Sensing Eric’s next question, the Doctor intercepted. “I have no idea why this leap year would be ‘the one’. We didn’t get any deeper into that but I was thinking the same thing that you are. Maybe there was some sort of coincidental event in his life that triggered this superstitious paranoia. Who knows, right? It reminds me of the doomsayers who predict an end to the world. When the doomsday date passes without a cataclysm, they make up a blanket excuse about a slight miscalculation or interpretation error. Then they simply predict an adjusted date of ‘the end’. People like that are often completely undeterred by the truth when confronted with it.”
The two men pondered a moment on the Coroner’s philosophic theories before he expounded further: “As strange as it may seem, our ‘patient-to-be’ is determined to ‘get credit’ for experiencing the absolute rarest of life-ending occurrences. (To die on the rarest of all birthdays). He has already accepted this end-of-life scenario as unavoidable. This is just his way of taking a gambler’s serendipitous pleasure in beating the odds!”
“Just wow! I’m speechless; Eric exclaimed in obvious disgust. “That’s beyond bizarre. He sounds absolutely mental. Why would you humor such a deranged, highly impressionable individual like that, Doctor? Despite his assurances to the contrary, aren’t you afraid he will try to make it a self-fulfilling prophesy?”
“In all of my years as chief medical examiner, I’ve never encountered such an unusual situation. Then again, he’s also the first patient I’ve ever talked with. Usually the dead are very quiet and still on the examination table, you know! It’s not like we have an official policy for refusing advance death notices. It just doesn’t happen. At least it never has to me before now.”
Eric started to protest what he perceived as questionable handling of a delicate situation but then thought better of criticizing his superior, any further.
Picking up on the disapproval from his underling, Doctor Reeves offered: “The patient explained that part of the ‘rules of the gamble’ is that he isn’t allowed to ‘cheat’, or otherwise affect the outcome. He was quite adamant that his honor depended on his non-interference. That admission made me feel a lot better about the situation. When the time comes and goes without mortal incident, hopefully he will snap out of this superstitious delusion. Then we can destroy his ‘premature’ death certificate; at least for the next four years.
Last night he insisted on seeing me prepare the form, right in front of him. I explained that I would get into legal trouble for listing a date on the certificate prior to it actually happening. He reluctantly accepted that. Technically he hasn’t broken any laws that he could be prosecuted for; nor has his strange obsession legally warranted a lockup in the psych ward; by current mental health standards. With the obvious exception of his gambling and BD, DD obsession, he appeared to be just as lucid and rational as we are. We’ll just have to see how this strange turn of events plays out.”