Your Ghost Doctor Will See You Now
I was awoken (awaked?) by a light flashing in my face. As I always do when I’m unconscious and see a light, I ran as fast as I could directly toward it. But this time, a hand slapped me back down on my cot. I opened my eyes and saw an unfamiliar figure examining me.
The figure had long hair carefully knotted into a bun atop her head. Her face was intense and focused. Her body was like a poached egg — transparently white and floating fluidly in place.
“Stay still,” she said. I followed her orders and accepted the fact that I was being examined by a ghost. My throat went dry. I needed to figure out a way out of this and perhaps get some breakfast at the same time.
“Can you get me a Hawaiian Punch or something?” I said casually.
“No liquids before your procedure,” she said. “And I’m not a waiter, I’m a surgeon.”
I rubbed my eyes and realized I was wearing a surgical gown and a large pair of leather cowboy boots.
“I like to give my exploratory brain surgeries themes,” the ghost said when she saw me pondering my spurs. “This one is ‘Wild West.’”
Part of me thought I deserved this unfortunate fate, particularly the part that accidentally killed and ate his elderly neighbor’s parakeet last year. But then another part of me, the part that painted a parakeet on his elderly neighbor’s glasses so she wouldn’t notice her parakeet was gone, decided to stand up for myself.
Now, I was raised with the belief that there are only three acceptable moments to cry in front of strangers:
1) When they tell you Princess Diana has died
2) When they say, “You’re not some big crybaby, are you?”
3) When they catch you in the grocery store stuffing okra in your shorts
I decided to add “Asking a ghost to leave your brain alone” to this list. I started to whimper and, despite my parched throat, eventually managed to whip up some crocodile tears.
“I don’t wanna be opewated on,” I sobbed, trying to sound cute.
The ghost took a step back, perplexed. I got the sense she didn’t quite know how to deal with my emotions.
“I don’t quite know how to deal with your emotions,” she said.
Madam Twilge, who must have heard my keening, rushed in.
“What’s all the ruckus?” she barked, looking at me with disgust. “Is Princess Di dead or what?”
“Well, uh, she is,” the ghost surgeon said, clearing her throat. “But what exactly is going on here? You told me this patient requested this procedure to try to lose weight?”
“No, she’s making me do this!” I pleaded. “And wait, do you think I need to lose weight?”
“Look, I can’t opewate — ahem — I can’t operate on someone who doesn’t want to be operated on. It goes against my ethics,” the ghost surgeon said.
“Oh, now you have ethics, do you?” Madam Twilge responded, acid dripping off every word. “Was it those same ethics that made you sell out the souls of your entire family?”
The ghost looked down at the floor, ashamed. These two clearly had a past of some sort.
“That’s right,” Twilge said, drawing even more strength from the ghost’s defeated gaze. “Don’t forget who’s in charge here, you soggy slip of hovering tissue. Madam Twilge could have you back in the box for eternity with just a snap of her fingers. Now stop flapping your undead gums and get back to work!”
Madam Twilge stormed from the room, slamming and bolting its heavy door behind her.
The ghost’s eyes remained fixed on the floor, as if waiting for it to dissolve into air and reveal a path to another life nestled beneath it.
I tried to find words, which seemed to have been sucked out of the room with Madam Twilge’s chilly exit.
“So,” I said. “What, like five pounds? Ten? Because I think a lot of what you’re seeing is probably muscle mass.”
The ghost sighed, reached into a bag, and pulled out a scalpel.