David Kopacz, MD
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Short Stories


Another Triumph Of Science

Unpublished | Written June 19, 1992
From the unpublishable: In The Shadow of the Slaughterhouse Silence is the Only Crime Against Humanity


Optimism, unlike fear, is not palpable. Sometimes the fearful student lies about the results of the exam, "Yes, doctor, I palpated the patient's optimism." The doctor would say "You were tricked, optimism is not palpable in the average, and as you know everyone is average, patient."

Once upon a time a man, or a woman for that matter, well, let's just say a man, was born with a full complement of DNA. Born in fear, lives life and is average in every way, er, I mean almost every way because there is a solitary aberrant cell. We all know all the ways that a cell can become aberrant, so I won't go into it, or rather, maybe we don't all know the etiologies of aberrant cells, but, nevertheless it is not important. OK, so this cell is definitely abnormal, that is a fact. It lies in wait, just waiting for a chance to replicate. This cell has a truly sinister drive to repopulate the cells of the man with replicas of itself, to proliferate aberration.

Now, we all know that cells reproduce asexually, they have no sexual organs, and are, thus, incomprehensible to humans, who reproduce sexually. The literature of cells is particularly difficult for humans. There are no sex scenes in books written by cells, they have no words that have become sexually charged like vigorously, or gently, or sucking. The cells use charged words such as budding, engulfing, the release of anaphase, and the smoking of a cigarette during telophase.

The aberrant cell is suppressed by the rest of the man's cells. The man has a fascist police force that operates on only one order, DESTROY BY ANY MEANS POSSIBLE ALL THAT IS NOT SELF, funny how microcosm and macrocosm seem to be based on the same underlying principle. The war rages for years while the president cell talks tough about drugs and morality in banal and inane phrases. The citizens of the man are very narrow minded and ignorant, in the sense that they don't know better. They work their meaningless jobs within the man, fight the cellular traffic ("You wouldn't believe the traffic today, all the main arteries were clogged"), talk on their cellular phones, fight with their spouse and children cells, kick the dog cell, and watch their cellular T.V., which is filled with subtle innuendos about asexual division and engulfing all that is not self and destroying, the violence of these cells is atrocious. Yet, once a week they go faithfully to listen to the preacher cell tell them not to do what they do every day of their little cell lives, but the religiopolitical life of cells is another book altogether which will hopefully not be written because the ignorant, blind stupidity and capacity of these little fucks for violence is one of the few subjects that makes me wish I could cry until there was nothing left of me but a pool of salty tears which would promptly become contaminated by the waste products of a short-sighted, violent, greedy society based on capitalism which brings to mind a number of points: number one: we live in a closed system; number two: the more stuff that one thing has the less stuff is left for all the other things; number three [hold it right there, this has gone on long enough, please fast forward]....The doctor walks briskly into the cold, white examining room. The man has goose bumps on his uncertain flesh. There is uncertainty in the man's eyes as he smiles at the doctor, meeting the gaze which is cold and unfeeling, the doctor does not smile back, fortunately, a questionable use of the word, his environment has deadened feeling, but this disease in front of him stirs something in his..................[What? WHAT THE FUCK YOU MEAN HE HAS NO SOUL!!?!???!!!?? Well, look around there a bit, yeah under that shit there in the gutter. Well, where the hell is it then? (the soul in question moulders in a used bookstore where the doctor sold it back after he finished his "Patient as a Person" class)] an honest to goodness flicker in the doctor's face, which maybe could have just been too much coffee.

"You can get dressed now, you have a neoplasm mister, uh, mister, uh, patient. Now, this neoplasm is a word which means "new growth," basically, part of you is where it should not be. Now, this neoplasm could be benign or malignant, so we will have to conduct many tests to determine how to treat you. So, you have no choice but to get these tests, one of which consists of sawing off your head and then sewing it back on, but, which is, of course, completely necessary. Now, there is something strange about this neoplasm, what did you say your presenting complaint was?"

"My what?"

"Your presenting complaint, your chief complaint, your, uh, uh....What brings you in here today?"

