THE DEMON DENTIST
/ audio play / short /
written by jack richardson
ARCHIE ATWOOD, an unsupportive husband
AMELIA ATWOOD, a kind housewife
NURSE TRIPS, a thorough dental nurse
DOCTOR MÜLLER, an enthusiastic dentist
AMELIA ATWOOD sits in the huge dentist’s chair, gripping the arms like an astronaut preparing for blastoff. Her fingers drum nervously on the plastic cover. Her husband, ARCHIE ATWOOD, sits in a chair by the door, flipping distractedly through a magazine.
AMELIA Now isn’t that clever…
ARCHIE What is?
AMELIA The signs. “An Apple A Day Keeps The Dentist Away.” I said, isn’t that clever.
ARCHIE If you say so, dear.
AMELIA And so’s that one: “Treat Your Canines With Care And They’ll Double Incisor”.
ARCHIE Instructional, like a phonebook.
AMELIA “Sodium Acids Cause Cavities.” That isn’t quite so clever…
ARCHIE (Curtly) Stop that please, dear.
AMELIA What’s that, dear?
ARCHIE The drumming. Stop it.
AMELIA Yes dear. Of course. Just a little nervous.
ARCHIE (Disinterested) That’s nice.
AMELIA It’s the smell, I think…
AMELIA I never cared for mint.
The door opens abruptly and NURSE TRIPS enters. Her heels snap on the tiles like dried chicken bones.
NURSE Good morning! How are we today, Mr. and Mrs. Atwood?
AMELIA We’re fine, thank-you.
NURSE We’ll soon see about that.
AMELIA Beg pardon?
NURSE Your teeth, Mrs. Atwood. We’ll see about your teeth. What appears to be the problem?
ARCHIE She has a cavity, Nurse.
NURSE Is that so, Mr. Atwood? When was your last check-up?
AMELIA I think it was… Christmas of ’93?
ARCHIE Year I burst my gallbladder.
NURSE And when did you begin to experience the pain?
ARCHIE Sunday last. She’s been in pain since Sunday last.
NURSE I see. (Snapping on a pair of latex gloves) Lie back please, Mrs. Atwood. This won’t take a moment. Open wide now,
please. (She explores, reverberating echo) That’s right… So I see… Very good, Mrs. Atwood. You may sit up now.
ARCHIE (Weary) What’s the damage, Nurse?
NURSE (Snapping off her gloves) You do indeed have a cavity in your left upper molar.
AMELIA (Hesitant) Will it need… extracting?
NURSE That’s for the Doctor to decide.
AMELIA Thank-you, Nurse.
NURSE TRIPS exits with the clip of her retreating heels. AMELIA and ARCHIE sit in silence for a good while.
AMELIA Did you hear that, Archie?
ARCHIE I did, thank-you, Amelia.
AMELIA I may have a cavity.
ARCHIE (Distracted) Kill or cure.
The door opens again suddenly and DOCTOR MULLER enters. His shoes are flat-soled loafers.
MÜLLER Good morning, Mr. and Mrs. Atwood! So sorry to keep you waiting, been up to my overalls in overbites. Ha ha! How are we /
ARCHIE We’re fine thank-you, Doctor.
MÜLLER Wonderful, wonderful… Now, I understand you’ve been having some discomfort, Mrs. / Atwood?
ARCHIE She has a cavity.
MÜLLER Does she now? Well, not to worry, Mrs. Atwood, we’ll soon come to the root of the problem. Ha! Dental humor, forgive me.
Now, let’s inspect the damage, shall we? Mr. Atwood, if you’d please?
ARCHIE Excuse me?
MÜLLER Take a seat and we’ll begin.
ARCHIE There’s some mistake -----
MÜLLER Not at all, your wife has a minor cavity in her left upper molar. Perfectly treatable and totally tolerable. You, however, are a
horse of a different color entirely. In the chair please. Excuse us, Mrs. Atwood…
AMELIA (Rising) Oh, of course…
ARCHIE What do you mean, a horse? Hello, let go of me!
MÜLLER (Into the intercom) Nurse Trips? Code Six Sixty-Seven to Consult One, please.
NURSE (Over the intercom) Right away, Doctor.
ARCHIE You’ve got to be / joking…
MÜLLER Dental hygiene is no laughing matter, Mr. Atwood, I can assure you. In the chair now, there’s a good man.
