Doctor Earnest Andy Darestokill
Dr. Earnest Andy Darestokill locked the doors to the clinic. He turned the SORRY, WE’RE CLOSED sign to the outside world, though in his heart he was not really that sorry. Millions of people in the city knew that at this hour all public services traditionally closed for the day. And these millions of people would hustle by the locked doors on their way to similar houses of repute, taking no thought for several of their own kind who lay lifelessly and helplessly upon each other in such a confused mix that, were they whole, even they would vomit at the idea of tearing, burning, or cutting a human being to death.
Dr. D, as he was known to his many clients whose kindness and compassion toward him were always expressed with liberal praise and seductive price, strolled richly to the back room. He scrubbed his hands and arms with betadine soap, as was his hourly practice. After drying with a clean towel, stained red with so much soap and blood, he placed his watch, ring, and bracelet on the respective portions of his washed limbs.
“Ah,” he mused, “What a beautiful watch.” And indeed it was, for it is hard to call a pure gold, diamond-studded work of mechanical art anything but beautiful, except perhaps gaudy. “And my ring,” he pondered, “I really deserved this after many years of preparation just to service mankind. And, oh, my bracelet,” he almost said out loud, “Miss Taday’s gift of heartfelt thanks. Why, I only assisted her three times.” And with these thoughts and many more, he adorned himself, being very careful to place the bracelet – given to him with heartfelt thanks – on his wrist in such a way that he could read the inscribed initials for himself: Dr. E. A. D. He sniggered. “My name’s not that long. HRMPH! Even my last name would fit. But I guess a man is known by many names, and by what he is to many people. What a dumb whore, Miss Taday! Ha! Ha! Ha!”
Houses of similar repute, street corners, and impious minds were unusually busy this evening. “’Twill be a profitable month, next month,” he speculated, trying to prioritize what he was going to do when he arrived at home. And in their usual courses of time, the subway brought him to the corner station, a taxicab brought him to the condominium complex, and his legs brought him to his lovely abode. He quickly discarded all intentions of working around the house and soon found himself showered, dressed for bed, and sipping a cold beer.
The can slipped from his hand. He dozed off and began dreaming about so much wealth and popularity. Suddenly, he jerked forward off the mattress, his body involuntarily drawn into itself. His left hand was terribly pained – no, more than that – and he quickly strained to look over the edge of the bed while wrenching surges of unbelievable agony coursed back and forth between his brain and hand. “ARG!” he shouted in sickening disillusion. For there by the bedside stood his vacuum cleaner. And it had his hand. His entire hand had been sucked up into the one and half inch tube, crunching bone and compressing flesh until blood vessels, cells, and tendons exploded under violent pressure. Then he felt a worse pain: SLURROOP! went his index finger as it was torn from its socket; RATTLE-RATTLE-THUD went the digit as it flopped past the armature into the waste bag. And if that wasn’t bad enough, SLURROOP! went his third finger, and SLURROOP! went his pinky, and SQUALP-SLURROOP! went his thumb, for it was harder to pluck out of the socket. And then his fourth finger… SLURROOP!
“ARG!” cried Dr. D, and the vacuum cleaner advanced. It swallowed his arm, entirely up to his shoulder, feasting on flesh and bone and watch. “No! Not my beautiful watch!” he shouted, but it was too late. The appliance gobbled it down and ground it up with the rest of Dr. D’s extremity.
By the time Dr. D recovered from the loss of his precious possession, the vacuum cleaner had ripped through his chest cavity. The noise was calamitous and Dr. D became hysterical. SLURROOPS and SQUALPS became louder and longer. So did Dr. D’s args. But soon all was quiet, and in the stillness of the bedroom a muffled burp came from the somewhat bulging machine, and an even more muffled arg came from with the belly of the waste bag.
Dr. D looked around but couldn’t see a thing. Then he realized his buttocks was pressing against his eye. So he opened his other eye, which happened to be at the bottom of the bag near his ankle, and there observed strange shapes of red and white and, in smaller amounts, brown. “How long have I been here?” he whimpered. But his question was jarred by a quick jolt of the vacuum cleaner. Someone had lifted the murderous machine. “Ya knows, ah kin use it fer me boat to glean er up affer ah’s shrimpt fer the dey,” came an old voice.
“Wall, deh say we coot av ar peek of wad we wanned ifn we elp wid da sel,” came another old voice, “bud id look alak yer gonna afta glean it out. Id’s full o rich docker dirt. Har! Har! Har!”
And with that, Dr. D was carried, vacuum cleaner and all, to the cabin of some old smelly fishing vessel. THUD! went the doctor and vacuum cleaner as the old man pitched them into a storage bin. But it wasn’t long thereafter when out at sea, the shrimper was caught in a violent storm. Overboard went most useless items to save the ship. And overboard went Dr. D in the vacuum cleaner.
“Gurgle-ARG-gurgle! Ouch (wince) ARG!” shrieked Dr. D as the waste bag filled with salt water. And a new if not blistering pain shot through Dr. D’s confused body; burning pains like that felt when salt is poured into an open wound. His cries changed from args to yows and the pain grew more intense as salt water flushed into the sack. More unimaginable, more unbearable, and more unholy became the pain with every action of the waves.
“Oh no!” cried Dr. D as he wallowed his eye around his buttocks to find his ring. But it was too late. The ring began to corrode. It encrusted with ocean stuff, then flaked, then turned to dust, then was reduced to mud, and Dr. D’s ring joined the broth of human parts and pieces of watch.
When the ring disintegrated, so did the metal parts of the vacuum cleaner. Soon the waste bag was freed and sent floating to the surface of the sea.
Dr. D winked his eye around the bottom of the bag. He could see through a narrow slit and, coordinating a fast blink with the bobbing of the pouch up and down in the water, Dr. D could detect a beautiful sky. “YOW!” he screamed in the process, and many times more did he yow for the ocean is large and does not its salty brine dilute.
As he bobbed and blinked a name came into view: DELTA AND CHARLIE it read, and the slogan grew larger with each bob. “YOW!” murmured the doctor and before he could squirt out of the way, a huge barnacle covered hull pressed down upon him. Dr. D, in his saline sack, traveled down the length of the ship’s keel. With no chance to escape, he was sucked into the chopping, mammoth propeller.
SLICE went one blade, and the sack was bisected. The doctor, too, became even more bisected and his cries of pain quickly escalated from yows to ahhhhhs. Slice went the second blade and Dr. D’s bracelet was neatly cleaved from his mangled wrist. Slice went the third blade, and Dr. D, with a final ARG! YOW! AHHHHH! knew no more.
The bracelet drifted to the ocean floor. The captain of the DELTA AND CHARLIE stopped the ship and said, “Me teenks we hit somethin. All hands on deck!” And all hands came on deck.
As they searched the water, a glimmer caught the sharp eye of one old seaman. “Thar she blows!” he yelled, and quickly someone grabbed his baitcaster and fished from the depths a bracelet.
“This looks like something given with heartfelt thanks,” said Gabby, for that was his name: Gabby Goodgrammar. He scraped the metal with his fingernail to remove most of the crud and corrosion. Seven odious men gathered around to admire and approve the fathomed find.
“Naw,” spoke the captain solemnly, “me senses tell me a person perisht hyar, an dis is all thet remains.” And at the tone of his voice, he and Gabby removed their caps, and the two of them lamented the day.
Inland, at a makeshift funeral, a priest spoke similar words. “This is all that remains of an unknown soul. This is all we know them by.” And he hung the bracelet on the stretched out arm of a small cross that was firmly planted on a very, very small mound. The sun tilted his head and the engraved letters gleaned their epitaph:
D E A D