Ingrown Toenail

I’m either a closet sociopath or the stuff I write is stuff that everyone thinks about but doesn’t say aloud. No matter which is true, I’m not worried about it.

Scott McPodiatrist

blue bmw sedan near green lawn grass
Photo by Mike Bird on Pexels.com

The parking lot was unpaved and bumpy, shaking the car like it was like a pirate ship sailing over the seven seas. Only two handicapped parking spots were in decent condition. “I’d lose a limb to get one of those spots. Then at least my car won’t scream for help anytime there’s a level change,” Kyle thought to himself.

His wife Debra was sitting next to him, holding onto the door handle so as to not bounce around too much. “Can you drive a little more carefully?” she asked with a voice as smooth as chocolate. “My foot already hurts enough, and this isn’t making it any better.”

“Then you’re going to hate walking over it. This lot’s a fucking mess.”

“I can tell.”

“You’d think they’d make the parking lot in front of a podiatrists office walkable.”

“You’d think.”

“I mean honestly, this would be like forcing a diabetic to walk through a candy shop just to get their insulin. It’s ridiculous.”

“You’re right, but what can you do?” she asked in a matter-of-fact tone.

“Nothing. You can never do fucking anything.”

Kyle backed into a spot between two gray sedans. The only other open spot in the lot had a pile of rocks that was taller than the gray sedan that they were driving in, and there’d be just enough room to open the car door and scream obscenities because no one could get in or out. “Can you hold this for a second?” Debra asked Kyle, handing him her purse.

Without a word, they walked through the minefield of a parking lot and onto an equally bumpy sidewalk that led to the door; fingerprints covered the glass entrance from top to bottom on both inside and outside, and it looked like it hadn’t been cleaned since the Dust Bowl. “Do you have an appointment?” the receptionist asked as they walked in.

“Yeah,” Debra said. “It should be under Talbot.”

“Debra?”

“Yep, that’s me.”

“What’s your birth date?”

“Seven eight, eighty-seven.”

“Perfect. You can sit down, and we’ll call you in when Dr. Bell is ready.”

“Thank you.” Debra sat down at in the narrow waiting room and Kyle sat next to her. Two rows of chairs sat parallel to each other and a TV had the Home & Garden network blaring the newest trends in interior decorating. Kyle opened the book in his hand and turned to the popsicle stick bookmark that stuck out of the top. The bottom third of the stick was a light brown, but the top was tinted red and had a small stench of cherry. A joke shined through the coloring; “Where do spaghetti and sauce go to dance?” the stick read. “The Meat Ball.” Kyle never thought it was that funny of a joke, but Debra cried of laughter for about ten minutes after the punchline was revealed two years ago. Even now, she would still chuckle when she saw the punchline.

Sitting across from them was a mother, her teenaged daughter and teenaged son. They weren’t talking until we sat down, and then they began talking about the books that they’ve been reading recently. “I won’t read anything unless it’s non-fiction,” the mother said in a pretentious tone to her kids. “What’s the point of reading if you’re not going to learn something from it? I’d rather read something where I can better myself than some silly fiction book.”

Slaughterhouse-Five was sitting in Kyle’s lap, opened to the most recent page that he had been reading, but he couldn’t focus. “I just don’t get the point,” she continued. “Most women my age read books with Fabio on the cover, and it’s just immature.”

“Who’s Fabio?” her son asked.

“Yeah,” her daughter echoed. “who is that?”

“You don’t know who Fabio is? Then I’m really showing my age,” the mom said. “He’s the guy on the cover of almost every romance novel in existence. Here,” she took out her phone, “let me show you a picture.”

Kyle exhaled, trying not to show his anger. “This woman is openly judging my choice of book, but this bitch doesn’t know anything,” he thought to himself. “She says that she’ll only read to better herself, but I bet she’s as retarded as they come; probably just another basic bitch of a housewife.”

“That’s him?” the daughter laughed as she looked at her mom’s phone. “He looks terrible.”

“Like, look at his hair!” the son laughed.

“That’s what most women my age like. You’re lucky you have a cool mom like me.”

Kyle zoned out. He couldn’t listen to this prick anymore. “She sounds like she had the most horrific god-complex in existence, and what’s worse is she thinks people respect it,” he thought to himself again.

“Debra?” the doctor opened a door in the lobby and held it there. “Come on back. Let’s get that toe looked at.”

“I’ll be back out soon,” Debra told Kyle, “I love you.”

“Love you too.”

She disappeared behind the door, and Kyle was left trying to focus on either the book or TV, but neither could completely tune out the pompous assholes across the room. A car roared up the gravel parking lot and spun into the handicapped spots, launching rocks at the grimy door. Seconds later, another older woman walked through, and she gave the off the aroma of arrogance in the way that she walked.

