Thursday, May 25, 2017

The Waiting Room - Alcoholics Anonymous

Considering my current position as a waiting room, it was truly astounding how little patience my occupants possessed. After spending a considerable portion of time within my walls, I imagined my perseverance would rub off on them. But no, instead of allowing the natural course of life to bring forth the answers they so desperately sought after, they set out on an impossible intellectual journey to discover concepts of which they had no knowledge of whatsoever.

In an attempt to recreate their surroundings into a more conducive arrangement, those few who crossed to the other side drew their chairs together in a tight ring and began their rather unconventional session.

“Welcome, Ladies, Gentlemen, extraterrestrials, and fellow assassins." Madman bowed dramatically to his guests. "Mark your calendars, for this is our first official A.A. meeting inside the Waiting Room.”

Why the insane man perpetually made an obnoxious show of himself on a daily- no, hourly basis was perplexing. I understand he could hardly be blamed for his inadequate mental health. However, it was not unreasonable to ask for a little decorum.

"A.A. meeting?" Jordyn asked, suddenly looking self-conscious, "Silas told me this gathering was about the exam rooms."

“That’s just what Mad’s calling it,” her friend said.

“Why? This has nothing to do with alcohol. Trust me, I would have remembered.”

“Alcohol, drugs, there is no difference really, if you think about it,” Mad objected, “both involve blackouts and mind addling substances.”

“We have no proof of being drugged,” Jordyn pointed out, “and surely there is a more plausible explanation for our missing memories?”

"That is true, and I’m perfectly willing to explore the possibility of hypnosis.”

“Or magic. See, I can do stupid too.”

“Now that is an actual alternative. Thank you for your contribution, Miss. Mariotto.”

“I was being sarcastic.”

“Not me. Do you not comprehend the severity of this discussion?” 

“Shall we get on with the actual meeting before another member is called back again?” The Editor interrupted, impatiently tapping her pen on an outstretched notebook.

Willing to put their argument to bed, for the time being, Mad slid onto his yellowed chair and allowed room for the others to take the floor.

“It’s aliens,” Andy voted.

“Do you see any little green men hanging around?” Jerome Miller asked, “because I haven’t.”

“They are blue.” The M.E. looked outraged at the amateur assumption.

“With that line of thought, witches seem to be the more likely possibly,” Jonny Raz countered.

“Or demons.” Father Tomas flicked the butt of his cigarette. “This is the reason Judas tells me to always carry Holy Water. I should have listened to him.”

“You are all idiots,” Eddie informed them from the comfort of his wheelchair.

“I’m sticking with Jordyn’s theory,” Sam said, blatantly ignoring the cripple.

“Back on point.” The Editor turned to Sun Cho. “You were the first one to be called; what do you remember?”

“Nothing concrete, but I think the Dove had something to do with it. And you. And Jimmy. And coffee. And food. Speaking of food, I’m starving, aren’t they ever going to feed us?”

“Sun, you’re trailing.”


“Anyone else?”

"I refuse to participate in this ludicrous nonsense," Gabriel crossed his arms resolutely, "it is perfectly clear this is all a dream."

The malnourished mute sitting next to the apparent dreamer squirmed in his seat, glaring stoically at his guardian. 

“Don’t suppose you have anything to say,” Mad asked the boy.

“Tactless.” His wife elbowed him in the ribs.

The familiar creak of the desperately scratched door sent a thrill of unholy dread through the hearts of every occupant. The nurse, still donning her blue scrubs and clipboard, took in the meeting with a critical eye.

“Well, what is this?” she asked, her light voice sending shivers down their spines. “I sincerely hope you aren’t trying to remember the exam rooms. The Doctor will not be pleased.”

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Exam Room 1 - Drug Overdose, Male, Early Twenties

Due to my inability to prepare for the improbable, I could be found comfortably snuggled up in a bed of moldy burlap, in the back of a jostling, disintegrating van, drooling slightly from my drug induced nap, no doubt being transported directly to my death.  

Frankly, I never expected to be kidnapped by the Irish mob. As a Flagstaff boy, born and bred in that same sleepy town my whole life and having no real social connections outside of a diner frequented only by the elderly, I don't believe that assumption was much of an oversight on my part. 

