A Spoonful of Worries
by Dimitrije Medenica
part 1 of 2
Jonathan stepped into Dr. Vogel’s small office. It stood at the end of his street and on the ground floor of a similar brownstone to his, except that the doctor’s townhouse sported ionic columns and pediments as frames for the front windows. The facade stood spotless, square-trimmed evergreen bushes formed its base, and an antique iron fence guarded the lot. His air conditioning worked well, and Jonathan looked forward to his weekly hour of cooling.
Dr. Vogel, an elderly gentleman, liked the challenges of patients who never seemed to heal. He always entertained the hope that, one day, he would save them from themselves. Jonathan was one of those patients.
“Welcome, Jonathan. How goes it?” Dr. Vogel asked from behind a propped door.
“Not well, doctor. I’m worried.” Jonathan squeezed through the door opening and slumped into the couch pillows. The secretary at the front desk had left early.
“I know. Anything else?” The doctor twirled his long white beard around his index finger.
“Any new commissions lately?”
“No, of course not. I can’t seem to like anything that comes my way.” Jonathan slapped his knees and coughed.
“Feel free to have a cup of water from the cooler in the waiting room. Then come back, and we shall talk.”
Jonathan walked to the waiting room, drank a few cups, and sank back into the couch. He basked in the cool air and watched the doctor’s plants fold under the caress of the blast.
“I have a new medication I would like you to try,” said Dr. Vogel.
“What is it?”
“An elixir of sorts, not yet approved by the FDA—”
“I don’t care about government approvals. So, what’s the medicine gonna do?” Jonathan wiped his forehead with a handkerchief he had pulled out of his jeans back pocket. He moved to a cooler cushion.
“I thought you wouldn’t care. That’s why I took the liberty to order a sample. You said you felt worried. Could you tell me a bit more about that?” The doctor played with the little bottle in his hand, one ear perked to his patient.
“It’s always the same thing: I don’t want to accept commissions I don’t like, but I need some dough. If I take on a commission I don’t like, I think I’d kill the client!”
“Now, now! We don’t want to do that,” said Dr. Vogel. “Well, it’s nothing new, of course. Have you thought of compromising?”
“I don’t see how. Are you serious?”
“Accept a couple of commissions you don’t like, just enough to improve your lifestyle and at least pay for air conditioning in your office,” said Dr. Vogel. He placed the bottle on the table and crossed his arms. “Please don’t kill your clients, Mr. Ziegler!”
“Oh! I didn’t really mean that, although sometimes... No! No, no, no! No way I would violate my beliefs and build a monstrosity. But if your new medicine would...”
Dr. Vogel stared into Jonathan’s tired eyes from his plush desk chair and behind his imposing polished mahogany desk. “You see, this little bottle here can prioritize your worries. It’ll help you organize your time, so that you can deal with one worry at a time.
“For example, you’ll worry only about finishing a project for the day, or only about paying your bills. If you take one day for paying the bills, then you will find a way to earn more money. And if you take one day to only think about your projects, then you’ll be more efficient. If you take a day to think about how to improve your working and living conditions, you will be all the better for that.”
“But how does this work? Is this some kind of joke?” Jonathan smirked and extended his arm to take the bottle.
“Here you go, Jonathan. This is a free sample, but it will get you started. It’s quite simple, really. And it’s no joke. The biotech company behind this medicine is in talks with Elli Lilly and Pfizer.
“Clinical trials have proved quite successful. So, if you decide to go ahead with this medicine, here’s what you need to do: three drops into a glassful of water before going to bed. A few hours later, you should wake up feeling full.”
“What do you mean?” Jonathan was becoming increasingly intrigued. “Full?”
“Your ears will be clogged, and you’ll feel sinus pressure. At that moment, take as many bowls, cups, or glasses, and line them up on the table in your kitchen. Lean your head so that your ear is parallel to the closest bowl. A liquid will begin dripping from your ear.”
“Do you take me for a fool, Dr. Vogel?”
“No, Jonathan. If you don’t want to try it, that’s okay. But I do think it would help you. You do trust me, don’t you?”
Jonathan swirled his fingers around the bottle. “I do, but it’s odd. What’s gonna come out of my ear?”
“Your worries. Take a mirror and hold it with one hand, so that you can see the color that comes out of your ear. The darker the color, the darker the worry.”
“I see. Which ear?”
“Try either one first. If nothing comes out, then it is the other one. Give it a try. It can’t hurt you. What do you have to lose?”
“I’ll try,” said Jonathan, standing up.
“Jonathan, I almost forgot the most important thing: Make sure you keep the bowls in a safe place. Each day you will sip from one. At the end of each day you’ll eliminate your worry when you urinate.”
“When I pee? Why?”
“When you drink the bowl contents, you will prepare your body to eliminate the worry through urinating.”
“Through my pee?”
“Yes, Jonathan. Through your pee! Now, if you please, it is time for us to wrap up. I wish you good luck and hope to see you feeling better by next week.” The doctor wobbled to the front door, leaning on his wooden cane, followed by his patient. He shook Jonathan’s hand and closed the door.
* * *
Jonathan walked back to his office, ducking to avoid the blasts of hot air from the window air conditioners. He descended to the basement and pulled out a goblet from his kitchenette. After mixing three drops into water, he chugged. It tasted like nothing, and, because the weather was so hot, he ate only an apple for dinner.
He unrolled his sleeping bag in the ten-foot wide bedroom that served as his office, closed the door, and went to sleep under the table, listening to the rumbling of his window fan.
He awoke with a pounding headache after midnight and felt pressure between his ears. He knocked his head into the table above him, cursed, grabbed his glasses from the table top, and wobbled to the kitchen, his flashlight in hand.
He stumbled into the bathroom and turned the light on, dropping the flashlight to the floor. It shattered, but he barely noticed.
“Where’s that mirror I keep for shaving?” He shuffled through the cabinet and found a tiny round foggy mirror. In the dim glow coming from the bathroom, he lined up plastic cups on the drafting table closest to his kitchen, after shoving the computer monitor aside.
Then he switched on the only lamp in the drafting room. With the small mirror in one hand, he leaned over the first bowl in time to see a dark amber liquid dripping from his left ear. He panicked.
“What the hell? I’m bleeding!” Jonathan began sweating, but the liquid stopped dripping, he felt a relief between his temples, and he took a deep breath.
“Dark yellow drops are starting! I’m not bleeding anymore. Now my wax is coming out,” Jonathan said. But the yellow liquid also stopped and was followed by a green color. Then a purple color followed, and some orange. He filled about ten cups. At which point, he felt no sinus pressure; his ears and nose unclogged.
He covered the cups in plastic wrap and took them to his private office, placing them on a little table by the large fan. Turning off the only drafting room light, he went back to sleep.
* * *
Copyright © 2014 by Dimitrije Medenica