January 18, 2009


Filed under: Belles lettres — theinkhorn @ 2:43 am


A nurse leaves a scalpel on my outstretched palm. I take it, hold it firm and position it near the left ventricle of her heart. I turn my head to look at her face. Her eyes are being held shut by tape, she has a tube down her throat, there’s blood and scratches all over, but she still looks like an angel. I close my eyes, take a deep breath, and start making the incision.

“Doctor, your hand is shaking.”

“I’m fine.”

“No, you’re shaking. You shouldn’t be…..”

“I said i’m fine……”

Suddenly my arm feels moist. I look down and blood is squirting out of an artery. My gloves and scrubs are soaked, my scalpel looks its been dipped in red paint. I’m at a loss for words. I turn my head to look at the electrocardiogram. Her heart rate and blood pressure are dropping, fast.

“Fuck! Nurse stop the bleeding! Henry get out of the fucking way!”

Simon, who’s been watching from behind the whole time, takes the scalpel out of my hands, shoves me aside and starts wiping up the blood. Around the OR there is chaos. The nurses are scrambling to stop the bleeding. A scream tries to find its way out my vocal cords but my throat closes up and i can’t breathe. I start to feel a little faint so i move backwards to lean against the gallery window. Then i hear the flatline from the EKG. I look at Simon. He turns around.

“I’m sorry Henry.”

And right at the instant, i feel my world shatter into pieces, pieces into confetti, confetti into dust.


January 4, 2009


Filed under: Belles lettres — theinkhorn @ 5:25 am

I’m removing my gloves when i hear him scream. Its not a piercing sissy scream, but one of confusion.

“Somebody! Help!”

Making sure the drip pole is sturdily attached onto the gurney, i unlock the wheels and begin to wheel her in. He’s not screaming anymore, and that makes me slightly uncomfortable. As i enter the room with the gurney, he notices and turns his head towards me. Instantly, the screaming resumes.

“What the fuck are you doing? Oh my god Tina!”

He’s almost crying as he attempts to free himself. Five palomar knots firmly secure him to the pole, making it almost impossible for him to even flex his pecs. His right arm is fully stretched out in front of him and tilted downwards, and it is clamped to another pole with an abnormally sized G clamp. His fist is clenched and taped together, and in between his fingers is a shiny scalpel.

I wheel her in front of him, and under the strong lights he sees exactly what i want him to see. Her torso is open, her breasts removed, her skin peeled back. Her rib cage has been partially removed, exposing her beating heart, her constantly fluctuating lungs. He continues screaming and this time, it begins to sound like a sissy scream. I position the gurney so that the scalpel in his hand is a hair’s width away from her heart. Then i turn to him. He immediately stops screaming.

“Exactly 97 days ago, my wife died on the operating table.”

I watch him for any reaction. He starts sobbing softly.

“She was a healthy woman. And she was a great human being who dedicated her entire life to saving fuckers like you.”

“I… I don’t…..”

“97 days ago, you drove your Celica right into her. And when her body hit the floor, you drove off as if nothing happened.”

He looks up at me, into my eyes. His hazel brown pupils contain my reflection, and it is one even the devil would fear. With tears in his eyes, he makes a weak attempt to speak.

“I… I’m… so….. so… sorry….”

“But its too late for apologies now isn’t it.”

I walk over to the workbench and pick up the oxy-acetylene blow torch. After adjusting the knobs so that just the right amount of oxygen and acetylene sprays out of the torch, i hold a flint lighter to the nozzle and click it. A beautiful amber flame begins spraying out of the nozzle. I twist the knobs until the amber dragon turns into an ocean blue, non-luminous ice cream cone. Satisfied, i walk over. He realises what i’m going to do and begins hyperventilating. He’s sobbing and wailing and trying desperately to regulate his breathing all at once, and the sound he’s making is annoying me.

“My wife died because i nicked her heart with a scalpel. But if you hadn’t put her on that table, nothing would’ve happen. Now, you get to kill your wife, unless you can control your reflexes. One bad move, and that scalpel will slice into your wife’s heart, ending all hope of her survival.”

I kneel down and position the torch so that the flame is about 6 inches from the top of his feet.

“Good luck.”

December 16, 2008


Filed under: Belles lettres — theinkhorn @ 9:40 pm

“There’s a conflict of interest, Henry. We can’t….”

“Fuck you and fuck your conflict of interest. Let me in that OR. I can save her, let me in….”

“Henry, you’re slurring your words, your pupils are dilated, you’re drunk…”

“I’m not! Let me in!”

“Henry, you know the surgeons. You know they’re perfectly capable of operating on her. Let them do their job. Just go and get some rest okay,”

I watch helpless as Terence turns and walks away. The orderlies hold me up and start leading me towards the exit. I struggle and thrash around but there are five of them and all of them are big and strong. They take me out of the hospital and tell me to either go home or stay put. I tell them to go fuck themselves and they just turn around and walk away.

