“Alright, Mr. Johnson,” the nurse said. “It appears that your vital signs are in order and you’ve actually lost a few pounds since the last time you were here.”
Herbert Johnson puffed his already bulbous stomach out as far as he could and smacked it like a drum. “Huh, could’ve fooled me!”
The nurse looked at Herbert with an unamused glare. He patted his belly for a few more seconds before giving up on making her smile. “Head down to examination room 213 and the doctor should be waiting for you to discuss the results of your blood work.”
Herbert turned away and shuffled down the hallway, disheartened by the humorless exchange. It was the third time that morning that Herbert tried, and failed, to woo with his razor-sharp wit. First the bus driver, then the barista, and now this. Maybe people just didn’t like good, clean humor anymore, with all those TV programs South Parks and Cleveland Shows and Glenn Martin, DDS filling their heads with bad language and naughty jokes.
Herbert reached the end of the hallway his destination, room 213. He opened the door to see a fairly small examination room with all the usual trappings, like an examination table, ergonomic standing desk, and posters of diseased organs, but one thing caught him off guard. In the center of the room sat a large white box. The box was blank, featureless besides a curved metal handle jutting from the side. Herbert walked forward and lightly tapped the box with his foot, but nothing happened. A few more quick taps but again, nothing. He tried to feel around for a lid, but every edge of the box was flush with no seams to be seen. Herbert reached down, grabbed the handle, and gave it a turn.
He spun the handle around 5 or 6 times causing a slight metallic twinkling to come from inside the box until it wouldn’t budge another inch. He let go. A bright melody rang out, slowly increasing in tempo. Dum da dum da duh da da dum da dum da duh da da dam da dum da dum da da duh da dum-
“You have cancer!” the doctor shouted as he sprung from the box, sending Herbert flying backwards.
“Jeez, why did you have to- wait, what did you say?”
“Your blood work came back and we found a high level of cancer markers in your bloodstream, which means that the cyst on the back of your leg is malignant,” the doctor said, his excitement replaced with a calm and calculated demeanor. “I’m sorry about this, Mr. Johnson, I truly am.”
Herbert sobbed to himself as he laid doubled over on the floor, clenching his chest.
“I can do the thing where I leap out of the box again, if you’d like. I can even say something besides ‘you have cancer.’”
Herbert muttered something under his breath about never seeing his granddaughter graduate from college.
The doctor leaned out of the box and patted Herbert on the shoulder. “It looks like you need some time to think this over. I’ll leave you alone and have to nurses call the mimes in about 5.”