Jess Garten

The Tell-Tale Tooth

Chitter, Chatter... What’s the Matter?

Dr. Nick: Mini-Mall Dentist

Scared Straight

The Missing Mouth Jewel

By the Skin of My Teeth

I could just make out the rain through the frosted windows. I shivered. The darkened glass provided a modicum of privacy while still allowing for the exhilaration of nearly being on display for the public, as if every stranger could choose to watch what was really happening—if only they looked a little closer.

On this side of the glass, the ritual unfolded just as it had since I was 12. Spiders, heights, and tight spaces all made me nervous, but I feared nothing more than what was about to transpire.

My chair lurched and squealed slightly as it reclined. I clenched, trying to maintain my dignity as the operator quietly settled into a chair just behind my head.

She leaned into my field of vision. Her mouth was covered in a green mask like we were strangers at a ball at the beginning of a passionate affair. Or Silence of the Lambs. Her gloves snapped as she pulled them on. She adjusted her light. Then she invaded my mouth. Her eyes hinted at a hidden smile—more menacing than friendly.

There are a dozen, maybe more, identical agents roving through the building—all young women, all doing the dirty work for the old man at the center of this nightmare.

She probed my gums and I tasted blood. I resisted as much as I could without moving; the pressure was already nearly too much. I focused my mind on everything good and wholesome: fields of wildflowers, throwing a Frisbee to a dog, birthday presents. I was waging a mental battle to stay in control, against those who lived to take that control away.

“Everything looks good. Dr. Jim will be proud of you.”

Dr. Jim was the mastermind, the Jigsaw. He rarely got his hands dirty, preferring to have his green-clad vassals inflict pain on his behalf while he collected most of the money.

She scraped. The noise was more terrible than the feeling and my whole body tensed. I fought back again. Kittens. A sunrise. Trying to name all the dinosaurs.

She glanced around the room, not quite finished. She hadn’t achieved her terrible goal yet. Her gloved hands flossed me like I was an invalid—or maybe a king? And that was all it took. This trip was going to end just like every dental visit since age 12.

I shifted my legs, trying to hide my erection. But she knew. Her eyes smiled at me again, but this time it was vicious, victorious.

Her job was done. This entire cult was carefully created to give poor strangers erections in public. Not for the sex—as with so much sex—but for the power. They live to make you feel shame, and then to complete their dominance by telling you to floss more, even though you already floss a pretty reasonable amount.

This happens to everybody, right? This isn’t just me? I’ve never bothered to ask.

“I’ll tell the doctor you’re ready now.”