Tod Slaughter's

Tod Slaughter's

Wednesday, July 15, 2015


Here's a fun one about the perils of Payday candy bars. -T.S.             

                I had taken a long lunch and didn't get back to the practice until 2. I used to bring my own lunch, healthier that way you know, but Brittany (she's the receptionist) thinks we're friends and it got to be rather unbearable.
                I mean, there is something about these kids, is there not? No concept of place. A complete lack of understanding boss and employee relationships, among other things. Many other things. A month out of college and they want to run the place. And what was I thinking hiring a Brittany anyway? Has that lamentable trend passed yet? There was a time I thought the only two names available were Brittany and Courtney. But hey, at least they don't have punctuation marks, right? Britn'y? Isn’t that what it's coming to?

                "Good afternoon!" Brittany said and popped her chewing gum. I glared at her and nodded toward the waste basket, and she leaned over and spit. Something about these kids.
                "Your 2:45 canceled because her chihuahua had a reaction to the gluten-free treats ..."
                "The gluten-free treats?" I said with slight incredulity, and instantly regretted speaking.
                "Yes, that Bingo Starr is such a darling little thing but his tummy always hurts. They thought it was the gluten, but now with the gluten-free treats he still..."
                And I supposed that's why I hired her. Brittany had the perfect combination of millennial entitlement and utter cluelessness that allowed her to easily relate to most of my clients.
                "I'm sorry, Brittany," I said. "Is this going somewhere?"
                "Of course," she said with a smack of her gum. "Angelica called. You know, the pretty one? She isn't scheduled until next Tuesday, but when I told her about the cancellation, she jumped right in. And I swapped the 2:45 out for Angelica's slot next Tuesday. Nancy is prepping the OR."
                "You are too kind." And actually doing your job. Perhaps today would be a good day.
                Angelica. Repeat customer. Young, rich, and beautiful. A good bit of insecurity about her nose though. That's what we'd be working on today, shaving the bridge down, a couple of cartilage grafts, sculpting the tip. A standard rhinoplasty. Another $6,750. Not bad for a late afternoon's work.
                As I entered my office, my phone vibrated. It was Dylan, my husband. Trophy husband, if there is such a thing. Twenty years my junior, and something of a gym rat.
                "Hey babe," he said, "got any time before the next victim?"
                "What did you have in mind?"
                There was some rustling as he turned his phone toward a radio. Poison. Talk Dirty to Me.
                "I hate that song. Reminds me of high school."
                "Before my time, babe."
                "I know."
                I don't mind telling you I look better than most women a decade younger than I am, but when you're a five-star plastic surgeon, you have to look the part.
                "I could come down there," he said, "shove everything off the desk, lay you up on it ..."
                "Sorry doll, I can't right now. One of us has to make money."
                "I'll just sit here looking pretty."
                "You do that. Now, I must go. Can't keep this generation waiting."
                "Bye, love."
                "Goodbye, Dylan."
                I heard the patient enter. Brittany took her information and escorted her back to the OR, and I followed soon after them.
                "Thank you Brittany," I said. "If we're not done by five, just pack up and head home. You too Nancy."
                "Are you sure, Dr. Peterson?"
                "Of course. A little job like this," I said and smiled at Angelica, "won't require any extra hands." And I don't want to pay your overtime. So go home. I can do a rhinoplasty with my eyes closed.
They left and I sat down with Angelica.
                "I just hate it!" she said, running a finger along the bridge.
                "Not to worry, my darling," I said. "Let's just slip this on and you'll have a new nose before dinner." Not that you ever eat. I pulled the mask down over her face. Her breath fogged the clear plastic. I smiled, turned on the gas and waited.
                She was a giggler, Angelica. She talked and she giggled, and just as I was about to open her nose up, she caught my attention.
                "Dylan would think it's hilarious," she said and giggled some more. I squinted my eyes at her.
                "What did you say?" I dialed the gas back. Didn't want her passing out now.
                She laughed loudly. "Dylan! He would think it's hilarious. Or would he? He told me, he told me not to come here! Joke's on him!" And she erupted again.
                "Dylan told you not to come here?"
                "Yes! He specifically said so. He said you can smell trouble. Smell trouble!" Peals of laughter.
                "And what trouble would I smell?"
                She pursed her lips in a comical pout. "He's ashamed of me. He doesn't want anyone to know."
                "Know what?" I asked though I of course already knew.
                "No, no. A lady never kisses and tells!"
