“Put yourselves there,” I said.”Say I somehow get through this Vet Tech program as planned. And that, friends, is almost impossible now given my grades. But say I somehow rally and pull it together this semester. Next semester and every semester after this is going to be even harder. I mean, next semester alone is going to be a bear because I’ll have pharmacology taught by none other than Dr. D again. But say that happens. After this program is the national boards, which is something like 175 questions about everything I will have learned up to that point. Like teeth. We had a pop quiz about teeth earlier this semester and A & P. You know how much I remember about teeth?”
“Yeah, about that much. One can take the boards up to 6 times, too. I personally don’t know why they give you that many chances. In my opinion, you fail three times and you ain’t supposed to be a Vet Tech. And it costs $300 every time you take it. But regardless. Say I get through the program and take the boards and pass and get a job as a Vet Tech. Now it’s six months later and I have a job in a relatively fast-paced vet clinic and things are going fine and one day I have a client who comes in with a dog with a bum leg and I am struggling to get all the equipment up and running which is a bitch because a coworker called in sick and there’s an elderly woman in another exam room who really needs red carpet treatment because this is her first time here and her cat is her life, and in the middle of all this, I miscalculate a dosage for a dog who had surgery yesterday and, because I get easily flustered as we all know, I miscalculate the drugs and the dog has to lose a leg or, God forbid, dies.”
Everyone looked at me intently. Even Cookie Monster took a break from his Oreos and had turned his attention to me.
“Not only have I just lost any credibility I might have had with my coworkers and the vet who runs the practice, who now has to worry about whether the owner is going to sue the practice, but also I have to live with a dead dog on my conscience.”
“So I decided to pack it up and live to fight another day.”
They were all quiet. A minute passed.
“You sure this is what you want to do?” Cornelius looked at me over his glasses.
“Not really what I want to do, my friend. It’s what I feel I have to do.”
40 Pound spoke up.
“Yeah, but since you got out of rehab, you’ve lost all the weight and stayed sober and been putting on a good example for others. Why can’t you do this?”
“Because of him,” I said and motioned to the 8-foot tall, shaved head, extremely large man in a tuxedo that had just joined us.
“Who’s this?” asked Libido
“This is Brain Damage. Call him the D-Man.”
“What does he have to do with this?” asked Bill W.
“Great question,” I said. “While I have you to rely on for keeping me clean Bill, you have nothing to do with him. He tends to do what he wants, literally has a mind of his own, actually. And now it’s my mind. I love you Bill, you live in my heart. Unfortunately, he lives in my head. And there’s a more than a few neurons that aren’t firing anymore because of him and I have to figure out what he can do and what he can’t do now. And I’m afraid one of those things is stand by me if I go forward with this Vet Tech thing. If I do that, I’m on my own. And as you can see, he’s a pretty big fella and I need to work with him, not against him.”
“So what are you going to do?” Aloysius asked.
“I’ve been thinking and this is where you guys come in,” I said. “First, we proceed as usual with a couple variations. I continue going to class as usual and I’m going to be paying attention and do the best I can in 4 of the 5 classes. Anatomy and Physiology, well, I can’t do it, so I’m not going to do it. But the rest, full speed ahead. I’m going to tell my teachers this, too. What I need from you is you carry on like it’s business as usual. 40 pound, keep going to the gym. Aloysius, I’m afraid the new Katz book is gonna have to wait a little longer, you still have to go to class and study. Bill, keep going to meetings, keep reading your Big Book when you can and talking to your sponsor. Libido, keep doing … whatever it is that you do.”
“What I do?” Cookie had moved from the Oreos and was mixing a batch of dough to make peanut butter cookies, although I somehow didn’t think the dough would actually make it to the oven.
“Cookie, you’re just gonna sit tight for now, but when the time comes, I’m gonna have somebody to cuddle you the way I used to cuddle you when I was a kid.”
He stared me at gape-jawed with one googly eye rolling back and forth and the other remaining in stasis just like on Sesame Street. Then he jammed a wooden spoon full of dough into his mouth. “Sound good to me Boss!”
“One last thing. Whatever happens, do not tell Him what’s going on.”
“Why?” They all asked in unison.
“Because he can’t know I’m walking away from this fight,” I said and folded my hands as if praying. “Me and the D-Man are going to have to meet in secret to come up with a plan. I’ve got a few ideas already. He knows about D-Man and if He finds out we’re together, He will do everything He can to turn D-Man on me just like He’s been doing for years. He may be a weasly, devious little bastard, but He is also pretty powerful when He wants to be. So I need you guys to act as if everything is proceeding like normal.”
“What if He comes at you like He has been lately?” 40 Pound asked.
“Let him,” I said. “I think I can handle Him. So, do we have a deal?”
Author’s note: The biggest bag of dog food you can buy is 40 pounds. I was always the one who got to stock dog food in the hotel because I may have been one of the few who could lift the bags. Or maybe they were just flattering me into thinking so because they didn’t want to do it.