UK Poet Ivor Griffiths :: Modern English Poetry :: Demo at the Dentist
Demo at the Dentist Print
By Ivor Griffiths
It is early, the green glow of a clock in the distance lights the curtain edges. I disentangle from the sheets and wife. Bounce, a grumpy old black and brindle Staffordshire Bull Terrier, moans and groans in protest, as I push him to the bottom of the bed. Rolling out of bed, yawning and bleary eyed I stagger off to the bathroom, the pot is full of piss from the night before, slashing with my eyes closed, I rub my aching jaw. I can hear my little boy snoring quietly in his room, I check on him and hear his hamster rustle. The sun is just below the crag, the trees are covered in leaves, a slight mist hovers above the fields as cows doze under the cherry trees. Three wild deer graze, ears twitching, constantly looking for human predators. Poachers kill them for the local butchers and then sell the skins and heads to dodgy tourist outlets.

Downstairs I lunge at the TV, it pings into life. A story about a crisis of some sort somewhere is being told. I soon get bored and switch to the cartoons. I used to like the news, when I was naive and believed that we could change it. Now I think ignorance is bliss. As I pondered on this I sat rubbing my gum thinking back to a couple of weeks ago when I went to my new dentist.

I walked into his bright white spot lit room and saw him, perched behind a drill, reflected in a fish tank, picking his nose and eating it. Shit he is going to stuff his snot-coated fingers in my mouth. My tooth really hurt, so I didnt care, I just wanted a prescription for antibiotics. I spooned myself into the chair. I let him stick his fingers in my mouth. He prodded around for a while. Then the bad news, he removes his gigantic fingers and said well have to take every tooth out of your head. I frown slightly, another fucking quack I thought. Every tooth? I said. He nodded with a pitying, tilted head, caring look on his face. He peered over his half moon glasses. I squinted back, the light was blinding he wore one of those silver reflectors on his head. He resumed prodding my mouth, stuffing in cotton wool that extracted every drop of moisture. Then a needle in my gum, Small prick he said. I now knew that he was one and so wanted to leave and said hmmmphhh hmmm, hmmmpphhhh nnnmthh I pulled the cotton wool out of my mouth. He tried to restrain me and pushed me back in the chair. Dumbfounded I paused for thought then grabbed his drill, symbol of his power and virility, lit by the light from the reflector and pushed it aside. His mouth clanked open, revealing a head full of laminated teeth. Recovering he said you need all of your teeth removed, most surgically, or you might get mouth cancer. From a helpless reclining position I frowned and said, youre saying that unless I let you make three grand by taking all the teeth out of my head, even though you dont have to, Ill get cancer? A crease of doubt shadowed his face, a small frown formed. I imagined him thinking: Perhaps he is not a moron, better be careful here.

I struggled out of the chair, I was dizzy, my mouth was numb, I could still see white lights in my eyes and I was disorientated. You are feeling dizzy? he said like a hypnotist.

No I said, looking at him carefully. He was about five feet tall. He had enormous buckteeth, like a rabbit. Rubbery swollen red lips coated them. The eyelids drooped, like curtains, half closed, he shaved so close I imagined his chin squeaked, he smelled of smoke and aftershave and his hands were immaculately manicured, with no trace of snot remaining.

I turned and left his room, stalking through the waiting area, the receptionist half stood as I addressed the seated, anxious crowd. Dont go in there I said, looking at each frightened, hunched up victim hes a right crook, hell take all your teeth out and say youll get cancer if you dont want him to. I mean, Ive only got sinusitis, come in for antibiotics and he says I need all me teeth out.A man of about forty looked up from his magazine, stocky, crater faced, stubble chinned with dirty blonde long hair, a fringed black leather bikers jacket, oily jeans and a pair of motorcycle boots on. His hands were knobbly and he wore a ring on every finger. His mouth was shrunken looking. Thats what the twat said to me he stood up, pardon my French love he said to the woman sitting opposite him. He looked around Ive only got one tooth left and he said I had to have it out, it doesnt even hurt. The women all lifted their hands to their mouths simultaneously. They looked at one another and the whole waiting room started talking. Me and the biker looked each other in the eye.

You gonna let im get away with that then? I said, giving him a side ways glance and raising my eyebrows to encourage him.Naa he said, throwing his magazine to the floor. I could see in his eyes the anticipation of pain, a desire to inflict it upon something that he truly hated, despised and wanted to kill. He wanted to destroy it so badly that his vision blurred as eyes glazed over. Face red, adrenalin pumping; his arms went out from his sides as he clenched his ring-encrusted fingers. A fighter I thought, satisfied at a good result. He stood and marched towards the dentists room. Excuse me sir, you cant go in there. Its not your turn yet the receptionist said. She was bleached white, creaseless and immaculately groomed and began to walk around her desk. I wouldnt go in there if I was you I said, she heeded the caution and sat down.

I heard shouting and a crash. Hair flying, the door flung open as the biker manhandled the drill through the surgery. The patients scattered. With vein popping red-faced effort he hurled it through the front window onto the pavement. Ignorance might not be such bliss; the biker was proof of that, he lost all but one very yellow tooth because of it I thought.

Silence returned to the waiting room, traffic noise seemed to be held at bay for a few seconds. The dentist appeared, looking very defensive. The biker pointed a nicotine finger.

You are going to give me a new set of teeth, or Ill take every tooth out of your ead with a baseball bat he said, looking very cross. We looked on, the dentist looked up, friendless. Rubbing our chins and thinking about the teeth we had lost, doubting the explanations given, we stood. I looked around and said anyone see anything? Looking at each other a middle aged lady, needing new dentures, said No just a little prick, Im off on her way out she turned and said to the biker good for you, serves him right and to the dentist you should be ashamed of yourself, she slammed the door as she left, dislodging a large piece of glass that crashed onto the pavement.

I got an emergency dentist after that paid him a hundred quid, got some antibiotics and kept my teeth. I flicked the TV back to the local News. There was a story on about an angry patient. Intrigued I leaned forward attentively.

Shit its that dentist I said aloud. He didnt want to press charges, he explained, as the patient was entitled to be annoyed about budget cuts so he didnt want to make the situation worse by involving the police but thought he should highlight the patients problems. The camera panned to the biker who had had a shave, and looked happy. In the background were a dozen smiling gap-toothed bikers. The biker didnt want to cause a problem but thought he should protest about cutbacks that meant his dentist couldnt do a good job. Then they were both on camera and the dentist said he was going to do implants and other work on the biker, to show what could be done if they did have the money. The biker had his arm around him nodding, smiling a one-toothed grin.

Lucky bastard I said to no one, shaking my head, if Id protested like that Id get six months. Still at least that smug dentist has been sorted; I kept what teeth I had left and began watching the news a bit more.

Ivor Griffiths
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