                Indeed. She's lovely, isn't she Dylan? So young, so ... unblemished. The sun was just beginning its descent, and it cast red beams through the sheer window curtains. I turned the gas back up and she closed her eyes.
                "Now dear, let's see what we can do about that nose."
                The rage seethed inside me and I worked slowly. There were just so many things that needed fixing when you looked at it. The nose? I mean, upon closer inspection, not really worth keeping, was it? Better off without it really. And that pouty little mouth? Much too narrow for her face. It needed to be … wider. Wider by far. And bring the eyelids down. Add a little mystery. Nothing keeps a relationship alive like a little bit of mystery. Secrecy.
                I was finishing her right eyelid when I felt my phone vibrate.
                "Hello love," I said.
                "Hey, I was just going to leave you a message. Don't you have a patient?"
                "Indeed I do. We're almost finished here though."
                "What did you want for dinner?"
                "Oh I don't know, surprise me."
                "I hate surprising you."
                "But you're so ... full of surprises." Not so much with dinner though. He'd bring Chinese takeout. I already knew it.
                Angelica started to moan a little.
                "Wait just a second."
                I pulled the mask back in place and turned the gas on again.
                "Where were we? Dinner?"
                "Yes," he said. "Do you need to go?"
                "Not at all darling. Pick something up and bring it by the office. I was thinking we might end the night with some ... action."
                "Truly. Madly. Deeply."
                "You got it, babe. Light a candle. I'll be there shortly."
                I put the phone down and took the mask off so I could finish the other eyelid. Her nose, well, the place her nose used to be, was bubbling a bit, so I wiped it off too. When the eye was finished I took a roll of cling wrap from the cabinet and wrapped it around her, first pinning her arms and torso to the chair, then her feet. A gauze gag for when she woke. She'd have to breathe through her nose. It would be difficult, but she needed to get used to it anyway.
                Soft footsteps sounded on the thin hall carpet. Nothing to worry about though; I'd of course locked the door.
                A knock. "Dr. Peterson?"
                "Are you sure you don't need anything?"
                "Nothing at all. Taking a bit longer, complex bridge and all that, but I'll be done soon. You two just run along."
                "Ok, thanks! See you tomorrow."
                The feet retreated and I looked at my creation. She was exquisite. Her mouth was wide and showed her lovely teeth. It would always show them now. That horrid nose? Completely done away with. And the eyelid stitching certainly added a needed level of intrigue.
                Secrets. We all have them. I reached behind the ficus tree in the corner of the room and produced half a pack of Camels and a lighter. The smoking plastic surgeon. It was almost ironic, and what would Dylan say if he knew? After I was sure that Nancy and Brittany were gone, I wandered around my elegant little practice smoking and eventually drug another patient chair into the OR where Angelica was beginning to stir.
                "Uh uh uh," I said, waving my finger. "Not yet." I gave her more gas.
                The phone vibrated again. One word. "Here." Dylan, the ever verbose.
                I put the cigarette out in the steel sink, picked up a big red vase from the counter, and moved against the wall by the door.
                I'd always hated that vase.
                A faint but familiar creak told me Dylan had opened the entrance door. As he crossed the lobby and came down the hall, I could hear him humming something.
                "Ain't looking for nothing ... but a good time ..."
                More Poison. Odd that people can listen to the same song for a … lifetime … without it getting old. Not at all like people. No, the signs of age are much more obvious on people. If they weren't, I'd be out of a job.
                He knocked quickly and opened the door without waiting for an answer. As he came in, I clubbed him over the back of the head with the ugly red vase and he fell to the floor, cartons of Chinese food opening and scattering across the rug. Some sort of sauce leaked out of a package, and it was roughly the same color as the blood coming from his head.
                It wasn't easy getting Dylan into the chair. First I slipped on the sauce he'd spilled and we both went down, but after some wrestling and cursing I finally got him situated. He was out cold so I didn't give him too much gas. Just enough to keep him under. Angelica was awake now and she was making some kind of noise that made it hard to concentrate so I stuffed the gag in a little further and got back to work.
                Twin lovers. They were made for each other. Literally. By me. I gave Dylan the same nose job and widened his mouth out to match hers. I left his eyes open though. He'd want to see his darling Angelica.
                Speaking of Angelica, I needed to have a little talk with her. I plopped down in my rolling chair and scooted over next to her, leaning in by her ear.
