I’m Sorry, Mr. Stenton by David Berger


“I’m sorry, Mr. Stenton,” the Physician’s Assistant behind the desk said. “There’s a $50 co-pay, and you owe $100 from the last two visits. The Doctor can’t see you until your bill is settled up.”

“But my Healthcare Provider … .”

“I’m sorry, Mr. Stenton, but your Healthcare Management Organization’s guidelines have changed, and now there’s a co-pay for each visit and it’s been in place for over a year.”

“I didn’t know that. … Can’t I see the Doctor just for a few minutes?”

“I’m sorry, Mr. Stenton, but he … .”

Stenton rose up suddenly and walked out of the Health Center waiting room and into the corridor where the treatment rooms and doctor’s offices were. As he walked, he opened each door, left and right. All the rooms were empty until he found one with his Doctor sitting behind a desk. Stenton took out his imaginary gun and shot the Doctor. Then he walked back into the waiting room and with his imaginary gun he shot the Physician’s Assistant.

Stenton took a cab up to the office of his Healthcare Provider. After sitting a while in the reception area, he was directed to a Financial Counselor. She explained the change in the rules to him clearly and why there were retroactive fees. That was due to a previous error in billing. Stenton asked to speak to the Financial Counselor’s superior, the Head Financial Counselor.

After he was ushered into the Head Financial Counselor’s office, the man basically said the same thing to him.

“I’m sorry, Mr. Stenton, that the new policy and the billing error inconvenienced you. I’m helpless in this matter, but let me see what I can do.”

He sent Stenton to another floor to the Policy Office where the Assistant Deputy Policy Manager explained the new policy to him and apologized for the company not informing him sooner.

“I’m sorry, Mr. Stenton,” the Assistant Deputy Policy Manager said. “I’m sure that next time our system will inform you of any changes. And the billing error was unfortunate, but these things happen.”

And so Stenton took out his imaginary gun and shot the Assistant Policy Deputy Manager. He went downstairs and a few minutes later, he used his imaginary gun to shoot the Head Financial Manager. Then, using his imaginary gun, he shot the Financial Counselor.

It was already the middle of the afternoon when Stenton arrived in Washington via one of those cheapy buses. Although he had no appointment, he was able to see a Public Representative, in the Department of Health and Human Services: actually a summer intern.

“I’m sorry, Mr. Stenton,” the Public Representative told him. “The directives for all new policies for Healthcare Management Organizations comes from the Policy Board.”

“Can I see someone on the Board?”

“Sure. The Deputy Assistant Secretary likes to work late.”

Soon, Stenton was talking to the Deputy Assistant Secretary to the Policy Board.

“I’m sorry, Mr. Stenton,” he said. I’m only a functionary to the Board and the Assistant

Secretary and the Acting Secretary are gone for the day. Fortunately, the Senior Secretary to the Board is still in. I’ll see if she can see you.”

“I’m sorry, Mr. Stenton,” the Executive Assisstant to the Senior Secretary of the Board said. “The Senior Secretary is unable to see you. She’s in a meeting. But I can book you for an immediate appointment with the Secretary of Health and Human Services. He’s not busy today.”

Stenton rode up in an elevator, and moments later, he was upstairs in the presence of the Secretary of Health and Human Services.

“Glad to meet you … Stemton is it?”


“Ahh, Stenton. Have we met before?”

“Only in a manner of speaking.”

“Well, in any event, how can I help?”

Stenton explained the policy.

“Ohhhhh, that one! I see. I’m sorry, Mr. Stenton, but that one came down from POTUS herself. I’m told she thought of it. She felt that if people were receiving services at a low cost or for free, they’d abuse the privilege.”

“Any chance I can see her?”

“Not today. She’s at Camp David for the Quarterly Cabinet Officers Retreat. It’s sort of a cross between Bohemian Grove and Burning Man. Only no effigies to burn down. Ha Ha.”

Stenton didn’t get the reference.

 “Anyway I’m holding down the fort for her here in DC, which gives me plenty of free time. It’s forbidden for all the Cabinet Members to be in the same place at the same time. Did you know that?”

“Yes,” Stenton said. “So the policy stops here, Mr. Secretary?”

“’Fraid it does, for today. So, once again, I’m sorry, Mr. Stenton. The President will be back in about a week. I can pass a message on to his Chief of Staff, though. He can book an appointment.”

“No thanks. But thank you for your kindness in this matter.”

“Not at all. Your very welcome,” the Secretary said.

Then Mr. Stenton, using his imaginary gun, shot the Secretary of Health and Human Services.

He then went back in the elevator and returned to the Senior Secretary of the Policy Board’s office. The Senior Secretary to the Board was back at his desk from his meeting so Stenton, using his imaginary gun, shot the Senior Secretary. Then using his imaginary gun he shot the Executive Assistant.

Going down the hall to the office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary, using his imaginary gun he shot him.

Finally, in the lobby, using his imaginary gun he shot the Public Representative.

Going back to the bus station, he retrieved his real gun from a locker and Stenton shot himself.


David is an old Brooklyn Lefty, living in Manhattan with his wife of 27 years: the finest jazz singer in NYC. He’s been a caseworker, construction worker, letter carrier, teacher, proofreader and union organizer. David loves life, his wife and the world. He hopes to help us all escape destruction.

Published 5/6/21

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