The drugs finally wore off after some time and I woke up, hyperventilating slightly over my current condition. 

Judging by the immeasurable pain pounded steadily in my head that eerily matched the rhythm of my erratic pulse, I came to the conclusion an over-enthusiastic, heavy metal drummer had previously used my skull to add a unique beat to his band.

After a moment of panicked and painful reflection, I noticed two alarming things about my situation:

One, my current quarters smelt distinctly of dirty feet and decaying corpses. Whether or not they were human, I didn’t want to know.

And two, my hands were pathetically untied. I was both insulted and relieved. Wasn't I dangerous enough in their eyes to be restrained? Sure, I was a little short and my muscle mass needed some fine tuning, but I could still hold my own in a fight.

I sat up, head spinning at a sickening rate. The vehicle lurched, adding more nausea to my concussed state. 

Admittedly, rather uneasy as to what I would discover, I peered over at the driver’s seat; a large, intimidatingly muscular man sat on the old carpeted chair. Now I understood why they felt there was no need to tie me up.

As quietly as possible, I scooted across the burlap stuffed van. I grasped the rusted door latch; it squeaked under pressure. The tumbling, withering vehicle covered my amateur slip. With a hesitant heave, I pushed the door open, and watched the unfamiliar dusty terrain roll past me. 

I didn’t actually want to jump and add further injury to myself. However, the thought of staying in the company of my captor any longer compelled me otherwise. So, with a short, yet undoubtedly sincere prayer, I leapt.

I crashed onto the flaking asphalt, my ankle promptly spraining upon impact. The strange white van slipped away, unaware of it's missing cargo. Clambering to my feet, limping slightly, I let out a disoriented whoop of glee that echoed hollowly through the rocky mountains. 

A brash bleating cry turned my head around. Standing on the side of the highway, watching me with boring eyes, was an unimpressed old man, thickly surrounded by a horde of crapping goats. 

“Morning,” I said, in an attempt to alleviate my embarrassment.

The farmer just stared at me, clearly not pleased with my youthful antics.

“Just got dropped off," I said, gesturing to the fading van. "Can you tell me where we are, sir?"

“Kuboes,” the farmer rumbled.

“That’s in Kansans, right?”

“South Africa.”

 Oh, shit.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Exam Room 3 - Probable Liver Failure

From their collective objection of morning sobriety to their penchant for using the confessional as a place to nap; the humble population of Paso Robles possessed a vast variety of thoroughly irritating qualities.

In an ironic twist, this perpetual inability to behave ultimately drove me to the bottom of an empty whiskey bottle.

In hindsight, given my priestly vocation, falling on the vices of alcohol did not set the best example for my incompetent parishioners. Although, on this particular night I recount, by the time I left the bar, completely hammered, I honestly didn’t care anymore.

Staggering and stumbling in tune with my tilting world view, I made a gallant attempt to walk home despite my failure to see straight. At the sight of Sister Anthony’s house, however, I paused in the middle of the deserted sidewalk, swaying slightly.

Even in my dangerously inebriated state, I was acutely aware of the nun’s strong aversion to drunkenness, colorful language, and self-inflicted speech impairments. And with her open window resting right in between me and my house, I choose to leave the comforts of home behind, as I picked the locked church doors, exchanging her well-rehearsed lecture for an intoxicated siesta on my office couch.

The darkened sanctuary burned of soft spice. I inhaled deeply, shuffling towards the double doored hallway, fully confident I’d stay conscious long enough to make it to my final resting place.


Lacking all sense of self-control, I tipped in awkward surprise against the wall, while letting out an alarmed sound which should never leave a grown man’s mouth.

I wasn’t the only one who thought breaking into a locked church was a good idea, for sitting eerily in the darkness was a pale young man.

He rose from the pews and came closer, his face contorting in disgust at the overwhelming stench of alcohol dripping from my pores.

You are Father Tomas, aren’t you?” the intruder asked.

That’s what it says on my desk,” I slurred.

I have several confessions to make.”

And I’m drunk.”

Does that in any way prevent you from absolving my sins?”

