William And His Body

by robhayeswritesplays

A doctor’s surgery.

Dr. Passwater sits on one side of the desk, a file full of notes in front of her.

William sits on the opposite side of the desk, nervous.

DR. PASSWATER It’s grown.

WILLIAM Grown?

DR. PASSWATER It’s now the size of a grape.

WILLIAM What was it last time?

DR. PASSWATER Cherry.

William takes this in.

WILLIAM Why does it always have to be fruit?

DR. PASSWATER Looks good on the charts. For the kids.

WILLIAM Can you operate?

DR. PASSWATER Me? No. I’m a consultant.

WILLIAM I mean. Can they operate?

Dr. Passwater grimaces.

DR. PASSWATER I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking ‘can they operate?’ As if it’s as easy as that. Easy peasy.

WILLIAM Well no. I just.

DR. PASSWATER I mean, it’s not rocket science! But it is brain surgery.

WILLIAM I wouldn’t. Suggest.

DR. PASSWATER Thing is, you cut out a chunk of someone’s brain and something tends to stop working.

WILLIAM How do you mean?

DR. PASSWATER We start digging around in your cerebral cortex and all of a sudden you’ve forgotten how to read. Hack off a frontal lobe and you can’t recognise your own wife. That kind of thing. It’ll be like us spilling coffee on your laptop.

WILLIAM Jesus.

DR. PASSWATER Truth is we won’t know until it gets to clementine. Whether it’s safe I mean. Chances are it’s not.

WILLIAM Clementine.

DR. PASSWATER It’s after lycee. On the chart.

William rubs his face.

WILLIAM God.

Dr. Passwater checks her watch.

WILLIAM So, what? Am I going to die?

DR. PASSWATER Absolutely.

WILLIAM From the tumour?

DR. PASSWATER Oh!

Dr. Passwater laughs at her mistake, shakes her head.

DR. PASSWATER Probably.

WILLIAM Is there anything we can do?

DR. PASSWATER At this stage? Absolutely nothing.

WILLIAM What about chemotherapy?

DR. PASSWATER Apart from chemotherapy.

WILLIAM So that’s a possibility?

DR. PASSWATER Yes and no. Mainly no. We have one machine, and there’s a priority list in place.

WILLIAM Priority list? What are you saving it for? Mangoes?

DR. PASSWATER No need to be facetious.

WILLIAM Bloody watermelons?

DR. PASSWATER Celebrities actually.

WILLIAM I’m sorry I don’t quite.

DR. PASSWATER People of fame or repute. Or particular wealth.

WILLIAM Famous people? You save the chemotherapy machine for famous people?

DR. PASSWATER It’s a PR thing. For the clinic. We’ve got that guy from Emmerdale in this afternoon. You know the one with cancer. He’s bringing a reality TV crew with him.

WILLIAM This is insane.

DR. PASSWATER We might’ve been able to squeeze you in tomorrow morning, but Dale Winton’s found a lump. Then Thursday we’ve got Gale Porter.

WILLIAM Gale Porter has alopecia.

Beat. Dr. Passwater consults her file.

DR. PASSWATER Hmmm.

WILLIAM Can I have her slot?

Dr. Passwater thinks for a second. She sighs and takes out a questionnaire.

She clicks her pen.

DR. PASSWATER Age?

WILLIAM 32.

DR. PASSWATER Sex?

WILLIAM Uh. Male.

DR. PASSWATER Life insurance?

WILLIAM Nope.

DR. PASSWATER Blood type?

WILLIAM O Negative.

DR. PASSWATER Nice. Ever suffered from arthritis?

WILLIAM No.

DR. PASSWATER Palsy?

WILLIAM No.

DR. PASSWATER Polio?

WILLIAM No.

DR. PASSWATER Gout?

WILLIAM No.

DR. PASSWATER Heart failure?

WILLIAM No.

DR. PASSWATER Angina, chronic, acute or otherwise?

WILLIAM No.

DR. PASSWATER Asthma?

WILLIAM No.

DR. PASSWATER Eczema?

WILLIAM No.

DR. PASSWATER Appendicitis?

WILLIAM No.

DR. PASSWATER Brittle bone disease grades 2-7?

WILLIAM No.

DR. PASSWATER Rickets?

WILLIAM No.

