The last thing Dr. Henry Gondelman, D.D.S. wanted to do was peer into 67 year old Audrey Gelman’s open mouth. The occurrences had been happening more and more frequently lately, and Henry didn’t want to chance another one.
He tried…he wouldn’t call it hiding, exactly, he was in the file room actually filing, actually doing work, not avoiding a problem that no one would believe he was experiencing even if he did have the courage to share it. He managed to make it to the mid-B files before Nancy, the oral hygienist who phrased everything as a question, found him.
"You have a patient waiting in room one?" she said/asked.
Henry just nodded, slumping past her like he was on his way to unclog a toilet. He trudged across the hall, dragging his shoes on the faded teal carpet, until he reached the door to Room One, just slightly ajar.
Mrs. Gelman’s eyes registered a friendly recognition, but the dental equipment holding her mouth open allowed her only a “Heaarrgghhh.” Henry nodded in recognition, hoping his hands didn’t shake as he pulled on his rubber gloves.
Henry took a moment to steel himself. This was not real. This was some kind of mid-life crisis psychosis he was experiencing. If he just did his job and did it well, like he always did, it would all go away. He allowed himself one more deep breath, then took a step forward to hover over Mrs. Gelman’s open mouth.
Henry nodded. He had no idea what she was saying, but he just wanted to agree and get it over with. He reached to the table beside him and grabbed his dental pick and mirror. He hoped Mrs. Gelman didn’t notice his sweaty face, the way he was holding the pick and mirror just outside her mouth, unsure of what would come next.
Henry began to pick at her teeth, just the obvious plaque build-up at first, then moving further in. Then he saw it. A capital “E” on the back of one of her incisors. He gasped, then coughed, trying to cover up the sound. He moved the mirror from tooth to tooth, catching more letters on the backs of each: an “N,” a “U,” other “E”s.
He took a step back, feeling the familiar trickles of sweat move down his back beneath his scrubs. It was the same message he’d seen on every patient who’d come in for the last four months.
"YOU HAVE A WEIRD LOOKING PENIS."
Henry called Nancy in to finish the cleaning, saying he was suddenly feeling ill. He went home and got in bed. He spent a lot of time looking at his penis.