On the Veranda

A heavy fist rattled the door and a deep, husky voice said comin’ in. Thus entered the doctor, his long white coat parted by his belly, which preceded him into the room. Squeezing his fat forehead was a black band holding one of those silver metal thingies. He glanced at me, and then his eyes flitted to the bench, then back to me. He said, “Why are you standing?” His breathing was heavy.

I motioned to the tissue paper laid across the bench. “I didn’t want to muss it up.”

“Uh huh,” he grunted. “You’re all wet.”

I looked at my feet and realized that a bit of a puddle had formed. “Apologies,” I said. “I was at the swim-up bar much of the night.” I adjusted the lapels of my tweed jacket as a matter of pride, and a few more drops of pool plunked to my shoes.

“I see,” he said, clearly not seeing. He eyed me suspiciously as he flipped through the pages on his clipboard. His eyes flitted down and he said, “Says here you got numbness.”

“Well, I suppose you could call it that,” I said.

“Uh huh,” he grunted. “Whereabouts?”

“What do you mean, where?”

“Whadda you mean whadda I mean, where? I mean where’s the numbness?”

“It’s not any one place,” I said. “Maybe here?” I waved my hand around the general vicinity of my soul. “Inside?”

The doctor narrowed his eyes. “Whadda you mean inside? You’re not supposed to feel your insides. Who feels their insides?”

“You don’t understand, sir. I don’t feel anything. At all.”

The doctor blinked and said, “You mean -,” He clicked his pen closed and crossed his arms, clipboard tucked behind his back. “You mean you don’t have feelings. That girly stuff.”

I swallowed, a bit uncomfortably. This doctor, he was a bit gruff. “I wouldn’t describe it as necessarily feminine. It’s just an absence. Emptiness. A numbness of the spirit, if you will.”

The doctor nodded, snorted. “I get it now.”  He hacked something from the back of his throat to the front, and spat it into the sink where it went splop. “Well, I ain’t that kinda doctor,” he said, wiping on his sleeve and turning to go. He swung the door open, and waited.

So did I. Waited, I mean.

He swiveled his eyes towards the door, then swung his clipboard after them. “Let’s go, buddy.”

“No, I don’t wish to.”

He blinked a few times and shook his head, studying the floor. “Whadda you mean?”

“I’d rather not go back out there.”

The big doctor’s melon-head fell forward and rolled across his chest. “Look, I can’t help you, buddy. You need one of those…whatsits? Those foo-foo doctors.” He put up finger quotes and said, “’Counselors.’ Maybe a social worker. That’s what you need.”

“I’m not leaving,” I said. “I did not wait forty-five minutes for you to say you can’t fix me. You must give me a shot, or some such. Laudanum. Epsom salts.”

The doctor inhaled deeply and puffed out his cheeks and sighed, filling the room with the smell of bologna. He gave the door a shove and let his open hand hang in the air until it slammed. “Allright, Mr. Walker. How about you join me on the veranda.” It wasn’t really a question, but it caught my interest.

“You’ve a veranda?”

“I’ve,” he said, crossing the room. He slapped his meat-hooks onto the bench I hadn’t wanted to sit on and gave it a shove, revealing a metal hatch in the wall. He opened the hatch, stooped to squeeze his girth through the hole, and said, “This way.”

We emerged on a patio overlooking a tranquil garden.  In the center was a fancy water thingy featuring toads spitting water into a pool.

“Seems a bit foo-foo,” I said.

“I find it soothing,” said the oaf.

“Hmm,” I said.

“I think you’re wrong about the numbness,” said the doctor, lowering himself into a patio chair.

“Hmm?” I said, taking the chair beside him. A young lady wearing a grass skirt and leis brought us drinks in coconut shells with umbrellas poking out of them.

“You feel things just fine,” he said, pulling a cigar out of his interior lab-coat pocket. He lit up and blew an impressive cloud. “You’ve passed judgment on my veranda already.”

“I’ve?” I said.

“You’ve,” he said, puffing and blowing. The cloud began to hover over and between us. “Maybe you’re just an asshole. Ever think about that?”

My mind flashed back to a man yelling at me in a parking lot one time. And also to some remarks a lady friend once made. “It has come up in conversation.”

He offered me a cigar. “No thank you,” I said. He shrugged, returning it to his pocket.

“Doctor, I’d like to return to the subject of some sort of prescription.”

“It’s in yer hand,” he said.

I looked at the umbrelly coconut thing. “This?”

“Same thing.”

“But this is not healthy, its effects only temporary.”

The doctor’s head rolled around, swinging the cigar like a red-tipped baseball bat. Smoke billowed around him, obscuring the garden. I saw only his fat head in a grey haze, the silver metal thingy floating above it.

“I guess I see your point,” I said.

The grey smoke thickened and walled off his face.

“Doctor?”

No response.

