The Taxi

“You have a pimple,” said the doctor.

I’d hoped nobody would notice.

“You’ve been picking it,” he went on.

When I’d woken that morning – early, so as to get to this appointment – the pimple had reached the stage of hard expectancy in which it begs to be picked. It was yearning for release. Freeing it from its little white dome, pressing until the blood ran, I felt a sense of accomplishment: I’d done all that could be done for this pimple.

“You’ve been picking at yourself,” the doctor said.

I nodded. He was going to keep talking about it until I agreed with him, so I nodded.

“Have a boyfriend?” he asked.

I nodded to this too.

‘Trouble with the boyfriend?” It wasn’t a question, actually he was already nodding for me. “Picking at yourself,” he repeated. He popped out from behind his desk and lunged toward me. He was a taut fat man, tight-bellied and dark.

“You need a rest,” he announced.

I did need a rest, particularly since I’d gotten up so early that morning in order to see this doctor, who lived out in the suburbs. I’d changed trains twice. And I would have to retrace my steps to get to my job. Just thinking of it made me tired.

“Don’t you think?” He was still standing in front of me. “Don’t you think you need a rest?

“Yes,” I said.

He strode off to the adjacent room, where I could hear him talking on the phone.

I have thought often of the next ten minutes – my last ten minutes. I had the impulse, once, to get up and leave through the door I’d entered, to walk the several blocks to the trolley stop and wait for the train that would take me back to my troublesome boyfriend, my job at the kitchen store. But I was too tired. He strutted back into the room, busy, pleased with himself.

“I’ve got a bed for you,” he said. “It’ll be a rest. Just for a couple of weeks, okay?” He sounded conciliatory, or pleading, and I was afraid.

“I’ll go Friday,” I said. It was Tuesday, maybe by Friday I wouldn’t want to go.

He bore down on me with his belly. “No. You go now.

I thought this was unreasonable. “I have a lunch date,” I said.

“Forget it,” he said. “You aren’t going to lunch. You’re going to the hospital.” He looked triumphant.

It was very quiet out in the suburbs before eight in the morning. And neither of us had anything more to say. I heard the taxi pulling up in the doctor’s driveway.


He took me by the elbow – pinched me between his large stout fingers – and steered me outside. Keeping hold of my arm, he opened the back door of the taxi and pushed me in. His big head was in the backseat with me for a moment. Then he slammed the door shut.

The driver rolled his window down halfway.

“Where to?”

Coatless in the chilly morning, planted on his sturdy legs in his driveway, the doctor lifted one arm to point at me.

‘Take her to McLean,” he said, “and don’t let her out till you get there.”

I let my head fall back against the seat and shut my eyes. I was glad to be riding in a taxi instead of having to wait for the train.