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My Dear Father

A.H. Mittelman

By Alex H Mittelman Published 5 months ago 10 min read
My Dear Father
Photo by Olga Guryanova on Unsplash

I’m Dr. Philip, and my life has recently taken an unexpected and depressing turn. I got a call from the hospital that my father had been in a fatal car crash. They’d ask me to identify the body, but everything in the car was turned to cinders and ashes.

My good friend and colleague, Dr. Cindy, who had been the one on duty, was the one to call me and break the news. I don’t know what I would have done if I had been the one working. The site of my fathers charred corpse would have been the end of me.

The loss of Thomas, my father, left me shattered. He was not just my father, but my best friend, my mentor. We did everything together. We’d go to the movies, camping, he would even tutor me when I was struggling in school. He was the reason I became a doctor. He was a doctor, too, a surgeon, until he lost his license for doing an unauthorized experimental surgery to remove a brain tumor. Despite saving the man’s life, the man sued, claiming the surgery had left him bed ridden and unable to fully open his left eye. “Better in bed then dead,” I testified at his hearing, but the hospital board disagreed. After my fathers malpractice insurance agreed to pay the man a several million dollar settlement, which my father and I both agreed was egregious and excessive, and a nasty way to say ‘thank you for saving my life,’ the board took away my fathers medical license. My father, in an effort to cheer me up, told me it was ok because I was going to be the next surgeon in the family and would pick up where he left off.

Now he was gone, and it felt like my world was collapsing. I felt an empty pit in my stomach that wasn’t there before.

I struggled to come to terms with my grief, and had to hire a therapist. I desperately needed someone to talk too.

A week had passed, and I was still struggling to get out of bed. When I finally did, I had decided to go through some of my fathers old paper work and photos. My father owned a dry cleaners, one he started after he lost his license, so he’d have an income. He said this was fine, because occasionally he’d have to remove wine stains from clothing which looked like blood, so he could pretend he was operating on the cloths as he was washing ‘the blood’ out.

But if you didn’t know my father, you might think he was a detective. He had a collection of photos of a lot of different people that he kept in very neat, organized folders. It was like he was following these people, but why?

I couldn't shake the feeling that there was more to my father's death than met the eye. I was suspecting to think his car crash wasn’t random, and possibly no accident.

Before I put the last photo down, I noticed something written on the back. I turned the photo over and written on the back was “Cancer. Left arm. Surgery scheduled February 12th.”

I was confused. I checked the date on the photo and it was taken this year. My father had lost his license years ago. I checked the backs of all the photos. They all had diseases and ‘surgery’s scheduled.’ What the hell was my father up to?

I went to the attic where I stored most of my fathers old belongings, hoping to find answers. In the attic, I discovered a journal and read its entries. I hadn’t realized how deranged my father had become. His obsession to find new ways to operate continued long after he lost his license. According to the journal entries, he had friends in the hospital who would allow him to ‘watch’ surgeries from an observation deck. Then he would gather their personal information off the hospital computer by downloading it onto a flash drive, follow the patient home, and observe them until either the disease came back or didn’t. He would follow each patient for three months before giving up. And if the disease did come back, he’d wait for them to go to sleep, drug them to make sure they stayed asleep, then took them back to his dry cleaning store in a hidden back room to try one of his ‘ingenious’ surgeries on them. Most of the patients died, but the few that lived seemed to be grateful. Then he’d put a bag on their head, drive them somewhere far and ‘release them back into the wild.’

As wrong as this was, I understood my fathers reasoning and motive. He was saving future lives. It wasn’t his fault the medical board didn’t understand his life’s work and took away his license. The board was a bane to my fathers existence, a thorn in his side, a bone in his fish, and these surgeries were his crutch.

In his last entry, he wrote that one of his patients recognized him from the dry cleaners when his mask fell off, and even though he adamantly denied being the owner of the dry cleaners, the man was insistent and threatened to turn my father in.

“But my surgery just saved your life, my friend,” my father had told the man.

