It had been close to two years since my last dental cleaning. I had been in LA for a year now with no real job to speak of and no health insurance. I was living in an apartment on Willoughby, right at the dividing line of Hollywood and West Hollywood. I had no car and stayed pretty slim walking, as everything I needed was in walking distance and the weather was always nice. Why I moved to LA and what I was going to do with my life was trivial and will remain trivial to you once you hear this story.
It was a hot dry June day, summer 2002. No clouds to temporarily rescue a burning neck and forehead and squinting eyes, despite sunglasses. They had no hours for me at the tutoring center that day, which is a place I counted on to hire and pay me for about 20 hours a week. I had started there part time two months earlier working with spoiled rich kids from Pacific Palisades who were earning Bs but needed to earn As so their parents had bragging rights at dinner parties in the hills. Anyway, they had nothing for me that day, so no long bus ride through the snakelike climbing stretch of Sunset Blvd to the Palisades to work with Devin on his Math and English. Instead, I was free to window shop and rummage in my neighborhood grid of fashion stores, tattoo parlors, music shops, bars and clubs. But I had a nagging tooth ache. A dull pain shot through my jaw and up my temple with every step I took. A cavity I assumed, been bugging me for a few weeks now.
As I climbed Sunset Blvd across Fairfax past the Laugh Factory, I noticed a blue sign outside a beige stucco two story building that read Dvorkin Dentistry (walk-ins welcome/no insurance needed!). It was a sign, but it was also a sign! ‘Deal with this tooth issue immediately’ I thought. So I walked up the steps and through the squeaking glass door only made louder by the copper chimes that clashed against the pane as it shut. A girl that looked no older than seventeen was sitting at the reception desk. She was so short, only her nose and eyes were visible over the countertop until I got close enough to lean against it and get a better look down at her. She had wispy black hair, hollow blue eyes and translucent skin. There was something beautiful about her, but tragically beautiful- like she was the ghost of an angel.
“Hi, welcome, and how I can help you today?” she said with a thick Russian accent.
“Hi, I think I have a cavity, a lot of pain in my tooth and I need it looked at. You take credit cards, right?” I asked.
“Yes, of course, assuming it is, you know, good for bank. That there is money” she said as she worked a smile.
I presented a credit card that I had managed to keep at a low balance and wiggled it back and forth between my fingers in front of her, grinning. She giggled and her white cheeks blushed a little and said told me to hold onto it until I checked out.
“Feel out these form and Dr. Dvorkin weel be to see you soon” she said with her thick but cute accent as she handed me a clipboard and pen.
I filled it out, turned it into the little waif and flipped through a faded old copy of People magazine while I waited. I pictured the dentist to be this tall, steely-eyed Russian man with a thick mane of white hair and a gruff voice. When my imagined dentist came around the corner, he could not have been further from my premature description. She was about thirty, was close to six feet tall, thin and angular, with long blonde hair, long gorgeous legs, and small perky breasts that were trapped by a black lace bra, visible over the not so well buttoned white dentist jacket that fit her frame. She had translucent skin like her little receptionist, but ruby red lips, green eyes and amazing cheekbones. I had never seen anything like this in the medical or dental profession, except on bullshit TV shows where everyone is beautiful anyway.
“I am Dr. Dvorkin. I weel be taking care of your teeth” she said with an even thicker Russian accent than the waif, and a handshake so firm that it hurt. She did not smile, she didn’t even hint of one. “Come with me to the back room here to left and sit down”
When I get nervous, I try to make jokes and I talk too much, so that is just what I did.
“I look forward to giving you a bad credit card after you take care of me. I’m sure it will be no different than what you are used to from us LA newcomers huh?” But she just wrinkled her brows which helped her eyes spell out her disapproval of my joke. As for the mouth- nothing. No smile, and not even a frown really. Just those two ruby red lips sewn in an eternally expressionless semi-pout.
“I’m kidding, obviously. Don’t worry, my card is mine and it works fine”
“I don’t worry. I just work on people and rest weel come. What is it they say- everything comes ‘round goes ‘round and people get what deserved. Is that it? Well you deserve no pain in teeth, right? Let’s see if pain is ‘posed to go way, then you are nice man. If I do what I do and pain does not leave, then maybe your card does not work for reason”
With that she put one hand on each of my shoulders and pushed me hard into the dental chair, then put her hand over my forehead and jammed my head into the headrest.
“Lie steel and I will clean your mouth and see if you have cavity. If it is cavity you have, I fix you” she said with no change in tone and still completely expressionless.
All of a sudden, two metal clamps that I had not noticed on the arm rests of the dental chair were locked over my wrists. The waif receptionist raced up to the door and pulled it shut, locking me in the room with Dr. Dvorkin. Now Dvorkin, the Russian beauty was smiling. But this was not a reassuring dentist smile. It was not a flirtatious smile. It was not any kind of smile I had ever seen up close and in person. This was the smile of complete insanity. A combination of satisfaction for having me in such a helplessly compromised position and the crazed excitement of what would come- known to her and completely unknown to me. She was relishing in this, whatever this was.
