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The Death Clinic, part one: a story

The Death Clinic
A Satire That is More Accurate Than It Has Any Right To Be

FORMS

____NAME__________________________ADDRESS_______________________________


The first thing that gets you is the paperwork. By the time you're done with it you probably don't want to die anymore, which may or may not be the point anyway. Like a conspiracy: give you what you want while simultaneously taking it away, per the abortion clinics that prescribe pills with incorrect instructions designed to insure that that captain goes down with the ship. [This much is true, by the way.] But back to the paperwork.

The first page is the usual documentation: who you are, where you live, who's responsible for you where available, and who is paying for all this. The second page is an essay question about why you want to die. Like how you spent last summer, it wants lots and lots of detail, in florid and correct prose. Extra points will be awared for Very Large Words as the more of those you use then clearly the smarter you are and thus the more likely to want the hell out of all this.

The procedure is a simple in-house operation: a shot. To be clear, it's the easiest way to go, no fuss and no muss. The statistics of people who fuck suicides up and end up vegetables are enormous, therefore you have the medical industry involved. Health insurance won't cover euthanasia or the pill but it will cover viagra. It is important that men keep it up if no one else can. [This also is true.] So: rubber diapers, plastic sheets, and a quick good-bye, or at least that's what you think.

"This is stupid," I said to the nurse. "First off, how am I supposed to answer an essay question on one page?"

The nurse popped her gum at the reception desk and didn't bother to look up from her magazine. Nurses never look at people: always just past and around them. Sick people are ugly. "You can't have more paper, sweetie," she said, and continued to read about various Tips to Drive Her Man Wild in Bed. I grumbled and went back to my seat in the waiting room filled with three month plus old magazines and another passenger, an old man with a bad wheeze. Did he have TB? I wanted to die but not of TB. And the pen was out of ink.

"I need a different pen," I said, exchanging them at the desk. "This one's dead." All the pens had those tongue-depressors like giant popsickle sticks taped to them, with HOSPITAL written on them in black ink, all caps. Except the one I had exchanged said HOPSITAL, but it worked, and I tried not to think about it.

I am too nitpicky is the thing. I can't help it. I point out misspellings, factual errors, pronunciations, mistakes animal vegetable mineral vehicular and molecular. I am not perfect but all the same I know what's messed up, including me, which is the key point of all this. And you know what you do with mistakes? You delete them white them out wipe them out scrub them out and otherwise remove all sign it was there.

Here is how you remove a person:

You start with the paper trail. Birth certificate, medical records, school records, yearbook pictures, jail record where applicable, driver's license, passport, bank and credit cards, social security, and any and all numbers that were otherwise assigned to you. No money no prints no pictures no paper. [No ticket.]

It's truly amazing the numbers we all have. But then you remove them. Then you don't exist.

Of course this removal is strictly monitored, hence the paperwork. If it were as easy as all that no one would pay taxes. Seriously.

But then the thing is you start actually having to look at shit. It's amazing on all your IDs how crappy your picture always is. And then of course there's a funny bit when you realize that your "permanent record" from school doesn't really exist: they don't keep anything more than a name, a GPA, and whether or not you actually got the hell out of there. Don't remember who taught you home ec? Neither do they. And face it, that's more than a relief for all concerned: you didn't want to remember that woman who didn't like the house you built and she doesn't want to remember you either: the key to memory is its loss, after all. And like hard drives it fragments eventually anyway.

"Miss?"

Looking up at the nurse.

"Are you finished yet?"

I looked down at my essay space where I'd mostly made some squiggles and filled in all the Os and hollow spaces of letters. [It's another nit-picky thing. Empty space makes me twitchy sometimes. And I'm somehow agoraphobic AND claustrophobic, and no I don't know how exactly I manage that either, I just do.] I coughed dryly and said I'm still writing.

"The doctor will see you now."

"Oh." I got up, somehow managing to be unwieldy with only a small handbag, a clipboard, and the pen with the big stick. The old man is still wheezing. On reflection he sounds like your uncle's dog that had to be put to sleep when it was eighteen and half-blind and you were ten. Then they put it in the hefty-hefty sack in the backyard in the ground and put a rock and a rosebush on top. That is true genesis: roses from dog carcasses. [Rebirth rot Apollonian Dionysian medieval postmodern theoretical physics.]

This is a Brief History of Everyone.

In the doctor's office there are lots of posters of bodily parts. In case you didn't know what your naughty bits looked like inside out now you do, and very clean white bones nothing like Georgia O'Keefe paintings--no moons or flowers in awkward places. Humans are neither ceslestial nor fragrant and soft and thorny, except when they sometimes are.

Also why are skeletons the only things about the human body always erect? I'm just asking.

For the record: it's not all sex and death, it's just that it mostly is. There is also coffee, pop music, cramps, assholes, and too much drama.

The doctor was a thin blonde woman badly aged like Anne Heche in a few years. This is not a nice appraisal but it is accurate. She managed to look both bored and concerned. "You aren't done filling out the forms? What's your name again?" Memory is the key to existence: clearly you are on your way out. "Don't be nervous," she said with a bland smile, "lots of people your age worry they're too young for this." I thought about Old Man Wheeze With Or Without TB.

TB. TBC--To Be Continued, To Be, To Be Or Not To Be, TBONTB, ADHD, WYSIWYG.

I remembered to give my name. "I'm not worried," I added, "I just get distracted."

