“So, Mr. McManus, third time you’ve fallen down the stairs this year. You don’t happen to work in an M.C. Escher picture, do you?” His dry wit probably would have been funny had it not been for the terrible throbbing in my face.
My jaw wouldn’t move to say no, and my neck wouldn’t turn, so I mumbled, “nuh-uh” through swollen lips. “This won’t do,” he said, retrieving a jar and a syringe from a drawer. “This’ll help with the swelling and the pain. You’ll feel a slight pinch at the hinge of your jaw, and, there you are. Now, is there anything you’d like to tell me?”
I opened and shut my mouth, but aside from a particularly annoying popping, it seemed to be functioning perfectly. “I know what you’re thinking. I know that look. My girlfriend did not beat me up. I got my licks in, too, but- that’s not it, really. We’re just… rough.”
“Maybe you should start closer to the beginning.”
“It used to be okay, doc. I mean, every few months she’d start a fight in a bar or a restaurant, but she was careful; she made sure it was someone we could take, and made sure blame for the fight couldn’t be placed on us. It was never her and me against a McMenamin’s full of big angry bikers. But it just kept escalating, until this one night when a guy pulled a knife on us. I- I swear I don’t know how, but I got it away from him, and we had just the craziest carsex- I was cleaning body fluids out of the strangest places, like the glove box and the backseat ashtray.”
“But we agreed to stop after that. I think even she got that it was getting a little too real, you know? Of course it didn’t really stop, it just changed. At first the sex just got intense, like the whole world is on fire and the this is the last sex there will ever be kind of sex- which was awesome. I like a little roughness in sex- it’s kind of hot being called a bastard, and being in that little bit of pain.”
“And I don’t know if it started as a fight that became sex, or as sex and then a fight interrupted in the middle, but there was fighting, and yelling, kicking, biting, a little clawing, and I even slapped her once. And even that was great. It was fun, it was energetic, it was exciting.”
“I guess the real trouble’s she’s been taking kung fu; ostensibly, we started taking it together, but I’m utter crap at it. And she’s good- she’s great. Look at how kicked my ass is, and yet, I guarantee there’s no lasting injuries. Not a bone fractured or a tooth loose. My balls will complain every time I sit down for the next week, but there’s no permanent damage.”
“All damage is permanent,” he said with half a smile. “Any damage, no matter how small, has long-term consequences for the body. Every bruise, every scratch, every one of them impacts your body’s natural processes. It’s minimal, you understand, but your body has to work harder repairing itself than simply maintaining homeostasis- so it is definitely taking its toll on you physically. And maybe this will make you feel better: aggressive encounters in human beings release dopamine, utilizing a similar pathway stimulated by drug use.”
“You can’t, as my doctor, be suggesting that I abuse drugs.”
“Abuse and use are not the same- but no, as your physician, I cannot advocate even responsible drug use, although it would produce similar results without all the bruising, and so long as carried out in a reasonable fashion, would have a minimal impact on kidney function and long-term health.”
“Is there anything specifically you could suggest, and just as important, any reputable outlets you’re aware of?
“We don’t stock anything like that in the pharmacy- and I’m not going to touch the rest of the question.”
I smiled; the shot was working enough that it didn’t make me immediately want to pass out. “Doc… there’s one other thing. I don’t know if I love her, or the excitement of being around her.”
He chuckled to himself. “That, I’m afraid, is beyond my expertise.”