The Croup

A violently ill dog would have made less of an eruption than my cough. The murderous intent with which it broke from my chest had me in tears. Inner elbows were no longer sufficient. I had taken to carrying handkerchiefs whenever I went out. They were only good for three uses—once, fold in half, again, and fold, last time. After that they were too saturated and had to be burned. The microbes that had invaded my body were resilient little bastards.

Doctors of the finest reputation had done all they could. The death rattle remained. My body continued to twist in a macabre dance at the end of a frayed and unraveling rope. Tonight’s effort was a last ditch grab a life ring on a boat far out of reach. The quack I saw two days ago seemed sympathetic as opposed to greedy. He gave me the number of one E. Crane Fullerton. Mr. Fullerton was not a medical professional. But I was told he could get rid of unwanted things. At this point, I was willing to give up one of my five senses if only the cough could be banished.

At the park entrance I leaned against the railing. Immediately regretting it. Rimy metal rolled against the denim covering my hip. The motion shuddered, like shifting tectonic plates deep beneath the surface. A frisson of ice lacerated through my veins, pulsing its way to weakened lungs, tormenting them once more.

After, when the cough had subsided but still hovered like a meddling biddy, I checked my watch. At the sound of boot heels on concrete, I looked up for the first time in weeks. He was taller than I expected—most quacks were hunched over from years of counting their ill-gotten coins. His lips were off center, with his philtrum directly under his left nostril. But I considered his high forehead to be a sign of intelligence. E. Crane Fullerton approached in a swath of leather and black fog.

He was right on time. Hopefully.

LKT © 2015


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