A lot of times I just write a scene to a potential short story or novel to see what happens. An idea will come to me and I’ll just write on an impulse. Once the scene is done, I usually determine if it’s worth moving forward with the story. I have a lot of these scenes scattered in my files. Some may get incorporated in other works, but many times, they just sit there waiting to be used. The following scene is from a story idea I had about a surgeon who works in an urban hospital who takes justice into his own hands leading a double life as an upstanding doctor and vigilante. This is not my usual genre or my comfort zone, but I wanted to experiment with different story elements. You can’t grow as a writer if you don’t push yourself into uncomfortable territory.
Call me Doctor. Please. I insist because I help people. Really, I do. Despite what you may think at this moment, I’ve spent my entire life helping people or training to help people. You don’t know what it’s like to dedicate yourself to such a thing. It’s horrendous. Soul sucking. And then you get to the point when you think you’re going to get some ultimate reward, some sense of satisfaction, where you think it will all be worth it, and…nothing. Not a damn thing. It’s like watching some precious piece of fragile art slip from your hands and crash to the floor in millions of tiny pieces while you watch helplessly. All you can do is cover your eyes and weep uncontrollably.
Don’t scream. No one can hear you. Even if I removed the gag, no one would hear you out here. Oh, that’s right, you don’t know where you are. Well, you’re very far out. Trust me when I say it’s going to be a while before they find you. If they ever do. Please stop crying. You don’t want these last few moments to be so sad. Enjoy them.
Do you like this place? I’ve always liked old barns. They smell so earthen, a remnant of a life so simple. I wonder what it must have been like to live on this farm a century ago and wander these fields bustling with crops and farm animals. Oh, I bet the smells must have been overwhelming and maybe a bit distasteful, but imagine the freedom you would have had. Imagine getting up every morning and walking onto the porch of your old farmhouse and seeing the vast fields before you. It would be all yours. The fruit of your labor so to speak. Nice to think about wouldn’t you say?
Look at me! Why are you holding your head down? You can’t be sleepy. You slept the whole way here. Of course, you had some help. That shot I gave you made you feel so woozy, huh? Don’t worry, it will wear off soon. I want you to be awake. I want you to see everything. I’ll be sure of that.
As I was saying, these old barns have a soft place in my heart. I grew up in the city. I never had the chance to live the life closer to nature. It wasn’t until I was older that I realized how much I had missed. I remember the first time I saw an old barn. I was mesmerized by it. The gray wood creaking and cracking under the weight of gravity and age. The faint smell of animals from long ago mixed with the moldy odor of decomposed hay. Quite romantic don’t you think?
Ah, yes, nature. It has a way of balancing out in the end. This barn was probably sturdy and strong when it was first built. I imagine it has weathered many a storm and countless seasons. It sheltered animals, stored food, and served as the focal point of this once proud farm, but look at it now. It’s broken down with weak joints and holes in the roof. Listen to the squeaks. I could probably push this pole from this block and the roof would collapse. In fact, this pole is likely the only thing holding up this old structure. It’s amazing that such a single cracked and weathered piece of wood is so critical to this building.
People aren’t much different. The heart is just like this pole. Remove it and the whole structure collapses. That’s amazing isn’t it.
Stop your blathering. It’s not becoming of you. Are those straps too tight? Your wrists are bleeding. I didn’t mean to tie them so tightly. I’m usually much more careful. I’m a surgeon after all. My work depends on me being careful and precise. And prepared. Let’s not forget that. I’m always prepared. That’s why I have my little bag here. It has everything I need.
What are you saying? I think the drugs have caused you to be incoherent. Or are you always this way? You didn’t seem this way when I first met you. You’re interrupting my thoughts. Shut up!
Isn’t that sunrise beautiful? Right there. You can see it through that opening over there. Look at it! You see? I love the sunrise. I love it much better than the sunset. Sunrises are full of the hope of a new day. Sunsets, yeah, they’re beautiful, but they mean the day has come to an end. All those hopes of the day are gone, solidified in the past. I hate the past because you can’t change it. You can’t cut out the bad parts. See, that’s one thing I can do as a surgeon. I can cut out the bad parts. I do it all the time.