After a few minutes, i sneak back in. After making sure that none of the orderlies are still around, i make a run for the stairwell and go up six stories to where Andrea is. There are 6 different rooms so i peek through the visitor’s gallery to find her. Finally, i see her in OR 3. The surgeons are making the first incision. I run towards the sinks, wash my hands with the anti-bacterial soap which smells like tiger shit, and race into the room. As i enter the OR, everyone is looking at me like i’m crazy.

“Jesus christ, Henry what the fuck are you doing here?”

“I’m operating on her. You, get me a mask. You, my scrubs. You, gloves.”

The nurses stand there, stunned. They look at Simon, who’s in charge of the surgery.

“Henry get the fuck out of here…”

“Shut up. That is my wife on that table, and no one would do a better job of operating on her than me, you understand you dickhead. Now get me my fucking scrubs so i can start saving my wife’s life!”

There is silence in the OR. The nurses aren’t even breathing. The anesthesiologist looks at Simon. Simon looks at me, and i see sympathy in his eyes.

“Get him his scrubs. Henry, don’t fuck this up.”

As the nurses go to get my gear, i feel my eyes getting moist. I walk towards Andrea, carress her hair, and then bend down and whisper into her ears.

“You’re going to be okay, because i’m here now.”

November 27, 2008


Filed under: Belles lettres — theinkhorn @ 4:29 pm

Its 2 in the morning and I’m standing in front of my patient’s bed in room 26. The old man has acute respiratory distress syndrome and his lungs are slowly filling up with fluid. The antibiotics are not working and he will be dead in a matter of days.

“So in short, Mr Stevens, there’s nothing more we can do.”

“Give me morphine.”

I take my eyes off his chart and fix them upon his shrivelled, distorted excuse for a face. He doesn’t look like a drug addict, neither does he seem to be in too much pain.

“I know how this is going to feel like. Its torture. Its agony. I won’t be able to breathe. And I’ll crap myself the minute my lungs give way. If you’re a good doctor and a good human being, you’ll end my misery right now.”

He looks at me with tears in his eyes. His breathing is getting heavier and heavier by the second. My brain processes his words and i realize what he’s asking for. Resisting the urge to giggle, I nod my head.

“I understand.”

I walk out of the room to get the equipment required. When i step back in, his eyes light up and a smile appears on his wrinkled face.

“Thank you.. so much.”

I nod, then proceed to plunge the hypodermic needle into his IV tube. I push down on the plunger until the syringe is empty, then pull it out and stick it back into my coat pocket. I pull up a chair and sit beside him.

“Human beings are very interesting creatures Mr Stevens. For most of our lives we wear masks to hide who we really are. Its not because we’re ashamed, its because we know that in our natural element, we are unattractive, lying, conniving, dirty, evil things, and the only way to experience social interaction is for us to put on that mask and play pretend. That’s why when someone decides to remove his mask and reveal himself as the coward he is…..”

He looks at me, eyebrow raised, eyes still teary. He’s confused, and why shouldn’t he be.

“Me, i don’t like games. One game i especially abhor is pretend. That’s why in about two minutes, the potassium chloride that’s coursing through your veins right now will give you a heart attack. You will feel chest pains and you won’t be able to breathe much. But here’s the best part. As soon as your left ventricle fails, your lungs will begin to accumulate fluid. Since you already have ARDS and your lungs are half full, or empty, depending on your outlook of life, they will be filled faster than you can say ‘lethal injection’. I’m ending your misery, but with alot more misery.”

I watch as he takes in the information and lets it sink in. His eyes speak his words for him. His emotions, they all play out on that wrinkled piece of skin. Then, without warning, he opens his eyes and mouth wide. He struggles to breath and begins thrashing about. His expression is one of absolute terror. Fluid is draining into his lungs and he is slowly but surely drowning to death. I get up, adjust my coat and walk to the door. Just before i walk out the door, i turn around and look at him. He’s still thrashing about like a goldfish on land.

“Enjoy your agony Mr Stevens.”

November 5, 2008


Filed under: Belles lettres — theinkhorn @ 7:07 pm

I’m sitting in a booth inside Jerry’s. My half-eaten plate of ribs is still on the table, my wine glass is empty and I’m feeling very bored. Thomas is with me and he’s still munching on his ribs. I didn’t feel like eating alone and Thomas was closest to me in terms of physical distance.

“Let’s go party man. Its saturday.”

Thomas looks at me like I’m an idiot.

“I’m on call tonight.”

“Oh come on wuss. Lets go see who gets the most numbers.”

