctors first tired to transfuse blood in the 17th century, they experimented with animals - transfusing blood from one dog to another, for instance. Then, in human transfusions, French and British doctors did not transfuse humans with human blood, but replaced human blood with the blood animals like goats and cows (animal to human blood transfusion serves as the plot for Part One of The Milkmen, titled Blood.) Later, in the 19th century, Canadian and U.S. doctors adopted transfusion practices, but took it to another level of insanity. Instead of transfusing animal blood into humans, for a period of time doctors were actually pumping cow and goat milk into the blood systems of people. The second part of The Milkmen (which I’m writing now and is going to be titled Milk) will deal with with this odd period of medical history.


    The Milkmen


    It was at this time that a brief, yet fascinating, chapter in the history of transfusion was recorded. Frustrated and discouraged with blood as a transfusion product, effective substitutes were sought, and for a short time, milk seemed to be the panacea. Whereas transfusion of blood in the 19th century was most actively practiced in Europe, especially in England, transfusion of milk achieved its greatest popularity in North America.

                                                            -Early History of Blood Substitutes: Transfusion of Milk, H. A. Oberman


    Part One: Blood

    Montpellier, France, 1695

    Dr. Jean-Baptiste Denys was sitting in a chair in his office at the Faculté de Médecine at the Université de Montpellier.  He sat with his back to his desk and library, his legs propped up on the window sill, and gazed out the glass at a sunlit pasture as the bedlam cries of his patient could be heard echoing from the bottom of the hospital.  There was a cow standing on a knoll in the pasture and cropping the grass.   Chief nurse Le Pen walked into his office.  She was carrying a silver tray with a glass of milk on it and she set the glass of milk on his desk.

    “Merde,” said the doctor.

    “Qu’est-ce que c’est?” asked the nurse.

    “Qu’est-ce que c’est?  He won’t stop screaming, that’s what’s qu’est-ce que c’est.”

    “Perhaps you should remove the leeches from Monsieur Chirac?”

    The doctor removed his feet from the window sill and turned his chair toward his desk.  “Non, the leeches are there to cleanse his blood.  Chirac is a sick man, a madman”

    “But the they are driving him to scream.”

    “Nonsense.  He is screaming because his blood is bad.”

    “And the leeches will fix this?”

    “But of course,” said the doctor, taking a sip of milk.  “Look, I drew a picture.”

    The doctor consolidated some papers on his desk and tapped his index finger on a rudimentary drawing which depicted a human stick figure lying on a two-dimensional elevated plane, presumably the surface of a bed, with little black ovals dispersed arbitrarily across the wiry arms, legs, and empty head of the figure.  Some of the black ovals were circled and the lines drawn from these circles led to the word ‘leeches.’  A vertical line separated this drawing from the drawing on the right side of the paper which presented a magnified view of one of the leeches, inaccurately drawn for it had elongated snail eyes.  The second drawing showed a large leech superficial to the skin, and there were several arrows originating from the dermis and drawn upwards in a fierce motion toward the mouth of the leech.  The lines of the arrows going up from the dermis toward the leech were labeled ‘bad blood.’

    “You see,” the doctor said smiling, “The leeches are sucking up all the bad blood.”

    “Alores,” said the nurse incredulously, “But what replaces the bad blood?”

    The doctor had not considered this.  “Quelle?” he said, sitting up in his chair.

    “What replaces the bad blood that the leeches are sucking out of Monsieur Chirac?”  The nurse pointed to the drawing.

    “Well… what do you mean?  Good blood replaces the bad blood,” he said with uncertainty, raising his arms as though that were obvious, yet scrutinizing his drawing and realizing to his chagrin that he didn’t know where the good blood was supposed be originating from.

    “Oh, I see,” said the nurse, wrapping up the conversation. 

    Dr. Denys kept his face down toward his drawing yet his eyes followed the nurse as she turned around and left the study.  After she closed the door the doctor’s eyes flickered back to his drawing.  “Merde,” he said to himself.

    The doctor picked up his quill and dipped it into his ink well.  On the right side of the paper above the leech he wrote the words ‘good blood’ followed by a question mark.  He circled these words and drew arrows from the circle down into the skin. 