"Oh, well, you see doc, I have been feeling better than usual lately and that is unusual. I have this incipient feeling of well-being, a sense that everything is basically good, I feel great, that's what really started me worrying. I mean, to wake up every day and feel so good, I knew something must be wrong."

"Well, I will give you the next available appointment which is, uh...3 years from next Friday. Come in one month early to check in with the petty, rule-oriented, combative clerk, but Mr. Patient don't get your hopes up, you have an absurdly small chance of living."

"That's OK doc, I'm very hopeful."

TO BE CONTINUED....

[Now, there are various possibilities, but the actuality is this: A MALIGNANT INOPERABLE OPTIMISOMA. The treatment: chemicals so toxic that they do not yet exist. Other than this there is only one option which entails sacrifices bordering on the absurd, yet the disease has progressed to such a point that the man actually volunteers for the cure which consists of being abruptly shot in the head. Scene: the man and the doctor seated on cold folding chairs, a large metal desk, blank white walls. The desk top is spotless and bare except for a large book, more of a tome actually, and the man's file, now quite thick, and one extremely expensive pen. The man enters the room, offers his hand, something flickers behind the eyes of the doctor behind his thick glass shields that somehow filter out human contact, leaving only data. The doctor reaches out his hand to align his pen parallel to the neatly stacked papers on his desk. The man withdraws his hand, "Well doc what'd the tests show?"

"The tests show - something flickers - you'd better sit down," he says this with his best serious, professional voice.

"But, doc, I am sitting down."

"You have a malignant inoperable optimisoma. There is no hope, no cure.

The man laughs, "That's OK doc, I'll try anything at all doc. I'll try anything, no matter how slim the odds. I just feel I can beat this thing, this watchamacallit optimoma."

"My, uh, good man," the doctor says looking noticeably uncomfortable, "you clearly do not understand, this cancer has metastasized to all your lymph nodes. You do not have the slightest reason for hope at all." Then a big flicker, the doctor leans back in his chair, the little rubber things are missing from the legs of his folding chair, he topples over backwards on to the cold tile floor. He clumsily rights his chair and regains his seat. "Well, you know, this is the first documented case of a metastasized, inoperable optimisoma. You see these are usually benign lesions of childhood that usually regress when the organism is socialized to become an adult citizen, although in some persons of below average intelligence and poor reality-testing these lesions can persist until death...But then, this is a malignant tumor that you have, there is no hard data, no protocol," he says this with a far away, wistful look, and then suddenly returning with vigor, "but theoretically there is an infinitesimal chance, hardly worth mentioning..."

"I'll take the chance doc, I can beat it, the only thing that troubles me a little is those limp toads you say I've got, but doc I'll take the chance, anything, no matter how absurd, I can beat it

I

am

optimist............................................................................................................................
FOR A LONGER STORY, PLEASE INSERT EXTRANEOUS MATERIAL HERE OR JUST FAST FORWARD.................................................................................................................................
something flickers as the smoking gun becomes visible in the doctor's hand, I mean as the smoke clears [sorry, please rewind a little]................"Past midnight. Never knew such silence. The earth might be uninhabited." (Pause) "Here I end this reel. Box - (pause)- three, spool - (pause) - five. (Pause.) Perhaps the best years are gone. When there was a chance of happiness. But I wouldn't want them back. Not with the fire in me now. No, I wouldn't want them back." [Hold it!...we've got the wrong tape...what kind of crappy tape was that anyway?...try it again]....................................................................."With this cancer there is no hope, so to speak, no cure whatsoever," he fingers the trigger under the desk, "however, there is one theoretical possibility, that is there is no hard data, no protocol," his voice returns from wistfulness with vigor, "but there is a small chance of cure, theoretically, of course."

"Anything doc, anything, I'll do anything!"

"Please sign this release form."

"I'll take the chance, doc, I can beat it

I

am

optimistibang - please describe death in anatomical and hematological detail - something flickers and the doctor smiles, the smell of gunpowder, acrid, in the literary tradition, the doctor slowly smiles another triumph of science............

References:
Samuel Beckett, Krapp’s Last Tape

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