I held my shorts out of the way while ex-wife Jean prepared to burn a growth off the inside of my right leg. Ex said, "This is the biggest skin tag I've ever seen."
Great, I had the biggest skin tag she'd ever seen.
Jason, her current husband, said, "Looks like one of my Uncle Joe's ear lobes."
I was the center of attention. Semi-perched atop a three-step stool, which sat on the coffee table in the middle of the living room. Without the benefit of the half assed stool one might say I stood like a flamingo on one leg with the other knee cocked. My left foot pressed on the coffee table for balance. My comfort wasn't a consideration. My groin had to be exactly at Ex's eye level.
I hadn't expected nor was I prepared for a medical procedure under these conditions. I had innocently asked Ex, "What do you call an extraneous growth that is suddenly larger? I wanted a word other than 'thingy' to convey to my doctor's hot receptionist.
Ex is a nurse, which must explain her unholy interest, she said, "Where is it?"
I said, "Never mind it's nothing."
She hooked her hair behind her ears and said, "Come on. Let me see it."
Everyone saw it. I was sitting then on the couch by a pile of folded clothes. As soon as Ex removed her nose from my crotch our daughter Allison a third year nursing student lowered to her knees to peer. Jason glanced at it over her shoulder. Their five-year-old son Steve wiggled it. Their older son Robbie measured it with a ruler that looked familiar. Red Bone sniffed it, in his usual professionally manner.
What do you know? Ex happened to have a disposable sterile cauterizing kit. Nurses have surgical set-ups like normal people have hammers and nails.
Robbie left the ruler on my knee while he recorded its width and length in my old leather bound ledger. I could see my initials scratched on the metric side of the ruler. I was a weekend carpenter when I was married to Jean. When I left, most of my stuff didn't. I've been waiting for the right time to ask for the tools and all the things I built back.
My father claims I visit Jean and her family so much that if anything happened to Jason I'd have to remarry her and adopt the boys. Not likely. Jason is ten years younger. No one was named Jason in my day. Yet it's an old name. Biblical. No one divorced in the Bible. I believe the name Jason revived popularity has to do with a hunk in The Young and Restless. Ex and I used to record Y and R on beta and watch it every night. I still say Beta was far superior to VHS.
Ex thrust her weapon in the air and said, "This delivers a pin point shot of 1000 degrees for exactly four seconds. So don't move."
One thousand degrees-millimeters from my balls. Move? I wouldn't breathe, blink, or bloat.
Our daughter asked, "Fahrenheit or Centigrade?"
Ex said, "After you graduate you'll realize those things don't matter."
I said, "I need a clean white towel to sit on."
I said, "A towel. To sop up the blood. And the boys can punch each other outside."
Ex said, "You aren't giving birth."
I said, "I have blood therefore I bleed."
Our daughter said, "The heat seals off your capillaries."
Ex said, "Cooks them."
I thought of jumping off the stool and escaping with my bloody capillaries.
Jason replaced my beer can with a stiff Royal Crown and coke. He's a good man. He lent me a cup of piss for a drug test.
Ex licked her lips, "Okay?"
I would have yelled but the sound waves would have knocked me off the stool. Secondly, a far off into the horizon second, I didn't want to scare the boys. Someday one of them might sit atop a stepstool holding his shorts with a cramped claw of a hand while his Ex-wife roasts marshmallows under his balls.
Jason fanned away the smoke and smell of my burning flesh. He said "Remember me in your will Old Man. I was here in your hour of suffering."
Ex said, "I'm going to attack from another angle."
I said, "Are you sure you know what you're doing?"
She said, "I'm saving you seventy five dollars."
She pressed the black button again. I closed my eyes. Four seconds of red-hot pain is a long long time. She withdrew. I gulped in smoke and stench. Jason was outside tending to the barbecue. If I lived I'd eat chicken for dinner. "Is it gone?"
I stifled a groan.
Allison said, "Dad, don't be a Baby."
Robbie had a glass slide ready and his father's binoculars. He thought there would be a specimen. A strange kid but thorough. Allison explained the procedure burns it to nothing. He ripped the label with my name off the slide and declared he would not be able to perform my autopsy.
I said, "Can I have a bandage afterwards?" I prayed there would be an afterwards.
My daughter said, "Mom, let me zap him. I think I've got the hang of it."
I shuddered. Zap, think, hang are terrifying words
Ex said, "He's my patient. And I'm the only graduate nurse here. Ready Superman?"
My God. It hurt worse than before. I almost blacked out. I opened my eyes, Jason was back. He wiped sweat off my brow with a barbecue smelly potholder.
Ex said, "It's over. Don't worry, that black stuff will fall off."
While everyone looked at the black stuff. I said, "About that bandage -- and perhaps a dab of first aid creme to cover the black stuff."
Our daughter said, "Dad sounds like my patients asking the same thing over and over."
Ex said, "Pay no attention. Patients will drive you crazy if you let them."
Jason said, "Black tape is better." He was an electrician. He used black tape for wounds, breathing strips, and around his ankles to keep his socks up.
I said, "I want a Band-Aid. I need a Band-Aid. Please someone bring me a Band-Aid."
Steve handed one up. It was yellow with red stars. I put it on myself without a dab of first aid creme.
Robby had his plate of chicken on the coffee table. He said I was in the way, he couldn't see TV. I climbed down and folded the stepstool. I had built it myself. Originally it was a combination step stool/ironing board. One summer they removed the ironing board for surfing. I turned it over to see if I'd burned my name on the underside of a step. Why do I torture myself? Do I need more proof that I once lived here? I built the sun deck, the entertainment center, the deacon's bench in the hallway, and the four-post bed where they sleep. Allison is old, a long legged replica of her mother. She belongs to herself. She isn't proof anymore.
Ex saw me inspecting my burnt, blurred name. She said, "I should have used your old wood burning kit. It's around here. Somewhere."
I laughed for no reason and thanked her for a job well done.
She said, "I'm sorry I hurt you."
I was about to say, I was sorry she hurt me too but she leaned in, kissed me. Her soft lips on my stubble. Why in the hell did she do that?
About the author:
Connie Davies regularly attends Frank Green's writer's group in Jacksonville, Fl. She has recently finished a novel about the silent film industry: While There's Light. She has had a few short stories published. Two in the State Street Review, a Florida college literary magazine.