By Ray Garton
Dorchester Publishing Copyright © 2004 Ray Garton
All right reserved. ISBN: 978-0-8439-6186-7
In his nightmare, Stuart is a little boy lying on a table in a doctor's office examination room. He is tense and stiff and his fists clench as the doctor removes stitches from the right side of his groin. The area around the sutures is numb so Stuart feels no pain, but he can feel the dull tug of each one being pulled through the holes in his flesh.
"Looks like I forgot to cut something off while I had you on the table, Stuart," Dr. Furgeson says.
"What?" Stuart cries as he tries to sit up. Hands on his shoulders hold him down. Stuart looks up at his mother's upside-down face.
"Just hold still, honey," she says, smiling down at him with too much lipstick, bright red hair still smelling of that morning's permanent. "It'll be over before you know it."
"I hope you'll take this like a big boy and not give me any trouble," Dr. Furgeson says. "Gotta make sure you can pee right, Stuart." He takes something from the cupboard over the sink. He tears open its wrapping.
Stuart lifts his head for a moment. Eyes widen when he sees the long hypodermic needle.
"This will hurt, Stuart. You may scream, if you like." Dr. Furgeson grins down at him.
He lifts his head again as the needle is stabbed into the head of his penis. The pain is exquisite and radiates through his body, all the way up to his throat,where it threatens to cut off his scream. His penis becomes numb, but the throbbing pain lingers deep.
Something else is ripped open. Stuart looks up to see Dr. Furgeson removing a pair of scissors from the wrapper. The three-inch blades glimmer beneath the fluorescent lights as Dr. Furgeson opens and closes them: Snick-snick-snick.
"You won't feel this at all," the doctor says as he leans over Stuart.
Stuart struggles and his mother pushes his shoulders down harder as she says, "It has to be done, Stuey, honey, you won't feel it, and it'll all be over before you know it."
He lifts his head, still screaming, just in time to see the scissors close with a metallic snick. In time to see the head of his penis pop into the air, then drop between his thighs as dark blood bubbles up and dribbles down his penis, over his groin. Blood spurts into the air in jets of red, spattering Dr. Furgeson's white coat.
Dr. Furgeson, grinning around large white teeth, says, "It'll be good as new in no time."
Stuart thought he was screaming when he sat up in bed, but he only gasped for breath. His face and neck were slick with perspiration. He turned to see if he had disturbed Amelia.
She lay on her side, bare back to him, and softly snored, undisturbed. The waves of blonde on her pillow were all gone, and for a moment, Stuart thought he was in bed with a stranger.
He sighed as he remembered the haircut. He slid his legs over the edge of the bed and waited for the residue of the dream to evaporate, but it would not. Stuart stood and wondered if he was getting up for awhile, or just going to the bathroom. He decided he was up, put on the ratty old paint-spattered gray sweatshirt and baggy sweat pants he kept on a chair by the bed. Stuart did not own a robe. Never had gotten the hang of them.
The house was cold and one or both of the cats had absconded with his slippers again. He went to his open closet and felt around the pile of clothes on the floor with a bare foot, found his flip-flops and slipped them on. He tried not to let them slap his heels too loudly as he shuffled past the bed, looked back at Amelia one more time.
She had allowed some vile little man who called himself Romeo to cut off that thick, glorious mane of golden hair. Now it was short, chopped, blocky. Stuart was not bothered by the appearance of the new hairstyle-it was not unattractive, once he had recovered from the shock of seeing it for the first time-but it smacked of being hip. He loathed hip.
Downstairs in the kitchen, he turned on the fluorescent light over the sink, above the small window that looked out on the backyard. He found one of his slippers in the sink, abandoned there by Hieronymus or Hermione, his manx cats. He dropped it to the floor, leaned his elbows on the sink's edge and let his head hang low for a moment, then looked out the window. The fluorescent glare on the pane against the black night outside allowed him to see nothing but his own reflection. He was still shaken by the dream.
The incident in the doctor's office exam room had not happened exactly as it had in the nightmare, of course. But what really had happened seemed almost as bad when he thought about it, replayed the vivid memory in his mind.
Eight-year-old Stuart had been a little too enthusiastic in helping his uncle move a piano into the house. His mother had bought the piano on the condition that Stuart would take lessons and practice, practice, practice. He was so eager to get started, he had given himself a hernia. The surgery went smoothly, and he had gone home three days later. On the day Dr. Furgeson removed the stitches, he realized he had not performed a procedure he had intended to perform on the operating table while Stuart was anesthetized. The words in the nightmare had been Dr. Furgeson's. So had the voice. Stuart's mother had been there, and had held him down. She had not been as garishly made-up as she was in the dream, but she had worn just a touch more makeup than usual, and she'd had her hair done that morning. They were to attend a church potluck lunch right after Stuart's doctor appointment, and she had dressed in her Sunday best, even though it was Wednesday.
Dr. Furgeson had explained that the opening of Stuart's urethra was smaller than it should be and slightly misshapen. It needed to be enlarged so he could urinate properly. Stuart saw the hypodermic needle. The pain from the injection that was to numb his penis was exquisite, indeed, every bit as excruciating as it had been in the nightmare, and worse.
Everything had happened just as it had in the dream except the actual cutting. Dr. Furgeson had not cut off the head of Stuart's penis. But he had cut off the very tip. And Stuart remembered lifting his head just in time to see that tiny piece of flesh pop into the air as it was snipped off, followed by a glistening red bead of blood.