My judgment is slight impaired and there is a good chance I will throw up on you, but I think I can manage.”

The young man watched me sway into a short, standing nap. He cleared his throat, bringing me back to his sober situation, and nodded to the confessional box.

I’m good, I’m good,” I reassured him, clambering into the wrong side of the booth, where I sat down, my world still spinning violently.

In a true attempt to stay somewhat conscious during this interview, I lit up a cigarette, in the high hopes the acrid smell of burning paper might sharpen my waning mind. However, my drunken state did not account for the choking side effect the smoke would produce in the confessional’s cramped confinement. I remedied the situation by kicking the door open and letting the thick haze permeate the sanctuary. 

Bless me, Father, for I have sinned,” the young man said, “to be honest, I’ve never done this before. I’m not sure where to start.”

Try alphabetically.”

Anything and everything I confess will not be shared with the authorities, right?”

Always the most reassuring question. But yes, I am sworn to secrecy.”

I tried to kill my wife.”

Dear God, this is why I drink.”

I beg your pardon?”

Small confession of my own. Go on.”

I lie to my superiors on a daily basis.”

About attempting murder?”

Is that really relevant?”

I suppose not. Anything else?”

I also blew up a planet.”

Considering I was currently under the influence of a strong substance, I merely assumed the words floating into my ears did not match the interpretation my brain provided, so I saw no cause for alarm.

Excuse me, what did you say?”

At the time I knew it was wrong,” the young man confessed, “but I was trying to save my wife.”

Wait, I thought you were trying to kill her.”

Not anymore.”

I take it you are sorry for the mistakes of your past.”


As atonement, you will have to -”

Last week I turned a bank teller into a werewolf,” he quickly added.

I’m sorry, you’re screwed.”

And with those encouraging words, I slipped into an intoxicated coma.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Exam Room 4 - Adverse Reaction to Psychiatric Treatment

Wanted: An associate to fill the social requirements of a best friend.

Applicants must be over 5'5, have extensive knowledge of the political, cultural, and religious issues plaguing our present day, possess written confirmation of an IQ over 145, and be physically capable of pushing a lightweight wheelchair for three-hour intervals. 

Allergies to peanuts or dairy products will result in immediate disqualification. 

For further information, call (931) 476-2428 and ask for the cripple in the wheelchair, Eddie.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Exam Room 1: Marital Problems, Miscommunication

Sun Cho:    Flagstaff Private Investigators, Sun Cho speaking.

Madman:    Sweetie, it’s Madman, we need to talk about-

Sun Cho:    Excuse me, excuse me, sir, I believe you’ve dialed the wrong number.

Madman:    No, this is my wife’s cell.

Sun Cho:    I’m positive it is not. This is the landline to my private investigative office. So, unless this building is illegally housing your spouse, which as the proprietor, I’d know about, I suggest you try a different number.

Madman:    You don’t understand, the zombie snuck the phone card to me.

Sun Cho:    What the hell are you talking about?

Madman:     My wife! Keep up, will you?

Sun Cho:     No, the zom- Hold on. Did you say your name was Madman?

Madman:     Yes.

Sun Cho:    And a zombie told you to call this number?

Madman:    Yes.

Sun Cho:    Um, not trying to pry into your personal affairs or anything, but may I ask which mental hospital you escaped from?

Madman:    I fail to see how that is not prying into my personal affairs.

Sun Cho:    Apologies, I’m only trying to help.

Madman:    Don’t worry about it. Actually, on second thought, I think I found the mistake. What century are you presently in?

Sun Cho:     What? Um, the twenty-first.

Madman:     I’m so sorry, this is all my fault. I forgot to factor in the time difference with this demented demon on my tail.

Sun Cho:    Okay, I’m going to forget you ever mentioned a demon. Although, I would like to know, are you implying you do not reside in the same century as me?

Madman:    Does that really come as a huge shock? Everyone knows these phones can be a bit temperamental with the different time zones, especially the ones in Budapest; for all this planet has to offer, the reception sucks.

Sun Cho:     Planet?

Madman:    What? Did you think I was talking about that dingy little Earth city?