I reached out to grab the silver metal thingy, but it vanished. So did the hand at the end of my arm. I tried to straighten my lapels and found I had no arms. It was most odd. I wondered where my coconut had gone.

I called out for the doctor and heard nothing. Not even my own voice. The silence was absolute.

I seemed to be alone.

26 thoughts on “On the Veranda

  1. I’ve always wanted a veranda to sip coconut drinks, but I’m afraid it too will be a figment of my imagination. The doctor was a bit hard on the chap. Who hasn’t screamed in a parking lot at one time or another? Especially due to heat! Wonderful layers here…

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    • Well, I think you should know about the heat, Mrs. Dweller, even more so than we here in Texas. Now, were you the one being screamed at in the parking lot, or were you doing the screaming? Either way, I’m sure it’s a good story. And thank you for the “layers” comment! Gives me a little feeling in me insides. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. My favourite I’ve read of yours in like, forever. So many things to like — but namely, I feel a theme, and once you’ve got that in place, it seems it’s like just hanging balls on a Christmas tree, innit? You got it straight I think. Nice work, doctor. I’m off to Stuttgart now, flipping over the wardrobe to fall. – Bill

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      • Sorry Walt, I haven’t got a smart phone anymore so I sometimes miss replies like this. I have to like, manually go back and ‘check.’

        Perhaps we see things in what we read that we like because they remind us of what we think, or for writers, try to write ourselves. I got that in the Auster book, which I tried to riff on in a post that you said you liked a while back. There was something similar in that I read in your post, this sense of alienation, of not being real, of being empty inside, of needing some kind of something to allay whatever pain or emptiness it is we have. Think “The Scream,” a picture, a thousand words.

        So what I liked here was how you slowly led to that conclusion, how the doctor disappeared, and we would question if he’s even real, as he was drawn as such a caricature, like a cartoon character, as your persona is at times, but in this case, its portrayal was more vulnerable and real to me than the Dick Hercules skits, as an example. I read you teasing out some universal alienation thing, which I and probably many others can relate to, that theme.

        Cheers, looking forward to Halloween. Been working up a little something I started, but didn’t have anywhere to put, so I think I’ll stuff it in your inbox. And you can have something else that stinks in your attic, that has a sad ending.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks for taking the time to make such a thoughtful comment, Bill. I did like that Auster riff you did. You kind of like, totally nailed Auster’s voice. That was impressive. I think I get what you are saying about the Walt Walker character. He’s like an ad in a magazine, all surface, no depth, and you like to connect with the writing on a deeper level, or the writer, one of the two. Either/or, I mean. I don’t usually use him or his nemesis Mr Hercules for deeper stuff, just for laughs. Glad you found something more in this one. I’ve always been pretty guarded both in real life and on my blog, but some of the lines are starting to blur a bit, I think. Slowly. Gradually. The more I do this, the less I care. About protecting myself, that is. Not sure where it’s headed, but that seems to be where it is right now, anyway. Interesting. Thank you again. Good to hear from you…noticed you hadn’t posted in a while.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. That is just perfectly weird, and sort of delicious. I waited a bit to read this, glanced at it earlier and figured it needed some real attention. Numb in the soul, our on the veranda indeed. Great job here Mr. Walker. I think maybe you’re a little off-side in general, you know, but that is a wonderful thing.

    Now as for our narrator… I’m pulling for him, in a big way. He better be okay, because if not, the rest of us are fucked too.

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  4. Oh no, I hope you didn’t put to much attention towards it when just a little bit would do. First glances can be deceiving, you know. When I hear off-side I think of (American) football, but I think maybe you mean off center, or maybe just a bit “off,” and if so you are probably right. I think both the narrator and I can usually be found somewhere between “nothing is fucked here, dude” and “the goddamn plane has crashed into the mountain.” As in the Big Lebowski: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bbJ-4vuffhI

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    • I don’t think this comment replied to mine, so I missed it… apologies. I always think of people as either being on-side or off-side, and I interpret the former as being perfectly comfortable with the way things should be – and the latter, perhaps as something else. Does that make sense? Anyway, your stuff bears attenion and study, that is for certain. I like your words, man. Sincerely.

      The dude abides, man. The dude abides.

      Liked by 1 person

      • My bad, instead of replying to your comment, I just “commented.” Duh. Thanks for the kind words and support. Much appreciated, especially when they are coming from someone as talented as yourself.

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  5. i enjoyed it especially the way you created the dialogue and painted in the people, especially the doctor. Good conversation. and an intriguing ending. You might enjoy my blog. Short story, different characters, always some manner of dilemma and a Christian ending. I also throw in a lot of rhyming words scattered through it. jlheman1945 try it you might just like it. jlheman1945 I want to read more of yours l

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    • Sometimes I write to an ending, sometimes I have no idea what the ending will be. This time I had no idea. It was a weird one, but it felt right at the time. Thanks for reading and commenting!

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