The doctor with the needle remained collected, well in thought, and most of all, deadpan in delivery. No signs of enthusiasm on this man were register-able to the eye, and no position of joy seemed to fill his being. You hear of men and women who are passionate about their accomplishments, who are proud of their professions. This was not this man. This doctor, a man by the name of Dr. Mann, was as get-to-the-point as possibly conceived onto a human being, and kept a sense of steadiness and undying boredom. His dialect and tone made me anxious as he went to give my boy a shot.
“That hurts,” my boy, Tony, said. “Doc, that hurts real bad.” Dr. Mann simply shrugged at this, and sighed in a quick moment.
“Yes, you’re being shot,” he said, rather matter-of-factly. What made him get on my nerves was the fact that his voice never came to the point of ignorance or an attempt to make my boy feel stupid. He was being himself, and I could tell that, and it pained me that his actions fell just short of the type of actions that would typically cause me to go ballistic on these know-all college shmucks.
“Do I have to take the second shot?”
“No,” said Dr. Mann, producing a sniffle. “You do not have to continue with this procedure. However, you do run the risk of contamination to what it is that this shot is what will protect you from.”
What an inconspicuous statement. I had to call him out on that one.
“Doctor,” I said, for a moment losing my wording, “you do know what these shots are for, correct?”
“Yes. Shots prevent disease and other things from continuing to spread.”
“You’re completely right,” I said to him, speaking to him as if he were a child. “However, what is this specific shot helping my son with?”
Doctor Mann looked me in the eye this time.
“This shot,” he said, “will help prevent the spread of diseases like all the others.”
“Christ, Mann,” I said, losing my patience. “My son’s hurting and you aren’t giving me a straight answer. I need to know that you know what you’re doing.”
“I know well what it is I’m doing.”
“You aren’t convincing me. And look at my son, he’s terrified.”
“I’m sorry to tell you this, ma’am,” he told me, looking right back into my eyes again so I knew he was about to say something beyond my expertise, “your son is eleven, not terrifying. And he is also my patient.” I balled my fists in rage. Mortal rage that left my skin turning colors and my mind burning red.
“Goddamn it, Mann. You’re bullshitting me, you know that? You’re hurting my son, goddamnit, and now you’re disrespecting his mama while his mama’s baby needs protected by the piece of shit you are, Mann. Now I want a solid answer, alright? Plain and simple. What are these shots for? No, no, no. Listen. Listen! Okay?” Doctor Mann nodded. “Okay. What are these shots for?”
Doctor Mann blew some air out of his mouth, set down the syringe, took off his glasses, and looked back at me. And then, without warning, he said something I’d never forget. Something I’ll never forget.
“These shots help prevent further mutations so that less generations end up like you, ma’am. Sensitive and annoying. Your son must be sad. Oh, by jove.”
I remember those words well. I think I made sure enough that his days ended well sweet and to the point.