by Chris Riker
Dr. LaRoche moved with purpose, using two of his six legs to
pull the water pick with him as he crawled over gums and molars to reach and
clean deep crevices in his patient’s mouth. He found no new cavities, but those
would certainly appear if this man failed to do a better job of brushing and
flossing. There! A putrid hunk of masticated ham tucked behind a bicuspid. Dr. LaRoche
reached in with one barbed appendage, skewered the morsel, and quickly jammed
it into his own mouth parts. “Waste not, want not. Indeed, indeed!” he thought.
The dentist gave his patient a new toothbrush and inculcated him
on the benefits of oral hygiene. The man, a sedentary-looking policeman with
colorful donut sprinkles on his uniform, thanked him and hurried out the door.
He’ll be back, Dr. LaRoche thought. More work for me. The thought of being
useful bolstered his natural zeal.
The final patient of the day was a slender professional woman
with glossy hair the color of radio wiring, which put ribald thoughts of
nesting into Dr. LaRoche’s mind. The woman scanned the room, at first believing
it empty. Then she noticed the diminutive dentist on the instrument tray and
let out a yelp. “A roach!” she cried.
corrected politely. “My family came from France. These days, we’re well
established in Atlanta, though I have relatives all over: New York, New Jersey,
indeed pretty much any city. I am Hieronymus LaRoche, DDS, just as it says on
the diploma.” He used a stainless steel probe to proudly point to his bona
fides, which hung on the wall next to a sign bearing the message: ‘Please don’t
bite down during the exam.’
“You’re the dentist? My friend said you were good, but she didn’t mention–” Her tone seemed uncertain.
“I am fully accredited in the state of Georgia.” Standing on his
hind legs, he continued, “You have magnificent teeth, Miss … Miss?”
“What a lovely name, indeed,” he responded, smiling. Her pale blue eyes were wide. Dr. LaRoche said, “Hop in the chair and let’s take a look.”
Constance Wainwright hesitated a beat, then climbed into the dentist’s
chair as instructed. Dr. LaRoche scurried over the bib covering her provocative
bosom and onto her lower lip. With a bow and a wink, he stepped inside.
As he worked, Dr. LaRoche could not help but feel there was
something special about this woman; perhaps it was the sweetness of her voice,
or the heady vapors from a lunchtime Pinot Noir which hung in her mouth and
eased him into a pleasant euphoria. Whatever the case, Dr. LaRoche found
himself daydreaming through the whole check-up. Was this the kind of woman, he
wondered, who would like a large family? Perhaps three or four hundred
Dr. LaRoche paid special attention to the cleaning, using his
antennae to polish her brilliant white enamel. From deep in the throat of Constance
Wainwright came a tiny song-like vocalization, rising sharply each time Dr.
LaRoche scampered across her tongue. The melody escaped Dr. LaRoche, but he indeed
enjoyed its child-like inflections.
He pondered whether she might enjoy dining in some dimly lit
spot far away from the gaudy glare of neon. Dr. LaRoche screwed up his courage
while putting his instruments into the sterilizer. As Constance Wainwright
straightened her smart business attire, he asked, “Would you like to have dinner
Constance Wainwright did not acknowledge that she had heard his
invitation. She took a swig of mouthwash, leaned over the tiny sink, and spat.
Then she rinsed and spat again. And then twice more. Quickly thanking him, she
was off and gone.
Dr. LaRoche locked up his office for the night. There was no
denying it: Constance Wainwright had disappeared from his life as quickly as
she had come. The loneliness of his existence weighed on him for one brief
moment, but only one. Then, he brightened and thought, “Indeed, there are other
fish in the sea. In a city this size, there must be some lucky lady who wants
to date a dentist. Perhaps I’ll find a wine and cheese tasting club. Ah, the
days ahead will be sweet. Indeed, indeed!” Dr. LaRoche’s gait became jaunty as
he whistled to himself all the way home.