03 July 2006

November 5: Billie the Kid

We discover that Dag has a weekly doctor’s appointment when Riley reminds him that it is time to go. She drives Dag to the hospital where his Doctor practices. She wishes him luck.

Dag and his doctor have a conversation in which we learn that Dag is awaiting a heart transplant and his doctor is concerned about the deterioration that seems to be accelerating. Doctor berates Dag about going to a smoke-filled club and swears he’ll report the club to the authorities. They are distracted by a gurney on which a child (about six or seven years old) is rolled by. The child’s mother is in attendance and is obviously very worried.

Dag and the doctor talk about the sad state of affairs in which there is such high demand for hearts and so few donors. The child has a congenital defect that can only be helped by a transplant, and her time is running out. Dag goes to visit the kid in her room on his way out and discovers that in spite of her illness, she is a perky, bright and energetic kid who has a great view on life, far beyond her age. Dag finds out she is also on the waiting list for a donor heart.


jason said...

I'm a little bothered by the introduction of the kid this early in the story. It sort of screams "EMOTIONAL PLOT HOOK!" at me. Like those times when you're watching a TV show or a movie and you just know that some character or other was stuck in there at the request of non-creative executive types who felt that the show would market better to weepy moms or whatever if it contained a cute kid/cute dog/disabled person/etc.

I understand why the kid is there, but do you need her here? Presumably we'll visit Dag's Dr.'s office a couple of more times before the story ends--after all, once you reveal that Dag has a bum heart, readers are going to want to know how he's doing as the days (and muggings) pass--so why not wait until the last visit to introduce the kid? That way, Dag's ultimate decision with what to do with his money can come more from the heart and less from the head. The longer he has to process Billie's existence and her condition, the more he'll have time to figure out all the good reasons for donating the money. The less time he has, the more he'll have to just go with his gut. Do it because "I can't exactly say why, I haven't figured that out yet, but I just know I have to do this. It just feels right."

IMHO, that's a more powerful--yet less bludgeoning--emotional statement than if Dag has all month to worry over Billie's condition.

Wayzgoose said...

I'm using the kid in this instance to paint a picture of the heart transplan waiting process. She is probably not the only one that Dag will meet. Maybe a support group of some sort. I'm not intending to exploit the kid at this stage. The kid may remain nameless at this time or just be part of the scenery as Dag is going through the hospital.