NURSE TRIPS enters.
MÜLLER Nurse, the restraints, if you please?
NURSE Of course, Doctor.
NURSE TRIPS begins to strap ARCHIE'S arms to the arms of the dentist’s chair with synthetic seatbelt cords, held by Tupperware clip-lock cuffs.
ARCHIE What are those? What are you doing!
MÜLLER A system of my own invention, Mr. Atwood, designed with just such singular pains as you in mind. Now then… (He drops
the dentist’s chair straight back like a hangman’s trapdoor) … let’s take a look at these, shall we? Open wide please, Mr.
Atwood, and say ahhhh…
ARCHIE Ahhhh – ARGH! (He sits up suddenly, spluttering and gagging) What the devil are you trying to do, man, pinch my tooth
MÜLLER Of course I am, Mr. Atwood! You have a septic ingrown wisdom tooth. I’m afraid she’s got to go.
ARCHIE I have a what?
MÜLLER It’s deadly serious, I’m afraid – must be pulled, straight away.
ARCHIE The hell it does!
NURSE I think he’s nervous, Doctor…
MÜLLER A man of your constitution? Posh!
ARCHIE I’m not nervous, I’m / furious!
AMELIA Quiet down please, Archie, and let the Doctor work.
ARCHIE Amelia, now you just ----- Ooof! (Amelia shoves a handful of cotton wadding into Archie’s open mouth)
MÜLLER That’s the spirit, Mrs. Atwood! Keep it wide now, Mr. Atwood…
ARCHIE Ahhhh -----
MÜLLER Wider please -----
ARCHIE AHHHHHH ----- AARGH!!!
There’s an exquisitely protracted ripping noise, followed by a thud of sharp release. Archie flops back into the dentist chair, gasping.
MÜLLER Ah ha, that’s the ticket! (Drops the tooth into a little metal tray) Thank-you Nurse. Now that wasn’t so bad, was it?
ARCHIE Jumping Jehovah…
NURSE A moment please, Doctor…? (She whispers conspiratorially to Doctor Müller)
MÜLLER Oh dear, Mr. Atwood… it appears I have some bad news.
AMELIA “Bad news”, Doctor?
MÜLLER Indeed, Mrs. Atwood. See how the root is worn away there, like a little rosy pencil stub?
AMELIA It is quite bloody, I agree…
MÜLLER Yes, a sure sign of compound compaction, very common among distended glandular pallets.
AMELIA Oh my…
MÜLLER No need to fret, Mr. Atwood, I’m a professional! (Rummaging in Archie’s mouth, a slight echo) Oh dear, it’s worse than I
thought – extensive aggressive gum disease! What have we been up to, Mr. Atwood?
AMELIA Gum disease, Doctor?
MÜLLER Oh yes, Mrs. Atwood, rampant. You can see it quite clearly, there and there.
AMELIA Oh my, so you can…
ARCHIE (Sitting up, spluttering) You’re insane!
MÜLLER A layman’s assessment, Mr. Atwood, but since you’re not a dentist, you’re to be forgiven. I’m afraid they’ll have to go.
ARCHIE What will?
MÜLLER The teeth, all of them. Nurse Trips, the Electric Extraction Evacuator!
NURSE Right away, Doctor. (Sounds of assembly with the aid of a rivet gun)
ARCHIE Now this is going too far -----
NURSE The nine-gauge enamel extractor, Doctor?
MÜLLER Make it the double barrel injector: he’s quite a mouthful.
AMELIA Will he suffer greatly, Doctor?
MÜLLER He may.
NURSE Extractor drill, Doctor, double-barrel injector.
DOCTOR MULLER revs the twenty-four double-barrel injector. It makes a sound like a common carpentry drill, huge and full of weight.
MÜLLER Excellent, Nurse, wonderful work…
ARCHIE Amelia, dear, you can’t let them do this!
AMELIA I’m sorry, Archie dear. Kill or cure…
MÜLLER Now you may feel a slight sting, Mr. Atwood. Ready now? Here we go…
DOCTOR MULLER applies the drill. It has a horrifically electric, jangling quality, as if a pocketful of spare change were put into a blender and turned on High. It scrapes against ARCHIE'S teeth with the high, blackboard screech of an angle-grinder.