Anyway, I love the sunrise. The pinks and oranges explode on the horizon as the sun bursts into view. No matter where you are in the world, sunrises are usually cool and relaxing. Even in Singapore. You know that city is just one degree north of the equator. Yes, it’s practically on the fucking equator, and you’d think it’d be hot as hell all the time, but I’ve found the sunrises there just as cool and refreshing as I find them in New York on a nice spring day. That’s why I love them. You get the same experience no matter where you are.
You don’t feel the same way? Come on, Mr. Vogel, you have to love a good sunrise. This is your last one. You better love it. Look at it! Do you need me to help you see it? Let me see if I can find something in my bag.
Lots of sharp objects in here, any one of which would encourage you to look at that beautiful sunrise. That’s what I thought. Enjoy it. Smile for Christ’s sake! You have an ugly smile, Mr. Vogel. A smile says a lot about a person.
Were you always this miserable? I had you pegged as an asshole, but I thought you were a hedonistic asshole. Always looking out for your own pleasure no matter how shitty you made others feel.
I love the way this scalpel feels in my hand. These professional grade tools are so well-made. The weight is substantial, and the craftsmanship is amazing. I feel I could carve through anything with this blade. When I was a kid, I used to build balsa wood models and I’d use these old craft store blades to cut the wood, and they were so damn flimsy. If you pushed too hard for too long, the damn blades would just snap in two, and they’d go dull so quickly. These blades stay sharp a long time, and I’ve never had one break on me. You won’t be the first person I’ve cut with this blade. It’s that sharp.
Why are you screaming? I told you that no one can hear you out here. You’re just wasting your breath and that precious energy of yours. I’m not feeding you again, so save your energy. I want you to feel it when I cut into you. I want you to watch the blood pump from your body as I cut out that fucking, no-good heart of yours. You know what I mean? Do you get my drift?
Do you know that the average person has ten pints of blood in his body? That’s just over a gallon. Imagine that! Years ago, this very barn housed cows that were fed and milked on this very spot. That milk eventually made it into gallon jugs on the grocery store shelves, and here we are talking about how all your blood can fit into one of those gallon jugs. Coincidence? I think not.
Your rambling is not helping your case.
Okay, I’ve had enough. It’s time. You’ve wasted enough of the precious oxygen on this planet. I hope you are at peace with yourself, but honestly, I don’t know how you can be. You’re despicable. You’re an awful person.
Yes, I know you. I know you much better than you think I do. I know what you’ve done. I’ve been following you for a long time. You think you’re some master of the universe, but you’re nothing more than a pathetic little cretin. I shall remind you of your crimes in the most awful way.
You’re not going to be able to break free. I’m a surgeon for crying out loud. I always prepare. Carefully.
This is for all the women you’ve harmed. Your “conquests” as you call them. Look at me! I want you to watch. No one’s going to hear you scream. I’m always amazed at how much blood comes out of there. You’re losing that gallon pretty quickly. Such a mess!
You’re heart is really racing. Would you like to see it? Of course you would. You’re not such a big, bad man now are you? Crying like a fucking baby. Maybe you should have thought of that when you were forcing yourself on those women who were half your size. You want me to stop? Why didn’t you stop? Tell me! Why didn’t you stop? They asked you to do so. I bet they begged you to stop. Did you listen? No!
Ah, that sunrise seems extra glorious this morning, doesn’t it? The morning’s just getting started. Let’s see what else I have in my bag. Look at this. You know what this is? It’s the MicroAire ZR-032M. It’s a sternum saw. I bet you didn’t know they made these things battery-powered, did you? Ha, modern medicine is amazing.
Let’s just make a little mark here. Are you still awake? I want you to see this. Be still. Ha, more surgeon humor. You’d be surprised some of the shit we say in the operating room. I’m glad I have my scrubs on. You are making one hell of a mess. I guess I should have expected it from a piece of shit like you.
Look at this. Can you see it? Oh, don’t lose consciousness on me now. Damn! My patients never see my best work. Hey, wake up! This is the good part.
I hope you don’t rest in peace, motherfucker.