Sunday, June 28, 2009

When the Chips are Stacked by Pavelle Wesser

When the Chips are Stacked
by Pavelle Wesser

Dana shuffled into the doctor’s office and lowered herself into the chair opposite his desk.

“I have your test results, Dana,” the doctor avoided her eyes.

“Tell me,” Dana grimaced.

The doctor pointed at the slides on the wall: “Your MRI results show nothing, Dana.”

“Isn’t that good?” she brightened.

“Nothing means nothing,’ the doctor asserted. “You are devoid of internal organs.”

She sucked in the stale office air: “How is that possible?”

He steepled his fingers: “I’m not sure.”

“There must be an explanation, Doctor.”

He shifted uncomfortably in his chair: “Have you had any surgeries in the past, Dana?”

“I had an appendectomy…”

“That’s it.”


“Whoever performed it must have removed your internal organs at the same time.”

“Why would they do that?”

“To sell them on the black market, of course; there’s a terrible organ shortage out there …”

Dana pounded his desk with a feeble fist: “How dare they!? I’m going to sue.”

“Unfortunately, Dana, I can’t help you there. My ethics forbid me to testify against members of my profession.”

“But Doctor…”

“The chips are stacked against you, Dana… one wrong move and they will topple over, crushing you beneath their weight.”

“But …”

“It’s called the Domino Effect.”

The doctor strode to the door and opened it: “Sorry, I’m out of time.”

“This treatment is inhumane,” Dana stumbled past him.

“I can’t comment on that statement, Dana. I’m a doctor, not a philosopher.”

He shut the door firmly behind her.

# # #

She trudged heavily down the street, stopping at an outdoor bistro, where she sat at a table under the yellow-striped canopy. Aldo, the bistro owner, was chatting with customers at a neighboring table. He now approached her:

“May I help you, Madam?”

“I’m beyond help,” Dana stared listlessly at the table.

“Can I get you something?” Aldo tried again.

“A Martini with two olives,” her voice was as dead as her eyes.

“Most certainly,” Aldo turned toward the bar. He would have to make her drink himself as his bartender had failed to show up for work again. ‘I’ll fire him tomorrow,’ thought Aldo.

“Tomorrow never comes,” Dana’s deadpan voice penetrated the haze of his mind.

He turned toward her table: “What was that, Madam?”

“I said, where’s my drink?” She scowled.

“I’m getting it right away, Madam.”

Aldo returned several minutes later and placed it before her: “One Martini, two olives. Would you like to pay for it now?”

“Why?” she snapped.

“Well you need to pay eventually, Madam.”

“Fine, take this.” She rummaged through her purse and threw some bills on the table.

Aldo’s delicate fingers reached out for the money: “Forgive me, Madam, but three dollars is not enough to cover the cost.”

“Three bucks will have to do; I have medical expenses.” She pushed herself up from the table.

“Madam, I insist that you pay up your account before leaving.”

“You call one Martini an account?” The rims of Dana’s eyes reddened. Sweat trickled down her pale face.

“What’s wrong, Madam?”

“It’s called the Domino Effect.” Dana hissed.

“The pardon?”

“Never mind,” she began limping away.

“Madam,” Aldo raised his voice, “What about your account?”

“My account is closed,” she rasped, collapsing on the sidewalk.

# # #

Years later, Aldo would still tell the story:

“Her account was pending, how could I know that demanding payment would kill her?”

“It’s not your fault,” his friends would assure him over-and-over again, but it gave him no comfort.

Each night, he dreamed that the chips were stacked against him. Each night, they toppled over, crushing him again-and-again beneath the tremendous weight of the Domino Effect.

Author bio:

Pavelle Wesser’s writing has appeared or is forthcoming in: “AlienSkin,” “Silver Thought,” “Flashshot,” “Bewildering Stories,” and “Twisted Tongue,” among others. She lives with her husband and two children in Connecticut, where she teaches English.

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