Sun Cho:    Admittedly, that was the first place that popped into my head.

Madman:    Look here, Sunny, as thrilling as this conversation has been, I have to hang up. I really need to speak with my wife and the demon is about to break through the mystic wards.

Sun Cho:    I’m not entirely sure how to respond to that.

Madman:    Good luck would suffice.

Sun Cho:    Good luck then? Hope to never meet you in person.

The PI quickly hung up, only to have the phone start ringing once more.

Sun Cho:    Still not your wife, Madman!

Female Caller:    I’d hope not, I’m his wife.

Sun Cho:    This day cannot get any stranger.

Female Caller:    Where’s my husband?

Sun Cho:    Last I heard he’s trying to call you from a demon possessed location.

Female Caller:    Stupid zombie. This line needs to be cleared; I’m going to change your number.

Sun Cho:    Don’t do that! We’ve had this number for over a decade. The locals aren’t accustom to change, they’ll riot and refuse to accept it, consequently I will run out of business.

Female Caller:    ...

Sun Cho:    Ma’am? Mrs. Madman?

Female Caller:    ...

Sun Cho:    She hung up, didn’t she? Damn it! Jimmy is going to kill me.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Exam Room 2 - Sunburnt, Male

Several furious knocks jarred the front door. With my solitude broken, irritation got the better of me; I grabbed my shotgun and climbed the ladder to the shoe scuffed roof. 

Now, I do believe it is necessary to state, I did not always hold such a strong aversion to company. Back in the day, when the majority of the population still had half a brain, I welcomed people into my home. Well, not everyone; Jehovah’s Witnesses were the exception. But as the times have changed, so has my attitude towards house guests.

The looming desert sun poured waves of raging heat upon me as I slowly crawled up the roof on my hands and knees, my worn jeans grating over the rough tiles. I peered past the peak, looking down at the horde of zombies trashing the streets below. Didn’t they know how much time, how much sweat I put into making that yard look pristine? Disrespectful, rotting sons of-

A growling engine cut off my colorful ranting. A crumbling truck tore through the undead, its driver hidden behind the sticky mass of guts clinging to the filthy windshield. I cocked my rifle softly, keeping it steadily trained on the speeding vehicle heading towards my house.

Blocks away, a horn blared, cutting through the gnawing dim. The undead perked up and staggered in the direction of the throbbing note, parting a perfect path for the driver to tear right into my thoroughly demolished yard.

Only inches from the zombie clawed house, the rusting truck pathetically shuttered to a crashing stop. The door opened with an awful grinding creak, indicating its life, quite like mine, was nearing the end.

Heavy boots crunched against the ground; the driver exited the vehicle and headed straight for the hastily built barricade covering the recently abandoned front door. Losing vantage to shoot with any accuracy, I rolled over, slipped down the burning roof, and cautiously entered the house once more.

Standing in the poorly ventilated kitchen, I heard the driver picking expertly away at the rotten wood. Ditching my shotgun on the warped table, I exchanged it for the revolver resting on my hip. 

As quietly as possible, I crept down the unnaturally narrow hall, floorboards complaining about each tentative step I took.

A loud splintering crash followed the unfortunate breach of the house. Briefly catching a glimpse of the figure standing in the doorway, I lurched forward and tackling the intruder to the ground; cocked gun pressed right in between two wide, fearful eyes. 

“Wait, wait, don’t shoot, you idiot!”

My finger tapping the trigger anxiously; the shrill shriek in her voice forced me to reconsider putting a bullet in her brain. I paused for a moment, taking a good long look at the girl glowering up at me.


I jerked the firearm from her forehead, coming to the sudden realization I was inches away from executing my childhood friend. She scrambled out of my grip, hand hovering over her gun.

"What the hell, Silas?" she demanded.

"Why didn't you knock?" I asked, "I almost shot you!"

"Well, I didn't want the whole horde coming down on me while we exchanged pleasantries through the barred door."

Body still trembling with nauseating horror and wild adrenaline, I pulled her into a bone-crushing embrace. If I were being completely honest, I didn't actually think I'd ever see her again.

