Christine watched the hastily thrown open door bounce, bounce like a rubber ball in ever decreasing increments as it closed. She turned her I-can’t-believe-my-kid-just-did-that face around towards the examining table. Dr. Silverberg was doubled over, one hand clutching the paper covered table for support.
One hand still held guard over his crotch, as if in fear of a repeated attack. He let out a sound like air coming out of a tire. She realized he was trying to speak.
“It’s just a little prick, just a prick.” He spoke in a quiet voice, as if trying to convince himself.
It was really too bad, she had liked the young pediatrician. But she was going to have to find a new doctor for Jessie. She wondered how many other patients had successfully delivered a walloping punch to his balls. She murmured an apology and skirted out the door.
In the waiting room, she found Jessie playing with a group of other children, like nothing had happened. The kids had abandoned the rest of the brightly colored toys with the exception of a Lincoln Log Jessie was holding like a police baton. She was leading the group of children around the waiting room; it sounded like she was telling them a story.
“Lurking deep within these halls is the Zombie King, and if you let him touch you with his Zombie Maker, you become-” Jessie paused for dramatic effect, “-you become a ZOMBIE who must do his wishes.” Her voice dropped down terribly.
“You don’t want that to happen, do you?” She flailed her Lincoln Log wildly to emphasize her point. The children obediently shook their heads.
“Do you want to know the only way to stop the Zombie King?” Jessie beamed with pride as the children nodded in chorus. She raised a tiny balled-up fist into the air.
Realizing where this was headed, Christine intervened. She took Jessie’s hand, and began to lead her to the door.
Jessie liked the paintings in the hallway of the medical center. She liked “ing” words. All the paintings had names on them that were “ings.” Ling, Ming, Ting, Ping. Bright splashes of fish, Ling. Broad, bold stroked flowers, Ming. Woman with black hair and sticks, Ting. Fish again, Ping. She liked the sound in the back of her throat.
“Why did you hit Dr. Silverman, honey?” Christine asked.
“He was going to hurt me.” It wasn’t a defense.
“But why did you hit him there, exactly?”
“Daddy said that if a man tried to hurt me, I should hit him between the legs as hard as I can, and then run away.”
“You know, I think we might have to make an exception for doctors.” Christine had to get Matt to include her in these interesting heart-to-hearts he liked to have with his daughter.
Jessie remembered the coldness of the alcohol swab on her inner arm with a shudder. “I really didn’t like the way he was touching me.”