“But my life would have been saved at the hospital, anyway. You didn’t give me a choice, I’m going to call the…”

And my father had interrupted the man with a punch to the throat. The man started choking and died. No other doctor was a skilled enough surgeon to save the man’s life, my father created special equipment specifically for this man’s surgery that no hospital in the world had access too.

“While what I did was an accident, I’m sure the police won’t understand that. They won’t understand that if this man didn’t appreciate the gift of life I gave him, then he deserved to die. My fellow doctors on the board don’t understand me, why would the police? I must fake my own death and get out of town… fast,” my father wrote. My god, my fathers not dead.

I felt briefly relieved, only to have a new stress added moments later, when I realized my father could come looking for his journal. If he realized I had it, would he think of me as a witness to be gotten rid of or his beloved and understanding son.

My head was spinning. I was beginning to lose my thoughts and I had brought the journal downstairs with me and laid down on my couch.

There was a knock on my door. I slowly rolled off the couch to open the door. It was Dr. John, a close friend of my father's and a fellow surgeon. He explained that he was the one who allowed my father to watch the surgeries at the hospital, and he had also the only one there that believed in my fathers work, and he believed in it so much he had covered for my father by distracting everyone while my father would gather the patients personal information.

“Why are you telling me this?” I asked.

“I need your help. Your father confided in me that he had accidentally killed someone when they threatened to end his secret surgeries, and was leaving town. I have a tumor of my own, and it’s in a difficult spot to remove. I believe only your father can remove it. Any ideas where he might have gone?” Dr. John asked.

“How do I know you won’t turn him in?” I asked.

“We were close. And I haven’t turned him in this far, even after all the accidental surgical deaths. This whole death from punching thing is just another accident as far as I’m concerned,” Dr. John said.

“Well, true. But I’m not sure where he went, it’s certainly not here. You can check,” I said.

“I believe you. But do you mind if I stay, in case he calls or turns up?” Dr. John asked.

“Well, I was going to go to the hospital, but what’s one more day off?” I asked.

I invited Dr. John inside, made some tea, for us, then sat on the couch. We started sipping loudly.

There was another unexpected knock at the door.

I opened it, and to my surprise, it was my father.

“I can explain,” were the first words out of my fathers mouth.

“Secret surgeries in your secret room at the dry cleaners. Patient was accidentally killed with a death punch. You faked your own death by blowing up your car and leaving an unidentifiable corpse inside, and now your here to hide…” I said.

“You know. How?” My father asked.

“I read your journal. Then Dr. John showed up and explained everything again. This is old news,” I said and smiled.

“I always knew you were smart,” my father said and smiled back at me.

“Well, now that the dark truth is out, can I come in?” Father asked.

“Sure. And Dr. John is here. He has a favor to ask,” I said. My father walked inside, I closed the door, then we walked to Dr. John.

“John,” my father said and nodded his head.

“Thomas,” Dr. John responded and nodded his head right back. With a small smile on his face.

My father sat down.

“Want some tea?” I asked my father as I sipped my own, my hands shaking from the excitement of my father not being dead. My father smiled and nodded. I got up and put a teabag in some hot water.

“How long can I stay for?” My father asked as I handed him his teacup.

“As long as you need, dad. At least until this whole thing blows over,” I said and smiled.

“You’ve got a good son,” Dr. John said. This made my father smile.

“I hear you have a favor, John,” My father said.

“Yes. I need surgery to remove a tumor, and I only trust you. It’s small but it’s in a hard to reach spot. You’ve been experimenting long enough to know what you’re doing,” Dr. John said and smiled.

“I’ll do it. Philip, would you mind stopping by the hospital and picking up my surgical supplies?” My father asked.

“Sure thing, dad,” I said.

I drove to the hospital, speeding through traffic to pick up the tools my father needed. I was stopped by a nurse, but told her I was making a house call and would retuned the tools tomorrow, which was technically partially true.

Then, relieved nobody else noticed or cared that I was borrowing hospital equipment, I was able to relax and drive at a normal pace back home.

I handed my father his tools, and he followed me to the basement, where we set up a small, portable surgical table. It was originally a massage table that I purchased for the purposes of eventually hiring a masseuse to help me relax after a long day of work, but that never happened. So today, we repurposed it.

