Shifting uncomfortably in his thin paper gown, he picks up the People magazine and thumbs through it for the third time. The pages pass before his eyes, but nothing registers. His bare butt sticks to the paper as he slides off the table and goes over to the window. Through the blinds he can see the loading dock of the medical center. Two men sit with their legs dangling from the dock, smoking. A woman in a dress the color of tomato soup passes by. Pressing his head against the window glass, he exhales through tightly pursed lips, emitting a flatulent sound. The window fogs from his breath. Turning from the window, his eyes fall on a box of examination gloves. Latex. Touching the gloves leaves a fine powdery residue on his fingers, which he nervously wipes on his paper smock. He glances at his watch. Looking up, he catches his reflection in the mirror on the back of the door. Standing before the mirror, he bends over, turns, and observes himself from between his legs. He peers around his wrinkly genitals to view the great pale expanse of his buttocks. Spreading his cheeks, he studies his rectum, punctuating his ass like a puckered pink asterisk. Voices in the hallway startle him. Attempting to turn and hop himself back onto the examining table, he misjudges, catching his left testicle on the corner of the table. A strangled yelp escapes from him and he crumbles to the floor. Writhing and kicking, he bites his lip trying to keep from crying out. Waves of pain and nausea course through him. With his cheek against the cold linoleum floor he sees the examining room door fly open. A pair of feet in high heels approach, stopping an inch before his face.

“Sir, are you alright?”

The man does not respond. He is transfixed by the shoes. They are a deep, blood-red color, open toed, with a delicate rose design tooled into the leather tops, ending with thin buckled straps at the ankles. Ten red toe nails peer at him through sheer white stockings. The smell of new leather reaches his nose.

“Sir, what happened? Can you get up?”

Without taking his eyes off the shoes, he speaks:

“Oh, I'm OK. I just want . . . to lay here for just a minute.”

“I'll go get the doctor . . .”

“No, no, no . . . just stay right there. I'm getting up now.”

Turning his head upwards, his eyes follow the length of the white stockings, taking in every curve, right up to the top, where a hint of white panty is visible for a split second. Struggling to his feet, he fumbles with his paper gown.

“What happened? Did you fall down?”

“Er, yes, I ah, slipped and fell. I'm all right though.”

“Well, the doctor will be with you shortly. Are you sure you're OK?”

“Yes, I'm fine. Thank you.”

With his eyes cast downward, he watches the red high-heeled shoes turn and stride out of the examination room, the door softly closing behind them.

Slowly he settles himself back up on the examination table. His left testicle throbs. Without looking, he reaches for the magazine rack, expecting to grab the well-worn People magazine again, but finds himself holding a copy of Field and Stream. Flipping to the middle, his eyes fall on an advertisement. A bearded man in a plaid shirt holds a knife with a gleaming silver blade. The ad reads:

Pick up this knife and find its feel is solid and well balanced. The five-inch drop-point blade with a gut hook feels just right. And you'll like that the knife comes in both folding- and fixed-blade designs with either a wood or carved bone handle—

A quick knock on the door is heard, and the doctor strides in.

“Good afternoon. Sorry for the wait. Just back from my vacation and things are a little backed up. So let's get down to business, shall we? We've done numerous tests and they all lead to the same conclusion. I'm afraid you're going to need surgery . . .”