DR. PASSWATER Lazy eye?

WILLIAM No.

DR. PASSWATER Wandering eye?

WILLIAM No.

DR. PASSWATER Eye of the Tiger?

WILLIAM No.

DR. PASSWATER Parkinson’s disease?

WILLIAM No.

DR. PASSWATER Wogan’s syndrome?

WILLIAM No.

DR. PASSWATER Norton’s Infection.

WILLIAM No.

DR. PASSWATER Tennis elbow?

WILLIAM No.

DR. PASSWATER Dancer’s ankle?

WILLIAM No.

DR. PASSWATER Rambler’s hip?

WILLIAM No.

DR. PASSWATER Fencer’s shoulder?

WILLIAM No.

DR. PASSWATER Jogger’s nipple?

WILLIAM No.

DR. PASSWATER Housewife’s jaw?

WILLIAM No.

DR. PASSWATER Plasterer’s radio?

WILLIAM No.

DR. PASSWATER Sub-cutaneal lipo-disfigurement?

WILLIAM No.

DR. PASSWATER Acute nervous retinal detachment?

WILLIAM No.

DR. PASSWATER Advanced seasonal cognitive misappropriation?

WILLIAM No.

DR. PASSWATER Extreme spontaneous dental hydroplosion?

WILLIAM No.

DR. PASSWATER Di-nitrotoxic plasmo-psychosis?

WILLIAM No.

DR. PASSWATER Cyrrosis of the liver?

WILLIAM No.

DR. PASSWATER Osmosis of the kidneys?

WILLIAM No.

DR. PASSWATER Inertia of the colon?

WILLIAM No.

DR. PASSWATER Protrusion of the rectum?

WILLIAM What?

DR. PASSWATER Answer the question.

WILLIAM No.

DR. PASSWATER Gall stones?

WILLIAM No.

DR. PASSWATER Kidney stones?

WILLIAM No.

DR. PASSWATER Flint stones?

WILLIAM No.

DR. PASSWATER Overactive mucus gland?

WILLIAM No.

DR. PASSWATER Underactive prostate gland?

WILLIAM No.

DR. PASSWATER Hepatitis A-G?

WILLIAM No.

DR. PASSWATER Erectile dysfunction?

WILLIAM No.

DR. PASSWATER Projectile misfunction?

WILLIAM No.

DR. PASSWATER Premature emasculation?

WILLIAM No.

DR. PASSWATER Heart murmur?

WILLIAM No.

DR. PASSWATER Kidney whisper?

WILLIAM No.

DR. PASSWATER Stomach growl?

WILLIAM Occasionally.

She looks at him. Ticks the form.

DR. PASSWATER Syphilis?

WILLIAM No.

DR. PASSWATER Hysteria?

WILLIAM No.

DR. PASSWATER Phantom pregnancy?

WILLIAM No.

DR. PASSWATER M.E.?

WILLIAM No.

DR. PASSWATER M.S.?

WILLIAM No.

DR. PASSWATER T.B.?

WILLIAM No.

DR. PASSWATER Any S.T.I.s?

WILLIAM No.

DR. PASSWATER P.M.T.?

WILLIAM No?

DR. PASSWATER S.A.D.?

WILLIAM No.

DR. PASSWATER R.S.I.?

WILLIAM No.

DR.PASSWATER R.E.S.P.E.C.T.?

WILLIAM Pardon?

DR. PASSWATER It’s a very serious condition.

WILLIAM Oh. No.

DR. PASSWATER Cancer of the liver, lungs, colon, pancreas, bone, blood, heart, testes, prostate or throat?

WILLIAM No.

DR. PASSWATER And finally, any brain tumours?

Dr. Passwater ticks the form.

DR. PASSWATER Yes.

She writes.

DR. PASSWATER Brackets, grape.

She takes out a calculator.

DR. PASSWATER Bear with me a moment. She consults the questionnaire and starts making calculations.

WILLIAM How long can I expect the treatment period to last?

Beat. She calculates.

WILLIAM Just thinking whether I need to apply for sick leave. I hear the effects of chemo can be. Pretty.

Dr. Passwater finishes her calculations. She writes down two figures on a piece of paper and puts them in front of William.

WILLIAM What are these?