Thomas drops his fork all of a sudden, picks up his napkin and wipes his mouth with it. He stares at me with those beady eyes of his.

“What are you, from 90-fucking-210? You’re not 25 anymore. Jesus Christ, grow up.”

He picks up his fork and continues gnawing on his ribs. I stare at him for awhile, then when i realise he’s not looking up, i turn my attention to the waitress who’s attending to the people sitting in the next booth. Long brown hair, hour glass figure, and an ass to die for. I call her over after deciding to try my luck. As she approaches, i notice her name tag is crooked. She’s a few metres away from me when i finally realise what her name tag spells and i feel like screaming.

“Yes sir?”

My mouth is gaping, my eyes are wide open and I’m starting to sweat all over.


“Henry, what the hell do you want?”

“Sir? Are you alright?”

Voices. Loud. Keep them away.

“Its alright miss, he’s being a jackass.”

She turns away and starts to walk off. Her name tag is on the floor. She doesn’t realise its fallen off. I snap out of my trance, bend down and pick it up. I hold it in my hands, read the name again and squeeze it so tight the pin penetrates my skin and lodges itself into my flesh but i don’t care because the pain is the only thing stopping me from screaming out her name. Andrea.

October 26, 2008


Filed under: Belles lettres — theinkhorn @ 9:47 pm

“Henry… Wake up…”

Its her voice. She’s here. She’s back. I throw the blanket off my head and open my eyes. The light stings my pupils as i struggle to focus. Finally, everything clears up but all i see is the walls of my bedroom, the empty picture frames on the shelves around the room, my LCD television hanging on the wall in front of my bed.

My heart sinks as i realise i’m the only one in the room. But then i catch a glimpse of red and when i turn to look down, there she is. She is lying right beside me, the sheets around her soaked in blood. Her chest cavity is exposed but she looks beautiful. She’s smiling at me, her eyes watery, her face pale, her hair exactly as i remember it.


I can barely speak as my throat starts to close up and my eyes start to fill with tears.

“Andrea… I’m so sorry..”


“I could’ve saved you. I could have…”

Tears are pouring down my cheeks now. My chest feels like an elephant sat on it and in the process, took a massive shit. I’m trembling violently and my fists are clenched.

“Yes you could have. But you didn’t. You didn’t Henry. You killed me.”

I sob even louder. I start pulling my hair because pain seems like the only way to drown out her voice. I start to bite my own tongue, drive my nails into my thighs, anything for that dose of pain.

“I didn’t. I tried.. Oh god i tried. Oh god oh god oh god.”

The phone rings and i sit up with a jolt. I’m sweating so much my pyjamas are soaked to my skin. My fists are clenched and pale, my eyes feel swollen and i taste blood in my mouth. I look at the clock. Its 4 in the morning. I’m alone in my room. She’s not here. She’s not here.

October 20, 2008


Filed under: Belles lettres — theinkhorn @ 9:30 pm

“105, 106, 107, 108…” I’m counting the number of steps it takes to get from the carpark to my apartment. Its 3 am and my 15 hour shift only just ended a half hour ago. A baby died of pneumonia earlier in the afternoon and i got to do the autopsy. As i fingered the limp little baby heart, all i could think about was the piece of kobe beef that had been sitting in my fridge for more than half a year. Best beef in the world they say.

Around me, the cars look evil. Their headlights look like eyes, slanted. On my left, a Porsche glares at me. On my right, a Maserati. The cars, they are judging me. A Beetle winks at me. A Colt rolls its headlights. The cars, they are watching me.

I’m up to 187 when i hear footsteps behind me, though I’m not sure because of the pot i smoked in the car. As I pass a shiny, black Aprilla which looks like its mooning me, I feel the cold of a stainless steel fruit knife pressed against my jugular. I freeze instinctively. The Aprilla’s laughing at me.

“Give me all your money. Don’t turn your head or i swear it’ll be the last thing you do.”

The voice is rough, coarse. Sam Elliot with a hint of Jeff Goldblum.

“Okay. Relax. I’m getting my wallet out…”

I reach for my Herm├Ęs wallet in my left back pocket slowly. As the robber focuses his attention on my left hand, my right adjusts my grip on my briefcase. I find the right angle, then grip the handle tight. The robber takes the wallet from my hands and just as i feel the knife inch away from my throat, i swing. It catches him square in the temple and knocks him out cold. He lies motionless, the knife lying some three feet away from him, glistening under the moonlight.

I bend down and inspect the man. He’s about my size, looks about my age. His clothes are dirty and smelly. He’s not wearing shoes. I force open his mouth and take a look inside. His teeth are yellow and decaying. His breath stinks.

“Scum of society.”

