Author: Benji Carr
Genre: Gay Literary Fiction
Publisher: The Story Plant
With every trip he makes to the dentist, Wade's pain only gets worse. His smile has faded. He's clenching his jaw and grinding his teeth more, not because of bad oral hygiene or any mishaps in orthodontics. Wade's teeth don't need straightening out, but the rest of his life could use that kind of adjustment. Wade has fallen in love with handsome Dr. Emmett, and their office visits in the afternoon have become decidedly more personal than professional. And poor Wade is sure his girlfriend Jessa would punch him in the mouth if she found out.
After all, Jessa did just abandon her church and her family to be with him. And she did just have Wade's baby. So their relationship has already caused enough gossip in the small Georgia town of Waverly.
When Wade tries to end the affair, the breakup takes a brutal turn, leaving Wade in a state of panic. His life is under threat. His secrets could be exposed, and his family may fall apart before he realizes what kind of person he wants to be.
“Why’d you keep me waiting if you just want me to go?”
Dr. Emmett paused. “It’s not like there’s anywhere you have to be, Wade. Your whole life is spent just filling time.”
“What?” Wade said, approaching the counter, trying to steady his sudden nerves.
“Go home, Wade. I’m not in the mood for you right now.”
Dr. Emmett hit the light switch outside his office, illuminating the hallway where they stood. Wade’s eyes squinted, the blue of them sparkling in the track lighting.
“There,” Dr. Emmett scoffed. “Now you can see your way out.”
Wade recoiled, turned toward the lobby, then couldn’t motivate himself to just walk away from the good dentist.
“Doc, will I hear from you tonight?” Wade wondered. “I mean, if you’re more in the mood to talk later.”
“I don’t think so, Wade,” Dr. Emmett said. “You crossed a line.”
Wade was unsure exactly how he had crossed one. He’d dated people before. He’d gone to see them at work. It hadn’t been a big deal. It certainly wasn’t a make-it-or-break-it situation. Granted, Dr. Emmett wasn’t like anyone Wade had ever been with in many ways. The fact that he found him attractive at all had been surprising. Dr. Emmett had been so persuasive in the beginning, when Wade was so confused.
Once again, Wade was confused, and Dr. Emmett was so certain.
“Look, I don’t get this,” Wade confessed, still afraid to look at the dentist. To look at him, it might be over. Over over. “I never know where I stand with you.”
“You don’t stand anywhere with me, Wade.”
The office phone rang.
“I really have to get that,” the dentist said. “You interrupted me before.”
Dr. Emmett walked behind the reception desk and picked up the line. He eyed Wade’s back, and Wade started to go away.
“Yes, Daphne, hello,” Dr. Emmett muttered into the phone, his tone more chipper and professional. He turned away from Wade and leaned against the counter. “Did you and the good folks ever track down where my damn sofa is? Or do I have to wait another full day for delivery?”
“Daphne, I don’t want to hear any excuses,” Dr. Emmett said. “My time is valuable, and I can’t just be waiting around for you like a putz.”
Enraged, Wade turned, huffed and grabbed the jaw up off the counter. The jawbone connected to the back of Dr. Emmett’s skull before he got out another word. Wade felt the crack more than heard it. The dentist slumped to the ground behind the desk.
Wade looked down upon his lover. With the mandible firmly in his grasp and with Daphne saying “Hello... hello...,” he walked through the lobby and out the door. Wade reached the Prius, opened the door, tossed the teeth into the passenger seat. Then, he took another swig of the tea, which was cold now. And Wade drove away, the engine barely even purring as it exited the parking lot.
As a child growing up in the South with cerebral palsy, Benji Carr developed an eye for the bizarre and quirky, which provided all of the stories he told his friends and family with a bit of flavor. Working as a journalist, story-teller and playwright, his work—whether the stories be personal tales of struggle and survival or fiction about cannibal lunch ladies, puppet romances, drag queen funerals, and perverted killer circus clowns—has been featured in The Guardian, ArtsATL and Pembroke Magazine. Onstage, his pieces have been presented at the Center for Puppetry Arts, Alliance Theatre, and as part of the Samuel French Off-Off Broadway Short Play Festival in Manhattan. He lives in Atlanta and helps run the online literary magazine, Gutwrench Journal. Impacted is his first novel.