Maxed Out 

The doctor is in; the patient is out of it

By G.D. Maxwell

"Are you comfortable?"

Comfortable? You mean comfortable like lying under a perfect tropical sun, sipping frozen daiquiris, having waves lap my sandy toes and pondering nothing more weighty than whether to slap on another layer of SPF 30 or what I might order for dinner that will be tasty, safe and more environmentally friendly than Chilean sea bass, Amazonian rainforest beef loin or roasted Costa Rican parrot?

Comfortable? Like when the maniacal executioner straps a condemned man into the electric chair at Huntsville, cinches the thick leather belts securing his legs and arms and chest, places the polished brass skullcap electrode onto his shaved head, buckles the chin strap and asks, "Comfy?"

Comfortable like holding a warm, new, smoky-breath puppy, all ears, lapping tongue and oversized paws in your lap until you and it fall asleep for an afternoon nap?

Comfortable like second helpings of Momlove at Thanksgiving after a dinner of turkey, taters, yams, green beans, punkin pie and enough leftovers to feed an Ethiopian village for a week?

The question was absurd. There I was, half naked, surrounded by strangers, bound to a table. Two women I didn’t know were buckling my left arm securely to a board I’d last seen imprisoning Timothy McVeigh shortly before he slept the big sleep. One muttered inanities while the other searched inside the back of my hand with a needle that looked more at home on the working end of a basketball pump than an operating room, searching for a vein into which she could drip a brew of saline and sleepytime chemicals.

On my other side, someone claiming to be an anesthesiologist poked into the back of my right hand with what might have been a wolverine’s incisor. At least the leftside women had been kind enough to shoot me up first with either novocain or Mr. Clean to deaden the pain of their scavenger hunt. Dr. Right Hand knew no such niceties; besides he was aiming for the nerve that made my ringfinger a finger as opposed to a limp, penile flap of skin. I knew he’d found it when pain stiffened my paranoid body and the White Light appeared before me with Uncle Charlie’s dulcet voice beckoning me to walk toward him, through the light... through the light... through....

Someone I hadn’t even seen was following instructions from the vein-huntin’ sadist and wrapping a junkie’s rubber tourniquet around my right arm, high under the armpit, twisting the tubing back on itself, bikini waxing the tender armpit hairs from their warm, moist homes, follicles and all, evidence for later DNA matching when the hospital’s pet rats had gnawed off my ID bracelet which, come to think of it, the leftside girls had already cut off while they drilled for blood.

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