The Patients Wish

The white-haired doctor with the blood-stained coat and pants smiled maliciously as he brought the razor to his waiting patient\'s face. "Now please answer me
honestly this time, Mr. Beckett," he said. "I have been in this profession for over thirteen years, and I take pleasure in receiving input from clients. It helps me to
know what hurts and what does not. Kind of keeps me ahead of the competition, I guess you could say."

His patient nodded solemn acquiescence, shutting his eyes hard and biting his lip. He knew what was going to happen next. He desperately wanted to disbelieve,
but he knew.

The doctor began his incision. He sliced the skin beneath the eyebrow smoothly and evenly with the razor as his patient screamed, stopping just short of shearing it
completely off. The rectangular patch of hair dangled freely by a thread of skin. He contemplated the hair-coated piece of flesh, scratching his chin, as if unsure
whether or not he should rip it the rest of the way off or just leave it dangling there. Blood spouted up and out of the patient\'s wound like a geyser, dousing the man\'s
forehead and eye with the crimson fluid.

The doctor yanked off what was left of the eyebrow and discarded it in a nearby wastebasket.

"Hmm," the doctor said. He considered his moaning patient for a moment, putting away the razor and withdrawing a tailor\'s needle from the tray of assorted
instruments sitting beside him. His hand hovered teasingly above his patient\'s trembling mouth. Then the needle came down, its tip piercing the upper lip slowly,
passing through the sensitive layers of skin and gum only to stop when the needle came in contact with the hard and impenetrable roots of the patient\'s teeth. The
doctor withdrew the needle and tossed it into the "used" pile of instruments that sat next to the "soon to be used." "Well?" he asked. "Which hurt worse, the needle
or the razor?" He waited patiently for an answer.

The patient uttered something incomprehensible. "What was that?" the doctor asked, noting delirium. He had been operating for over two hours now, and the man
was still alive. Amazing. "Please speak up, Mr. Beckett--I can\'t hear you." He pinched his patient\'s upper lip harshly; two little streamlets of blood rushed out. Jack
Beckett screamed.

"The razor, the razor!" Jack cried in agony. The pump inside his chest flared up again, beating, beating, beating . . . threatening to explode every time the doctor
administered stark and terrible pain. Bright red blood flowed freely from his wounds like water from a broken shower head. "Please, please . . ." he moaned
numbly, "the pain . . . please kill me and stop the pain . . ."

The doctor smiled, enjoying his victim\'s--patient\'s--cry for mercy. "Ah, but the fun has just begun," he said jovially. His patient\'s toes on his right foot were all gone,
amputated, and one of his ears sat in a pool of blood on the operating table, torn completely free from his head. Now his eyebrow was gone, and his lip a bleeding,
puffy, black and blue mess. Just begun, indeed. "You have committed a most heinous crime, Mr. Beckett, and the State wants to see you suffer. If I quit now, our
audience--my fans--would be most displeased." He motioned toward the camera and the cameraman who sat quietly filming their Session, and grinned. It wasn\'t a
small grin, but a large one, the kind that only game show hosts are capable of achieving, showing off each and every one of those pearly whites, or, in the doctor\'s
case, coffee-stained yellows, as his lips pulled back in pseudo-aesthetic fashion. The doctor felt good today. It seemed torturing patients was the only thing that
made him feel good anymore. The drugs and the women weren\'t working; they refused to ward off the pangs of loneliness and depression as they once had.
Torture, however, was a different story. Watching grown men cry for the doctor\'s mercy always made the pain go away. . . .

The doctor turned to his instruments, his friends, and withdrew a pair of scissors; they gleamed feverishly in the pale illumination of the small white operating room as
he inspected the razor-sharp blades. "Now this time I want your answer immediately after I ask the question, not a bunch of