I arrive at the doctor's manor, the semi-circle driveway enclosing a fountain long since overgrown with weeds. Birds no longer bathe in their designated bath, choosing rather to feed upon the worms in its soil. I ring the doorbell intercom and hear the gravelly voice of Dr. Tyrone McLouvrengradstein, a name of seemingly unrecognizable origin.
"Who is it?"
"Jonathan Kreplark," I reply, feeling simultaneously proud and demeaned at having to reveal my full appellation.
"Hold on," he says.
"Thank you," I offer, though the intercom has already signed off.
I look back to my Cadillac alongside the fountain, never wanting to appear too eager when about to be let into someone's home. Off in the distance, I hear a young girl scream. Instead of assuming the most probable scenario, that she is playing, I conjure up a rape case. The door opens before I can fully envision the assailant.
"Jonathan, my boy, I received your postcard from Myrtle Beach," he says as he envelops me in a hug.
"I'm glad you received it, sir. And please excuse the photograph of the scantly clad men; it was the only one they had left."
"I think to have rather enjoyed it," he winks.
Oh, you devil, you, I think to myself, remembering back to the racks upon racks of postcards available at the shop.
"Don't stand outside in the cold. Please come in," he says, pulling me inside. It is eighty degrees out, and a chill sixty inside. The grand entrance to the foyer is fairly standard: large spiraling staircase to the second floor, emerald-marbled columns, chandelier made of baby teeth.
We venture into the living room, which is called a den or study in a doctor's house, presumably because their extended educations grant them strange naming practices. It is not as if doctors actually watch cubs or cram for tests in this room. They live, like the rest of us, but as we are all inevitably headed towards death, they should more correctly be dubbed dying rooms. Perhaps the living room is referred to as such to serve as a place to forget about our imminent demise, usually with the aid of that soul-sucking idiot box, the radio. There is no radio in the doctor's den.
"Have a seat," he says, motioning to an overstuffed pink armchair, three times larger than average, with a gigantic baby's bottle on the cushion. "It's called the Big Chair. I saw it at a festival in Oslo, and knew I had to have it."
"I'm flattered, but may I just sit on the divan?"
"No!" he adds sternly, and I take my seat upon the Big Chair, resting the bottle on my lap, and feeling dwarfed and powerless against the doctor on his antique rocking horse. "How about a drink? Do you like brandy?"
"She had one good song in the '90s, but I wouldn't consider myself any more than a casual listener."
"Always the joker, Jonathan, that's what I like about you," he chortles as he slaps his massive knee, the reflex causing him to kick outward. Using the kick as a head start, he makes his way over to the wet bar, and produces two pint glasses. He drops an ice cube in each, unscrews the cap on a bottle of scotch (the tease), and pours the liquid onto the glassy stone with a satisfying crack. He adds a sprinkle of arsenic for flavor.
"To the start of a beautiful working relationship," he toasts, and we throw the drinks over our shoulders. We sit in silence for what seems like hours, but is really only four seconds.
"So tell me more about your fascinating research in the Andes," he says, running his bare ring finger along the rim of his glass.
"It's actually the Pyrenees. I have been studying the native tribe of..." I've been conducting my research for nine years now, and because it is so unorthodox, I am regularly asked to explain it. So much practice permits my mind to wander during my treatise. I watch the doctor nod his head in affirmation of every sentence, occasionally raising his goblet to his lips and returning it to his side whereupon he realizes it is empty. His hair is like salt and cinnamon, the old salt and pepper spice-to-hair analogy inadequate to describe fading chestnut hair. His face is salmon-colored and his ruddy nose is uncharacteristically shapely for a man his age. His eyes seem genial, watery, and hazel. As I picture his cheeks leaping out of a stream and into the waiting jowls of a Grizzly, I discover I am done with my dissertation. "And the women of the village continue to have difficulty urinating."
"Bewitching. Would you like to see my penguins?" the doctor inquires, putting me ill at ease now that I've finally begun to relax.
"Yes," I say, not wanting to sound rude, or even worse, unintelligent. We scientists never say, "I guess," preferring "I hypothesize," or when we have a great deal of evidence, possibly "I theorize," but never "I guess." "I guess" is for the buffoon.
He leads me into a hidden room behind the revolving bookshelf. The room appears just like the den, with the sole exception that it is inhabited completely by stuffed penguins. The most enormous penguin I've ever seen rests upon the Big Chair.
"Aren't they gorgeous?" he fishes for compliments.
"Quite. What is that one?" I ask, pointing to a relatively odd-looking penguin on the mantelpiece.
"Come, have a look," he says. "This is the jewel of my collection, an erect-crested penguin, known for its distinctive crests of yellow feathers.
I nod, but not seeing an ochre crown, I press on. "And where are this one's crests?"
"I murdered all these penguins myself, and the only clear shot I could get at this one was to the head. I had the taxidermist replace it with the head of a bat. He's a fine taxidermist. If you would like, I can give you his name."
