Millie Blake was so terribly, horribly, almost-unable-to-breath afraid, but the dentist was smiling, giggling in fact. Dr. Frederick’s assistant was smiling too, but not giggling. She wasn’t the one holding the bat. She was handing Millie a glove.
The last time Millie Blake sat in such a torture chair was eleven years ago. It was the pain that kept her away. There would be pain. She knew there would be pain. There always was. The last time it was the jolt. Sheer, momentary, but everlasting in her memory pain shooting through her skull, worse than the time she stuck a hairpin into the wall outlet when she was seven, just to see what would happen.
She jumped away from the wall then and she jumped out of the chair eleven years ago faster than the dentist was able to move. Pain added to agony as the tool he was using went deep into the roof of her mouth. That’s when she decided she was never, never, never going to see a dentist again, ever.
That was a promise she wasn’t able to keep because no over-the-counter medication was able to stop the throbbing on the left side of her mouth. It began about a month ago and grew worse day by day until now it seemed she had no choice but to trade pain for pain. That one was not going to go away. At least there was a good chance this one would. There would be no drilling, no scraping, no root canal, no cap, none of that. Just remove the tooth and be done with it.
Millie wanted to believe she was not doing this of her own free will. It was the toothache, the miserable toothache. Sort of like going to court, but this was different. That was the world’s way of making a person pay for her sins. This was God’s way. In her mind God did this, gave her toothaches, just to remind her that no matter how good a person tried to be, there would still be pain and sins to be paid for. For her dentists were descendants of the torturers of the Inquisition. The world needed dentists. That was the great injustice.
After a weekend spent indoors, taking more than twice the maximum recommended dose of extra strength pain killers and having very little of her pain killed. Millie reached the wall. Afraid she was going overdose, she opened the Yellow Pages to ‘Dentists’ and found an ad that said “Specializing in Patients with Undue Fear of the Dentist,” and called.
Now she sat in the chair, her hands tightly gripping the armrests, while she tried to listen to every word Dr. Frederick was saying.
“I have a very special treatment for people just like you. First we take away your pain, then we make removing the tooth fun, a lot of fun. We make sort of game out of it. Would you like something like that?”
“Of course she would,” Millie thought as she nodded her head. Anything. Anything at all. Just take this pounding, pounding, God-it-really-hurts pounding, away.
“Not only will this be a lot of fun,” he continued, “but it will save you a lot of money. Normally, I charge one hundred fifty to two hundred dollars to remove a tooth, but this will only cost you twenty-five to fifty, depending on how it goes. Would you like that?”
“Of course, of course,” she thought as she nodded her head vigorously. “Anything. Just shut up and get started.”
Millie signed the papers agreeing to the treatment, the dentist left and the torturer’s assistant took over, getting everything ready. “This is stupid,” Millie thought as she stared at the lights in the ceiling. “This is crazy. This guy’s a quack.”
“Dr. Frederick always wanted to be a pro baseball player, you know,” the assistant jabbered as she worked. “But his parents wouldn’t let him. He was a star on the University of Maryland team, you know. The White Sox drafted him in the second round, can you belief it. He could have been a star. We could be watching him on TV instead of him being here. He’s a good dentist though, so I guess its okay, right Dr. Frederick?”
“As good as I can be,” Dr. Frederick said as he walked back into the room.
“First we need to numb you up. I’ve had more than two dozen patients opt for this treatment, Millie,” he said as he swabbed the inside of her mouth. “Every one of them has been very happy with it. I promise you, this is going to be a lot of fun.”
Fun was the last thing she expected, but so far, there had been no pain, not even from the needle. She was surprised. She felt it in her mouth, above her gums, but it didn’t hurt and, that helped her relax. A few minutes later as her lip was going numb, the assistant tied a string around the tooth.
The dental operating rooms Millie remembered were always about the size of a small bedroom, but this one was huge. The assistant handed Millie a baseball glove. Dr. Frederick stood about fifteen feet away in front of a batting cage. He held a baseball in one hand, a bat in the other. A string ran from the ball to Millie’s tooth.
“Ready?” Dr. Frederick called.
“Ready,” Millie said as best she could.
The dentist flipped the ball into the air and swung as hard as he could.
Millie felt a hard tug that snapped her head forward, but nothing hurt. Then she heard the sound of a crowd roaring and an announcer saying, “Going, going, gone. It’s a home run for Ricky Frederick.
“Damn,” Millie said to herself as she saw the ball with the string and her tooth on the end of it go sailing over her head