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Brandon Hobson

The bacteria surrounding the growth on my neck has always been a touchy subject around my family. I was brought in for tests, injected with fluids, probed at and examined by surgeons in serious masks. It began with an overlooked rash, more or less, which developed into a pink discoloration, a smear of fungus resembling stale broccoli. Ointments didn't help; even in my sleep I scratched until it bled. The infection became infected until something extremely strange was giving birth in my neck.

My father, who believed heavily in old Indian recovery, brought in a Native American doctor from the Tsa La Gi Cherokee Reservation in north eastern Oklahoma, a sort of witch doctor who stripped me bare and covered me in hot medicated towels, sprinkling seeds and basil leaves over my chest. His chants echoed throughout the room until the effects of the medicated towels I was inhaling put me under. Apparently a number of neurohormones had secreted from my hypothalamus, an abnormally weak nerve cell in my nervous system, before they even had a chance to fully develop. Somehow this aroused a blockage in testosterone development, thus causing the horrifying possibility that puberty may never occur, at all. Ever.

I was given heavy doses of 200 mg. Endorine tablets and vitamin B-12 mixed with another vitamin supplement called Thoraxacyclomine-D (See Little Axe's Medical Dictionary and Guide to Healing Supplements (18??): The Briggs Museum of Cherokee Heritage and Artefacts, Tahlequah, Oklahoma. Founded 1963). I remember my father inquiring about this as the medication wore off and I came to. I could feel my mother's hands brushing my forehead gently, and as I squinted I could vaguely make out my father and the Cherokee doctor sitting at the dining room table.

"...not quite so willing to take it,” my father was saying, “but if I explain to the boy that he needs it, I mean absolutely needs it, what we may have stumbled upon here is something supreme, doctor."

"I am a medical doctor, Mr. Chuata. I have beliefs and traditions to uphold to my family. We are people of the earth. Your child’s reaction to the medication could be terminal. He could reel into severe convulsions and hallucinations. It causes brain damage in children."

I could see my father rubbing his temples with his eyes closed.

"Mr. Chuata," the doctor continued, "I am a simple man. I'd like to help your boy, but I also have boundaries. I am a careful man, Mr. Chuata. I feel I should tell you that Thoraxacyclamine-D is in limited supply for the elderly around the Tsa La Gi. I'm sure you understand."

My father took his hands away from his head and grinned at the doctor. He began speaking very slowly in a way I knew too well: "But let me ask you," he said softly, "if you have any God-forsaken idea of what I have been through," and now his voice increased, "during the past two fucking years? I have been purposely pricked-and-dicked-over one time too many by individuals like yourself, and frankly I'm fed up to the balls with the whole goddamn thing."

The doctor looked down at his hands.

"Do you happen to know," my father went on, "that I spent two cocksucking years hauling my wide ass around this state, visiting colleagues who could help me find the right fucking formula? And yet here it is right in front of me? Simple hypocotyl mixed with sulfonic acid? And to think that a man as intelligent as yourself will not sell publicly such a formula that could in effect help all children, everywhere, instead of limiting it to the kids in one small Oklahoma reservation. Dollar possibilities for you are beyond me, Frank. You're a rich man if you want to be..."

"Mr. Chuata, it's--"

"For Christ's sake Frank, just call me Jim."

"Again, it's possible that the drug's outcome could be terminal."

"Moneys no object," my father said. "What's involved in the surgery?"

The doctor coughed in his hand. "Surgical removal of the tongue."

"You're kidding me."

"We'd have to," the doctor said, "in order to get to the bacteria and neck tissue. It's in Little Axe's Medical Guide."

My father was quiet. Then he stood from the table and opened his wallet and set down an enormous amount of money.

There was silence. It was then I could feel the sudden absence of my mother's hand from my forehead, as if she were putting it to her mouth in horror.


Brandon Hobson, 31, has an M.A. in English from the University of Central Oklahoma. His fiction and poetry have appeared in the Southern Anthology, New Plains Review, Words of Wisdom, and 2River View. Recently he rescued a dog, a Jack Russell mix breed, named Chaucer.

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