Oh, ah, my fucking tooth

Wikimedia Commons 

Wikimedia Commons 

Something's wrong in my mouth, my top gum, about half way back on the right. And it's getting worse.

I wince, dart a glance over the tops of my so-called colleagues’ heads: two are balding, one has recently dyed.

I wince again, dart another glance. No one's seen me. They never have. Do they remember that time I broke into dance, cut the rug up? No, that never happened. But they’d asked why I installed a standing work desk at my own considerable expense, hadn’t they? No, they hadn’t.

I tongue-poke the gum, enjoying it – then, oh shit, a spasm, not a wince. I need to ... Oh ... I want to shout, “Help me, please,” but walk as casually as I can to the office door, hands in pockets, then run up the corridor to the bathroom. The urinals are unmanned, a puddle under one, as physics decrees; both cubicles are free.

I bolt myself into the nearest one, lower the toilet lid, fall onto it, stick an index finger into my gob, gag. Has a filling come out? I don't have any fillings. My dentist is a sweaty man with hairy knuckles; I haven't seen him for years. There are ... there are big drips on my forehead, threatening to breach my eyebrows. Did I tell you my cat—

Back in goes the index finger, back out: I punch my thigh, fucking thigh, my knee, fucking knee, fucking patella, my other thigh, oh.

An extraction is in order. My hands aren't clean – but, ow. 

I lay back-and-forth lengths of toilet paper on my lap, tear a few sheets off to wipe my goo-hand.

In go the fingers, determined, my happy clasps and, uh-oh-no, back out. Shit, it'll ease, it's—

I’ve never been one to cry; you’d never have seen that.

My phone's at my desk, on the height-variable keyboard stand. It's been months since anyone's called me, even longer since I’ve answered, but I could have used the in-built camera as a mirror, gawp at pictures of Faust, my moggy, my—

I nestle a square of toilet paper between thumb and index finger for grip, slide them back into my mouth, hold the tooth, if it's a tooth, and—

Yank!

Oh Jesus.

Yank!

Don’t blame Jesus!

Yank!

Ah, oh—

I side-punch the wall, could smash the tiles and everyone in the world’s faces if I wanted to, and I want to, Jesus, I …  What did they say about removing sticking plasters? Fuck all, they said fuck all to me, the fucking dicks.

I have to keep breathing. It's pretty easy really, the breathing.

The fingers worm back in, nestling toilet paper and, oh, the gagging. Gagging for it. A gaggle of …

Big effort, big—

 

A crack, a succulent squelch – the tooth's out, still inside my molten mouth. Oh, there's blood, and not just a trickle, it's fairly pissing, but I can stem it with toilet paper, I can …

Ugh.

 

I spit blood and saliva into a clump of toilet paper, try to spit out the tooth but can't, no, I can't, because, ha, it's still attached to something in my mouth – hahaha, I’m not even joking – I tongue-jab something thin, gulping down the blood, and whatever else. A nerve-ending? Maybe.

Back in go the fingers. Yuh, something's there, holding tooth to gum. Organic matter, surely. I don't floss.

Because I’m brave, I carefully pull the tooth and whatever's attached to it from my mouth, retching, until it's an inch or two from my dial. Bloody fingers, dripping blood onto the loo roll on my lap. And in those fingers ... um, yeah. A cheesewire or similar is lodged between the prongs of the defunct molar. It's been cemented somehow, that seems natural enough. The other end is still in my mouth, my fucking gum.

I could always just die, call it quits. But then what?

When someone finds me … “Hey, everyone, I went for a slash, saw Whatshisnsame lying there all dead and shit and look at it on Instagram, look at it on Flickr, look at it on Facebook, look at it on Twitter, look at it on Pinterest ...”

I wind the inch or two of wire round my index finger, try to snap it. The fingertip bleeds white, the skin below crimson. I eke out the wire a little further. My eyes water, but not with tears.

