This is probably a little weird for you
 and your family, but we heard you've got a cavern
  in your yard with the largest concentration of snakes
  in the Western United States. It was on This American Life,
   I'm sure you know. We wonder where they came
    from, in a quiet neighbourhood like this? Old
    Pádraig's secret stash? Your boy Jim digging for worms
     with hypertrophic success?

      We want ten minutes, in silence and
      alone. We know all about Mrs. Kent's
       patellofemoral pain and we are prepared
        to be very generous with our time
         and talent. But leave us now and lock
          yourself inside.

Twilight in Wisconsin and the lawn
is white with doctors
, flanneling moistly
over soil and stone. Together they descend
the sloping pit while Croc the Spaniel peers
curiously from the window of the house.

Underearth,
things reduce.
Proud white coat
and bedside manner
are effaced by
the damp and rooted
dark; pocketed japes
about penmanship and pianos
unhumor and disperse.

Tenderly
the doctors
part snarls
of coil and
engross
downwards,
waiting
to feel
their limbs
encircled,
made
healing
staves.

The lawn was white with doctors, nurses, orderlies, medical technicians and secretaries, perhaps former patients as well, each carrying a pink plastic flamingo in the dead dark of night. It was winter in Rochester, New York. The lawn was also white with three feet of snow but that did not stop these practical jokers from placing fifty pink plastic flamingos, artfully arranged around the bushes, the trees, and the brick-lined walkway of the front yard of their favorite colleague. He slept, as the snow fell lightly on the eve of his 50th birthday.

The lawn was white with doctors; I kissed the lawn and I liked it. I kissed the white and I liked it. I kissed the doctors and I got so very, very tired because the lawn was miles wide and hours deep and after the first hundred, they all kissed the same and I didn't like it.

The lawn was white with doctors, fine by me. I've been trying to kill the crabgrass and overgrown weeds, unpruned dying trees for years but my gardening tools keep breaking. Maybe the abundance of doctors will do the killing for me. I'm sure they mean no harm.

The lawn was white with doctors. Of course, it was a late summer lawn party at David Letterman's house or whatever celebrity it is that eats only white food, maybe I mean Anderson Cooper, so even though the food was white: white bread sandwiches with cream cheese, white chocolate, cauliflower and white dip, New England clam chowder in white bowls, vanilla ice cream, marshmallows and whipped cream, and mayonnaise ( white-meat-only) chicken salad, white potatoes and white asparagus...the doctors all got lost in all the whiteness.

It was just as well, no more empty nodeshell.

Red and white, blood and bandages. The twisted remnants of a whole hospitals' worth of doctors, interns, residents, deans. For it was the final day of the great Health Care War, when the common people had finally found their weakness: apples. Many apples a day, fired from makeshift fruit mortars, applepults, and Super Soakers filled with hot apple cider.

"Do you think today will be the day?" A respected intensivist, carefully removing hypoallergenic gloves, finishing an autopsy of the last pathologist.

"It's just a day like any other." I try to smile, but it looks grotesque, as if rigor mortis were setting in prematurely, leaving my face no pliability.

"I'm tired, Will."

"Look here. We're doctors, dammit! We still have authority. The people still believe in us, and what we tell them has to stick. Do you recall the story of the British Navy, long ago, when scurvy was still barely understood? Lemons were a great cure, but they forgot along the way, and tried to use limes, which were ineffectual."

"That's not quite right. The lemons weren't as easily obtained, and the limes were juiced, and then the juice oxidized."

"Point is, pears are kind of like apples. We can convince the masses that they'll work just as well, since no one knows exactly why apples can kill us so violently. We just need a way to disseminate misinformation from within their ranks."

"Their ranks? We're talking about literally everyone in the country without a lab coat and stethoscope. My sister threw an apple grenade at me last week. I gave her a new kidney!"

"I'm sorry, Carl. I still think if we recruit a charismatic mole, maybe get some posters put up in bars and Wal-marts, maybe it could save our lives."

And so they did. They recruited Zach Braff, who - despite having an annoying voice, a bad haircut, and being a horrible person - was able to persuade the people with his campy antics and constant reminders that he was not in fact a doctor, but had played one on TV. No one would ever suspect him, being so non-threatening, incompetent, and kind of a weird fucking choice. He became their Hitler, promising to expunge the lab coat wearers, the bringers of debt and illness and the hoarders of sweet drugs. He soon grew a little square mustache on his lip, finally having enough support to do so. Plus, his life partner, Donald Faison, vouched for him being "totally not racist."

Soon, The Braff had the power to convince everyone that pears were the word. As the commoners attempted to fight with inferior fruit, the doctors had found enough time between their daytime talk shows and prime-time dramas to weaponize HeLa cells into a contagious airborne cancer.

And that is how all life on Earth ended in a single generation. The moral of this story is, take your vitamins. Pills were made so we don't die from scurvy or apple shrapnel ('apnel, or shrapple).


"Is that really the end?" His big doe eyes stared up at me, his mother's eyes, creepily possessed in an otherwise ugly head.

"Well, yeah. I said it was, right?"

"Then why are we still alive?"

I stared away for a minute, wishing I could crush that ugly head like a grape.

"And what about non-medical scientists? Wouldn't they have researched pears and apples, looking for why they work?"

I walked outside without a word, got into my car, rolled down the windows and drove into the sunset, breeze whipping through my hair, awesome ripping through my shades. I would find a new life somewhere, anywhere, wherever I ran out of gas. It wouldn't be easy, but I would manage, finally having the freedom to live, just to enjoy making my own choices and mistakes, just to enjoy the simple pleasures. Alone. Finally. It was finally over, and I was free.

Fuck that kid.

THE END

Log in or registerto write something here or to contact authors.