    “Where’s the good blood supposed to come from?” the doctor asked himself.  He dried the quill off, placed it in his breast pocket, and then swiveled his chair toward the window again.  He looked toward the sunlit pasture and wondered aloud, “Good blood…” his eyes moved toward the cow which was standing still on the knoll.

    Fifteen minutes later Dr. Denys was walking up the knoll of the pasture with the Monsieur Sarkozy, the dairy farmer who owned the cow and the farmland adjacent to the university and hospital.  The cow had turned around to face and cautiously watch the two men whom were walking toward her, but was otherwise clam.

    “Well,” said farmer Sarkozy, answering a question the doctor had posed, “If I were to slaughter her I would be able to sell her meat for five francs, so if you wanted to take her I would say that you should pay me five francs.”

    “And you’re absolutely sure she has had no pathological problems?”

    “She has lived a very healthy life and was a hard working cow, that is why she should be allowed to enjoy a month of solitude before her death.   She is still in good shape for her age I suppose, but is too old to lactate.  Other than that I cannot think of any problems.”

    “And how about her blood?”

    “Her blood?”

    “Yes, how is her blood?”

    “I’m sorry, doctor, I did not intend to see her blood for another month.” 

    Dr. Denys walked around the cow conducting a visual inspection, bending down to look at its chest floor and fore udder, but not quite sure what he was looking for.   Both the cow and farmer watched him suspiciously.

    “Alright, Monsieur Sarkozy,” said the doctor, “I will take her.  Please bring her to the university at noon and I will give you your five francs.”

    There on the knoll the two men shook hands and the cow mooed.

    The doctor returned to the university and hurried back to his study.  In the hallway he again heard the haunting cries of Monsieur Chirac emanating from the psychiatric ward in the lower level of the hospital.  In the hallway Dr. Denys passed the chief nurse.  “Remove the leeches from Monsieur Chirac!” he said.

    “Quelle?” she said?

    “Remove the leeches,” repeated the doctor, “We’re going to give that crazy son of a bitch some good blood for once!” he cheered, skipping and punching his fist into the air.

    Nurse Le Pen watched the doctor as he rushed down the hall and ran into his study, slamming the door.  Dr. Denys returned to his desk and put quill and ink to paper, sketching in a frenzy his newfound machination to aid in the purification of Monsieur Chirac’s blood.  After an hour of vigorous sketching and notetaking Dr. Denys got up from his desk and marched out his study with a piece of paper that contained the final draft of his diagram.  He walked down the corridor to the kitchen of the university.  He pushed open the wooden door and found the man he was looking for.

    “Chef Macron,” said the doctor, “Bonjour.”

    “Bonjour to you doctor,” replied the chef who was stirring a massive cast iron vat of stew.

    “Have you one of these?” asked Dr. Denys, holding up the paper in his hand.

    Chef Macron stepped toward the doctor and took a closer look at the diagram.  “A funnel?”

    “Precisely!” exclaimed the doctor, “I couldn’t think of the word, but yes, do you have you a funnel?”

    “But of course, I am a chef, of course I have a funnel.”

    “Can I have one?”

    “Well I don’t see why not,” said the chef, lifting a metal funnel from the kitchen beam and handing it to the doctor.

    “Great!” said doctor Denys, excited to see the exact object he sketched now in his hands.  “Come meet me in the front yard at noon.  We’re going to buy a cow and take it down to the psych ward where I’ll bleed it out and then transfer its blood into a crazy man.  You can have the cow afterwards.  It’s five francs.”

    “What?” said the chef, convinced that he had heard something incorrectly.

    “It’s five francs,” said the doctor who was grinning at the funnel in his hands while leaving the kitchen. “We’ll meet at noon, you can have the cow after.  Make sure to bring the money.”

    The doctor exited the kitchen and chef Macron stood confused above the steaming stew, which he knew could always use a little more meat. 

    At noon the chef met the doctor outside the university entrance as the farmer arrived with the cow.  Farmer Sarkozy was relieved to see chef Macron at the entrance, for he was concerned that the cow was going to be used in some sort of deranged medical experiment conjured up by Dr. Denys.  Chef Macron paid the farmer five francs and the farmer went on his way, leaving the cow in the care of the doctor and chef.

