Jack Hernandez and Jewel Beth Davis

Response piece by Jack Hernandez (mixed media ACEO)

Inspirational Piece by Jewel Beth Davis …

The Room

The air hangs in the room, stagnant. Antiseptically offensive.

Heavy machinery. Long pieces of shiny metal jutting out at different angles. Flat thinly padded divan. At the end of this bed of agony are two thick pieces of weighty cold steel, each formed in the shape of a half leg. The lower half, amputated at the knee. Two pieces of folded sheet partially cover the half-legs in an effort to mask their purpose. Without success.

I am afraid.

“Did anyone ever tell you this machine resembles an instrument of torture?” I say to the nurse. She makes a noncommittal sound and leaves the room.

I read while I wait. This is not allowed. The nurse reenters and tells me to lie down on the steel giant and wait. I obey. I search the room desperately for comfort. Anything to look at, to distract me, to fool my rampant imagination, even for a little while. But there is nothing. I am in a vacuum. The absence of music or any sound is deafening. I scan the walls for pictures, diplomas, charts, family photographs. Anything. But the walls are bare, bereft of all that is nonfunctional. The color of the walls is a combination of nonspecific grey, white, and off-white. The cabinets are angular and dark. The counters are completely clear except for a few unidentifiable instruments. The walls form angles. My apprehension grows.

I think about the waiting room I’d just come from. It is filled to capacity with disparate styles of chairs, which I decide have been gathered haphazardly from a Morgan Memorial. Function vs. Form. I wonder what the doctor, this specialist, does with all his money. It has not gone to an interior decorator. I try to joke with myself. I think, I should have known something was wrong when each person exiting from the examination room was limping. Anything to avoid thinking of the impending examination. I feel alone and very young, much younger than I am.

The doctor enters the room. He is a thin, preoccupied man with a head far too large for his body. His face, his eyes also, are expressionless. His voice is quiet and flat. Just once, he smiles, a lovely smile, and his eyes are warm and sad. He is not unkind. He simply has no humor. This, in addition to everything else, makes me want to flee. My heart thuds.

He directs me by unwasted motion to place my generous, fleshy thighs in the half legs. One of the squares of sheet slips to the floor and my flesh is caught in the terrifying grip of cold, unforgiving metal. I want to run but I don’t. Doctors are gods and must be obeyed. The examination begins.