"That's perfectly alright," I respond, abhorring interspecies creations, preferring only the most classic forms of taxidermy.
We walk over to another penguin, this one wearing a small pope's hat. "I call this one Melchizedek, after the first priest of the Most High," implying that I know nothing of the history of the Abrahamic religions.
"I understand the reference, Doctor," I lie through the gap in my teeth, as I have no knowledge of the history of the Abrahamic religions. I am a scientist for Darwin's sake.
"Perhaps you would like to see my ancient Egyptian bicycle helmets," the doctor persists.
"Listen, Doctor, you can continue to dazzle me with your pious penguins, and your big chairs, and your baby teeth chandeliers, or we can get down to brass tacks."
"I have a fabulous assortment of brass tacks from the Qin Dynasty-- I'm joshing you," he cuts it short, noticing my distemper with the word fabulous. "Let's go to my laboratory." He accents each syllable in a sinister fashion, but I've seen enough pornographic monster movies to not be alarmed.
We proceed through the revolving bookcase, and I take note of the book that is used: The Nanny Diaries, a somewhat obvious choice amongst the throngs of medical journals and art-fag magazines.
We pass through the kitchen, which is immaculate, save for an open microwave, glowing amber and caked with the radiated drippings of TV dinners. But are they still TV dinners if you don't watch the television whilst dining, preferring rather to stare into a mirror, not in vain, but to overly assess one's flawed, disgusting eating habits?
"Here we are," he pronounces as we arrive at a white door clearly marked "Laboratory." The acrid smell of smoke burns my nostrils. "Please, guests first." He opens the door, which reveals a stairway into the basement. It is completely dark. "It's straight down. Don't worry. There's a light at the bottom. I've still got to call the electrician to rig up the switch."
I nod, and embark downward. My footing is at best, unsure, but my camping experience as a Boy Scout and past life as a seeing-eye dog find me hitting the floor within twelve minutes. "Pull the string near your your nose," calls the doctor, sounding incredibly far away, as if only a memory. I find the tiny cord tickling my proboscis, and pull, materializing another door in front of me and a three-step ascent to my rear.
The doctor hops swiftly down the steps and inserts a key into the door. "What you are about to see may be very frightening, but I assure you, you are in no harm."
My eyes blink rapidly, the terror palpable on my face. "I'm ready," I muster meekly.
"Suit yourself," he says matter-of-factly, and turns the key in the knob.
KITTENS! There are hundreds of kittens, in every color permutation imaginable, climbing over each other, preening themselves, meowing, purring. "What do you do with all these kittens?!?" I yell excitedly, running out into the center of the room, careful not to step on any paws.
"Oh, different things," says the doctor nonchalantly. "I feed them, brush them, teach them how to use email."
"Incredible," I accede, looking down at the California Spangled brushing against my shin.
"Have sex with them," the doctor half-mumbles.
"What?" I can't believe my ears. Maybe a kitten meowed over him saying, "Have Chex with them." A common mistake.
"I fuck these kittens."
"You're sick!" I scream. "You're coming with me!" I shout, vowing to save these kittens from lives of sexual slavery and messages claiming they've won the UK lottery. I begin picking up as many as I can, stuffing handful after handful of tiny cats down my shirt and pants.
"Kittens attack!" yells Dr. McLouvrengradstein over the meowing din. The cats in my clothes begin viciously clawing and biting at any piece of flesh within paw's length. I feel my genitals burst open and my tendons snap. The only thing keeping me upright is the thriving mass of fur, slicing my body to ribbons.
"Retreat!" orders the doctor, and the cats immediately cease, leaping off of me and landing nimbly as only cats can. I fall to the ground, quivering in agony. Through blurry eyes, I watch a Cornish Rex daintily lick my blood from its hairless paws.
"I'd never have sex with a cat, you fool," condemns the doctor, a kitten pacing across his broad shoulders. "I like penguins, you know that."
I feel so asinine. Of course, he fucks penguins. He fucks penguins and then stuffs them for his penguin room. A pitiful "Why me?" is all I can manage.
"Your research, naturally. I've been trying for years to end your meddling in the urinary habits of those villagers. I'm afraid the only way was to kill you."
"I'm not dead yet," I stupidly ejaculate. Comprehending my mistake, I brace my shredded chassis for another feline onslaught.
"You are. You're dead inside. You've felt that way ever since you lost the first grade spelling bee to Judy Sommers."
"You're right," I screech, and the pain courses through my veins and out onto the concrete floor with the rest of my lifeblood.
"You probably have about fourteen seconds or so more to live. Do you have any last words?"
"The Nanny Diaries was a surprisingly entertaining read," I croak.
"Oh, no. What have I done?" The doctor crawls over to my body, scooping up armloads of tattered organs and muscles, and feebly puts them back into my torso the way you'd stuff ice cream into a cone. A doctor, of all people, should know it doesn't work that way.
I die, and Judy Sommers is still a cunt. C-U-N-T.