“Sew him up…and we’ll see what happens.”
The letters were crunchy and a distinct scent of Fritos wafted from them. Dr. Paul Marshall’s name tag would go great with bean dip, Leroy thought. He smacked his dry lips and squinted against the bright light hanging above the operating table. A dull pain pulsed slowly on the top of his melon, but otherwise, he felt fine.
“Can I have my 500 dollars now?” Leroy slurred at the watery figures standing above him. Someone was having a hell of a barbeque nearby. “And some chicken?”
One of the figures flapped his arms like an ungainly seagull, fat on scraps from Coney Island. “It worked! We’ve got one, sir. We’ve–”
Dr. Marshall shushed him. He put a hand on Leroy’s shoulder as the homeless man struggled to sit up. Leroy grasped Dr. Marshall’s nametag and sniffed. He scratched his stubble and stuck his gray tongue out to taste.
The doctor swatted him away and grumbled about the fat one’s exuberance. He motioned to his colleague.
Leroy slapped his hand over a sudden sharp pain on his head. He felt fresh stitches. Tastes rolled over his tongue in tangy waves and a thousand smells swirled in his nostrils, tickling every oily nose hair. Ms. Lamar at the Italian ice stand, strawberries. Annoying kids in the park where he slept, spray paint. Bongo player on the A train 23 years ago, chives and pine and concrete. Wednesday was booze, last Saturday was copper.
Leroy groaned, when he looked up, the doctor and his colleague were gone. He slid off the table and shuffled out of the operating room. Leroy concluded that the abandoned warehouse he was in was not a hospital. He had been scammed.
Cages holding lumps in ratty jackets lined the opposite wall. People like him were trapped in there. They were drooling and vacant like they had been lobotomized by damn dirty apes. They smelled like barbeque. Pork. Leroy picked up a rusty piece of scrap metal from the floor and crept toward the nearest door. From the same door, Dr. Marshall emerged carrying a clipboard.
“We thought you would be our breakthrough.” He scanned the clipboard, “Mr. Leroy…Vonnegut IV… Sadly, extreme synesthesia was not achieved, you’re no manmade savant.”
Leroy glanced at the caged veggies and pork chops. “Neither are they. And I’m going to sue your balls off man. There was nothing about brain surgery on that form and my nose feels weird.”
Dr. Marshall was still and gave him a cool glance. “I’m sorry,” he said.
Leroy’s nose tingled. The colleague in the white lab coat flapped behind him with heavy chains in hand.
Leroy tangled them with the scrap metal and fled, bowling over Dr. Marshall. He ran through a dark hallway, out a dark door, into the outside. The smell of the New York summer pumped through him with each dusty gasp. It was toxic in its complexity, its redness and rawness like a giant corned beef sandwich, its grayness like a corpse. Leroy stumbled on nothing and collapsed in the vacant lot by the mad scientists’ warehouse. The gravel just smelled like rocks. Tasted like rocks. Hurt like rocks.
About the Author
Ali Simpson is a journalism major at Plattsburgh State University. Her work has been published in The First Line, Tangent, and Z-Platt. She hopes to expose the seedy underbelly of corrupt institutions with her degree. Barring that, she will write silly short fiction for the rest of her natural and supernatural life.