People look at this here Dr. Dasse, and they say, how is it that you ended up here in a concrete enclave underneath a freeway with the cars rolling past, disrupting your every moment with the swish-swash of their rubber tires, with the clankety clank of their various undercarriage mechanicals. The way you tend to the wounds of your shaggy street-dwelling brethren, well, seems you really know what you're doing. Why, when you stitch a wound there ain't even a scar! And I say, well, first off, you need to know that this here doctor-boctor is a real genuine PhD doctor of the medical profession. I'm talking four years of undergrad, six years of med school and many more years of residency at a state sanctified hospital. Then I'm talking another fifteen years as a practicing pediatrician and pediatric cardiologist surgeon! Still, they say, how did you end up here in the shadows and the grimes, slinking along with those cast off by society due to their inability to speak proper words in a proper syntax? These folks who want to story a tell when everybody would rather they tell a story. Well, unscramble their words, unscramble their point of view, and then lay it out flat. And why don't you engage with them and have a different point of view for a second? It ain't going to hurt you to acknowledge that your money's fictitious. You know it'll pop right back into reality the second you walk away with them jangling coins in your pocket with them long dead presidents on 'em. Might as well click that little coin between your teeth to make sure it ain't fool's gold. But you won't hear a click. You'll hear the crack of a whip! Check the back of your pants up top and they'll be wet with blood, brother/sister. Cause who'd the whip nip today? You! That's right, it goads you into your office, your email inbox, the conference room with stale donuts in the middle of the table that shine there like mana from heaven cause your soul is JUST THAT STARVED.
Now, what I'm trying to say here is simple as one, two, three. It's arithmetic, it's a story. It goes A-B-C, though you might not like the C you find because how on earth, you ask yourself, does a medical doctor end up in a concrete enclave, tending to the wounds of his fellow home... Not going to say it. I'm not going to degrade my degraded brethren with a term that is lofty and said only to make us feel as though society doesn't look at us like we're shreds of cabbage and newspaper crumples that've somehow sprouted legs. And the only real concern they have is do the bums leave scat behind on the playground so that when my daughter falls off of the jungle gym, she doesn't plop straight into some of their fecal malfeasance. Oh, I know what you think of us, you think we're bums, so I'm going to go ahead and call us bums. So how did a medical doctor end up being a BUM? Well, I have a story to tell, a tell to story. So you might want to put your left ear where your right is and cross your eyes and tie a spaghetti strand around your tongue and hold it there for a second. And then listen up and try to refract your mind into my point of view, that is askew. And I will tell you the tale of the doctor, the boctor, that Doster Doc D, Dr. Dasse. So pull up your muffet Little Miss Tuffet, and listen with those left-right, right-left ears.
Here we go.
Now, my story starts right here. I'm tapping my nose now. You can't hear it because you're reading this, but, boy, am I tapping that old swollen, well-ripe gourd of a nose I got. And this big ol' schnozola wasn't always here smack dab in the middle of my visage. No, no, no. When I got out of school, sure, I had a little bit of gray hair above my ears, left and right. And a little bit of a mole on my cheek, very light in color. I wouldn't even call it brown. More a tan. And I was quite pale in summation because I spent all my time indoors under the long glowing lights. And you know the variety I'm talking about. Hospitals, offices, schools. My places. So I didn't have a nice complexion, but everything else about me was plenty nice—lean, symetrical face, slightly Roman nose. I looked old, but I was young. And I don't know if you know, but that's called handsome by the vast majority of ladies in the United States that like a young, strong body, but like an old face because it indicates the presidents, jingling in the pockets. And I had plenty of those presidents. So many zeros, you could put one to the end of the other and you'd have yourself a pearl bracelet. Okay? And I bought pearl bracelets from my lovers, didn't have a wife, but was picking one from the variety of beauties that presented themselves to me. Yes, I was what you call a bachelor in my personal life. And in my professional life, I was what you call a pediatrician, specializing in cardiology. The heart! Tyke tickers! I tended to the young tykes. Any age from zero to eighteen, and I lay a child down and pet their tiny head and have my assistant stick the sticky pads all over their chest so that my machines could evaluate the quality of their various pumping valves and chambers. Sometimes I had to give them shots, of course! But even if they had a bandaid on their arm and tears in their eyes, they'd be bopping along as they left my office. "Oh, that Dr. Dasse is the nicest doctor," they'd tell their friends. Friends would tell their mothers, and then all the kids would come in for more shots and lollies and lollies and shots and designations of how they should grow, and in which ways. And I believe in a lot of that science still to this day, even though it bewitched me, and even though it tore my heart out. My cardiologicals! How many years did I do this sanctified doctoring, that gray above my ears, reaching up towards the top of my little skull?
Well, I did it for about fifteen. Then one day I'm working in the hospital, the Children's Hospital, which is a nice place with plenty of tools, but it's also a bad place because it's a county hospital and we're all darned overworked and tired. And they bring in this little boy. His skin is a beautiful brown and his hair is dark as a crow's feather and glows under the long lights the same colors of blue that a crow's feather does under the sun. And they say, oh Doctor, oh Dasse, it's your turn to look after this little boy, but it's not said to me like that, politely. My God, it is shouted because I'm working in the emergency room and this boy is listless. He's staring off into space. They say, something's wrong with his heart? Well, get him in front of the machines, I order. Doctor's orders. So they scan him up and down.
