Afterward he said, "Cycling is so much more rewarding than running. In a marathon you reach your top speed when your legs reach theirs. If, that is, you're not limping around with musculoskeletal injuries. You're never even out of breath. But in a bike race you can be out of breath most of the time, and the next day your legs are ready to go again."
On the morning after the marathon Arnot was limping around, but at 7 a.m. he flew his white Beechcraft Bonanza to Claremont, N.H., and at eight o'clock he began a 24-hour stint as physician in charge of the emergency room at Claremont's Valley Regional Hospital. Since early 1980 Robert B. Arnot, M.D., has worked with National Emergency Services, Inc., a 6½-year-old Tiburon, Calif. outfit that assigns physicians to staff emergency rooms and provides marketing research and financial consulting to hospitals. NES has more than 1,200 physicians on call, but Arnot had so impressed its directors that he had already been made one of its two national education directors. A dozen or so times each month he flew off to some small town, usually in the Northeast, NES's fastest growing region, to man an emergency room. Each stint lasted anywhere from one day to a week, and NES paid him an average of $35 per hour. He put in as many as 300 hours in an average month, which is $10,500 worth of emergency service. As he said on the way to Claremont, "The work keeps me aloft and solvent. Besides, I like to keep a hand in emergency medicine. It's fun to be in there with the blood and the gore."
At 10 that night, in a small room far from the patients, a table was strewn with windsurfing and roller-skating magazines, and piccolo trumpet music bounced off the walls. Arnot was practicing the Tartini when the phone rang and a nurse asked, "Is this Carnegie Hall?"
"Yes," Arnot said.
"They want you to come down and sew up a cut lip."
Arnot played a few more bars of the Tartini and then made his way gingerly to the emergency room, where a boy, not more than three, in yellow pajamas sat on a bed, tears drying on his cheeks, his worried parents looking on.
"What did you do?" Arnot asked him, but got no reply.
"You cut your lip, didn't you? What are we going to do about that?" He looked at the boy's lip with a flashlight. Then he told the mother, "We could put in some sutures and probably scare him to death, but I'd prefer to leave it as it is. There'll be a little bleeding, but he'll be much happier, and it will heal perfectly."
He told the kid, "We're not going to do anything to you, is that all right?" The kid answered, "Yuh," his first sound, and burst into tears. As the parents were leaving, Arnot told them, "He was too scared to cry."
The nurse, who was referring to Arnot as Dr. Ben Gay, asked him, "Are you in pain?"