LAVA SEEPED FROM UNDER HIS TROUSERS
Charlie Ivory waited patiently in the small cubicle for the doctor to enter. He looked round. There were pictures of various parts of the human body with different diseases. He couldn’t imagine that so many things could go wrong. Most problems centered around the heart and brain. It reminded him of pictures in the gas station. That his mechanic had stuck to the walls. Pictures of carburetors and pistons. Was the body just a machine? A machine with a heart. That didn’t sound right. But the body, like a machine, was something that could be tuned up, broken down, worn out? Charlie’s head began to spin. Like last minute Christmas shopping. The door opened. And in stepped the doctor holding a clipboard. Like Moses with his tablets. He was reading the form that Charlie had filled out.
“Why have you come to us today?” the doctor asked. His eyes rose up his forehead.
“It’s on the form.” Charlie responded. Not wanting to sound like a smart alec. Though he’d never met an Alec with much upstairs.
The doctor looked up from the clipboard.
“I’d like to hear it from you directly.” The doctor smiled. His teeth glistened.
Charlie stared. Nobody’s teeth are that white.
“I’m paralyzed.” Charlie picked at the sequins on his jeans.
“You can’t move?” The doctor leaned against the door. Like a dame in a tight skirt in a drug store waiting to be discovered.
“Metaphorically,” Charlie explained.
The doctor nodded, repeating the world metaphorically in his head. Sounded like a thought that had slipped out of one’s fingers and bounced down the stairs.
“It says here that you haven’t had a bowel movement in a week. That’s a long week.”
“You eating a lot of cheese?”
“Allergic to cheese,” Charlie explained.
“Have you tried eating fruit?”
“Finished a barrel of apples off yesterday. Didn’t help. Look doctor, I feel as if I don’t have something happen down there soon, I’m going to blow up.” He wanted to ask if that was possible.
“We’ll certainly have to do something about that, Mr. Ivory.” The doctor looked at the clipboard again. “I could give you an enema.”
Charlie thought the doctor had said Aunt Ema and asked him to repeat himself. And then Charlie noticed. The doctor’s hands. They were huge. Maybe he could ask his pretty little receptionist. And there was one thing more. He had his hand wrapped. His thumb in particular. A cast. Was that his enema thumb. Had someone bitten it off.
“Is there any other alternative?” Charlie asked. He could see that the doctor was having trouble writing.
“We have several medications that can loosen up your bowels. But I’m concerned as to why you have this interruption.”
Charlie did not speak. The doctor waited. The silence became uncomfortable.
“I’m paralyzed.” Charlie smiled meekly. He sure wanted to ask about that thumb.
“What do you mean by paralyzed?” the doctor asked.
“I’m afraid of dieing,” Charlie said.
The doctor nodded as if he understood. He did not. He felt as if Charlie was wasting his time. And he was still worried about his thumb. He’d had in reattached. But would it take?
“I see.” The doctor glanced at the form on his clipboard again. “I take it that you feel as if you are paralyzed because your fear of dieing is preventing you from leading a normal life.”
Charlie thought about that for a moment. Maybe that was it.
“I tell jokes,” he said.
The doctor smiled.
“I tell jokes. Compulsively.”
The doctor asked Charlie to tell him one of his jokes. Charlie told him a joke about a chicken and a priest in a bar. It wasn’t funny.
“And you can’t stop telling jokes because you are afraid of dieing?” the doctor asked.
Charlie shook his head.
“Not that,” Charlie said.
There was a puzzled expression on the doctor’s face.
“I can’t stop telling bad jokes because I’m afraid of dieing,” Charlie explained. “If I wasn’t paralyzed by the fear of dieing, I think I’d start telling funny jokes.”
“Have you talked to your family physician about this?”
Charlie nodded. “She got angry with me. The third time. It’s the enemas. I think…” Isn’t there some kind of mid-wife for enemas. Someone would could consult without having to see a doctor.
Charlie hesitated. The doctor leaned forward, encouraging him to continue.
“I think she believes I’m looking for some kind of… sexual gratification. I’m not,” Charlie cried. “I’m just afraid of dieing. I think it could happen at any time. And I feel so vulnerable when I’m in my toilet. Like that could be the moment when the attack begins.”
The doctor looked at his patient impatiently.
Charlie was by now almost in tears. He looked up at the doctor. His hands were trembling. His lips quivered. His eyes always sad were about to burst with tears.
The doctor smiled and slowly turned away. Then suddenly turned. And screamed.
Charlie’s mouth dropped open. For a moment he smiled. Relief. Then both the doctor and Charlie realized that a terrible mistake had been made. Charlie looked down. Molten lava seeped out from his heart. And down under his trousers. The doctor looked down. He saw the same thing. From a different perspective. The smell was lethal. Charlie’s head slumped. The doctor’s eyes began to burn. He fled from the room. Charlie could not. His heart had given out.