What the Doctor Put up My Butt Without Asking Permission

Fiction

It was a squirrel.

And, to his credit, the doctor did say it was a trained squirrel before he let it loose. I was on the table as he said it and I thought back to my early twenties.

“I’ve got a stomach of steel!”

I’d told my friend who’d just poured me a shot of hot sauce. Then, I downed it in one. I was twenty-two.

I’m thirty now. It turned out my stomach was steel, but my colon was made up of those little flecks of dust you find floating in the air of old attics.

The doctor spoke to Y who sat beside us and took notes:

NO SPICY, NO SALTY, NO SWEET, NO DAIRY

“…and make sure you don’t love him too much. This boy has had too much love already.”

I would have been glad at least to have been called “boy” at that moment if the doctor hadn’t tapped my ass as he said it and I could feel the squirrel hide and the doctor cried,

“DON’T CLENCH!”

I forced myself to relax.

“Are you okay?” the doctor said.

“I’m okay–yeah, I think so,” I told him.

“Not you!”

I heard a squeak, a pinch, then another squeak.

“Good,” the doctor said. “Good, good.”

NO RED MEAT, NO SODA, NO ALCOHOL, NO JUICES, NO YEAST, NO EGGS, NO SUGAR, NO PICKLES

The doctor made some kissy sounds and finally, thankfully, the squirrel emerged. I took myself out of downward-facing-dog and sat there. I looked at Y and I thought, “you still want to have sex with me, right?” But she seemed to be hard at work making sure to write down everything the doctor said in feverish detail.

NO CORN, NO TOMATOES, NO PASTA, NO BREAD, NO LOVE!

I thought about when I used to go to the doctor with my mother and they’d tap my knee and it would tickle a bit when they put the stethoscope to my chest. The doctor would say things like:

“there you go,”

“just a little cough now,”

“that’s it,”

“good”

“brave boy.”

And then when they’d all finished up, they’d turn to my mother and say, “looks like the little guy has a cold. It’s a couple of days of ginger ale and ice cream shakes for you, young man!”

I’d take my mother’s hand and she’d lead me back to the car and say, “now let’s swing through McDonald’s, what-a-ya-say?”

And I’d say,

“YEAH!”

I pulled up my pants as the doctor sat and calmed the squirrel. “There you go, good, brave boy,” he told it before tucking it in a drawer and turning back to me, Y was busy rolling up her notes.

“You will come back in one month,” he told me.

I nodded.

Y took my hand and led me to the car.

“When do you have to be back at work?” she asked.

I checked my phone and adjusted myself in the seat.

“Ten minutes ago.”

*

This story was originally published on Medium in The Moss. The fantastic illustration seen above is by Nikita Klimov.

Turtles All the Way Down

art, Fiction

turtle

**Artwork by Marvel** (This fairy tale was prompted by the artwork shown above)

The Turtle was born with the world on his back.

Well–not exactly. The Turtle was born with his mother on his back, his father atop her, atop them were a series of grandfathers, grandmothers, aunts, uncles, great aunts, great uncles then great-greats of all breeds and colors and even way up at the top just below the world there was rumored to be a great-great-great. But The Turtle  felt the world on his back through it all as he pressed down upon his brothers and sisters and little cousins all below him all holding up the world all smaller–bigger–fatter. There were talkers, and snorers, and wigglers and whiners; it was turtles, all the way down.

The Turtle  was born around the time the spoon was invented. In fact the first words he ever heard trickle down from the world above were ‘you just dip it into the soup and pull it back out.’

The Turtle  had never seen a spoon. Once, before he was born, someone dropped something called a goblet, which his father always described in great detail.

‘It hit me right on the head!’ his father would call down, ‘sat there for a hundred years, couldn’t see a thing!’

It was a magical story. The Turtle  hadn’t heard it’s like, but he planned to. He waited. The world grew louder and louder and all the greats and great-greats and those above began to grow agitated and cranky. Eventually even The Turtle ‘s father would no longer tell the story of the infamous goblet.

One day while the turtles above and the turtles below whined and griped about things they’d all started referring to as ‘booms’ The Turtle  slipped away and swam up to the world’s edge. He climbed up and rolled out into the sun. Then he began to walk. He was the size of an elephant and it wasn’t long before the world took notice of him. It was a man–one at first, and then a village. They asked the turtle if it wouldn’t mind carrying their village to a nearby valley. The turtle, knowing the villagers to be much lighter than just his mother alone, accepted on one condition, they show him a spoon.

So, they did. They showed him an elegantly carved wooden spoon, a hundred years old, never used. The Turtle eyed it suspiciously and decided, “no, that is not a spoon.”

But, the villagers had already loaded themselves and their things into a great big suitcase on his back so he agreed to take them as long as they promised to show him a real spoon once they arrive in their new home. They agreed and the turtle carried them. It was not a long journey and they soon arrived in the next valley and found a town full of people. They were starving and they told the turtle that the land was no longer fit to live. They asked the turtle if he would carry them too over the next mountain. The turtled, realizing that they certainly couldn’t weigh more than a few aunts and uncles, agreed on one condition; that they show him a spoon. The townsfolk, with no food and an excess of spoons, agreed. They brought hundreds of spoons to the turtle and laid them out.

The Turtle eyed them suspiciously and decided, “no, those are not a spoons.”

But, the townsfolk had already loaded themselves and their things into the great big suitcase on his back so he agreed to take them as long as they promised to show him a real spoon once they arrive in their new home.

On the other side of the mountain they found a city, war-torn and dying. The turtle once again agreed to take them too on his back as they were no heavier than a dozen or so turtles. And again, they brought him spoons and again he did not believe them to be spoons. So, the turtle walked with the suitcase on his back until it was full of everything in the world but spoons. At the very end of the earth he found an old man with a stick who was sitting on a block of ice. By this point the turtle was very tired and he could feel that the “booms” had begun inside the suitcase on his back.

The old man on the block of ice was very cold and asked the Turtle if he might come inside the suitcase so that the turtle could take him somewhere nice and new. The turtle, who’d grown cynical and suspicious told the man that he could only come into the suitcase if he showed the Turtle a spoon. The old man, looked out at the trail of spoons behind the turtle and frowned. But he was a very wise man and so he took his stick and held it up to the turtle.

“This is a spoon,” he told the turtle and then dipped the stick into the water and pulled it back out, as you might a spoon.

At this, the turtle was so over-joyed that he fell, rolling onto his back and never could quite manage to get back up.