View Full Version : Things could always be worse. (795 words)

January 30th, 2014, 02:54 PM
"Says here you have Herpes, sir. Simplex 1. Less virulent, common where you have it, on the upper lip." Dr. Styles picked up his clipboard. "Yes, everyone who has a cold sore has it, and most people get it from their relatives or water fountains. Says you've had them since you were six, so that's probably where you got it."

David nodded. "Aunt Edna. Large woman, very large lips. Thought it was a mole, I did. Musta been this 'Erp-eeze yer on abou'."

"And the lab reports came back," Styles continued. He frowned. "Your white blood cell count is off. Indicative of infection."

David scratched his chin. "Infection, eh?"

"Yes, but you haven't complained of any, which is strange," Styles said. "Are you experiencing any redness, swelling, pain, or are any of your parts abnormally hot?"

"I can think of one," David said with a smile. He unzipped his jeans and started pulling them down.

"No, no, David, that's not--."

On his inner thigh, there was a red rash, circular with a scarlet blip in the center like a bullseye.

"--funny," Styles finished. "Sorry, I thought you were going a different way there, David." He leaned forward and poked at the skin. "Does that hurt?"

"Little bit, yeah."

"How long have you had this?"

"Don' know. Maybe a week or two?"

"Was that a question?" the Doctor asked. David didn't say anything. "You don't know, do you?"

David shrugged. "Don' look down there very much, Mr. Dr. Styles."

"Okay, well, it could be Lyme's disease."

David, with his pants around his ankles, leapt to his feet and started waddling after the doctor. "'Ey, whadya just call me?"

"I said you have Lyme's disease," the doctor said, narrowly avoid David's grasp. "It's when you get bitten by a tick, sir." David stopped to scratch himself. "The tick can transfer bacteria into your skin. Those bullseye shaped rashes--" he pointed at the leg "--are hallmarks of Lyme's disease."

"Lyme's disease? Why don' they call it Tick Disease. That sounds more like it."

Dr. Styles straightened his lab coat. He was sweating, but it was an even 68 degrees Fahrenheit like every doctor's office. Being chased by a man in his underpants will do that to you. "Well, I think it's named after the man that found it."

"That's stupid. Why wouldja wanna call a disease afta yaself?" David waddled back to the bench. "I'd name it afta me enemies. Billy Flu. That way whenevya say 'is name, it's like a plague, it is."

Dr. Styles laughed. As scruffy as he was, and judging by his faded, tattered, flannel shirt, he was quite scruffy, you had to admit he had a certain kind of wisdom. His bushy eyebrows flexed and scrunched. Dr. Styles just chuckled some more.

"What's so funny, Doc?"

"No, you're right. I don't know why you want to be famous for a disease. Seemed kind of cool back in the day, but now--" he paused "--it seems kind of stupid." He flipped his chart over and noted Lyme's disease, but that wasn't enough to cause the number of white blood cells out there. "Okay, anything else to report? Anything else I should know about?"

"I'm 'llergic to latex."


"Yup. 'Ad that one a long time. Since I were a kid. Nasty way to find out too." His mischievous grin was toothless. "Wanna know 'ow I figgered it out, Doc?"

Dr. Styles grimaced. "Not particularly."

"I were swimmin' in the pool with one them bathin' caps on me 'ead, an' it got all itchy and swelled up. 'Ad to stop. Loved to do it, but ya can't be competitive withou' one of them bathin' caps, ya know?"

The doctor let out his breath. "Yes, yes, I know. Used to be a swimmer myself, once. Best shape I've ever been in. Not where I thought that was going either.

"Let's see." He pulled at his black whiskers. "Got a bad back, an' they 'ad to pull all m'teef on the one side, and I 'ad one them--er--whatchya call 'ems--appen-dick-tummies." He lifted his shirt and showed the doctor an ugly pink line on his right side.

"Appendectomies, yes," Dr. Styles corrected him subtly, "but none of that really goes with what I'm looking at. The white blood cell count I see here I normally associate with a virus of some kind."

"Virus, eh?" David bit his lip with the only tooth left on the top gum. "What abou' the flu? Just comin' down off that."

"You have the flu, Lyme's disease, no appendix or teeth, an allergy to latex and Herpes," Dr. Styles laughed.

David shrugged. "At least I don' have malaria. S'pose it could always be worse."

January 30th, 2014, 03:27 PM
This is bizarre, and delightful.

What is the accent supposed to be? Limey? Pretty unique work. Dig it. Not sure it feels complete enough as it stands, but it's a nice little vignette of weirdness. :)

The Tourist
January 30th, 2014, 04:10 PM
This is bizarre, and delightful.

