Went into his local feeling very unwell. Doctors were the last resort. Had endured the stabbing, suffocating, pains long enough and now nagged by family.
“You must go see the doctor.”
“Fuck off, you go see the useless cunts.”
At reception a tough old woman asked his name.
Sighed. “It’s irrelevant.”
Asked him to sit down so went as far along as he could, next to the playpen. There picked up the first magazine, an out of date Hello!, and flicked to the photos of Brad Pitt looking very happy with himself. Brad Pitt, the ironic choice for Fight Club, an inspiration to the sick.
Noticed a mother strolling in with her toddler, who soon joined the noisy lot prodding plastic toys around. Checked his watch, 10.30, because he was sure he’d be kept waiting and waiting and waiting. Shifted anger back to the toddler who now had more friends than he’d accumulated in a lifetime.
Felt extremely unwell, head pounding and insides popping scratching. Stared at the old women in reception, casually picking up the phone, typing into a computer, serving the clientele, and wondered how they ended up in there, how the expressionless could end up working in a place such as this.
Started feeling better just sitting there, enduring.
“Mr Irrelevant, Dr Robins to see you.” The cheek of the old cow.
Got up and soon found Dr Robins’ immaculate door. Knocked virtuously, because he was brought up right.
Crept in and straightaway noticed the doctor was perched up on a high-ego-chair. Sat on the other chair. Dr Robins hadn’t looked at him yet.
“How may I help you?”
Cleared his throat.
“Do you like my chair? It’s gorgeous, handwoven by Buddhist monks.”
Dr Robins was dressed in a beige suit and was a balding forty-something. Hooked nose. He stared at the patient. Down.
“So, how may I-”
“I have these stabbing pains in my chest. Been having them awhile. Can’t breathe. Feel like I’m suffocating. Struggle to do my work. Can’t sleep.”
Dr Robins stared at the patient intently.
“How old are you?”
“Do you smoke?”
“Twenty a day.”
“A lot! Have you tried quitting?”
“Yes.Tried patches, gum…”
“There are other things we can tell you about.”
“Only I don’t want to quit.”
Dr Robins produced a throaty laugh. He then stared wistfully out the window. What a beautiful car he owned, what soft leather, what tantalising comfort.
“Do you work?”
“And how’s that going?”
“It comes. It goes. Relentlessly.”
“Right, right. I see here that you’ve had counselling. Are you still on medication?”
“No. It didn’t work.”
What an insanely beautiful car it was, the Aston Martin.
“Look, you’re too young to worry about this kind of stuff, chest pains any pains. At your age such things shouldn’t matter. Do you exercise?”
“No, I don’t have time for it. Can’t say I like it either.”
“Make time! Walk further, jog, join a gym…”
“How is your sex life?”
Sweat had formed on his palms. Dr Robins had the wrinkle free, fully moisturised face of someone who had failed in hell.
“I want you to send me to a specialist, to a…pulmonologist.” Looked it up on the internet.
Dr Robins shifted his stare to the patient to make his point. “Totally unnecessary. Only someone of a more advanced age, in far more serious pain than you are in, would receive such a recommendation.”
Nobody said anything for a few moments, half thinking what time it is, half thinking about dinner, planning the weekend.
“Relax! There is absolutely nothing wrong with you!”
The sweat on his palms, the veins in his neck, the tightness in his trapezius. “Do you really think I’ve got nothing better to do? Would I be here otherwise?”
The doctor, raised eyebrows, realised in that moment that he could’ve been making serious cash at his local rugby team. Instead he was listening to yet another whiny little toad, a navel gazing cretin. “You want a cure? You just need a good screw. Simple! How many women have you fucked? I tell you fuck at least a hundred and then you won’t need anything. No pills, no headaches, no counselling, no chest aches-” but before Dr Robins could finish the patient had placed his left hand on the desk, had pulled out a large knife from his jacket and lobbed off his little finger, Yakuza style.
“Treat me,” he whispered in a semi-conscious state.
As blood seeped onto the beautiful clean wood of his desk, Dr Robins picked up his phone.
“Nurse, we have a lunatic here. An absolute raving psychotic,” then he put the phone down and said “that was really stupid.”
The visitor rushed at the doctor, grabbed him by the hair and stuck the knife beneath his chin like he’d seen performed to perfection in movies.
“Write me a fucking prescription. That’s all I want. A prescription. Something to help with whatever the hell I’ve got. Then write me a recommendation to see a pulmonologist. Type!”
Dr Robins picked up a prescription form and wrote the name of the first over-the-counter painkiller he could think of. Then nervously typed a short letter on the computer, printed and signed it. Took both documents and handed them to the loon holding him to ransom. The doctor was silent and knew what he had to do. He was very aware that this high risk job throws anything at you, psychos, maniacs, junkies, and you need the balls to deal with it.
“Right, now look at me you arrogant shit,” said the patient and turned the doctor to face him. “I’m going to slit your fucking throat. I’ve come to know something while you were writing that crap. I don’t need this,” and tore the two bits of paper, “because once you’re dead I will be completely fine. You see I think what’s making me really ill is shitbags like you, bullshitting, stuck up cunts like yourselves that feed on the misery of others and sleep soundly at night in blissful ignorance. Get me?”
Dr Robins smiled. “You’re being very, very unreasonable. Nobody is out to get you. The victim mentality is due to not getting enough. You’re isolated. Lonely. Pale. You need to get out more. See the world. Travel. Experience something other than your right hand. You think you’re being a hero with that knife, some kind of martyr? You’re going to prison, lad, and there you’ll find nothing but cruelty-” but the patient prised open the doctor’s mouth and stuffed it full of torn up papers as three nurses strolled in looking rather alarmed.
“Doctor, I believe my five minutes are up,” and the appointment came to a precise end.
In support of National Short Story Week.