Sunday, 11 June 2017

Don't Call Me Dad

[Media prompt] Why more and more dads are getting plastic surgery.
Don't Call Me Dad

The old Airbus came in low, heading for LaGuardia, a destination it was likely to miss altogether if it didn’t correct its current bearing. Jeff Simmonds watched its dull and dented underside slide between him and the sky, the engines sparking, one of the landing wheels tattered, the torn rubber flapping in the wind. The tail livery was long past the point of identification, and he noted that even the tail number was indecipherable. It was a testament to the last generation of engineers that they still made it all the way across the pond.

He took a shuttle downtown to the restoration clinic, a name that made it sound more legitimate than it was. It was located between a club that advertised live sex acts on stage and a gym hosting fights to the death. “Fist Fights. No Guns. No Knives,’ said a blinking sign outside. It was a little after ten o’clock when he arrived, and the smell of bodily excretions wafted from the open doors. A wiry little man in his underpants and singlet leant on a broom at the gym door, smoking a cigar that looked enormous in his clenched yellow teeth.

“What are you looking at?” he said, which was an automatic response, Jeff had learned, to any movement within his faltering range of vision.

“What time is the first fight?” said Jeff, buzzing the clinic.

“I’ll check,” said the man, putting his broom against the wall and shuffling back into the darkness.

The door to the clinic clicked opened, and Jeff went in and sat down in the waiting room. He was the only patient, and the girl behind the counter ignored him. There was a new picture on the wall, Edvard Munch’s The Scream, but with a restored smile and clear blue eyes. Jeff realised he had always assumed the screamer was a woman, and the male face beaming at him was unsettling.

“Mr. Jeff?” said the girl behind the counter. “Dr. Zhou will see you now.”

He had given up after the second visit trying to explain the distinction between first and last names, and responded now to Mr. Jeff. He might as well have been a dog.

Dr. Zhou was dressed in white. White pants. White shirt. White tie. White shoes. The only thing that wasn’t white was his skin. He was the colour of stained leather, and his shock of buzz-cut black hair stood up like a clump of spinifex in the desert.

“So, let’s take a look, shall we?” he said, getting down to business straight away.

He hummed and prodded, scanned Jeff’s face in a machine emitting pulses of blue light, rubbed his soft thumb over Jeff’s nose and lips, and looked at his teeth.

“So far, so good,” he said, laughing loudly for a reason that escaped Jeff.

“Two more visits,” said Dr. Zhou, “and you are done.”

Jeff said a silent prayer. A totally new look was within his grasp. In a couple of weeks, his snowflake, antifa, trigglypuff grown-up children and transgender lesbian wife wouldn’t be able to point him out in a line up.

“Hey,” said Dr. Zhou, “why you cry?”

Jeff wiped his eyes and swallowed. “It’s from joy, Dr. Zhou. It’s from joy.”

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