I stand up and am about to walk away when my briefcase suddenly opens and all my papers fall out in a mess. The latch broke when i smacked the robber in the head. I look down and something shiny catches my eye. I dig under the piles of paperwork and lying there under the medical reports and insurance claims is a brand new scalpel. I stare at it for a minute or so, then back at the unconscious robber.

You picked the wrong day. buddy.

October 5, 2008


Filed under: Belles lettres — theinkhorn @ 2:39 am

“Welcome to Whose Line Is It Anyway, the show where everything’s made up and the points don’t matter. That’s right, the points don’t matter, just like pick up lines to Brad Pitt. Could use em’, but it wouldn’t really matter if he didn’t….”

I hate this show but tonight, Denny Siegal is on and i’m very turned on by what she’s wearing. Her grey blouse emphasizes her breasts and her black sweater makes it seem like she’s trying to be good and cover up even though deep down, she really is a bad girl.

I pop a few of vicodin and close my eyes and allow myself to drift off. Where i am, there is no pain. There is no sorrow. There are no tears. No blood. And Denny Siegal sits naked on a couch, gently calling out my name, taunting me, teasing me, daring me to come forward and take her. Its a beautiful world, one i hate to leave behind.

Suddenly, i’m jerked out of my wonderland by the doorbell.

“For fuck’s sake.”

I stumble to my feet. My head is spinning and my feet feel heavy and i’m deeply annoyed. Denny was about to do something very naughty to me.

“Hi. Sorry to bother you sir. I’m selling cookies. Would you like to buy some?”

The girl looks up at me with puppy dog eyes. She’s wearing a scout’s uniform or something and i think i would’ve found it very cute if she hadn’t been the one to ring my doorbell.


“Please mister. If i sell the most cookies, i win a bike.”

She pleads with tears in her eyes. I look at her from top to toe. She’s small enough to fit completely in the tub. Also, she doesn’t have as much blood as an adult.

“Sure. Why don’t you come in? I want to close the door so that the cold air doesn’t come in.”

I break out a smile so fake even i am ashamed of it. She doesn’t realise and steps in. Suddenly, I remember the last line from a famous song by a very well known 70s’ rock band.

“But you can never leave…”

September 25, 2008


Filed under: Belles lettres — theinkhorn @ 9:18 pm

“Appendectomy at 4. After that i’m all yours…”

Jamie’s on the phone with his wife. Or mistress. Or girlfriend who’s here to visit. He has a smile on his face, the kind of smile that says he’s going to get some tonight, the kind of smile that makes me want to gouge his eyeballs out and stuff them into his mouth, force them down his throat and watch him slowly choke to death.

I walk into the doctor’s lounge for coffee and maybe a line or two but Bobby’s in here and he’s watching a Friends rerun and laughing but i know he really only watches it to ogle at Lisa Kudrow. He notices me staring at his skull and winks.

“That Kudrow really is something huh? Look at that ass. I’d kill to spank it for a night or two.”

“Yeah. Me too.”

As i reply, my eyes wander across the room. My gaze falls upon the fruit knife laying on the counter. The German manufactured blade shimmers under the light. Bobby’s eyes are glued to the screen again and i alternate glances between the fruit knife and the back of his head and i think to myself, it would be so easy. So easy. Bobby’s a neurosurgeon, and a brilliant one too. It would be so ironic.

September 8, 2008


Filed under: Belles lettres — theinkhorn @ 10:09 pm

“Aspergillosis, histoplasmosis, candidiasis, blastomycosis, coccidioidomycosis, tinea pedis and cryptococcosis. There are only seven known fungal infectious diseases to date. Maybe you can go somewhere and bring us the eighth, Mr Taylor,”

The young intern looks like he’s ready to start bawling his eyes out but i can hardly care because i am feeling so good about myself and the arrogance in my voice gives me a hard-on that i have to try and hide beneath the long white coat.

“I’m sorry sir. I forgot…”

“Its okay son. We all make mistakes. I’m sure your parents would agree to that if they were here to experience the abomination that is your ability to answer simple questions,” I fix my eyes upon his and imagine i’m actually piercing him with my stare.

He bows his head slightly, staring down at his horrible-looking loafers which probably costed him half his pay check. He fails miserably in trying to hide his tears; one already rolling down his cheek. He scrambles to wipe it off and i think i feel something like a tinge of guilt or pity but then it dissipates as soon as i realise how good his navy blue scrubs would look on me.

Turning my attention towards the rest of the interns, who are now so quiet you could mouth the word “rabies” and still hear it, I make up my mind to spend the remaining 5 minutes of rounds berating them just so i can feel better about myself but then my beeper goes off and its a code. I drop my charts and walk off briskly but not before giving the interns my patented “I’m going to kill all of you” look. Its amusing to know that they all think its just a joke.

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