Every so often I resort back to basics.
It’s something that I learned back in art school.
Other than athletes, I don’t know anyone else currently who does this but I find it a nice creative exercise.
Here’s an example of a scene where a man is being diagnosed.
He ached. As if his spine were a zipper and someone had come up from behind, unzipped him and pushed their hands into his organs and squeezed, as if they were clumps of dough, or grapes to be smashed for wine. At other times it was something sharp like shards of glass scrapping, rubbing against his bones. Albert explained these things to the doctor…the zipper, the grapes, and the glass…while he sat on his little stool with wheels and jotted scribbles in a notebook. He continued to write after Albert stopped talking, his head cocked to one side like a dog listening to a sound that was distinct but far off.
It was late afternoon, the end of a long day of tests, and he was the final doctor, the real doctor, the one who would tell him at last what was wrong.
Albert held his wedding band in the palm of his hand…an ornate, thick, gold band that showed signs of wear, that showed signs that it was once round…and slid it back on, still getting dressed after hours going from one room to the next, one floor to the next, in a hospital gown. He examined his shirt for lint, and errant pieces of thread, and meticulously picked them off. He looked out the window at the packing lot floors below, a sea of parked cars in an array of colors.
At the moment he wasn’t in pain and he told the doctor this while he wrote. “There are long periods of time that i feel perfectly fine,” he said. He confessed that he wouldn’t be surprised if his body just wasn’t breaking down, or maybe he had walking pneumonia. Walking pneumonia has been his latest theory, the one he liked the best. The one that explained the cough, the ache. The one that could had made his spine into a zipper.
“I’d like to have one more glance,” the doctor said, looking up at him as if he had snapped out of his trance. He was young. Younger. “Was he forty?”, he wondered. He instructed him to take off his clothes again and gave him a fresh gown to wear before stepping out.
He undressed slowly. The sun lit up the room and made everything Robbin Egg Blue.
Marcus: But I don’t feel sick.
Doctor: That’s surprising.
Marcus: I mean, sure, I feel tired most of the time and I have my share of aches and pains, but for the most part I’m fine.
Doctor: Uh huh. You’re aches and pains are from what?
Marcus: You know, daily, average, everyday stuff.
Doctor: You’re in sales right?
Marcus: Senior VP.
Doctor: Do you do a lot of heavy lifting in your job?
Marcus: Not if I can help it, no. I’m in software sales. There’s no lifting. Heavy or otherwise.
Doctor: Uh huh. Do you participate in any extracurricular activities?
Marcus: You mean other than kicking the ball around in the back yard with the kids?
Doctor: Right. Like Parks and Rec, club team, weekend warrior stuff.
Doctor: So, where did you think these aches and pains were from?
Marcus: You know…daily, average, everyday…stuff.
Doctor: You’re in good health relatively speaking, but you should start treatment right away.
Marcus: You’re kidding?
Doctor: For someone your age, intellect, and education is there a particular reason why (flipping through his chart) the last check up you had was in your twenties?
Marcus: I’ve been busy.
Doctor: Early detection Mr. Anthony always has been, always will be key. If you had regular check ups, this might have been detected, it most certainly would’ve showed up before now.
Marcus: Is there a possibility that the tests have it wrong? A false-positive or something?
Doctor: (beat; stare through him) No. Not in this case.