DR. PASSWATER The one on the left is how much you’re costing the state as a sick person. That’s tax losses when you leave work, incapacity benefits, the cost of consultations, cancer drugs, chemotherapy and, in later weeks, hospitality.

WILLIAM Oh my goodness. And what about the one on the right?

DR. PASSWATER Well, that figure is.

WILLIAM Yes?

DR. PASSWATER No don’t be alarmed, it’s not as macabre as it seems.

WILLIAM What isn’t? What does it mean?

DR. PASSWATER Just take a deep breath.

WILLIAM It’s bigger than the other one. What is it?

DR. PASSWATER Please try and see things from a.

WILLIAM For god’s sake just tell me what it is.

DR. PASSWATER The figure on the right is how much you’re worth. Dead.

WILLIAM Dead?

DR. PASSWATER As you can see, it’s nearly four times higher.

WILLIAM Dead? I don’t. I don’t.

DR. PASSWATER Organs can be sold to independent research clinics around the world. Hair can be sold to wig makers. Blood to the Red Cross. Eyeballs to specialist surgeons in China. Teeth to gypsies for jewellery. I could go on. Your testicles are a delicacy in.

WILLIAM I get it. Thank you.

DR. PASSWATER You have a young family, is that correct?

WILLIAM A. A little girl.

DR. PASSWATER That’s nearly half a million your next of kin stand to inherit. Minus our fee.

WILLIAM This is. Ridiculous. I mean.

DR. PASSWATER Give it some thought.

WILLIAM You’re saying I should. What, kill myself?

DR. PASSWATER Not kill yourself, no. We have a team of. It’s all on the leaflet.

She takes out a leaflet and puts it on the table.

WILLIAM This. This is. I’m sorry, is this a joke?

DR. PASSWATER No.

WILLIAM Because I find this in very bad taste. I don’t know who you’re trying to amuse here.

DR. PASSWATER I want you to think long and hard about what difference it would make if you were dead. Financial implications aside.

WILLIAM What difference? Well it would make a pretty bloody big difference to me!

DR. PASSWATER I had one of my assistants compile a report just in case. It makes for interesting reading.

WILLIAM What do you mean, report? What report?

She opens another file.

DR. PASSWATER Your supervisor rates your productivity at around 54% and your value to the company at 46%.

WILLIAM What is this?

DR. PASSWATER Your earning power is below average for your age group.

WILLIAM You have got to be kidding me.

DR. PASSWATER Your current contribution to charitable organisations is zero.

WILLIAM No. I’m sorry, no.

DR. PASSWATER It’ll take Victoria an estimated 38 weeks to find a new partner. And another 55 weeks to remarry. Furthermore, you’ll leave behind no direct descendents.

WILLIAM What? Direct. What about Isabelle?

DR. PASSWATER Isabelle.

WILLIAM Yes my daughter Isabelle.

DR. PASSWATER Your daughter?

Dr. Passwater consults the file.

DR. PASSWATER I have the DNA results in front of me right now and they don’t. You’re not.

WILLIAM No. No.

DR. PASSWATER Isabelle was conceived in the last week of May three years ago, whilst, according to this, you were on a business trip in.

WILLIAM Saddleworth.

DR. PASSWATER And your wife was staying with.

WILLIAM Steve. Oh my god.

Beat.

DR. PASSWATER Try not to think of it as losing a daughter, so much as gaining a niece.

Pause. Dr. Passwater nudges the leaflet closer.

DR. PASSWATER Have a long think about your next move. You have just over a month before it reaches lemon. By which I mean terminal.

Beat.

WILLIAM Thank you for your help, doctor.

DR. PASSWATER That’s what I’m here for.

WILLIAM Do you. Take care.

DR. PASSWATER Everything. We take care of everything.

WILLIAM I think I know what to do now.

DR. PASSWATER Good. Feel free to make an appointment at reception on your way out.

Beat. He doesn’t move.

DR. PASSWATER On your way out.

WILLIAM Am I really as useless as all that?

DR. PASSWATER You’re a very valuable human being.

William stands up, slowly moves to exit. Turns, picks up the leaflet, exits.

Dr. Passwater presses her intercom.

DR. PASSWATER  Sandra, can we confirm Dale for tomorrow morning please? Has he actually found a tumour this time, or is it another lump of Brylcreem?

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