    “Usually when I pay five francs for a cow the cow is dead and has been chopped up into convenient pieces,” said Chef Macron, holding the rope attached to the cow’s neck and resigning himself to the fact that the stew would see no additional meat today.

    “I am sorry Monsieur Chirac, but there are more pressing matters to attend to.   You will be permitted to slaughter the cow after today’s experiment.”

    The doctor took the rope from the chef.

    “Doctor Denys, what exactly do you intend to do with the cow?  I think I misheard you in the kitchen.”

    “Do you hear that incessant screaming coming from the hospital insane asylum?” asked the doctor, making his way toward the stairs of university.

    “Actually, I believe it’s stopped now,” said the chef as he watched the doctor start up the stairs with the cow. “Are you going to bring the cow through the hallways like that?” he asked.

    “Well,” said the doctor tugging at the rope, “We’re going to put an end to that screaming and cure my patient once and for all!” He began leading the cow up the stairs to the university foyer, where chief nurse Le Pen was standing with her arms crossed.

    “And how do you plan to cure him?” asked the nurse.

    “Quelle?” said the doctor, struggling to pull the cow up the first set of stairs.  That the nurse had been standing there did not register with him, for he was too focused on the cow.  Chef Macron only now noticed the nurse and realized that she had observed the entire transaction that had just transpired between them and the farmer and cow.

    “How do you plan to cure Monsieur Chirac?”

    The doctor paused on the steps and caught his breath, he reached into his satchel and pulled out a funnel.  “With this!” he declared to the chef below him.  “Have you ever seen on of these?”

    “Yes.  I gave that to you.”

    “I invented it,” said the doctor, who then inverted it and placed it on his head.

    “A funnel?” asked the nurse, finally catching the doctor’s attention. 

    Surprised to see nurse Le Pen standing several steps above him, Dr. Denys let out a yelp. 

    “Dr. Denys, you’re weren’t planning on bringing that filthy cow through the hospital hallways where there are numerous patients recovering from injuries and suffering from illnesses, were you?”

    Dr. Denys looked to the nurse, he then looked to the chef, then to the cow, then back to nurse Le Pen. “No, no I was not,” answered the doctor.  “We were just turning the cow around so as to… Well, so as to turn the cow around and walk it to the back entrance of the hospital.”

    “I see, and then where exactly are you planning to bring the cow?” asked the nurse.

    “Well,” Doctor Denys smiled, “You’ll be happy to know that I’ve figured out where I will get the good blood from in order to cure Monsieur Chirac’s madness.”

    “Oh?” said the nurse.

    “Oui,” replied the doctor, leaning an elbow into the back side of the cow and slapping its rump with his hand, “It’s coming from right here.”

    “From the cow’s behind?” asked the nurse.

    “Precisely,” said the doctor, “from the cow’s behind… I mean, no, simply from the cow itself, from her veins.”

    “Wait a second,” said Chef Macron, “Are you meaning to say you’re going to give that crazy man blood from the cow?”

    “Yes, what’s the big deal?  He’s nuts!  What the hell’s everyone’s problem?  I’m the doctor around here.” said Dr. Denys, the funnel on his head tipping slightly to the side.

    “Is that ethical?” asked the chef.

    “Ethical?  Well I suppose that depends on if it works.”

    Dr. Denys walked down the steps and tugged at the rope. “Now Monsieur Macron, if you would be so kind as to help me get this stupid cow around to the back entrance of the hospital and down to the psychiatric ward, we can begin this experiment before this cow keels over and dies.”

    The chief nurse shook her head and watched as the doctor and the chef walked the cow away from the hospital steps and turned the corner toward the back of the hospital.  The chef and doctor arrived at a wooden door which served as thee back entrance of the hospital.  The doctor lifted the brass ring and pulled open the door and the cow mooed.

    “Alright,” said the doctor, “Now all’s we got to do is get this cow down to lower level.”

    “Jesus,” said the chef, “That’s going to be a tight squeeze.” 

    “It’ll be fine.”

    The doorway was slightly larger than the cow and led into a dim stone hallway.  The doctor entered the doorway, pulling the cow by the rope, and the chef followed behind them.  They stopped at a dark spiral stairwell and the doctor went down to light the candles in the nooks of the stone walls.  He came back up and said, “This is going to be tight squeeze.”

