Sunday, April 5, 2009

30 Days: The Cleaning

The Cleaning

by Scott Rhoades

"How are you today?" Martha asked. She looked like she had just baked a batch of oatmeal cookies and was about to offer him some. Her white hair was tucked neatly in a bun. Probably had a couple lap cats at home.

"Fine, thanks," Craig lied.

"Let's see if we can get you cleaned up." Her voice twinkled. She pulled a mask over her smile and wheeled like a hawk. "Open wide."

She scraped quickly. When she poked the scaler into his gums, Craig winced.

"I'm sorry. Oh. You're bleeding." She sprayed the wound and sucked it out with that vacuum tube, then went back to work. "You should clean your back teeth better and floss more. How old are you?"


"Seventeen? I have a son about your age. He was such a good boy. Smart as a whip. Athletic, too. Lettered in three sports. You like sports?"

"Ag gweshl shluk ruddleboggi."

"Bet you were good at it too. His name is Greg. Isn't that something? He's Greg and you're Craig, and about the same age. He was always well behaved. And good looking? That boy had so many girls vying for his attention. Nice girls, from good families, all but that Sandra. Sssssandra, like a sssnake." She pressed harder.

Craig stiffened. “Schupknuk!”

"Oh, I'm sorry, G-Craig. But I've got to get the dirt off. Don't you hate dirt? Sssandra was a dirty girl, having Greg over for dinner. A boy should eat with his mother, don't you think?"

“Wurwuldunk. Wodeegelhorken.”

"Exactly what I told him, Sweetie, but he wouldn't listen. Always at her house, doing goodness knows what. I wasn't born yesterday." She poked him again. "Just talking, he said. Talk, talk, talk."

"Ow! Wharyooing?'

"Staying out while your poor old mother ate alone. Be still! I'll be done with you soon."


"I told you to stay away from that Delilah. Is she so pretty now, Greg?"

“Imurraig!” Craig looked for an escape route.

"Are her naughty bones pretty in your little grave? In my day we spent time with our mothers. We were never naughty."

Craig tried to get up when Martha switched instruments, but she was too fast. "Sit still when I'm talking to you." She jabbed an instrument into Craig's cheek. He screamed.

"I didn’t mean to hurt you, Greg honey. You made me." She licked the blood from her fingers.

Craig tried to flee, but Martha blocked his escape. He pushed her against the tray and instruments scattered. Craig defended himself with the drill as Martha advanced. He swiped at her and missed.

"You wicked boy! You'd hurt your own mother? I don't like hurting you, but sometimes a mother has to do hard things." She aimed a pick at Craig's shoulder. He twisted away, but she threw him to the floor.

There was a knock and the door rattled. Martha aimed at his heart. He thrust upward with everything he had left. She flew toward the door as it was forced open from the other side. Her head slammed against the doorknob and she crumpled to the floor.

Dr. Zahn stood over his assistant. "Looks like she flipped again. Don't worry, Craig. I never charge my patients when she does this. This cleaning is on the house."


Yamile said...

How scary! Did you have to add a crazy hygienist to my list of dentist fears? ;0)
I really liked how you conjured the images (and even noises!) with your words. I felt I was right there watching poor Craig. The blood licking... totally freaked me out, but it worked. That's what you were aiming at, right?

Kiirsi said...

Ooh! CREEPY! Great job establishing the characters and suspense so quickly!

Taffy said...

Very Poe-like! :)

Scott said...


This is actually a mellowed-down version of an earlier story that was, at one point, probably three or four times as long. I got rid of some gore, but I had to leave the blood-licking. That's where all doubts are gone: this lady is nuts.

At first, I missed some of my cuts, but now I kind of like this version. By being less explicit, I hope it's even more creepy. My hope is that the reader's mind fills in a lot of what I cut.

Danny said...

I like writers with a dark side. Nice work!

Brieanne said...

Great story. You really painted a crazy scene with very few words.