"You could miss your own funeral with a head like that," laughed Dr. Anne Heche-Like Person. I looked at her. She stopped laughing and absorbed herself in more paperwork. "We can schedule you in next Friday morning, how does that sound? This is a bit like firing people," she said, "it's always smarter to do it at the end of the week rather than at the beginning. Everyone hates Mondays, but you make an appointment then and they always remember a tv program they wanted to watch Thursday night or something. But on Fridays--nothing to look forward to, as it were."

I agreed that Friday sounded fine, it being a Wednsday and all. The doctor left me to finish my essay. I wrote it out in big block-like letters like I had always been taught never to write in.

WHY I WANT TO DIE

I WANT TO DIE BECAUSE I AM BORED. I DO NOT CARE WHAT COMES ON TV ON THURSDAY NIGHTS. I DON'T PARTICULARLY LIKE TV AND THE BOOKS I WANT ARE NEVER AT THE LIBRARY AND IT IS HARDER TO FIND SOMETHING WORTHWHILE TO READ THAN PEOPLE THINK ANYWAY. ALSO, THE FOLLOWING THINGS SUCK: POLITICIANS, WAR, DOCTORS, PILLS, BRITNEY SPEARS, FOX, RADIO CHANNELS THAT ONLY PLAY COUNTRY, RAP, OR BOY BANDS, CRAMPS, BOYS, THE NEIGHBOR'S DOG THAT NEVER SHUTS THE HELL UP, JOHN TRAVOLTA, GOD, MOST IF NOT ALL OF THE OPUS OF STEVEN SPIELBERG, THE LAST THREE STAR WARS MOVIES, ATKINS, AND KENTUCKY.

Kentucky was gratuitous, I will admit, but really, what the fuck is in Kentucky?

AND OHIO, I added. NOTHING PERSONAL.

ALSO I AM PARANOID ABOUT THE CHEMICALS IN EVERYTHING, THE MIDDLE EAST, CHINA, OCEANS, GLOBAL WARMING, AUTISM, AND RAMPANT COMMERCIALISM. I MEAN, I'M PAYING TO DIE, DOESN'T THAT STRIKE ANYONE AS A LITTLE FUCKED UP? JUST CHECKING.


_____AGE___________WEIGHT______________________SEX___________________


Here are some facts culled from the DSM-4 Manual for your enlightenment. The DSM-4 is The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition. This is the book doctors look shit up in when they want to tell you you're looney toons.

Here's what Part C for Generalized Anxiety Disorder Says:

C. The anxiety and worry are associated with three (or more) of the following six symptoms (with at least some symptoms present for more days than not for the past 6 months). Note: Only one item is required for children.
*restlessness or feeling keyed up or on edge
*being easily fatigued
*difficulty concentrating or mind going blank
*irritability
*muscle tension
*sleep disturbance (difficulty falling or staying asleep, or restless, unsatisying sleep)

What I don't get is why they don't assume there is a reason for all this. I've been that way since I was a little kid and scared that the world was going to end and that I was going to die and go to Hell for being bad like my aunt kept telling me I was. Trust me, that'll make you tense and worried like nobody's business. And it's hard to concentrate when you're obsessing over the limited options in a toasty afterlife.
Here are some definitions for Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder:

Either obsessions or compulsions:
Obsessions as defined by (1), (2), (3), and (4):
*recurrent and persistent thoughts, impulses, or images that are experienced, at some time during the disturbance, as intrusive and inappropriate and that cause marked anxiety or distress
*the thoughts, impulses, or images are not simply excessive worries about real-life problems
*the person attempts to ignore or suppress such thoughts, impulses, or images, or to neutralize them with some other thought or action
*the person recognizes that the obsessional thoughts, impulses, or images are a product of his or her own mind (not imposed from without as in thought insertion)
Compulsions as defined by (1) and (2):
*repetitive behaviors (e.g., hand washing, ordering, checking) or mental acts (e.g., praying, counting, repeating words silently) that the person feels driven to perform in response to an obsession, or according to rules that must be applied rigidly
*the behaviors or mental acts are aimed at preventing or reducing distress or preventing some dreaded event or situation; however, these behaviors or mental acts either are not connected in a realistic way with what they are designed to neutralize or prevent or are clearly excessive

I've tried to ignore, suppress, or neutralize thoughts of Hell since I was a kid, but it's harder than it sounds, particularly if you grow up with Southern Baptists. It's not impossible, it just takes years and years of work at sarcasm and possibly irony.
Lastly, here is the definition of Impulsivity from Attention-Deficit Disorder:

*often blurts out answers before questions have been completed
*often has difficulty awaiting turn
*often interrupts or intrudes on others (e.g., butts into conversations or games)

I couldn't wait for my turn to die so I intruded on God's game and decided to call foul and quits.
Neh neh-ne-neh neh.

_____HEIGHT______EYE COLOR______OTHER IDENTIFYING CHARACTERISTICS

Comments

( 3 comments — Add your .02 )
(Deleted comment)
caitri
Aug. 28th, 2005 11:20 pm (UTC)
Ha ha. ;) Thanks, I worry I go overboard when I attempt postmodern riffs, but the stream-of-consciousness thing works so well with the concept. Also, I've read Doctorow's Book of Daniel waaaaaaay too many times...

Now I just have to decide what happens. *sigh* %-)
(Deleted comment)
( 3 comments — Add your .02 )

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