    “Wouldn’t it be easier if we just took the cow’s blood out up here, and then brought the blood downstairs instead of the whole cow?”

    The doctor thought for a moment.  He wanted the cow to be present when its blood was transferred to his patient because he wanted the blood to be fresh.  For some reason he had imagined that this would require that the cow be in the room during the transfusion.  He had not considered the option of simply bloodletting the living cow and then transporting its blood down to Monsieur Chirac.

    “Let’s just see if the cow will fit down the stairwell, and if it doesn’t then I have an idea: we will extract the blood of the cow and then bring it down in some sort of vessel, leaving the cow up here.

    The chef shook his head and said, “Fine.”

    The doctor pulled the rope and the cow began to follow him down the stairs, at first without any compliant, but when the stairwell began to curve left the cow’s body scraped the walls she halted and mooed.  The doctor tugged harder and the cow began to move once more, shuffling its hooves upon the uneven stone steps, but the size and angle of the spiral stairwell proved too tight a squeeze for the cow so she stopped again.  She was breathing hard and each time she exhaled her ribcage would expand and her body would touch the walls of the stairwell.

    “Merde,” said Dr. Denys. “The cow is too fat.”

    “The cow?” said the chef, “The cow is not the problem, for a cow is not meant to walk down a stairwell.”

    “Come on,” said the doctor to the cow, “You don’t want us send you off to the butchery now do you?”  The doctor tugged on the rope again and the cow took another step down and mooed.  It was now pressed up against both sides of the stairwell.  The doctor gave the rope another tug and said, “Push!”  Chef Macron leaned his shoulder into the rump of the cow but the cow didn’t budge.

    “Shit,” said the doctor, “This is not going to work.  Let’s back her up.”

    The chef took a couple steps back up the stairs and the doctor began to push the cow’s head, trying to force her to reverse, but she didn’t move back.  “Back her up,” repeated the doctor.

    “How?” asked the chef.


    “Pull what?”

    “Her tail, you idiot!”

    Chef Macron grabbed the cow’s tail and tugged and the cow mooed loudly.  Dr. Denys shoved her head and neck hard but to no avail, the cow was stuck in the stairwell.

    “She’s not going to walk backwards up the stairs, doctor.”

    The doctor was breathing hard.  Separated by the cow, he looked to the chef in exasperation.  “If she were just a little thinner she could make it down, we’re half way there.”

    “I have an idea,” said the chef, “I’ll be right back.”

    The chef turned and went up the stairs, leaving the doctor and the cow alone in candlelit the stairwell.  The cow was looking at the doctor who was trying to avoid making eye contact with her.  After a few minutes the doctor heard the footsteps of the chef who was walking rapidly down the hallway and returned to the stairwell.  Chef Macron was grinning and holding two large blocks of butter.

    “Here!” said the chef, tossing one block over the back of cow to Dr. Denys who inspected it.  He was holding it in front of the cow’s face and she started to lick the butter.

    “Why are we feeding the cow?” asked the doctor, presenting the block of butter to the cow who continued to lick it.

    “No, no, don’t feed her, rub it all over her,” said chef Macron, whom proceed to do just that.

    “Oh, I see…” said the doctor, pulling the butter away from the cow’s face.

    Dr. Denys rubbed the cow’s neck and throat with butter, also trying to get as much as the shoulders as he could.  Chef Macron worked the rear flanks of the cow, also greasing the sides of her udder, the very udder which formerly helped produce some of the milk churned to make the butter that she was now being rubbed with.

    “Get the walls, too,” said the chef. 

    The cow closed her eyes and relaxed, for she was rather enjoying the butter massage, and she would have fallen asleep had the men not given her another tug and push in effort to force her down the stairs. Still, she was unable to move due to the friction of her large body pressed up against the sides of the ungreased walls which could not be accessed by the men and their butter.

    “Shit,” yelled Dr. Denys, “We’ll never get this cow down the stairs!”  He had yelled this so loudly that his patient, Monsieur Chirac, who was strapped down to a bed in his cell below, woke from his nap wondering if he had heard the doctor’s remark correctly.