X-rays, cat scans, put the nodes on his head and his chest and his toes for good measure and see what's wrong. Problem with the heart it is, they say. Dr. Dasse, you're a surgeon, a pediatric cardiologist. I think you oughta get in there and tinker with the ticker. Make it go beep beep beep, tick tock, tick tock, the way a heart and a clock ought to. Pacing the time, whisking the seconds away, as this little boy grows into a strong man, most beautiful boy I'd ever seen, of course I'm going to fix his heart. Now, I say, wheel him into that old operation room and give me the specifics of what needs fixing! And I'll cut him here and sew it up there. And he'll be just fine. Cocky is the word for it because a handsome man who's good at his trade can't help but start to smell the roses that his colleagues and lovers cast at his feet. And everyone knows that the scent of a rose is there to attract the bee to do its bidding. And boy, oh boy, if that scent didn't bewitch me. Arrogance! Cockiness! I go into the operation room, with this little crow haired boy, feeling those things and more.
Now, before I get to what happened in that operating room, you ought to know something. There's fables and stories that people tell when you work in a hospital. There's the story of the ghost down in corridor B-12. It's got a tear running down its eye. It's dressed in an outdated dressing gown from the seventies. Not scared of it, not scared of much, that old cocky, handsome pediatric surgeon. I also heard a tale of a place called the Cave of Cures somewhere down in South America. Didn't have the country pinpointed, didn't care to. The Cave of Cures, they said, was a cave that existed in a different vibration. A different Dimension. And, so the legend goes, It was guarded by a long, long decimated native tribe that still existed just enough to guard it. And these natives were working in cahoots with beings from another dimension to guard this miraculous cave full of a fungi that glowed a bright and brilliant white. And were you to scrape off even enough to fill beneath one of your fingernails, you could cure every plight of the world. You could grow it in a laboratory, maybe even, and sprinkle it over every sick man, woman, and child and they would get better. Tumors would bloom backwards. Legs long stiffened by disease would become compliant and muscular. And children listless moments ago would leap from their wheelchairs and do pirouettes among the flowers. That, they fabled, is what would happen if you visited the Cave of Cures and procured the miraculous fungi.
Now back to cocky handsome Dr. Dasse entering the operating room. At that time I'd always regarded all this as a fable because I said, who needs it? I'm the Cave of Cures, man, I'm basically like if you took some of that magic spore and gave it a handsome, sharp, slickety-doo haircut and a well tailored suit and a pair of Brooks brothers that looked so good on my feet they might as well have been made by a fine Italian designer. That's what I said. And all dressed and slicked like that, thinking I was the greatest at my job, I walked into the operation place. But that day I wasn't great at my job. I opened up that boy, his little chest, everything red inside. And I tinkered with his ticker just as I was supposed to. And just as I'm stitching him back up the beeps from the beat machine, that track the tick-tock of time as paced by his heart, well, they start slowing down. And they get slower and slower and... And I'm beating on his chest! I'm saying, no, no, no, no, no, no heartbeat, no heartbeat, no heartbeat! And people are gathering around, they're putting the oxygen to the mouth, they're putting the shockers to the chest, pediatric junior-size, and sending all that pediatric junior-size of electricity into his flesh. Come on, boy, come back to life! And then that slow beeping isn't even slow anymore. It's gone. And it's staying gone. Yeah, but I don't stop. I keep beating on his chest and beatin' on it. Beatin' on it, come back, come back, come back, come back. They're trying to pull me away. They say he is gone. Quit beating on his body! And his parents, they're being ushered in by a priest with a long, sad face saying the boy is on his way to heaven. You can stop. You can stop, doctor. But I couldn't stop. I kept beating, and beating, and beating, and they said, stop doctor and, well, I pulled all the tubes and wires off of the boy and I hold him up in my arms. And I say, no, no, no! And I curse the name of God so hard that I'm spitting like a sick animal. And no, no, no. I'm taking him to another room, we're getting another surgery going and this boy is coming through. This beautiful—most, most beautiful boy—he's coming through. Took six security guards to get the little boy away from me. And by then his shoulder was dislocated and I'd made that little beautiful boy, dead in his body, all disrupted and askew. More askew than my view. And of course I begged forgiveness from the parents, but they were in too much of a daze to even hear my words. As if they cared about what I'd done, with what they'd been through. My God, the arrogance seeping, dripping from my pores might as well have been one of them presidents on the jingle-jangle. So, hospital director, of course he says, "Think it's time you took some time off, Dr. Dasse." Tip my hat to him. Wasn't wearing one, but made the gesture nonetheless, and said, "I think that's right."
I'm a bachelor. Like I said, no wife to speak of, no child. So I hole up in my penthouse apartment and oh boy, you know I sip the stuff? Ooh, I sip it down and it burns. But it doesn't burn good in a state of mind like that. My God, it burns bad! And so I throw the bottle from my balcony. CRASH! Right onto a stinkin' beemer. And I say it's time for me to find a better way. This Western medicine can go straight out the door! It's time for me to find the Cave of Cures!
Set out that very night, brother/sister. Nothing in my back pocket 'cept for six hundred dollars in paper-cash and a passport, also made of paper.
TO BE CONTINUED...