Thursday, October 11, 2012

Harry before the dentist


I've been taking a memoir class at the community college and today there was an assignment to write a scene around a vintage photograph. Even though memoir is supposed to be real, this was a fiction exercise and I had the greatest time writing it. 

I shared it with a friend and she found it disturbing. That describes pretty much every attempt I've made at real fiction. Guess that just means I have a style. 

So, here goes...
Momma told me this would happen if I didn’t take care of my teeth.  I was supposed to clean them before bed, but I was always so tired after feeding and watering the animals and then I was supposed to do some reading too, I just always fell asleep. But she was always saying things like, “How you gonna eat when yer old if you got no teeth? Yer just gonna waste away on soup and overcooked noodles.”
Thing is, washing my teeth probably wouldn’t have made that big a difference since it was a donkey kick that smashed my mouth up anyway. Stupid ass was limping around in the garden, and momma sent me out to check its feet. I got a real good look at the nail stuck in the shit in his hoof as the whole thing came straight at my face, but for all I care it can stay in there cuz I ain’t never going near it again.
I ran back inside, trying to hold my teeth in my mouth and blood was pouring out everywhere. I choking too much to scream about it, plus being 13, I was too old to bawl over getting kicked in the face. Whatever water might have come pouring out my eyes was just invul… involute…  a natural reaction. You try getting kicked in the face, and see how you feel.
In the kitchen, Momma was at the sink doing the dishes but she turned round when I came in.
“Harry Lawrence! What the hell…  yer bleeding all over my floor. Here. ” She tossed me a kitchen rag. “Stick that in yer mouth, and get back outside.”
                  I could hear her digging round inside the house, and then she came out with her Sunday hat and second best coat and told me to get in the truck. We drove into town and I held that rag in my mouth. I tried chewing it a little, to test the damage, and I felt the front teeth just fold over on themselves. That’s a feeling you can’t even imagine until it happens, and trust me, you don’t ever want to know it.
                  Momma stopped the truck outside the doctor’s office and dragged me by an elbow in the front door. The nurse at the table stood up when she saw the blood, and looked at my momma with her eyebrows pushed up to her hairline.
                  “Fool boy’s got himself kicked by a donkey. We’ll be lucky if there’s any teeth left in there.”
                  The nurse put me in a chair in a little room, wrapped me up in a sheet like I was at a barber shop and told momma to fetch the doc. I hoped she would take her time. I didn’t like the doctor cuz he always made fun of my face.   The nurse pulled the rag out of my mouth and sprayed my mouth with water so cold it burned.  Finally, the doc came in carrying a black box and chatting with my momma.
                  “Yes ma’am, and I do the processing myself. Got a little darkroom out the back. “
                  “Well, doc,” said my momma, “that’s very interesting. Harry’s never got his photograph took before.”
                  “Let’s see the damage then,” he said, finally looking at me. “Hoo boy. We’re gonna have to winch those lips open to really see what’s going on in there.” He reached in a drawer and pulled out two giant spoons with their middles folded back.
                  “Lean back, Harry.” He said as he handed the black box to the nurse. “I’m just gonna open his mouth up, and then you press the button.” The doc stuck one of those spoon things in the side of my mouth, and I had another natural reaction. He reached round the back of my head and jammed the other spoon in the other side of my mouth and I squawked again.  I could hear his watch ticking away by my ear.
“Hang on a second, doc,” My momma reached in and smoothed my hair. “Ok. Now.”
                  The doc pulled on the spoons, tugging the mouth open wide. “Smile for the camera, Freckle-face.”
                  What an asshole.