    “We need to butter her sides somehow,” said the chef, sweating and catching his breath.  He looked at the doctor and said, “Give me the funnel, give me the funnel.”  Extending his arms over the back of the cow, the chef was grinning and had a crazed look in his eyes as he reached out toward the doctor who was taken aback.

    “What’s a funnel?” asked the doctor.

    “You’re wearing it,” said the chef, “It’s on your head.  Give it to me.”

    “Oh yeah,” said the doctor, handing the funnel to the chef. 

    The chef took the remainder of his butter and placed it into the funnel. He then took a candle from the wall and held it against the side of the funnel, heating the metal.   Melted butter began to drip down the neck of the funnel which Chef Macron then inserted between the body of the cow and the wall, buttering one side then the other.  After the butter in funnel had melted they tried again to move the cow.  She mooed as they pushed and pulled, and finally she slid and took a step forward.

    “Yes!” cheered the doctor, “That’s what’s huh!”

    “Come on,” yelled the chef, “Butter the walls, keep going, you fool!”  The remarks and mooing echoed down to Monsieur Chirac, who was now wide awake and extremely disconcerted as he listened to everything coming down the stairs.

    Step by step the cow walked down the slippery spiral stairwell.   They reached the bottom and with a final push, pull, and moo, the cow emerged from the stairwell dripping in butter as though it just passed through some medieval stone birth canal.  The doctor and the chef cheered and gave each other high fives as the cow took deep breaths and licked the butter off its hind legs.  The chef slapped the cow on its rump and said, “Well, I suppose she’s already marinating.  Let me know when I can come get her.”   Dr. Denys thanked Chef Macron for his help and the chef turned around to go back upstairs and attend to his stew.

    The doctor walked to the iron gate of the cell where his patient lay terrified, his eyes flickering between the doctor and the cow.  “Good morning, Monsieur Chirac,” said the doctor as he opened the gate.

    Monsieur Chirac further lifted his head up from the bed on which he was tied down with leather straps and said, “Hello doctor.  What’s with the cow?”

    Dr. Denys stood above his patient, whose face and arms were covered in slimy red lesions from the leeches that had been removed from his skin and were now contained in a small pot on a table in the room, which was more like a dungeon. “The cow is here to help,” said Dr. Denys.

    “Oh?  Like with milk?”

    “No,” said the doctor, adjusting and tightening the straps on Monsieur Chirac’s arm so as to expose his forearm, “Like with blood.”


    “Yes.  After exhausting deliberation I’ve determine that the leeches just won’t do the trick to cure your illness, and that the corrupted blood which the reason for you incessant screaming must be replaced.”

    “Replaced?  No, doctor, I was screaming because of the leeches, but nurse Le Pen removed them, so I stopped screaming.  I even took a nap.”

    “Well that’s quite the observation,” said the doctor who was too preoccupied with palpating and clearing the dirt off Monsieur Chirac’s biceps to listen to what he was saying.  Once he was satisfied that Monsieur Chirac’s arm was positioned so that he could incise his skin, access his vein, and insert the blood, Dr. Denys left the cell to fetch the cow, which had wandered off slightly to explore the psychiatric ward.  The doctor walked the cow back to the cell and tied the rope to the iron bars of the gate outside.  He pet the cow on the head and said, “So calm, so peaceful.”  He then produced a large knife from his satchel and began feeling the cow’s neck for a good place to cut and bleed it, holding the knife at different angles against the cow’s throat, saying, “Merde, where’s the jugular?”

    Watching from his bed, the insanity of the impending dangerous situation had dawned on Monsieur Chirac who was horrified by what Dr. Denys was prepared to attempt, and he yelled “Attendez, Attendez!  Wait, what are you doing!”

    “We’re going to fix that yelling problem of yours,” said that doctor.




    “Oui, oui, oui, I say!” yelled the doctor, waving the knife at Monsieur Chirac like a madman.  “Now fuck the calm the down!  You don’t want us to send you off to the sanatorium now do you?  You won’t like what they’ll do to you there.  They’ll snip off your little wienerschnitzel and amputate your head with a guillotine!”