                "I'm going to take this gag out and you're not going to scream."
                I pulled it out and there was a sharp intake of breath as the gauze caught on the raw edges of her new mouth, but to her credit she didn't scream.
                "So, you thought you'd have a little fun with my Dylan, did you?"
                She whimpered.
                "Uh uh," I said, waving my scalpel back and forth. "I'll do the talking. Since we're practically an item, sharing the same man and all that, I thought I'd let you in on a little secret. Would you like to know my secret?"
                Her eyelids twitched and she nodded a short jerky yes.
                "I'm crazy, my dear, crazy as a loon. The god complex, that's what they said. Or goddess complex, as the case may be. Narcissism, egotism, all those nasty isms. I need to ... control things. Why do you think I do what I do? I can literally create people. Make them perfect."
                I put a hand on her cheek and she turned away.
                "It's why I chose Dylan. Such an easy boy to control. Never made a decision in his life. Why, I tell him what to wear. He doesn't even realize it anymore. But now with you around, it kind of casts things in a different light. I honestly didn't think he had it in him."
                Dylan stirred behind us, so I moved to her side where I could keep an eye on him.
                "I really got carried away today," I said. "Aging, I suppose. I haven't been taking it well, and now with you swooping in and carrying on with Dylan, it just hasn't set well with me. But don't worry about the extra procedures; they're on the house."
                His eyes flickered.
                "Good afternoon darling," I said.
                He was woozy. "Where am I?"
                "In good company. There's someone here who wants to see you." I laughed at that for a moment. "I think you two might know each other."
                I reached in my coat pocket and tossed a vial of smelling salts into his lap.
                "Open that. You'll feel better."
                He clumsily took the lid off and spilled half of it, but when he inhaled his eyes lost some of their cloudiness. Then they widened and he opened his new mouth to scream.
                "No no," I said, gesturing at her neck with the scalpel. "None of that."
                "What ... what have you done?"
                The words sounded strange without lips to form them. So ... skeletal.
                "I have created you in my image, darling. Twin lovers, destined for each other. Who else would have you now?"
                A red rivulet ran down from his nasal cavity and onto his teeth.
                "Dylan?" Angelica said, and it too sounded strange. "It hurts. What is happening?"
                "Tell her Dylan. Tell her what you see."
                "No. I ... I won't."
                "I thought you wouldn't. Now, I want you to reach into her purse. Take out her phone and dial 911."
                He remained seated.
                "You will do it, Dylan." I moved the scalpel closer to her. "Call 911. I am not afraid. I'll never go to trial. Mentally incompetent and all that, you know? They'll send me to an institution for a while, and honestly, the people there, the sheep, they could use a shepherd. I'm quite sure it will be to my liking. But you two, why you'll spend eternity together. You were made for each other. And Dylan, you'll be her eyes now. I've given you authority. Power. You are my first disciple. Now get the phone."
                He rose and saw himself in the mirror, his new self.
                "You are magnificent," I said, reminding him of the scalpel. "Now get the phone."
                After a moment, he made it to her purse and rummaged around in it.
                He dialed and when the 911 responder answered, he started talking. Slowly at first, then frantically.
                "Slow down, Dylan. Tell them the address."
                "433 Broad Street. Please come quickly!"
                "You idiot. That isn't the address. Give me the phone. And don't try anything."
                He moved toward me and then it all happened. So quickly. His hand flashed out and the phone hit me in the face and then he was on top of me, slamming my hand against the ground until I dropped the scalpel. His face was a red mask of death, a grinning demon from hell. He put a hand around my throat and there wasn't much I could do. I always liked a guy with big arms.
                "Now, open up," he said. I was gagging for air and my eyes grew wide when I saw what was in his hand. A candy bar. A Payday. He tore it open with his teeth and I tried to scream.
                "Angelica doesn't know about your little problem," he said. "I found this in her purse with her phone."
                He stuffed the Payday in my mouth, forcing the whole thing in, and then he took his hand off my neck and covered my mouth.
                "Eat," he said. "Eat."
                I could feel the shock almost instantly. Peanuts. He wasn’t quite as dumb as he looked. My skin burned, my face swelled. My heart pounded and pounded and I could feel it exploding in my chest. And as I closed my eyes, he never stopped smiling at me. That smile. That deathly grin.

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