I enter the doctor’s office with all the energy of a bag of paraplegic snails. I incline my decaying body forwards, approaching the sickeningly chipper receptionist at a forty-five degree angle. Leaning in close, I offer up my name, hushed and afraid. I’m told to sit in the waiting area. I’ll be called in due course. I spin around, proceed forwards and manage to lower myself, unscathed, into a dirty plastic chair. This takes a disgusting amount of time and just as my arse greets the plastic with a gentle kiss I am immediately called forth to the lands beyond reception.
Passing through multiple hallways, each decorated like a low-budget film set, I arrive at a second waiting area. This additional waiting area is a clinical hallway. Huge, foreboding and full of bloody sick people. I feel the eyes greet me with disdain as I enter and pirouette into the nearest seat with the casual grace of a swan driving an articulated lorry. None of my fellow hall dwellers are below the age of two hundred and I can see into their skulls, revealing dark thoughts.
“What’s he doing here? He’s far too young, white and male to be sick. He probably just wants to immigrate to my country, steal my pension and engage in terror attacks so he can afford to buy heroin and then sell the heroin to fund his gay marriage. Then him and his foreign partner can open that abortion clinic with the trans-friendly bathrooms and illegally claim the dole at the same time.”
I just know that every single person in the room is having these caustic, contradictory thoughts. Especially me. I’ve just thought them there, you’ve read them. Regardless of who the thoughts belong to, they’re irrelevant given my current predicament. These people may not see the signs of illness upon my visage, but I assure you that a dark plague is eating me from the inside out. Lifting a newspaper from the oaken table beside me, I note the headline – “Shocking Statistics: 100% Of Those Who Read This Headline Will Eventually Die”. Taking comfort in this heartfelt reassurance from the red top, I feel temporarily weightless.
Soon I realise that my weightlessness can be attributed to the fact that I’ve stood up and am entering the doctor’s actual office. She extends an arm and greets me with a threatening, cartoonish handshake, presumably to assert her dominance as a leading political figure in Western society. I consider this action somewhat unusual for a GP in a small Irish town, but I shrug it off and take a seat. She eyes me with utter contempt. I imagine she shares the feelings of her patients out in the hallway. The ones with the real illnesses. Not like me, I’m just cracked in the head, I reckon.
“So, you’ve not been feeling the best lately?”
I tell her that she’s correct, I’ve not been feeling the best. I proceed to tell the doctor, that far from feeling the best, I’ve been feeling possibly the worst I’ve ever felt. Beginning to explain my issue, I acknowledge that it often centres around alcohol and the reckless abandon of a night on the town. In particular, trips to the local nightclub seem to be key triggers, in my own unqualified opinion.
“You say the problem often rears its head during, and following, a night’s drinking? Maybe if you took me through the average night out, I could begin to develop a feeling for some of the underlying causes here.”
I concur and begin to lay out the usual sequence of events with regard to my nocturnal escapades.
“Let me see, what would I do? Well, usually I’d make a quick dart for the bar and commence intoxication, so as to build up a liquid tolerance for the events which are laid out in front of me. After procuring a beverage from the harassed bartender, I’d locate those contemporaries of mine, wherever they may place themselves within the dark walls of the club. Generally, I’d find them amidst smoke and chatter in the halfway area between the inside and the out. At this point I’d slobber and yammer relentlessly. Of course, in my own eyes, I’d be displaying urbane wit, not shouting obscenities at strangers and begging for rollies. After I’d baffled my contemporaries with a barrage of wholesome anecdotes, procuring a few more delicious pints along the way, I’d head to the dance-floor and see out the night in a sweaty haze of poor decisions and instant regret.”
The doctor leans back, eyeing me with a queer tilt of the head. Bearing the countenance of a person on the cusp of some minor revelation, I sense a diagnosis dancing on the outskirts of her mind, threatening to emerge. Intently, she leans forward and we lock eyes.
“So, let me surmise your standard night in the club and outline the behaviour involved. I see three core components at the root of your condition – Alcohol, dancing and nonsensical conversation.”
“Yes, that sounds about right.”
“You usually drink, usually dance, usually bubble?”
Suddenly, it’s happening. No longer confined to the nightclub, my illness has followed me into the daylight hours. I don’t know how it’s happening, but it is. I’m promising the world to a brand new girl I don’t even know yet.
I look to my wrist. Of course. She’s wearing my rolex. I’m a party guy and she knows it. NEXT THING SHE’S WEARING MY ROLEX. NEXT THING SHE’S WEARING MY ROLEX.
Chaos descends upon the small doctor’s office. Walls collapse to reveal that the office, as I’d suspected, is enclosed in a town-sized nightclub.The room is submerged in darkness. Lights begin to strobe. The ancient pensioners from the waiting room are merking each other left, right and centre. In vain, I try to retrieve my watch from the woman across the desk. I suspect that she may not be a licensed physician after all. I’ve been duped. It’s relentless. Will this nightmare ever end?