    Monsieur Chirac dropped his head back onto the bed and said, “Jesus Christ…”

    Turning his attention back to the cow, the doctor found the jugular vein, pressed the blade of knife against it, and slit.  The cow mooed but surprisingly did not move, for the cut was not too deep or painful, but even so, a small stream of blood flowed out from the cut and then morphed into a thin fountain of blood arching from its neck down to the floor.   “Shit,” said the doctor, realizing that he not prepared for nor fully thought out any of the steps which were to supposed to follow.  He did not, for instance, know where the funnel was, for the first thing he did after cutting the cow was to reach for it on his head to discover it was missing.  Even then, he didn’t have a vessel to in which to collect the blood.  Furthermore, the minute mechanical details of the whole transfusion process were obscure: How was he supposed to pump the blood into the patient’s veins?  Did some sort pumping device exist?   If so, he certainly was not aware of it, let alone possess it.   Additionally, Dr. Denys began to question himself about whether the physiological aspects of the blood transfusion would actually work.  “Why am I starting with a cow,” he thought, “why not a human?  After all, a cow is much different than a human, perhaps their much blood is different, too?”  Despite contending with this mental avalanche of challenging questions, the doctor doubled down and concluded that this was not the time for second guessing and that he would improvise to ensure the procedure move forward as planned.

    He first needed a receptacle to collect the blood that was squirting out from the cow’s neck and splashing onto the floor.  The doctor looked around and his eyes fell to the pot on the table in the cell.  “Perfect,” he said.  He walked over to the pot and opened the lid.  Inside were the two dozen leeches that nurse Le Pen had earlier removed from Monsieur Chirac.  He reached into the pot, scooped most of out the leeches, and placed them then on the table. “Yuck,” he said.  Upon seeing the leeches again Monsieur Chirac began to scream, the sounds of which once again reverberated upstairs.

    “You don’t have to do this, doctor!  I’ll stop yelling!”

    “You’re yelling right now,” said the doctor, walking back to the cow and stepping into the puddle of blood which had pooled up on the floor.

    “You going to put cow blood into me!”

    “Oh don’t be such a big baby.”  The doctor ran the pot under the fountain of blood that was gushing out of the cow’s neck.  When the pot was almost full he went back into the cell and placed it on the table.  He then walked over to Monsieur Chirac, pulled out his knife, and pointed the tip of the blade at a vein in his arm.  “Ya’ll ready for this?” said the doctor.

    Having resigned himself to the futility of his misfortune and the psychopathic experiment that would imminently befall him, Monsieur Chirac shut eyes, turned his head, and was uttering prayers and curses simultaneously.  When Dr. Denys pricked his patient’s skin and dug the knife into his vein, Monsieur Chirac let out an excruciating howl, which set the cow off mooing.  Blood was pumping out the incision in his patient’s arm, and Dr. Denys reached for the hollow quill in his pocket and cut off both the tip and the feathered end, thus creating a sort of stent.  He spent about a minute figuring this out and said, “I should have made this before I cut him.”  The doctor then inserted the quill into the incision and vein.  At this point Monsieur Chirac glanced down at his arm and at the quill sticking out of it and began to holler.  He was losing blood rapidly and feeling faint.  The doctor whipped around toward the table and grabbed the pot of cow blood, but here he faced his most difficult roadblock: how to get the blood into the quill?  In a desperate move Dr. Denys tipped the pot of blood over onto the quill, hoping that some of it would make it into the hollow channel.  It did not, but instead spilled all over his wrist and hand and Monsieur Chirac’s arm.  “Merde!” exclaimed the doctor, who at this point looked up to see nurse Le Pen standing next to the cow outside of the cell.

    “Dr. Denys!” roared the chief nurse, infuriated at the preposterous spectacle taking place before her.

    “Nurse Le Pen!” said the doctor, whose embarrassment transformed into elation upon seeing that in her hand she held the funnel, which had fallen in the stairwell and she had picked up on her way down. “You brought the funnel!” he cheered. 

    From the bed, Monsieur Chirac also looked up to nurse Le Pen, and said, “Oh thank God.”  He had lost a substantial amount of blood and was slipping out of consciousness. 

    “Why is there a cow in the psych ward, bleeding on the floor, and what in the world are you doing!” demanded the nurse.

    “Bring me the funnel!” exclaimed the doctor, “We’re losing precious time!”

