Murder Ward

The man’s son was dressed in his white shirt and tie and sitting at a desk in Paraguay; the man viewed him on screen through Facebook Messenger.

His son coughed hard.

“You sound sick,” said the man.

“I’m not sick, Dad,” said Elder Laws. “I just went shopping, and they took my temperature and I had no temp.”

“Your cheeks are bright red, too. Do you have any other symptoms?”

“I think it’s just the changing seasons,” said Elder Laws.

“Really? No other symptoms?”

Elder Laws rolled his eyes. “I had some diarrhea for a couple of days. But it was probably something I ate.”

The man rubbed his eyes. “You have freaking COVID. You need to get tested.”

“I don’t have COVID, Dad.”

“You’re near the Brazilian border. The Delta variant is all over Brazil.”

“I don’t even have a fever.”

The man sighed. “Is the mission president’s wife in charge of medical?”

“Yes.”

“Have you told her or the district leaders or anyone?”

“No. Because I don’t have COVID.”

“You are sick. It doesn’t matter whether you have COVID. You have to report to the person in charge of medical. They have to know if you are sick. You can’t hide that.”

“Geez, come on, Dad.”

“This is a mission rule, son. When we get off the phone, you have to call Sister Millett.”

Elder Laws shifted his weight and rolled his eyes. He tapped the desk with his fingers. “Ok.”

“So you will call her?”

“Yes, Dad.” He tapped the desk with both his fists. “This is so annoying. They’re gonna send some lab people out here to test me, and I don’t have COVID. And I won’t be able to go anywhere for days.”

“Just text Sister Millett.”

“Fine.”

***

Four days later, the man opened Messenger to a find a new message from his son: I tested positive.

He messaged back: How do you feel?

Crappy. Still have diarrhea. Really tired. I threw up the other night.

If you begin to have trouble breathing or your lips turn blue, you have to go to the hospital.

I’m not going to the murder ward, Dad.

You have to go to the hospital if you have breathing issues.

Sister Millett told me if I throw up again I have to go the hospital. But I’m not doing that. People go to hospitals here and they die. I’m not going there, and I’m not dying of COVID.

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