Dr. McGill’s Seventh Rodeo

by on April 15, 2023 :: 0 comments

photo "Surface Break" by Tyler Malone

Peter-Paul Nilsson, the famous Scandinavian radio journalist, was conducting an interview with Dr. Ralph McGill in the back seat of a limo when the driver stroked out. The car went off the road and into the river. “Hold that thought,” said Dr. McGill, rapidly assessing the situation. As the car slowly sank, he located a tool box under the seat and converted the vehicle into a miniature submarine.

“This is obviously not your first rodeo,” said Peter-Paul.

“It is my seventh rodeo,” Dr. McGill replied. The mini-sub barreled downstream on auto-pilot while Dr. McGill tended to the limo driver. “He’s in bad shape. I need to operate immediately. See if there’s a scalpel in that tool box, Peter-Paul. And some bandages.”

But there were no medical supplies in the tool box. Dr. McGill brought the mini-sub to the surface and espied a convenience store near the river bank. He wrote out a shopping list and sent Peter-Paul to secure the items on it while he prepped the driver (whose name was Jason) for brain surgery. The mini-sub bobbed gently in the placid waters at the edge of the river.

Peter-Paul returned with various implements required for the emergency brain surgery, and some snacks. “I can never resist a Slim Jim,” he said. They scrubbed up and quickly removed the top of Jason’s skull.

“Here’s the blood clot,” said Dr. McGill. “Hit pause on that YouTube video, Peter-Paul. I don’t want to botch this.” Dr. McGill was not a medical doctor, so he was following a brain surgery instruction video. The video had over 4 thousand views and 437 likes. Dr. McGill studied the frozen image carefully. “Okay. I’ve got it. Let’s do this.”

Dr. McGill cut and stitched, occasionally replaying the video to check his work. Peter-Paul handed him scalpels and other brain surgery tools, and wiped the sweat from Dr. McGill’s forehead, when it was requested.

“I think we’re in the home stretch now,” said Dr. McGill. “My hand’s getting tired, so I’m going to clamp these veins and… these other things that are like veins…”


“Yes, arteries. And give my fingers a rest, for ten minutes or so. I’ll set this timer which is shaped like a duck, and we can resume the interview.”

Peter-Paul flipped to the second page of his legal pad. “We left off on question… ah. Question 17.”

QUESTION 17: What is the ideal color scheme for a bathroom (including the wall trim) in a sub-tropical climate?

ANSWER 17: Certainly we want pale colors and all of them a good distance from the red end of the spectrum. Pale yellow but not gold, in other words. Light gray. Teal. I don’t like the bulge of that ‘artery.’

QUESTION 18: It does look ominous. Which Edward Gibbon quotation would you like to never encounter again?

ANSWER 18: ‘…The Holy Roman Empire, which was not Holy, nor Roman, nor an Empire.’ Impossible to argue with, brilliantly phrased, and I am sick to death of it. I’m going to cauterize this vein. Pass the soldering iron.

QUESTION 19: There’s no soldering iron. I’ll just hold this can opener in the flame of this cheap Bic lighter until it glows. A follow-up to the previous question concerning Edward Gibbon: You have a choice between two albums for your (single) Desert Island Disc. ‘Midnite Vultures’ by Beck, or ‘Ram’ by Paul & Linda McCartney. Which one? And would Edward Gibbon have chosen the same one?

ANSWER 19: Ah. Two excellent albums initially greeted with critical brickbats and condescension, now recognized as career high points. I think ‘Vultures.’ Try though I might, I simply can’t warm to the McCartneys’ “Long Haired Lady,” although the re-imagined version on “Twin Freaks” makes it clear that it’s far from worthless. I will say, ad arguendum, Gibbon would have been delighted by both versions of “Ram On” and almost certainly immune to the charms of Beck’s ‘disco stylings’. Oh dear. That’s a lot of blood. Sponge.

QUESTION 20: We’ve blown through the sponges. Wait. We have a Hostess Twinkie.

ANSWER 20: I thought you just had Slim Jims in that bag.

QUESTION 21: I got a Twinkie, too. [Passes it to Dr. McGill] Twinkie.

ANSWER 21: [Takes the Twinkie. Bites it] This is delicious. [Eats the rest of the Twinkie] I ink ee ost uh iver.

QUESTION 22: What?

ANSWER 22: [Swallows Twinkie] I think we lost the driver. Wooo. I’m having a sugar rush.

The duck-shaped timer went off. It was a chime. Peter-Paul had been expecting a quack. That would have been absurd, he thought, and said nothing. Dr. McGill covered the deceased driver with a table cloth.

“I suppose we should contact the police,” said Dr. McGill. He sprinkled a hastily-concocted temporary freezing powder on the surface of the river. They crossed the now-solid water. It shimmered briefly and re-liquified a few seconds after they were safely back on land.

But the land itself was unfamiliar; it bore little resemblance to the suburban Pennsylvania town they had recently been driving through prior to the driver’s fatal brain hemorrhage, or to the slightly more rural borough where Peter-Paul had stocked up on medical supplies and Slim Jims. It was an all but lunar landscape. Nothing but scrub grass grew. Inexplicable craters stretched to the horizon.

“Something happened,” ventured Dr. McGill.

They heard an eerie, distant noise. It was like kittens mewing. They both knew instinctively it was not kittens, though, and they shuddered.

“What’s that blue glow in the distance?” asked Peter-Paul.

Dr. McGill brought his opera glasses into play. “It appears to be a bowling alley.”

“Policemen often belong to recreational bowling leagues. Perhaps we would be able to make our report on the unfortunate driver there. And then conclude the interview.”

They started towards the pulsing blue glow.

“Maybe there’ll be some chicks at the snack bar,” said Peter-Paul wistfully.

“Maybe,” said Dr. McGill, but he was not optimistic.

editors note:

When we say life comes at you fast, we mean the madness is always here, just under the surface. ~ Tyler Malone

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