Stuck In the Middle With You

The sterile white room shines from the fluorescent overhead lights. The nurse finishes typing on the computer, logging off her account. She turns to me, “Doctor Cabot will be right in to see you.”


“Thank you,” I respond to her from the upright doctor’s chair. I feel like a kid outside the principal’s office, waiting to be called in to receive my punishment. I look down past my dangling feet, towards my bright blue shoes laying idly on the tiled floor.


“Did you think you were gonna die quickly, you fucking pig? Did you think I wasn’t going to be there to torture you the entire way, you piece of shit?”


I look up to him. He’s leaning into the corner by the door hinge, arms folded, black pants held up by black suspenders over his white long sleeved shirt. The huge serrated knife gleams with stained blood as he taps it on his left arm in rhythm to a song only he can hear. His smile slowly peels open, showing his yellow teeth inside. “Oh what’s the matter?” He drops his arms to the side, leaning slightly forward and making a mock frown on his face, “All done with the lying to yourself and pretending everything’s okay?” He keeps tapping the knife against his right leg in rhythm.


I can’t answer him. I’m afraid if I start, all the held back feelings and tears threatening to rush forward, will. I’m afraid that once I start, it won’t ever stop. They’re held there in place with a thread of my once bountiful and dominant will, now a ghost of its once illustrious vigor.


I look up to his mocking face, still with a frown on it as the doctor walks in, briefly obscuring Joey behind the door. Doctor Cabot smiles and reaches out his hand to me, “Hey Lawrence, I’m sorry we couldn’t meet under better circumstances.” The door shuts to reveal Joey, his arms again crossed, again with a menacing stare and a smile with lips that seems to not end. I can hear the soft, rhythmic patting against the sleeve of his white shirt.


Doctor Cabot sits at the little desk to the left, asking me basic questions. How am I feeling, what symptoms do I have, who have I last had sex with…you know, all the basic questions a doctor would ask a person with HIV. I answer them all to the best of my ability. Everything is distant and echoed; sequestered.


He rolls his chair over to me, rolling the sleeves of his white doctor’s coat back twice as he goes. “Now let’s just check your eyes and ears,” he tells me, “there may be some discomfort.”


Joey pushes himself up off the corner, straightening his black tie with his left hand as he does so. He keeps tapping the knife rhythmically against his right leg as he begins to do a sort of shuffling dance, taking several slow steps forward, then quickly several steps back, then again slowly advancing in those same shuffling steps. He’s mouthing out words to a song only he can hear.


The doctor keeps going with his examination, finishing with my ears then turning to my eyes. Joey spins and shuffle steps backwards before the doctor’s light blinds my left eye, then my right. I blink away the confusion and rub my eyes, opening them to Joey standing in front of me, finally singing out loud the lyrics he’d been keeping silent until then, “Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right, here I am…”


Doctor Cabot wheels back over to the computer, pulling a metal lid off one of the containers kept there, reaching in and grabbing a wooden popsicle stick. “Okay, just gonna look down your throat and then we’re done with the physical…” He trails off as he turns back to see Joey standing over me.


The knife slash is almost lightning quick. I mean, I see it coming but at this point does it really matter anymore? I let him do it. He’s won, I’m broken. There’s no use in fighting it anymore. I don’t even cry out.


The first slash hits my left eyebrow, making a deep cut all the way into my hair. Joey grabs my face by my chin and starts stabbing my face. The knife is sharp and pushes through my skin and muscle and bone easily. I can hear the cracking my bone makes as it punctures me, can hear the involuntary gurgles and feel the hot blood come pouring out of me. He stabs me three more times through my cheeks, making sure to not go too far and hit my brain. Obviously, he still wants me alive.


Joey jumps up and sits on my lap, I can feel his hard dick pushing into my stomach. He starts stabbing me in my stomach, 12 rapid, lightning quick stabs going all the way to the hilt. He’s breathing hard as he jumps up off of me, soaked in my blood. His shirt is red, his black tie and pants and wet with blood, my blood all over him. He keeps tapping that fucking knife to his right leg rhythmically.


“Are you done now? Are you all done?” Doctor Cabot asks Joey very quietly. Joey stops the tapping and looks at the doctor who is seemingly scolding him like a dog owner does to a dog who’s shit all over the couch. Doctor Cabot’s face and white coat and glasses are all splattered with blood. It’s on the ceilings and over the cabinets and the pool of it is spreading out in a circle from where I sit on the doctor’s chair.


I breathe out several raspy breaths and then the door opens up. The nurse is standing there, purple scrubs with white flowers on them, hair in a ponytail and mouth agape, taking in the horror before her. She backs up as the blood inches towards her white nurse sneakers.


Joey drops the knife from his hand as the Doctor stares daggers into him, as the nurse stands in shock, as I’m breathing my last few, ragged breaths. “Goddamnit, Joey,” I say in my final exhale.




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