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Thirty-year-old Marissa sat on her doctor’s examining table rubbing her shoulder and grimaced as she moved her hand from her shoulder down her arm.  She looked up as Dr. Stone entered the room. “Well, Marissa, what’s happening?

“I wish I knew, Dr. Stone. I still hurt all over. Nothing helps.”

“Well, Marissa, I could prescribe a strong pain killer.”

“No drugs, doctor. I can’t stand what they do to my head. I’d rather live with the pain.”

“There’s another approach…acupuncture. I’ve heard good things about acupuncture, and I think it would be worth a try.”

“Well, I have nothing to lose except pain. I’ll check it out.”

Marissa used her computer to research acupuncturists and found one who caught her eye. “Hmm. Dr. Lisa Casey specializes in acupuncture. That’s good. She’s new to the area and welcomes new clients. She’s the one,” she said and phoned for an appointment.  “Hello. My name is Marissa Simms. I’m calling to make an appointment for an acupuncture treatment.”

“Okay, Ms. Simms,” a woman said. “Let me check my schedule. How about next Friday, one week from today, in the afternoon at 2:00?”

“That would be fine,” Marissa said.

“I would like to mail some forms to you to fill out before your appointment.”

“Okay,” Marissa said and gave the woman her address.

The forms arrived two days later, and Marissa sat at her desk and filled them out. “Hmm. Very thorough. She wants to know everything about me. All childhood illnesses, surgeries, and current physical problems. Very thorough,” Marissa mumbled, filled out the forms, and mailed them back.

Marissa left work early to keep her acupuncture appointment.  When she arrived, she was greeted by Dr. Casey, and went with her into here treatment room. “Here is a sheet for you Ms. Simms. Please go into the dressing room, take off your clothes, and wrap the sheet around you. When you’re ready, please lie down on this table and we’ll get started. I promise you that you will feel some relief.”

Dr. Casey completed the treatment after an hour, and Marissa sat up and rubbed her shoulder and arm. “I think there might be less pain, but I still hurt.”

“I was afraid that one treatment might not be enough. The cause of your pain is, let’s say, entrenched. Can you come for another treatment? If a second treatment doesn’t solve your problem, then I am afraid acupuncture is not the solution.”

“Yes, I’ll try one more.”

“Okay” Dr. Casey said, went to a small desk, and opened her appointment book. “How about Wednesday, same time?”

“I’ll be here,” she said, got dressed, and left.

After she left, Dr. Casey sat at her desk and dialed a number. When her call was answered, she spoke with someone. After talking for fifteen minutes, she hung up and went into a back room.

Marissa arrived for her appointment and prepared herself for the treatment. “Before we get started, I would like you to drink a glass of water. Water is the best medicine for the body,” Dr. Casey said and gave her a glass of water, which she drank.

“That was good. I didn’t realize I was thirsty.”

     “Okay, Marissa, lie down, and we’ll get started.”

Thirty minutes later, Marissa lay dead on the table.  Dr. Casey opened the door and summoned a man, who entered the treatment room.

The next night, the janitor discovered Marissa’s body and called the police, and several police responded. Among them were two homicide detectives and a medical examiner. “Dr. Hale, what the hell happened here?”

“Well, Detective Carson, I have to admit I have never seen anything like this. It’s horrific.  Her liver, kidneys, and heart were surgically removed. Whoever did this knew what he was doing.”

“Does anybody know what was in this suite? I didn’t see a sign on the door, and there isn’t a stick of furniture,” Detective James said. “Let’s get the crime scene guys down. Maybe they’ll find something for us to start with.

“There is something, detectives. Do you detect an odor, a chemical odor?”

The men sniffed. “Y’ know,” Detective James said. “I do smell something. What is it?”

“Formaldehyde,” the ME said. “It’s used to preserve...body parts.”

Two thousand miles away, Lisa Casey met with her client. “Ms. Fremont, I’m sorry the first treatment didn’t help as I hoped it would.  If you still have pain after this treatment, I would say acupuncture is not for you. Now, before we get started, please drink a glass of water. Water is the perfect medicine. If you’ll lie down, we’ll get started removing the cause of your pain.”


The End


While teaching communication skills and English at a community college, Mr. Greenblatt wrote short stories and plays, one of which won a reading at Smith College. Since retiring in 2000, he has written short stories and novellas.






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