New

Teeth



In another time, in another place, he’d have been a kosher butcher or a cobbler, but stubby-fingered Dr. Abelman was an oral surgeon. Today, as I sit in his dental chair awaiting his appearance, my mind’s eye is forever locked on an image of him wielding a meat cleaver.

As soon as he walks in, he says, “This visit we complete your implants, but before we do we always get paid in full.”

I’m a bit taken aback because, although I expected a demand for the seven thousand dollars I owe to be made today, I didn’t expect it to fly out of Abelman’s mouth. I expected it would come from his attractive but steely receptionist,or one of his in-house billers.

He then adds, “After this, you won’t have to see me again.”

As if that in itself would be reason enough for me to max out my AMEX. Although, considering the needlessly torturous ordeal he’d put me through, it probably was. Savoring the chance to utter the four letter word, I say, “I’ve got cash.”

The promise of cash, and the fact that I was already seated, moved him to complete the work. Afterwards, I went to the reception area to pay. Somehow, he was already there. Five or six feet behind the reception desk and facing a side wall of file cabinets, the employer of two full-time clerks stood atop a stepstool casually thumbing through an open drawer, the corner of his eye fixed on me. I pulled out a wad of cash, snapping twenty tens, one at a time, and handed the meager two hundred dollars to his receptionist, who now cracked an I-don’t-give-a-fuck-about-you-but-am-glad-you’re-fucking-with-him smile.

Abelman turned toward me. He didn’t wield a meat cleaver, but looked so right in a butcher’s apron. Blood smeared red.


This story was written by Ted Jonathan, a poet and short story writer. Born and raised in the Bronx, he presently lives in New Jersey. His poems and stories have appeared in many magazines and anthologies, and translations of his work have appeared in Russian magazines. He’s twice been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. His chapbook Spiked Libido was published by Neukeia Press. His full-length collection of poems and short stories, Bones & Jokes, was published by NYQ Books (2009). His poetry collection Run has recently been published by NYQ Books (2016). http://books.nyq.org/title/run 
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