MÜLLER You’re doing wonderfully, Mr. Atwood, a proper upright champ!
The drill revs high and low, and each cycle is accompanied by a dainty “KA-PLINK” sound as DOCTOR MULLER drops ARCHIE'S teeth into the little metal tray, one at a time.
AMELIA It’s all rather… thrilling, isn’t it, Nurse?
NURSE Oh yes. The Doctor is a genius with an alternating current.
MÜLLER I say, ladies, here’s a thing to pass the time: I’ll hum a tune, and you try to guess it. Ready? Three guesses now, here we
go… (Doctor Müller hums cheerfully over the sound of the drill) Got it? Suction please, Nurse. (Moist suction noises up the
hose) What’s that, Mr. Atwood? No, I’m afraid that’s not quite it…
NURSE Well Doctor, it’s quite clearly -----
MÜLLER Steady now, Nurse, give the man a chance. (Drill buzzes like a drop-saw, suction Hoovering wetly) Another go, Mr. Atwood?
I’ll give you a clue: it’s three verses and a bridge, with a signature of five-four.
AMELIA Was it popular in its time?
MÜLLER Made the Top Forty countdown.
NURSE Singer or band?
MÜLLER I’m offended you have to ask! Once more with feeling: it goes hmm hm hmm HMMM… Honestly Mr. Atwood, it’s
AMELIA It’s “I’m Your Man,” by the British band Wham!
MÜLLER Very good, Mrs. Atwood! You can have a mint.
DOCTOR MULLER'S drill suddenly staggers, coming up against a particularly stubborn tooth. He revs it once, twice, applying it each time with the same slack result. He powers it down.
MÜLLER Hmm, seems we have an insurrectionist, Mr. Atwood. Nurse: the Jaw Splitter, if you please.
ARCHIE (Seizing the lucid moment) “Jwaw Spwitter”!?
MÜLLER I assure you, Mr. Atwood, it’s not as fierce as it sounds. Ready Nurse? Engage.
NURSE TRIPS places a wiry steel cage over ARCHIE'S head and mouth, a homemade contraption not dissimilar to the head-opener from the delightful Saw franchise. DOCTOR MULLER shoves the mouth prongs between ARCHIE'S lips and begins to ratchet his jaws apart like a car jack.
AMELIA (Breathless) You’re very good, Doctor.
MÜLLER Thank-you, Mrs. Atwood. Hold his legs still, please.
AMELIA My pleasure.
MÜLLER You’re a peach. Deep breath, Mr. Atwood, and…
Little gears and cogs whirl into motion, accompanying the sound of an even more degenerate drill as DOCTOR MULLER attacks the stubborn toothicle. The sound is nerve shattering in a Cronenberg/Looney Tunes kind of way, and reaches a climax accompanied by a meaty “Shhh-RIP”.
MÜLLER And that, ladies and gentlemen, is a horse of a different color!
DOCTOR MULLER drops the last of ARCHIE'S teeth into the metal tray – “Ka-PLINK!” – and tears off his gloves.
MÜLLER Thank-you, Nurse, that will be all for now.
NURSE But we’ve made such a mess…
MÜLLER I dare say we’ll manage. (Unstrapping Archie with a series of medieval manacle clinks and Velcro tearings) How are we
feeling, Mr. Atwood?
ARCHIE (Semi-conscious moan through a mouth full of cotton wool)
MÜLLER Beyond words. Capital! (Lifting Archie up and depositing him on the floor with a THUMP) There we go, trooper. Now, Mrs.
Atwood, be sure to keep that cotton in there for at least a calendar month, or dear Archie may be tempted to exert himself.
AMELIA Of course, Doctor, just as you say.
MÜLLER Naturally! Now, my dear, to the business: I believe you have a… cavity?
AMELIA Oh yes, Doctor. Such a cavity…
MÜLLER A compacted… brittle… septic… cavity?
AMELIA So septic, Doctor…
MÜLLER It… weeps?
MÜLLER (With echo) If you don’t mind me saying, you have an exquisitely formed underbite…
AMELIA Oh Doctor… Might I suggest the thirty-nine gauge… triple barrel?
MÜLLER My dear Mrs. Atwood… I thought you’d never ask. (Doctor Müller applies the rattling drill)
AMELIA Oh Doctor…
ARCHIE (From the floor) Urrgh…