by Stormcrow Hayes
It was Friday night and I was bored, so I called up Joe. Figured if I was gonna be bored, I may as well have company. After he came by, we walked down to the liquor store where we picked up a couple bottles of cheap wine and some rye whiskey. We were talking about the things drunks talk about, mostly nothing, when he noticed me rubbing the back of my neck.
"Eh? Oh, I got this bump back here. Been bugging me lately."
"How long you had it?"
"I don't know. It's just a cyst."
"How do you know it isn't a tumor?"
He always assumed the worst, especially when it involved someone else's misery.
"Does it hurt?"
"It's a little sore. Never was sore before, but it feels like it's gotten bigger."
"You should do something about it. Woman I was dating about five, ten years ago had something like that, only it was on her shoulder. She didn't do nuthin' about it and she ended up spending six months in the hospital.
"Hell yeah -- it happened. I was there."
"The fuck it did."
"I'd tell you to ask her about it, but she died."
I gave him a look.
"Oh, not from that. Drank herself to death. Poor lush."
He took another swig, then passed the bottle back to me.
"I'm not gonna let you ruin my buzz."
"I'm not trying to. I'm just saying, I'd get it removed if I were you. You don't wanna fuck around with something like that."
"I can't afford no doctor."
"Go to the free clinic."
"Yeah. Sit around all day in an overcrowded waiting room with vagrants, losers, and junkies and for what? For a five minute appointment in which some stressed out, sleepless intern tells me it's nothing? No thanks, I got better things to do." Really, I didn't.
I took another swig from the bottle. So did he. Then he said, "Let me do it."
"Let me take it out for you."
"I wouldn't trust you with five dollars, why should I trust you with a knife to my neck?"
"Like I'm going to kill you."
"You might. If you botch it."
"How can I botch it?" It was easy to imagine.
"Look, it's just beneath the skin, right?"
"All I gotta do is make a small vertical incision, then go in with some tweezers or something, and get it out."
I laughed. "You almost sound like you know what you're doing."
"I do." It took a few more drinks, but an hour later I somehow found myself reaching underneath my bed for a shoe box where I kept random junk. I was looking for an old X-acto blade. I don't remember where I got the X-acto blade from, but I never imagined it would be used on me. We moved to the bathroom where I also grabbed an old pair of tweezers my ex had left behind.
"You should have a shot of something before we do this. You have anything harder than wine?" We had already finished the rye.
"Nothing squirreled away you're not telling me about?"
"NO!" I was beginning to think this was just a ruse to find out if I had a secret stash.
"Alright, alright." He had a big stupid smile on his face and I knew he was enjoying this more than he should be. I couldn't believe I was letting him do it. What the hell was I thinking? I wasn't. I was drunk.
He set the two instruments down on the edge of the sink. I had performed bathroom surgery on myself plenty of times in the past, but always on myself and always when I was sober. Well, mostly when I was sober.
I bent my head over the sink.
"Where is it?" I showed him. It was just below the hairline and slightly off center.
"Just do it, asshole."
He made the cut.
"HOLY FUCKING HELL!" I cried.
"Jesus that hurts. What are you doing?"
"Trying to help you, dumbfuck. Now quit squirming or you'll really have something to scream about."
"Can you see it?"
"No, too much blood. Where's a towel?"
How could we not think of a towel before hand? I had a dirty bath towel that had fallen into the bathtub, but it was out of reach. "I'll just use the bottom of your shirt."
"How much blood is there?"
"Don't be a fuckin' baby."
"Did you get it?"
"No, not yet. Where are the pliers?"
"You mean tweezers." They were about two inches from my face which was in the sink. I handed them back to him. A moment later searing pain shot through me.
"What the fuck was that?!"
"I barely touched you."
"That's it, we're finished."
"Gimme thirty more seconds and I'll get it."
I relented. I could feel him using his fingertips to try and pull back the skin. I needed another drink. Bad.
"Do you see it?"
"Nah... I can't see nuthin'. I'm gonna have to make the cut a little bigger."
"The hell you... Ahhhhhh!"
I was squeezing the porcelain sink so hard, my hands ached for more than a week afterwards, but at the moment I could think about nothing except the intense shards of pain screaming through my neck.
By this point it felt like the tweezers were being pushed into my skull. I spasmed with pain as he prodded once more. That's when he slammed my head all the way down into the sink. "HOLD STILL!"
I couldn't move, and again he inserted the tweezers. It was too much. I thought I was going to die. I lashed out with my legs and connected with his knee. He stumbled backwards and I shoved him out the bathroom door. I locked it. I heard a crashing sound from the other side and didn't know if he fell or knocked something over. I looked in the mirror. I wanted to see the damage, but I couldn't see anything except a lot of blood running down my back and soaking into my shirt.
I could feel it trickling down my neck and knew I had no other choice. I had to go to the one place I hated more than any other except maybe the police station -- the hospital.
I opened the door and found Joe stretched out across my couch, arms and legs flung over the sides. He was nearly passed out. "To hell wi you," he slurred. "You're on your own."
Three hours later I found myself again being pushed forward, only this time by someone sober. I was in the E.R. and someone in a white coat I hoped was a doctor and not some intern, lifted the bandage the nurse had placed on me an hour ago.
"What the hell happened to you?" he asked.
"Can you fix it?"
"You're gonna need stitches."
"I figured as much."
"Does it hurt?"
What a dumb question. I wasn't in the mood. "What do you think?"
"How would you rate the pain on a scale from one to ten, one being minor pain, ten being unbearable?"
I was still drunk and the pain had subsided to a dull throb. "Five or six."
"Alright, let me get a local to numb the pain. You still haven't told me what happened."
"I'd rather not."
"Were you in a fight?"
"Did someone try to kill you? Should I call the police?" He was already heading for the door.
"No, no, that's okay. It was just a misunderstanding. You shoulda seen what I did to the other guy." Yeah, Joe was probably still passed out on my couch. I showed him alright.
He gave me some kind of anesthetic and brought in an assistant or nurse and began to patch me up. I was nearly passed out with fatigue when I heard him mutter:
"Looks like you have a cyst here, just beneath the skin. You want me to remove it?"
I sighed. "Go for it, Doc."
A moment later I heard the clink of instruments and a very self-satisfied tone as he said, "There. That was easy."