"As much as I am touched by this sudden display of affection, we got to go now," Jordyn said, pulling away.


"What did you think I just stopped over for a chat?" she asked, "we are here to get you out of the city. Is your family-"

“They're alive. William and Alice managed to get here before the streets were jammed.”

“Oh, thank God,” she said, sagging slightly, "how long will it take them to pack and leave?”

“Less than five minutes, we’ve got everything ready to go in case we caught a chance to leave at a moments notice.”

“Alright, I'll radio the crew to bring transportation, you get them out here.” Jordyn fumbled with a bulky hand-held radio and sent a scratchy message across the neighborhood, “bring the van; we have them all.”

“Van?” I asked, frowning, “I think you are going to need something a bit bigger.”

“It’s a utility van, should fit everyone and some supplies.”

“Everyone is forty people,” I said.

“What? Where?”

“They’re in the basement.”

“Um, Tyler?” Jordyn called back into the radio, “abort the van. I repeat, abort the van. We’re gonna need a semi.”

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Exam Room 5 - Superiority Complex

“Class dismissed. Mr. Miller, a word please.”

The well-rested body of students peeled from their seats, eyes watering under the condescending glare of the burning fluorescent lights. I honestly believe I was the only person who bothered to stay awake during the dry, droning lecture. And I probably looked like an idiot for doing so.

For a class that prided itself on conquering the poetry of the English language, you’d think the professor would at least have one creative bone in his body. You’d also think he’d be a man who’d stretch the imagination and think wildly outside the box. From the utmost point of sincerity, I wish I had just described our teacher and not his polar opposite.

With great reluctance, I scooped up my backpack and clambered down the stairs to his desk, wondering what part of my attendance he had a problem with. My grades were good, I stayed awake in class, and I never started a much longed for heated debate with him during school hours. As his standards were severely low, I’m not sure what he could possibly find wrong with me.

“You wanted to speak with me, sir,” I reminded him as he stared glassily at the computer screen.

“Right, right,” he muttered, tearing his eyes away, “I wanted to ask you a question about the paper you turned in.”

My carefully constructed paper was dripping in red ink. Every sentence was crossed out and rewritten into a mess that vaguely resembled his toneless lectures. The once humorous and slightly sarcastic story now lay in a murdered puddle of useless facts and painful fiction.

“The premise of the story was gripping,” he admitted.

“Is it even there anymore?” I asked, staring at the jumble of red ink.

“I only found one fault.”

“Only one?”

“You used adverbs,” he looked thoroughly appalled, “why?”

“Why?” I asked for clarification.

“They are pointless and take away from your writing style.”

“I’m here to study English, sir, and I was under the impression adverbs were part of the English language, hence my reason for using them.”

“They are a cheap way of explaining yourself.”


For someone who claimed to be a master at the art of the written and spoken word, it was amazing how just a single syllable could stump him into an unintelligible string of stutters as he tried fruitlessly to come up with a good answer for my simple question.

“They-they don’t follow the ‘show don’t tell’ rule,” he finally spat out.

“I understand the need for that rule in certain circumstances, but again, why are we limiting the English language? Isn’t this class supposed to be about expanding our knowledge to find different ways to use words and make them into stories? What’s the point in setting so many arbitrary rules and guidelines? Shouldn’t we be trying to create the most unique piece of art? How am I suppose to do that when I have to force my style to fit into this illogical box of pointless regulations?”

I inhaled a gulp of air. That speech deserved an award and a standing ovation. Though, judging by the large stack of homework my teacher immediately ladened me with, all to be written on the evils of adverbs, he was not overly impressed with my rant.

I staggered out of the classroom, my mind weighed down with the impossible task before me. To put it into perspective, if I were being lucratively compensated for the number of hours I would have to spend on the homework he graciously provided for the next week, I’d be able to pay off all my school loans and then some.

They told me to go to college. They said it would be fun. They said it would be educational. They also said I’d meet some of the most brilliant minds in the world. And you know what I say? Liars.

I only had forty-six days and seventeen hours left with this robotic professor. And since today was only the beginning, the rest promised to be very interesting.

I’d say may the best man win, but I’m afraid that would seem rather selfish.