The Novocain starts working, but I think the dentist might have given me too much. My vision is swirling, and my eyes refuse to stay where I want them.
I see at least three floor drains in the surgical suite.
I’m lucky to have found this after-hours place. My crown cracked, and I needed an immediate fix, as the pain was unbearable. There would be no delaying this unexpected expense. That’s my usual mode of operating financially. Save and plan, then postpone until things like this happen. But 53-year-old men have no business eating jawbreakers. So, lesson learned, I guess.
My eyes roll once around the suite again. The dentist and his assistant have left me alone to give the shot time to work. It bothers me that this dosage feels so different from all my memories of others. My gums don’t feel numb, and my tongue doesn’t feel thick. The only thing I notice is an extreme heaviness in my limbs. My arms and legs feel like concrete pillars.
And those drains, why are there three drains in the floor below the chair?
From behind me, I hear fragments of a conversation between the two people who are helping me: Mr. Acula, the dentist, and his assistant, Christie.
All I can make out is one of them, her, the assistant, saying something about being hungry.
The dentist laughs and mutters something. All I can catch is: “… well, it is almost dinnertime.” And then she is laughing.
The heaviness invades my eyelids; it’s a struggle keeping them open.
So much about this feels wrong.
I swivel my enormous head to the left and force my vision to check the time on my watch. It’s 11:45 PM. Who eats dinner at midnight?
The dentist and assistant return; he positions himself on my left. She is sitting on my right.
“How’s that feeling so far?” he says, pulling on latex gloves.
“Hmm. Mgggood,” I say. My voice sounds like it’s coming from the next suite over.
Whoa, I’m so high!
I hear something screech from some obscure corner of my brain. A memory of something from before. Something with a business card? Had he given me a card when I entered? I’m trying to think, but it’s like running underwater. I can’t get any traction that my brain will stick to long enough for actual thinking. My head swivels so much that I’m sure I look drunk or high.
When he handed it to me, I was impressed by the thickness of the paper stock, the slick, sans-serif font, and the creamy color of the paper. It was a lovely business card.
“Oh, here, let me fix that,” he’d said, taking it from me and crossing out the “Mr.” and adding a “Dr.” before his name before handing it back to me.
The red slash through the title annoyed me. It made me anxious and reluctant to pursue further thoughts about the matter.
“Give me the fours to start with,” he says to the assistant. Whatever it is, I can’t see it as he is reclining me back in the dental chair.
The hum of the chair’s hydraulics sends steady, not unpleasant, vibrations down my spine.
“You seem to have difficulty steadying your head. That’s a good sign the anesthetic is working.”
I can’t think of anything to say about this.
“Here, this is just to steady your head while we work.”
He attaches thick leather straps to my head, and I feel real panic saturating my every thought.
“Can you feel this?” he says, scratching at one tooth with some metal tool straight from Satan’s toy box.
“Ffugg!” I shout. My teeth feel hypersensitive.
I try to lift my arms to put an end to this. But my arms weigh a thousand pounds each.
“You won’t be able to move your arms,” she says, leaning into me, kissing my cheek once, then licking my face from mouth to eye.
“That would be the paralytic at work,” he says.
She laughs and it’s like nails on a chalkboard.
“But there wasn’t any anesthetic in the shot, I’m afraid.”
He’s not the only one.
“It was only a paralytic.”
Earlier. “Do you live alone?” Christie had asked me. She was attractive, so I told her I did.
Such a classic fool move. I’m 53. She is maybe 32, probably younger.
“For your emergency contact, you listed your sister. Is she local?”
I get the sense she already knows the answer to that question.
“No, she lives in Missouri.”
“So, you have no emergency contact that lives locally and no one at home either? Just in case something goes wrong during the temporary crown procedure.”
“I think he’s ready, doctor.”
I can feel the weight of his scrutiny upon my face. He peels one eye open wide and is peering in at my soul. His fingers, even through the latex glove, feel like steel talons.
“Almost. You know how I like them.”
“You like them good and panicked,” she laughs.
“Hmm, by now, he’s remembering the business card.”
That was true.
24 Hr. Emergency Dental Work
Jesus Christ. Dr. Acula.
“There it is,” she says as my pupils dilate in horror.
“Christie, dinner is served,” the dentist says, peeling off his gloves.
He yanks my head back, and the pain is already the worst thing I’ve ever felt.
“Oh, about the drug I gave you, I must explain. I like what the panic does to the taste of your blood. Your body is flooding your system with adrenaline, cortisol, and about a dozen other hormones. But the resulting taste is just magical.”
He squeezes his fingertips together, kisses them, and murmurs some sensual noise of anticipation.
In my mind’s eye, I see the subsequent cleanup and understand the reason for the drains.
Then he opens his mouth wide, and his fangs slowly extend from the top and bottom gums.
How the hell do those work? Does he have a special dentist of his own? Someone who specializes in fangs.
I want to ask him that-anything to delay what’s next, but then it’s too late, and they are upon me, feeding.