[AUTHOR’S NOTE: This short work of fiction was inspired by three words supplied by my brother, Donnie Platt. Thanks, bro! The words: chihuahua, grape, chainsaw.]
Doctor Don thumped the felt-furred toy chihuahua in a white doctor’s coat on his desktop and gave a little smile as the head started bobbing. Then he sat in the black mesh-backed swivel chair, picked up a manila folder, opened it, and somberly regarded the man across the desk from him.
“That lump gave you quite a scare, I guess,” the oncologist mused.
His patient, a balding middle-aged man with mocha-hued skin, scratched absently at the left breast of his blue polo shirt. Sawyer Cradditch felt the raised dome of skin beneath the fabric, about an inch above the nipple – about the size of the seedless green grapes his wife Teena liked to pack in his lunch. He enjoyed the sweet taste as he chewed on them while sitting on the upper floors of the office buildings he helped erect. He had a feeling the one under his skin had more of a bitter flavor.
Bob-bob-bob went the chihuahua. It was almost hypnotic. Could almost make Sawyer stop thinking about the C word. Almost.
“You didn’t bring your wife today,” Doctor Don noted. His full name was Doctor Donald Estridge, but he wanted everyone to call him Doctor Don. He had a surfer’s tan in a Milwaukee winter. He wore flip-flops with his Armani suit.
Sawyer shrugged. “No sense worrying her until there’s something to worry about.”
Doctor Don gave an agreeable nod. “I hear that. Probably for the best.”
“Is it bad?” Sawyer asked. The chihuahua stopped bobbling, as if it shared anticipation of the doctor’s answer.
Apparently, the doctor couldn’t abide the stillness. Another tap set the toy dog nodding again. But Doctor Don shook his head. “I mean, I guess it depends on your definition of ‘bad.’ It’s not, as far as we can tell, obviously malignant. It’s not even a tumor in the traditional sense.”
Bob-bob-bob. “What does that mean?”
Doctor Don slid a sheet of paper from the folder across the desk to the patient. Sawyer took it. A singular eyeball gazed up at him from the image printed on the paper. “Damnedest thing I’ve seen in a while,” the doctor said. “There’s even an optic nerve extending from it toward – well, I assume it goes to your brain, but we didn’t do any of those scans yet.”
“What?” Again, the chihuahua stopped. Once more, Doctor Don prompted it with a pop on the noggin.
“Crazy, right?” The doctor chuckled. “I’m not saying you’re getting a chainsaw for a hand anytime soon. I’m just saying Sam Raimi’s probably lined up to direct your life story.”
“Can we do anything about it?” Sawyer asked. Bob-bob-bob.
“We probably should,” Doctor Don said. “But we probably need consent.”
“You have MY consent.”
“Yeah, but what if you consumed a twin in utero before you were born and now it’s asserting itself like something from The Dark Half? Who gets priority when it comes to consent?”
Sawyer gaped. Bob-bob-bob. “Me, Doctor Don. I get priority. It’s attached to ME. It’s only alive – or whatever it is – because of me.”
Doctor Don raised his hands in a placating gesture. “Sure, I hear what you’re saying, but I have to run it by the hospital board.”
“Oh, for Christ’s sake,” Sawyer grumbled. “Give me a letter opener and I’ll save everyone the trouble.”
The oncologist frowned. Bob-bob-bob. “Not funny, Mr. Cradditch. Anyway, it’ll take a few hours to run this up the ladder. That should give you time to fill in Mrs. Cradditch and make whatever arrangements are required before surgery.”
Sawyer felt a twinge of pain as a fleshy crease pulled apart on his chest. The third eye awakened. Sawyer opened his mouth to complain about making him wait, but instead said: “No surgery necessary, Doctor Don.”
The doctor gave the toy pup another tap to set its head wobbling. “But I thought…look, Mr. Cradditch. Sawyer, if you’re nervous about…”
The patient stood, a bit unsteadily. He shook his head. “I’m not nervous. And, well, I’m not Sawyer.”
“Oh?” Doctor Don smiled, but it wasn’t that usual easygoing amused smirk – not like the stupid grin on the bouncing chihuahua’s little head.
“You can call me Bob.”