The Dentist

by Daulton Dickey.

Dentistry isn’t what it used to be. In my younger and less vulnerable years, I’d service fifteen or twenty patients a day without incident. Scrape teeth, inject lidocaine and extract teeth, and then I’d go home and distract myself. Thoughts of work rarely assaulted me. But now I can’t go near a person’s mouth without an armed bodyguard and an exorcist, and the day haunts me well into night.

Just this morning, a scruffy-faced man ambled into my office, complaining of a toothache. My alarm bells sounded on seeing him. His greasy hair and unkempt beard alerted me to potential trouble. And those eyes, black and hollow, dug into my flesh and raised every hair on my body.

‘I got an awful pain,’ he said.

My nurse seated him and eyeballed me, telegraphing SOS by flickering her pupils. I returned the message and, with a flick of my wrist, called Sancho into the room. His name was—honest to god—Sancho Panza and he stood six foot eight inches without shoes. He sauntered into the room, clutching a crucifix, and hovered over me. I couldn’t see his face but I knew his routine: fire mad-looking eyes at the patient, a sort of pre-emptive warning shot, and grimace. Continue reading

Schlupp

by Daulton Dickey.

See, Jack, what’s in the shadows. That boy walking bowlegged: last week a scorpion crawled out his spine. Damn thing, about three foot long, at least, chased the boy’s mom. There she was screaming and swinging a pillowcase at it, like it’d do a damn bit of good. Well, so the thing cornered her, stuck its stinger in her eye and proceeded to suck out the vitreous gel. Sucked it out until her eyeball was hollow. Then it withdrew its stinger. Made a godawful sound. Schlupp. Like a toothless dog eating a bowl of snot. And so there she was, the mom, sitting in the corner, hand over her eye, jaw moving up and down, up and down, like she was on autopilot. And she sat there, jaw a-moving, and this like bloodcurdling moan spilled from her mouth. White jelly streamed from the husk of her eye. And she groaned. She groaned. Then the scorpion turned on the boy, chased him out the house and clear across the block. The boy screamed. But he couldn’t outrun the scorpion. Damn thing scurried like it was nobody’s business. Caught the boy near the crosswalk. It latched onto the kid and climbed through a wound in his lumbar area and like attached itself to the boy’s spine. Doctors say it’s in charge now, which goes a hell of a long way to explaining why the boy’s been bouncing around the neighborhood sucking on sweets and terrorizing the cats. Like what the hell would it even do with a cat? Dumb idiot. Just goes to show ain’t nothing know what it needs, even when it’s in charge.

I hear the Goofy-Footed Mafia started a pool, see what the scorpion-boy does when he finally catches a cat. Some think he’ll recite insect sonnets in a sort of scorpion whine. Nothing we humans could understand, just screeches and like metallic chirps. But don’t you worry, Jack. I’m in good with the Goofy-Footed Mafia and I tell you son: the fix is in. Soon as that boy catch a cat, they going to send in a strung-out Shaman dressed in a burlap sack to exorcise the scorpion, which will send it reeling out the boy’s spine and into the street. The Shaman will be hopped up on Kool-Aid and pixie dust and so if he aligns his chakras just right, he’ll be able to sort of mind meld with the scorpion, all puppet-master-like, and force it to tap dance and yodel an old Slim Whitman tune. Some crazy, syphilitic old bastard suggested this routine for the pool. Everyone thought he was a crazy old coot, submitting such a thing. But the odds on it are long—tree-fiddy to one—which sounds like lick-smacking goodness, those odds, to the Goofy-Footed Mafia. As I say, son: the fix is in. Oh now, look at that boy. Damn near caught that hairless feline. So goddamn close. I thought we was about to be treated to a Slim Whitman concert.