The Doctor Empties his Pockets
– Kirkley Mehndiratta
1) The Doctor Empties his Pockets.
The camera delves into the doctor’s pockets, zooming in toward a dark, cavernous space wherein are contained various items.
They are, first: some loose change, akin to 30 pieces of silver. Deals made with the devil.
Within the pocket of his scrubs is also (the camera cuts back to the doctor’s pocket innards):
– An oversize bulging black wallet: leather, orotund, turgid with bills, credit cards, and secrets. Secrets about hookups, mistresses, nurses and secretaries of choice.
– A Robocop-style DROID smartphone because he emulates the 1980s version of ROBOCOP; lint; chewing gum, peppermint, sugar-free. The camera cuts to a shot of Robo-cop from the 1980s: his doppelgänger, the doctor’s muse?
– Used tissues. Used…for what?
– The turgid black wallet holds pictures of all his estranged children.
– Business cards from associates–the not-so-trusted ones.
The camera wiggles and wobbles—follows sea-green hospital scrubs, old phonebooks, and a red bra—they fly in all directions.
Cut to the trunk of his silver 1989 Mercedes 560 SEL, which might as well be his pockets. The Mercedes is—like his children—an extension of him.
A man doesn’t keep much in his pockets, I suppose, when he has an entire car trunk to contain his junk.
The keys? Where are the keys? He can never find them. It’s cause for ire (his).
2) The Doctor Fasts: He Eats
When he ‘fasts,’ because he thinks it’s en-vogue and because his deepest vision of himself is to be a waif-like but mentally tough stick of a blonde amazon woman, he prefers a dish of edamame from a Japanese restaurant, some green tea, and nothing else. The edamame are steamed and still incubating in their pods, much like the vessels of women carrying his unborn children, or the inchoate dreams he has held onto and pursued only into the tardy aftermath of his life.
He picks up one edamame pod and, between what my mother likes to call his “tapered fingers” (which are long, dry and of an intellectual, cultivated shape—a surgeon’s and not a laborer’s hands), he applies pressure to the pod. Pod pops open, releasing a minuscule pocket of steam and some goo-of-edamame bubbles. The doctor places implement [hand] to mouth, and the fingers, like one of those plastic claws attached to a pole, open and close with a flex/touch and release of the sinews of his wrist. The edamame pod goes flying into the doctor’s mouth and bypasses his thin, almost nonexistent lips.
3) Physical Details of the Doctor:
A surgeon’s slight stoop—a curved slingback that manifests in most sartorial forms, save when he chooses to wear a collared shirt, which somewhat disguises and effaces the effect of his curved posture.
A funny way of running, like how I imagine a jackal would run or a coyote if he was running on hind legs… I think of Wiley Coyote and Road Runner, zooming through a Looney Tunes excerpt.
The aquiline nose that is not-so-aquiline. More in the vein of Jewy. Sadly, Fagin-like, if I want to think of the worst parts of him.
Roman, if I want to think, arrogantly and problematically, of the best. Or of how he might imagine himself (in his best of days): in the ‘greed-is-good’ era that was his heyday.
Stick-thin bowl-legs with ‘docksiders’ attached. His dowdy footwear choice is a perma-appendage. Otherwise, the day calls for New Balance.
4) Things that The Doctor has Said
He stooped over—he looked smaller. He said something that I don’t remember, except that he was smiling. My fear of him melted away to pity, sadness.
I thought about the spectrum, running hot to ice-cruel, of all the things he has ever said to me—all the things that I remember:
Age 7: “You’re a fucking idiot” over Celestial Seasonings Lemon-Zinger tea with honey (over not-so celestial, ethereal or honeyed commentary—more base and pithy) and in front of a second-grader’s multiplication tables and division.
Age 16: “I love you the most,” pointing a finger at me from the distance of the driveway, sunglasses on like a boss.
I remember all the times I cried in conversation with him over something he said or the spaces of distant silence in between.
Age 26: “Our ancestors sacrificed themselves for others” at a Passover dinner at his sister’s—my Aunt’s—trying to induce his captive audience to feelings of shame. He is standing, lording over the others at the table like a madman—Moammar Gaddafi trying to squelch the weak, the vacillating. I can only think of the Ayn Rand quote (yes, Ayn Rand) that says that those who want to talk of sacrifice are really talking about slaves and masters—a toxic binary. Not so sophomoric on that one, Rand.
Slaves and masters. Me and my dad. "Daddy, Daddy, I hate you,“ Sylvia Plath says.
I met my father for the first time, again, when I was 23, greeted with: "You’re a sneaky bitch.” He circled like a wolf around a freshly-hunted kill, the camera reeling toward and away from him, making me, the viewer, dizzy.
Kirkley Mehndiratta is a graduate of Oberlin College where she majored in English and Cinema Studies. After graduating from Oberlin, Kirkley lived, worked, and studied Mandarin in China for two and a half years. She has two Master’s degrees including one in English from Temple University, where she studied Creative Writing with Samuel Delany. While at Temple, she won the Greater Philadelphia Women’s Consortium Conference paper prize for her work on John Donne and Gender. Kirkley is a recipient of a Banff Leighton Colony Artist Fellowship Award at Banff Arts Center in Banff, Canada. She has been waitlisted for a Vermont Studio Center Fellowship, and she was awarded a scholarship to attend the Wesleyan Writers Conference in 2012 as well as being accepted to workshop with Melissa Bank at the Aspen Summer Words festival in 2014. She is currently at work revising her first novel while living in Boston.