July 18, 2011
My eyes burn. They itch too but mostly they burn. Now the March of Dimes won’t leave me alone. They keep insisting that I’m responsible for some fucked-up kid with a face growing out of his asshole and they want me to pay up.
“Do you know the kind of suffering you could prevent,” Judy the Time-Life operator accuses. She’s with the March of Dimes, not Time-Life, and her name’s probably not Judy but the only way I can relate to women on the telephone is to think of that chick with the headset who would offer me a pulse tone phone shaped like a football if I subscribed to her magazine. “Rising Vampires” was the cover of one issue. I didn’t think vampires were real up to that point and it made me scared to think that the mainstream media was reporting otherwise.
“Can I call you back later,” I say, “I’ve got a bus to catch.”
“A bus? A bus to where?” she demands to know.
“The clinic,” I tell her, and she does not believe me.
“Are you getting an abortion?” she asks in a most acerbic tone.
“No. My eyes,” I explain, “they burn.”
* * *
“Well . . . what seems to be the problem?” Dr. Kelly asks in that same tone Dirty Harry used when he told the bank robber that, in all the excitement, he couldn't remember whether he had fired five shots or six shots.
“My eyes burn. Really bad.”
“Do they itch too?”
“So what do you think is causing this burning,” he says, making the quote signs with his fingers as he utters the word “burning”.
I’m tempted to say “your mom’s hot wet cunt” but instead just tell him that I don’t know.
“What did you have for breakfast this morning?” he asks.
“What does that have to do with my eyes?” I ask back.
“A whole lot,” he says. “The key here is diet and exercise.”
“Are you saying my eyes burn because I’m fat?”
“I’d really like to see you lose forty pounds,” he tells me.
I hardly consider myself obese at a hundred and sixty pounds and I would seem to be bordering on anorexic if I dropped forty. But then again, maybe I’m a lot shorter than I think.
“Can’t you just write me a prescription for some eye drops or something?” I ask.
“Typical of the instant gratification generation,” he scorns. “There is no quick fix here, none that’s effective anyway. I can give you a prescription for your eyes but it will do nothing for your poor eating habits and lack of exercise.”
“But my eyes burn,” I say.
“I know,” says Dr. Kelly, “And I want to let you know I take these things very seriously.” He pauses and with a serious look continues, “My brother was eaten by a hammerhead shark – a shark he surely could have out swum had he eaten right and was in better shape. People forget this is a matter of life and death.”
I leave without a prescription, just burning eyes and the words of a so-called wise man: Work eight hours. Play eight hours. Sleep eight hours. Just not the same eight hours. I don’t know who this fella is that Dr. Kelly thinks is so wise but he seems like one smug asshole.
Leaving the office I decide to go across the street to the pharmacy in lieu of having the bran muffin Dr. Kelly advised I eat for breakfast. I grab a bottle of name brand over-the-counter eye drops and bring it to the register. After she rings me up, the cashier asks, “Would you like to buy a Shamrock for the March of Dimes? Only a dollar.”
If I hadn’t left my gun in the restaurant the other night I would be sticking the barrel in her mouth right now, cocking the hammer back, and demanding to know who sent her. Instead I simply tell her I gave at the office.
“You gave at the office?” she asks with a perplexed face.
“Yes,” I say, “They took up a collection for the March of Dimes and I gave.”
“What office is that?” she suspiciously inquires.
Thinking quickly I tell her, “The Office of the Comptroller of Currency.”
“So you’re telling me you work for the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and you came all the way down here from Washington D.C. to buy a bottle of eye drops?”
“Yes, that’s right.”
“You don’t have to lie. If you bought the store brand you could use the money you saved to buy the shamrock. It has the same active ingredient.”
“I’m not a liar,” I insist.
“Listen dude, I know you didn’t give at the office. My sister works for the OCC and I happen to know the only charity drive they do is for the United Way.”
“What the fuck is the shamrock about anyway?!” I snap, “It’s July not St. Patrick’s day!”
* * *
I exited the pharmacy with the store brand of eye drops. That was a half hour ago. My eyes still burn.
Maybe I’ll have a bran muffin.