Well, not if you're my age! LOL

When I roll out of bed in the morning something always hurts. Stop and think of just how long 60 years really is. Oy vey, considering the fights, the bites and the romantic nights it's amazing that five-alarm amaretto latte' coffee works as well as it does!

The old gag was "If you remember the 1960s you weren't really there."

I think the new canard should be, "If you have no pain in your 60s then you weren't trying hard enough in the 1960s..."

January 30th, 2014, 04:37 PM
I was keen to make it more about the dialogue than anything else, almost like a long-form joke. Glad you liked it. The accent is supposed to be Cockney or Yorkish. I guess I could say that somewhere.

The Tourist
January 30th, 2014, 04:50 PM
I was keen to make it more about the dialogue than anything else.

It was very good. It reminded me of an old joke.

A woman with a very elderly husband finally drags him reluctantly to the doctor. The octogenarian has a multiple of problems, and is very hard of hearing. To get a base line, the doctor asks for a blood test, a urine sample, a stool smear, and a sperm count. The man claims he cannot hear the request.

The wife yells into the man's good ear, "The doctor wants your underwear..."

February 9th, 2014, 09:34 AM
Interesting you say the accent was supposed to be Cockney. I assumed it to be a southern accent, especially combined with the fact that he has Lyme disease and that typically results from being outdoors more. Maybe it's just because I'm an American. Other note, I'd like to hear more of the doctor's internal dialogue. I thought those bits were the funniest and having him talk more about crazy encounters with patients would be fun.

February 18th, 2014, 08:39 PM
The dialogue here is rich with character; the positions of the two are clear, their relationship established well and used to good effect. It made me smile. :)

The sustained subject matter and themes helped bind it all together, and in the context of the situation I think they were well-chosen. The dialogue dominated the piece well, sounding natural in most places - some editing, maybe through reading aloud, would help it be even tighter. Where the piece fell short of effectiveness, for me, was outside of the speech. Some details seem randomly thrown in and don't contribute to the humour or our understanding of the situation. ' it was an even 68 degrees Fahrenheit like every doctor's office. Being chased by a man in his underpants will do that to you.' is one example; the italics, likewise, felt strange to read. I wasn't sure whose thoughts I was supposed to be reading. Regardless, they felt unnecessary and almost anti-humourous - the kind of forced, unnatural comedy that a lot of this scene escapes by giving honest and honestly humourous conversation.

Ultimately, the piece is at its funniest when you can't tell that it's trying to be funny. :)

February 22nd, 2014, 08:47 PM
Thanks, Cadence. I've been using the italics to denote thoughts for a while now, and I'm not sure that everyone understands that that's where I'm going. I'll look into that. I threw a lot of those extraneous details in because I'm not at a comfort level to just use dialogue to describe a scene yet, but I'll remember that you said it was the natural flowing parts that did the most to make you smile. Ultimately, that was my goal.

February 22nd, 2014, 09:34 PM
I thought it was good. The dialogue was pretty great. On the second one with his allergy and the doctor thought it would go somewhere else I didn't understand... and then I did. I cracked a smile. It was good! Nice work!

This, though: "Yes, yes, I know. Used to be a swimmer myself, once. Best shape I've ever been in. Not where I thought that was going either. (Same line I was talking about up there.) I'm pretty sure you're missing the ending ". I was pretty sure the italic was thought or you wanted empathizes on that part in his dialogue

February 27th, 2014, 10:20 PM
Funny, especially when the doctor shows a dirty mind while the man is merely passing an innocent comment. However some details sounded forced and weren't funny at all, like the comment about the doctor being chased by a man in underpants. Being blunt, that sounds like what a group of five year olds would giggle at. The dialogue is much more entertaining.

March 2nd, 2014, 09:48 PM
The message is simple enough, and one which we should be reminded of, often.

March 3rd, 2014, 03:59 AM
I'm glad you all enjoyed the piece. I still have too much of my five-year-old self in me, sometimes. I need to make sure it doesn't come out too often and hit people over the head with jokes. I'll make sure that doesn't happen going forward.

March 20th, 2014, 05:02 AM

March 22nd, 2014, 04:36 AM
I think more pieces should be written in joke format. You set the stage, flesh out the characters. Give us enough information to make assumptions. Then blind side us with the punch line. For me it is a formula that always works. To many writers get hung up on the details and forget that all of it is for punch line. I have found that a common trait among comedians and good writers all they need is the ending. They can fill in the details and adjust the facts to the audience so it has something they can identify with. Probably a good writing exercise would be to supply the ending and have the writers fill in the details