    The nurse stepped over the pool of blood and into the cell.  The doctor had set the pot down and with one hand held the quill while the other was extending out toward the funnel.  “Give me the funnel, give me the funnel!” said the doctor, wide eyed and grinning crazily, grasping toward to nurse.  

    Reluctantly, nurse Le Pen handed him the funnel. The doctor instantly placed the funnel over the quill and learned that the neck of the funnel was too wide to fit the tip of the quill.  “Shit,” he said.  He squeezed his palm over the neck of the funnel and the quill, closing the gap.  Dr. Denys used his free arm to pick up the pot of blood.  He took a deep breath to steady himself and then slowly tipped the pot over and poured the blood into the funnel.  That the pot still contained a leech or two, and that the funnel was coated in residual butter did not concern the doctor.   He watched the cow blood filling up in the funnel and the air bubbles slowly popping in the thick red soup.  Blood was leaking out between his fingers and he gripped the neck of the funnel and quill harder, forming a more airtight connection.  To his delight, the blood filled the hollow quill and seemed to travel down into the arm of Monsieur Chirac, who was completely passed out by now.  Although much of the blood was simply reaching the end of the quill and dispersing across the Monsieur Chirac’s arm, some was indeed entering his vein.  “Yes, yes!” said the doctor, “It’s working!”

    Nurse Le Pen was appalled and stood aghast as she watched the doctor transfuse around half a pint of cow into Monsieur Chirac.

    When the pot was empty aside from a couple leeches squirming around in the film of blood, Dr. Denys held the pot out to her and said, “Give me some more cow blood.”

    “No!” said Nurse Le Pen.

    “Okay fine, let’s close the wound.” 

    With the help of nurse Le Pen, Dr. Denys tied strips of cloth around the incision site, applying pressure so as to ensure that the cow blood would not backflow out of his arm.  Nurse Le Pen did her best to clean the wound and the doctor, covered in both cow and human blood, wiped the sticky substances all over his pants and shirt, making a further mess of himself.  He looked to Monsieur Chirac, confirming he saw signs of breathing, and then exited the cell.  He stood beside the placid cow, who was no longer bleeding vigorously, and pet it on the head.

    “Well, nurse Le Pen, I think we can consider this case a successful achievement.”

    The nurse looked to the doctor in disbelief and held her arm toward Monsieur Chirac and said, “He’s barely alive!”

    “Yes, but he’s not dead, is he?  Nor is yelling, if you haven’t notice.  I’m going to clean up and take this news straight to the Sorbonne.  I can’t wait to see the look on the faces of those arrogant Parisians once they find out what I’ve done here.”  The doctor realized that the forgot the funnel in the cell and retrieved it.  “Almost forgot this,” he said, “Good thing I’m wearing my thinking cap today.”  He then left the nurse to tend to Monsieur Chirac and walked up the stairwell to go take a bath.

    The nurse did what she could to clean the up the mess that Dr. Denys had made of the arm and cell, and placed a pillow under Monsieur Chirac’s head before she left the cell.  She closed the gate and looked at the cow, shaking her head and then leaving.

    After bathing, packing his bags, and forgetting to tell the chef that he could now have the cow, the doctor climbed into a horse-drawn carriage with the funnel and pulled out his ink well, a stack of blank paper, and a quill.  He began writing his report to submit to his medical peers at the University of Paris.  He had a long journey ahead him and gazed out the carriage at the haystacks in the pastures that surrounded the hospital.  In the late afternoon sunlight, a solitaire cow stood on a knoll in the shade of an oak tree and was cropping the grass.  Dr. Denys looked to the cow and smiled.

    Back in the hospital cell, Monsieur Chirac was afflicted by a fever dream in which a haunting, phantasmagorical montage of cows and leeches weaved through his searing mind.  He awoke form this hellish, bovine nightmare and immediately looked up from his bed.  The cow still there, roped to the gate, looking at him.  Horrified, Monsieur Chirac let out a scream so loud that even Dr. Denys, in a carriage a kilometer away, looked up from his notes in curiosity, for he vaguely thought he heard the sound of a man yelling.  After a few seconds Dr. Denys went back to his notes and continued writing his report.  

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