Monday, November 15, 2010


By James McShane

You have enough of lying around naked and decide that Door #3 is the only option worth pursuing. It is only by going too far that you will find out how far you can go. Your grandmother said that to you many years ago when she took up abseiling as a retirement hobby. Poor Granny – they were scraping bits of her off the side of the cliff for days after her maiden flight. Still, you got your inheritance, didn’t you? A nest egg that lies intact, ready for moments and decisions such as these.

You call the receptionist. “Tell Dr. Skin I’ll take the third option,” you say, keeping your voice calm and confident. “It had better be what I need or else I’ll sue him for every penny he’s got. This procedure is going to cost me a small fortune.”

“My dear,” Skin’s receptionist says. “I don’t believe the doctor has discussed terms with you yet.” You search through your memory and realise she’s right. “In any case, we have an opening for this afternoon. Why don’t you come in and let Dr. Skin take care of things?”

“Let me check my calendar,” you say. You hang up and check your calendar. It’s blank, of course. No one wants you now. Amber and Stone have stolen your thunder, and the incident at the club has made you persona non grata. You resolve to find out what that means at a later date. You call back and set up your appointment for three thirty and kill time by ordering pizza and ice cream. One last blow-out, you think. Hell, a bottle of Bollinger will wash it all down nicely. This time tomorrow you’ll be a new person – literally.


You arrive a half hour late for your appointment. The champagne took longer to finish that you thought. You blame pepperoni. You present yourself, a little worse for wear, to the receptionist. You think she looks different to how she was this morning. Her eyes are greener, her skin darker, and her hair more greasy. You blame pepperoni once more.

“The doctor is ready for you,” she says, her voice drier that before, too. “Have you a hairbrush in your bag?” You show her your Kashuk Tools® Bristle, which she takes. “Follow me through.” You enter Dr. Skin’s surgery and for the first time, you feel like you’re walking into a Venus Fly-Trap. Still, the colours are pretty.

“Welcome,” the doctor says from behind his mask. All you can see are his eyes. They are green, just like the receptionist’s. “I applaud your courage,” he continues. “Once the procedure is over, you will have that courage rewarded.” He beckons you to his operating table. Surrounding it are machines that seem to have come from Sci-Fi central casting. They make “bing” noises. You notice that the doctor is holding a long thin knife, like a stiletto. You gulp.

“How long will it take?”

“Not long,” he says. “In fact, you won’t feel time passing at all.” He asks his receptionist to help you undress and prepare for the operation. You’re having second thoughts, as well as a sudden urge to pee yourself. The receptionist, who has now taken on the role of nurse, hands you a small plastic cup of purple liquid and two small white capsules.

“Take these,” she says. “They’ll help calm you down and enjoy the experience.”

You’re stunned. “Will I not be knocked out?” you ask.

“The doctor prefers his patients to be semi-conscious during this procedure,” she says. “This is because of its volatile nature. If anything goes wrong – and it won’t, don’t worry - he can put a stop to it straight away.” You take the pills and are led to the operating table. Dr. Skin has changed his clothes and is now wearing all black. You feel yourself drifting away. That’s good shit, you think, and remind yourself to ask for a few of those pills once you leave.

You are on the table before you know it, and the machines “bing” quicker than before. The last think you remember before closing your eyes is the receptionist handing your hairbrush to the doctor. He leans closer to you and you see beyond his eyes. You see his skin. You giggle and think of an old fairy tale. Skin’s skin is old and rumpled. Rumpled still, Skin, you cackle. Those are good drugs they gave you.

Then you feel yourself being peeled like an onion. A very large and blood-red onion. You wonder in your delirium if you would go well on a burger. A very large and blood-red burger. The more he takes off you, the lighter you feel. The machines “bing” like it’s DEFCON One. Yet you feel no pain. The good doctor does his work and you go along for the ride. You see polar bears and feel like you’re in fucking Norway. It’s suddenly cold – then it’s hot again. You feel like you’re in fucking Egypt and cry out in your dream for asses’ milk. What’s good enough for Cleo is good enough for you. And still you’re being peeled. Layers taken away from you like there’s no tomorrow. You try to open your eyes. You want to see what’s happening. But you can’t. All you can see is what’s inside your head. The doctor and his receptionist-cum-nurse are waltzing with wolves and jackals. You wonder where they took dance lessons. The jackals especially know their moves. And then the peeling stops. And then you’re out like a light.


You wake up and see Dr. Skin standing over you. You mumble through a bandage wrapped around your face. “Yes,” the doctor says, his eyes red as Red Riding Hood, “the operation was a complete success.” He holds up a jar, inside of which something glows a bright yellow. “I hope you don’t mind that I took my payment while I was operating on you.” He looks at the jar. “You have a wonderfully perverse soul, my dear. I can work wonders with it.” He puts it down and then leans over you. “It is time to take the bandages off and see how you look. Are you excited?”

You mumble some more. What’s this about my soul? you think. You didn’t see that in the contract. Then you realise you never signed one. You feel the bandages coming off you, and at last you’re free. Skin holds up a mirror. “Take a look,” he says to you. “You’re my best job ever.” You see your reflection in the mirror – and you scream.

You look like Justin Beiber.

You look down to your nether regions and scream even louder. You would have never traded what God gave you for what’s hanging there now.


  1. I like this one a lot. I do because I wrote it.

  2. Oh, hell no. LOL
    Great job, Jimbo.

  3. I like it. It's bonkers, and I like bonkers.

    Well done Mr. McShane!

  4. James - Great writing! Superb. Fantastic. You totally rock. =D