had logo

My dentist had this story about missionary work in Central America. How they came across a car wreck, helped out, no teeth stuff involved. Just blood all over their clothes, going into a gas station bathroom and staining the sink red. What the locals must have thought of these missionaries in blood. Not unlike my gingivitis.

They’d run the floss into my gums and things would really get flowing–asking if I’ve been doing this shit at home like they told me to last time. But they’d still offer to take me on their next mission trip, and I—speaking through the rubber gloved fingers between my jaws—would say that I’d love that.

Good folks. But, they didn’t have Street Fighter III.

My kids’ dentist, they have a light brite wall, throwback wallpaper, and a row of iPads with Sonic the Hedgehog, Fruit Ninja, and some games I couldn’t begin to swipe my way through. But none compare to the lone idol of an arcade game in the corner. Street Fighter III stuck perpetually on a duel between Ken and Twelve. Googled it later and Twelve is a bit of an experiment gone wrong, a pixelated salamander man with a hell of a high-kick.

My kids get their teeth counted, cleaned with a Spider-Man brush—all is well. But, I can’t knock out Twelve.

He just stands there. Like me. His head-bobbing perfectly in tune with a song playing overhead. We Didn’t Start the Fire or some piano rock like that. Makes me wonder what the Salamander man is feeling back there. How many teeth he has inside that digitally sealed mouth.

If I could just knock him out before we leave, just get him to open his bloody jaws like one of those ruptures in space-time. I’m left wondering—if I traveled through the glass between us, what sort of godless comfort I could offer. Could I heal his swollen gums? How's he going to feel when he never makes it to Central America? Why didn't he move when he was getting the shit kicked out of him?

The song ends and we make an appointment for six months later.