The woman signed in and then sat next to Kyle, even though there were enough chairs in the waiting room for her to put space between them. She craned her neck to look at the TV, and her eyes glowed for a second, but Kyle couldn’t tell if it was excitement for the most mundane programming in the world, or if it was literally just the glow of the TV, then she opened her mouth.

No words crossed her overly decorated lips, instead, it was the arrhythmic sound of her teeth slapping a piece of gum with her mouth hanging open, like a cow chewing cud. The chewing took Kyle to a different plane of existence where he could hear nothing but her inconsiderate mouth. “It was worse than nails on a chalkboard, because at least with nails on a chalkboard the person doing it knows they’re an asshole. This woman has no fucking clue that she’s driving me insane.”

Her neck arched back to look forward as she looked around the waiting room, but then her phone rang with that generic chiming ringtone that everyone hated. She dug through her bag for upwards of fifteen seconds before she found her phone and then answered the call. “Hello?” she said, still chewing gum loudly. She popped a bubble with the sound strong enough to blow Kyle’s brain out and sucked it back in through her mouth. “No, I’m not busy. What’s up?”

The woman picked up a magazine and flipped through the plastic pages absent-mindedly while pretending to listen to whomever was on the other side of the phone. “Oh my god, are you serious?” she said in a tone that proved her lack of interest and commitment to the conversation. “That’s crazy,” said the inconsiderate bitch. Another page flipped by and another bubble blasted through the waiting room.

“Are you serious?” she said again. “I don’t believe you.”

Kyle thought about how he would feel to be on the other side of the phone talking to this cunt. He’d be irate to the nth degree. “How could anyone be okay with talking to this idiot?”

She had a wedding ring on her finger and the same demeanor as the mom sitting across from her, thinking that she was better than everyone. “I bet this cunt’s a soccer mom. And her kids probably hate her. ‘Eat your oranges’ she’d say, so that they can be big and strong, and ultimately bully the other kids that they go to school with to get rid of the frustration that they have bottled up for her and don’t understand yet.”

The gum popped again, ricocheting through the room, almost hitting and killing the woman’s son as he scrolled through something on his phone. Kyle got up. He had to. This room was quickly killing him.

He stepped outside to get some fresh air. The sun was beaming down, but it was frigid, and Kyle’s coat wasn’t doing enough to protect him from the cold. Right in front of him was the gum-chewing bitch’s car. It was an SUV. “I’m sure she brags about this to all of her other mom friends while her husband’s at work,” he laughed to himself. “I’m positive that her husband is cheating on her with his secretary. There’s no doubt in my mind that this is exactly what’s happening.”

Kyle took a few steps around the automobile and stopped. He realized how easy it would be to cut her brake line. “Surely it would make her husband and kids happier, plus she’d stop chewing gum like the grossest of abominations.” In his head, the scene played out over and over: he’d cut the brake line, she’d drive home and crash into someone bumper while she was on the phone with someone listening to her chew her gum. He hoped that she wouldn’t wear her seat belt, so that she’d get launched through the windshield, then even if she didn’t die, she’d be disfigured enough to hate her own superficial face.

He seriously contemplated it for a minute or two when he was overcome with this drive that he’d never felt before. Running to the gray sedan that he and Debra pulled up in, he opened the trunk to grab his compound snips, which was in his roadside tool set. The orange and gray box closed as the knife slid into his pocket.

Calmly and as inconspicuously as he could, he walked through the bumpy parking lot and crouched next to the SUV. He pulled himself underneath and looked at all of the different tubing when he found the brake line. The tool seemed to float up, ready to cut without any external intervention.

“Kyle?” a voice, which he recognized as Debra’s called out. “Are you out here?”

“Yeah,” he said, slipping the tool into his pocket before he cut the line.

“What are you doing under there?”

He thought for a second as he pulled himself out and got to his feet. “The woman in there said she heard a rattling in her car, and I said I’d take a look.” He lifted his thumb to the glass door, seeing his lying reflection look back at him, pretending to give the woman confirmation that everything was fine.

“That’s sweet,” Debra said, throwing her arms over Kyle’s shoulders and wrapping around his neck. She kissed him on the cheek. “You’re covered in dust. You should shower when we get home.”

“I know. I will. How’s your toe?”

“He said to come back in a few days and he’ll surgically remove it. He said that a toenail that gives this many problems in six months needs to go.”

“At least it’ll be taken care of.”

They got in the car and drove home. When Kyle pulled into the garage, he set the snips on his workbench and went inside to shower. Debra had gone straight inside and grabbed a bag of chips, which she was chewing to the beat of a machine gun.

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