“What the hell are you doing?” I pleaded
“LIE STEEL!” she commanded as I strained to sit up
“You American boys, you like the S&M? You will be in the S&M and you weel watch the S&M and you will not ever be like you think you own the whole world again”
“I don’t know what the hell you are talking about. You must have me confused with someone else. I don’t know what someone else did to you, but you don’t need to punish me for it. I never did anything to you!”
“SHUT UP! LIE STEEL! I not said I kill you or punish you. I make you enjoy this like all men enjoy these things”
With that Dr. Dvorkin took out her dentistry portfolio of forceps, excavators, scalers, and even a scalpel. She grabbed me by the neck and squeezed just tight enough that I would not struggle without her strong grip cutting off my air supply. Her face leaned into mine. Her steely green eyes locked in on me. I was the prey, she the predator, and she knew it. She lived for this. You could see it in her eyes. It was as if she was never a little innocent girl in Russia. She was always this thing, designed to bring others into submissive nothingness.
She grabbed the forceps and pulled hard at one tooth. She put her high heel against my thigh and with all her body weight, leaned backwards until I felt and pop and a horrible pain shoot up my skull. She released her grip on the forceps and let my bloody tooth drop into a metal pan with a ping. Watching the blood run down my mouth, her eyes came alive with arousal. She leaned into me, grabbing my hair and licking the blood of my face with her hot thin tongue. Her breathing was heavy and frantic.
“Oh God, must take another one. I need more!” she panted.
With that she plunged into my mouth again and got a grip on a molar and pulled with all her might, both high heels digging into my leg for leverage as I let out a scream. I could see the blood shoot out of my mouth from the corner of my eye and land on her neck. “YES!” She cried out with pleasure, as I almost blacked out. Again she dropped the tooth into the pan and freed her hand of the forceps to wipe at the blood on her chest. Her fingers slowly spread the blood into three trails leading down to the ravine between her breasts. She then reached into her black bra and pulled out one of her breasts, smearing more of my blood on it, groaning. Then she opened her white dental jacket, revealing that she was wearing nothing but the black bra and matching black panties. She continued to collect blood from my mouth and rub it onto her breast, belly and thighs. She had a beautiful body, but I was not aroused. I was in the worst pain in my life, watching a praying mantis feast upon me.
“Now it is time to watch. You WILL watch because is what you American boys like to do, yes?” as she grabbed my head hard and swiveled it towards a small TV monitor, high up on the wall opposite where I was imprisoned in my chair. She grabbed a remote and turned the TV on. The image seemed to be a live feed of a room looking just like the one I was in. As I adjusted my watery stinging eyes, I could see two naked bodies having sex doggie-style on a dental chair. The man was chubby and hairy, wearing a black mask over his face. The girl was in full view- it was the waif receptionist, getting a full-on reaming, her face looking into the camera with a combination of ecstasy and shame. She had a dog collar on, the chain being pulled hard by the man every few thrusts. I closed my eyes. I could not conceive what was going on anymore. Who the hell were these people?
“You good boy. I geef you Novocain for rest of these procedure, OK?” Dr Dvorkin said, with almost a hint of compassion in both her voice and her eyes.
Choking on my blood I begged her not to do anything else to me and to just let me go. I would never speak of the beautiful yet insane Russian dentist that holds you captive while pulling out your teeth, getting off on your blood, and forcing you to watch S&M on a closed caption monitor. Who the hell would believe me anyway?
Dr. Dvorkin, now covered in my blood and completely naked, took a four inch needle and dug it into several spots in my gums as I screamed and writhed around in my chair. She grabbed the scalpel this time and straddled me from above, her crazed face shadowing the overhead dental light. I finally blacked out…
…I woke up in the foyer of the building that housed the dental office. The glass door to the office itself was locked and the lights were out. I was in someone else’s shirt which felt too big for my frame, but it was clean and smelled of bleach. I had a dull headache, but my mouth was completely numb. There were two papers folded up in the shirt pocket, I opened them. The first was a credit card receipt- a charge of $75. The second paper was a hand written note:
You have no cavities. Just needed cleaning, but gums bleed much so much
we change your shirt when you fall sick sleep from Novocain. Only
charge you minimum for first visit. Surprise your credit card work! We have
scheduled you for next cleaning in 6 months. Have nice summer.
I laughed and laughed so hard. I laughed my way out onto Sunset Blvd as all the LA transplants stared at me. I laughed the only way an American boy could laugh with only eighteen teeth in his mouth. I laughed at mother Russia, I laughed for mother Russia. I laughed the whole walk back to my apartment on Willoughby and prayed for a call from the tutor center so I could make $75 and pay off my dental bill.
John McNeeley is the author of the literary collections “39” and “Poetry Doesn’t Sell”. He is also the lyricist and front man for Boston-area rock band the Suburban Exiles. You can connect with John on the subjects of Music, Literature, and Pop Culture at http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-71-Sound/109603059113445