I swallow blood, try again to snap the fucking-whatever-it-is, can't, continue to pull against the tickle and burn. If you could see me you might think I'm freaking out, but you can't, and I'm not.

I stop, roll my left shirt-sleeve past the elbow, resume pulling with my right hand, wrapping the liberated wire round my left thumb and elbow in a figure of eight. Panicking? I'm controlled as, mate. Blood? It's just haemoglobin, mate, go fuck yourself. 

Peanut-smelling globules leap from the wire as I calmly reel it out. An ancient Snickers? Brazil-nut knickers? No wukkas, no wukkas, no. Out it comes. Out it comes. My gum will blister, surely.

Weirdly, I can't place where in my body the wire is coming from. After a few more circuits of the skull, it might be attached to an eyeball; or running right through me like stitching, the final knot just waiting for a tug to collapse me.

And yet, as it happens, I’ve no expectation of the wire snagging or slipping, and because I’m easy-going, mate, and adventurous with a good sense of humour, I'm fair-dinkum getting into it, fair-dinkum reeling, when, uh, quite unexpectedly, there … is … new … resistance … a … slowing … not … yet … stopping. An … uh … arm’s-length … more … from … the … uh … hole … another … oh … half … and … on  … we … go … and … no … and … that …. is … it … I … can't … I—

The bathroom door opens: someone clops in, pulls down a zip, farts. I draw back my feet quietly: it's me, in the cubicle, it has to be, but if I do nothing, make no noise, then maybe … Liquid on porcelain, footsteps on ceramic, no running tap, the door swinging shut.

A dozen-or-so bloody coils are looped round my thumb and elbow. I soft-yank the wire again, retch. Nothing. There's something on the other end of the wire, the end that's still in my head, and it's too big for the gum-hole, it won't come through. It hurts. 

I bend over at the waist, loop a loose section of wire round the toe of my shoes, angle my head: I’ll snap the cord, or my face.

I think of Faust – pull. Faust and a mouse with a cheesewire tail – pull. Faust ripping the mouse’s head off – pull. Faust’s own head, flattened by a ute wheel rotating at speed – pull. It wasn’t my fault, or the driver’s even, and—

OHHHHHHHH … A groan loud enough, surely, to be heard in the corridor, even in the office. Is someone … masturbating? Is it ... Whatshisname?

Something, something big, is coming through my gum but still has a way to go. I pull my head away from my foot, my foot away from my head, kept hauling, kind of enjoying, kind of, oh Jesus, come on, don’t blame the Lord …  One last pull, giving it, oh, and ... Christ ... All goes red and yellow and pink and—

My back's against the cistern; the line’s snapped end dangles from my spattered fist.

It dangles, snapped, no longer in me.

Because I’m rational, I strike upon the idea of flushing the wire and tooth down the shitter holus-bolus. But no, it could get stuck, clog up the S-bend, and then what? I’ll shove it in the bin next to the sinks, cover it with hand-towels; but first I’ll wipe the blood and spit from the walls, the floor, the toilet lid, toilet roll holder, lift the mass of whatever it is, get going, get ...

I nearly empty the hand-towel dispenser, wet some of the sheets for ballast, examine my work: the bin's just a bin with soggy hand-towels: the wire is buried, gone.

I rinse my mouth, spit, rinse, spit. The bruised-purple hue of the water changes gradually to red, and eventually coral pink. I look at myself in the mirror, mouth shut, poke my tongue blindly towards the hole. My reflection winces.

I pull back my lips, tilt my head. There's still pain, but nothing acute, there's – wait, ha, wait, more tilt – there's, ha, a new tooth where the other had been. It's cleaner than the rest but otherwise looks like one of the team. Ha, I’ve pulled another fucking tooth into the hole where … Did you see that? No, of course you didn’t.

I wash my face, get some paper towels from the pile in the bin, pat my forehead.

Do you see me high-fiving myself as I walk back down the corridor? No, that’s not even what I do.