by C.J. Hallman
That was the year I decided to have all my non-vital internal organs removed. I only decided this because I was bored with sleeping until noon and bored with watching Jeopardy. Because I figured the hospital visits, surgeries, and recoveries would give me something to do. Because I believed, deeply and religiously, in supporting and upholding our natural evolution. But to speak frankly, I also decided this because I felt that this decision might lead me to a purpose, something I’d found myself unable to locate for quite a long time.
“I owned a company,” I told the first doctor, when he asked me, in a dull tone, what I did for a living. He poked my armpit and muttered something about nodes. I used the past tense because I’d been ousted by my employees in a coup. The doctor jotted notes on a clipboard. Thankfully, I’d made it out of the struggle alive, and with much of my fortune in tact. The doctor scratched his scalp with his pen. Flakes of dandruff snowed down on the forms. I didn’t want to embarrass him at the time, but later I anonymously mailed a bottle of Head and Shoulders to his office. My former company had been a shampoo company. It made me feel both vindictive and satisfied to purchase a competitor’s product, and to recommend, albeit covertly, such a product to a practicing physician.
I went to see that first doctor a few more times for consultations, but there was no sign of improvement regarding his scalp situation. I decided I couldn’t trust a man who refused to take well-meaning advice. I decided to take my business elsewhere.
“Thirty,” I told the nurse at the second doctor’s office, when she asked me my age.
She nodded. She asked me for the fifth time what it was I wanted done. Patiently, I told her again that I wanted to begin with my gallbladder and my spleen, and if all went well, I’d then move on to my eyes and testicles.
They’re all useless parts, I told her, unnecessary weight.
This nurse was very pretty. She had distinct eyebrows that sat a good three inches above her eyes. She spoke with a Spanish accent. She asked about my sperm. I asked her what about my sperm. She said that it was non-vital and if I wasn’t going to use it, could she please have some? She spoke these words in a sexy tone.
That’s how we ended up at her apartment on the east side. She sat on top of me, facing me, on the grimy sofa. Naked. A spring from the cushion boinged me in the asscheek. “Jeopardy” played in the background. She whispered that she left the TV on all the time so that her cat, Mr. Cuddles, wouldn’t feel lonely. I wondered where Mr. Cuddles was now—I hadn’t seen a cat. She moaned. I moaned. We kept going until I couldn’t go anymore.
She climbed off, rolled to a sit next to me, and shut her eyes. From this side angle, I could see the make-up caked on her eyelids. It rose up a good inch from her skin. She smoothed her hair, tucked it behind her ears. Her scalp appeared well cared-for, with no visible signs of dandruff. “In nine months, you will most certainly have a son,” she whispered. Alex Trebek made a pithy remark to a contestant. I spotted something in the room’s corner—a cat. Mr. Cuddles. He stood. He stretched in a yoga-esque pose. He yawned. In the course of these movements, Mr. Cuddles and I made brief eye contact. He lay back down. I gasped. The TV didn’t help him; the nurse was wrong; loneliness still shone in his eyes. A commercial break. How many hours a day was he alone? A commercial for Head and Shoulders. I asked myself this question, and then, inexplicably, I could pinpoint the precise locations of my gallbladder and my spleen; I could feel these organs throb. I rubbed my eyes. I scratched my testicles. The nurse asked me what was wrong. I asked her if I could please have my sperm back. I asked her in a friendly, non-threatening tone. She didn’t open her eyes. She just said, no. She just said, this was no accident. She just said, you’ve made your decision.