Curing the Embolism
Buzzing like a small saw. I try not to make eye contact while a patient with a shaved head squeaks with pain and kicks out his leg. Reek of blood and cheap incense as I sidle towards the quiet booth, where a man with a braided white beard and a baseball cap beckons. He’s had the operation so many times I can‘t see his eyes. The florescent lights flicker, giving me a headache.
The man takes my hand and strokes it hypnotically. He is missing a finger, one of the unimportant ones. I look at the floor, which is covered with white chips, possibly sawdust or teeth. He clears his throat and points to a sign above his desk with the tip of a pipe (he is not liable for any side effects, up to and including death or spirit possession). He slides a padded bench out from the wall; I see bite marks. I glance away into a mirror so I can pull my hair back into a ponytail, my face is flushed. He wipes at the crust on the bench with a rag and invites me to lay face down. As he lights up his pipe, ash spills into his beard. It flares into flame. He ignores it and snaps on rubber gloves. Humming rapidly, he opens a drawer, rattles a tray of murky liquid and plucks out a metal instrument. He shakes it to get rid of the last drops of fluid. As his baseball cap smolders, he smashes the heel of his hand on my spine, holds me in place.