Stuart remembered Dr. Furgeson's teeth being very large and white, and when he spoke, his lips had to do a little extra work to speak around them. It seemed the doctor had been smiling all the time, as if the size and position of his teeth would not allow him to stop.
A stool scraped over the wood floor as Stuart scooted it up to the bar between the kitchen and dining room, reached over and turned on the twelve-inch television. He found a Three Stooges short and made himself a bowl of Cap'n Crunch. He watched what remained of the short and sat through the next, chuckled as he chewed his cereal. And he tried to forget about the dream and get the metallic whisper of those scissors out of his mind. Snick-snick-snick. Snick-snick-snick.
Hermione wandered into the kitchen. Stopped and looked up at Stuart with wide eyes, as if to ask what the hell he was doing up at such an hour.
"You think you could find something to drag around the house besides my slippers?" he muttered, looking down at the gray manx.
Hermione meowed her denial, blamed it all on Hieronymus, then sniffed around the cupboards. Making her rounds, Stuart forgotten.
By four thirty, Stuart was feeling sleepy again. He rinsed the bowl, turned off the television. He went back to the sink, reached up and switched off the fluorescent light.
Dr. Furgeson grinned at him from the window. He held up his small shiny scissors in his right hand, level with his shoulder, blades open wide. His back was stiff, large teeth a bright white in his mouth.
At first, Stuart thought it was a reflection in the glass and spun around with a gasp, expecting to see the doctor behind him. He was not there. Stuart turned to the window again in time to catch a glimpse of the doctor's white coat as he ducked out of view just outside the window.
His hands trembled and he put them on the edge of the sink, clutched it hard. He thought something was thumping loudly somewhere in the house, but it was only his heart beating in his ears. His mouth hung open as he stared wide-eyed through the glass at the darkness.
That's impossible, he thought.
For an instant, Stuart felt the pain of the injection in the tip of his penis, felt it all the way up to his throat, just long enough to make him press his thighs together reflexively.
He saw a flash of gray in the darkness outside-Dr. Furgeson's white coat as he hurried across the backyard diagonally, the coat's clean bright white muted by the darkness. He bent at the waist, ducking to stay out of sight.
Moving against the cold, powerful gusts of fear that sent gooseflesh over his body, Stuart rushed through the shadows to the back door. He grabbed the long black Mag-Lite flashlight from its hook beside the door. He reached over to flip on the outdoor light but remembered he had not yet replaced the bulb that had burnt out a couple days ago, and went outside. The flashlight was heavy enough to serve as a weapon if necessary, almost too heavy for his shivering hand as he turned it on and aimed it ahead of him. He tucked the butt of the light under his right arm.
It had rained all day the day before and the early morning was cold and damp. Dark, the moon hidden behind clouds. The wet grass brushed against his feet, unprotected in the flip-flops.
Stuart stopped several feet away from the house. He swept the flashlight slowly over the small yard, over Amelia's rosebushes hunched along the six-foot-tall wooden fence that surrounded it. He turned, went to the gate beside the house. Beyond it, a narrow strip of grass between the house and fence led to the front. The gate was closed and latched.
His heartbeat still throbbed in his ears. But it was not loud enough to prevent him from hearing the whispery snick-snick-snick of scissors somewhere in the dark. He spun around, shone the light in the direction of the sound.
There was no place to hide. The yard was empty, no one there but Stuart.
He went to the side fence, thinking perhaps the sound had come from the next yard. He stood on his toes to peer over the top. The house next door was vacant and for sale. The yard, thick with weeds, was empty.
Stuart turned around and came face-to-face with a figure in the dark. The figure said, "What're you-"
He cried out in strangled fear, lifted the flashlight to strike.
"Stu!" Amelia took a step back, stared at him with round eyes and a slack jaw, right hand pressed to her chest. She wore a blue velour robe and slippers, face white in the darkness. The newly short, spiky hair made her look momentarily unfamiliar, a total stranger in the dark.
"What're you doing in the backyard at four thirty in the morning?" she asked. Her voice was high and soft with sleepy surprise.
"I ... I'm sorry," he said. He sounded hoarse and winded. "I thought I, um, saw someone. Earlier. Out here."
"Well, they're probably in the house by now. You left the back door wide-open, the cats could've gotten out." She forced a small laugh to cover the tremble in her voice, but it was too late.
"Yes, you did. Are you through? I mean, are you coming in, or do you want to wander around out here in the dark awhile longer?" Another hollow laugh.
Stuart looked around the yard one more time. He knew he had not imagined it. He had seen Dr. Furgeson outside the window, grinning-flesh and blood, not an apparition, not a fuzzy hallucination. He had done enough acid in high school and college to know what hallucinations looked like. The doctor had darted across the yard bent over to avoid being seen. Would a hallucination try to duck out of sight?
"Stuart?" Amelia stepped toward him. She sounded concerned now. "Are you all right?"
He forced his lips into a smile. He did not want her to know what he was feeling. He was not too sure what he was feeling himself. He only knew he did not like it.
They went inside and back to bed. But Stuart did not go back to sleep.
Excerpted from Scissors by Ray Garton Copyright © 2004 by Ray Garton. Excerpted by permission.
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