My father went back upstairs to bring down his tools.

“Philip, could you watch the anesthesia levels for me?” My father asked.

“No. Just numb the area. I’d like to be awake for the procedure, if that’s ok. To see your work, Dr. Thomas, is fascinating. You’re an artist with the surgical knife. To see your artwork done on me, well, that’s a dream come true,” Dr. John said and smiled.

“Alrighty, then,” my father after briefly hesitating, then smiled.

My father used a handheld X-ray machine to locate the exact location of the tumor, injected the numbing agents, and began the operation.

My fathers knife slowly opened up the area, and he smiled and said “let me know if you feel any pain, John, and I’ll give you more medicine.”

Dr. John smiled and briefly nodded, to enthralled with watching the procedure to give a verbal response.

Hours had passed, and the tumor was finally removed and put into a pickle jar.

“Is it ok if I keep this as a reminder of yet another successful surgery?” My father asked Dr. John.

“Sure, as long as I can visit the little guy,” Dr. John said and smiled.

My father put the tumor filled pickle jar on a shelf, then patted the jars lid as if it was a head and the jar was a living thing.

“You’ll be safe here,” my father whispered to the jar and smiled.

“What now?” Dr. John asked.

“Now, you rest while you heal. Then, after you two return to the hospital, you can find other patients with hard to cure ailments and bring them here for me to operate on? And maybe sell the dry cleaners since I no longer need it. I’ll split the money with you!” My father said.

“Deal,” I said.

“What say you, Dr. John?” My father asked.

“I owe you one. So sure, why not. I’ll even help you dispose of the bodies when the surgeries fail, that’s how much I believe in you,” Dr. John said.

“And I know a guy that makes fake I.Ds. He made one for me in college. I’ll have him make one for you, so you can leave the house if you want,” I said. I’d never seen my fathers grin so wide as it was now.

“A new ID would be great. Then I can charge for my surgeries too,” my father said.

“We can use the furnace down here for any necessary cremation’s from any future accidents, too, so you won’t need to fake your death again,” I said.

“What a fantastic idea,” my father said.

And that’s exactly what we did. And we always justified the accidental deaths of some of our patients by reminding ourselves of all the lives we had saved, and all the lives we would save in the future as my fathers experimental surgeries only got better.

AdventurethrillerShort StoryPsychologicalMysteryLoveHumorHorror

About the Creator

Alex H Mittelman

I love writing and just finished my first novel. Writing since I was nine. I’m on the autism spectrum but that doesn’t stop me! If you like my stories, click the heart, leave a comment. Link to book: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0CQZVM6WJ

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  1. Excellent storytelling

    Original narrative & well developed characters

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    Arguments were carefully researched and presented

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    Niche topic & fresh perspectives

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Comments (14)

  • L.C. Schäfer4 months ago

    Your stories keep getting better!

  • Lamar Wiggins5 months ago

    Ha! Nice story of family trust in a deranged sort of way. I guess our obsessions will always find a way!

  • Mohameen Moshood5 months ago

    I enjoyed this, well-done Boss

  • This is a very interesting story. Well done!

  • This is a very interesting story. Well done!

  • Gargie S Anand5 months ago

    What a twist. I was so sad after reading about the father's passing but then it was BOOM! Good Job!

  • Rachel Deeming5 months ago

    I'm never going to think the same about the dry cleaners again.

  • Such a moral set of dilemmas in this! The dark side of playing with life and death!

  • Mark Gagnon5 months ago

    I'm not sure if I should be cheering the good doctor or yelling lock him up? Interesting twists throughout.

  • Kodah5 months ago

    Every time there was a twist I just said "huh". I was so confused🤣 Great story!! 🖤

  • Okay this was so messed up on so many levels, lol! I'm like, "Wth did I just read?" Hahahahahaahahhahahahha!! I was speechless when Dr John wanted only the area numbed so he could watch Dr Thomas operating on him! All I know is that I don't want any of these 3 doctors near me, lol 🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣

  • Armand Slayer5 months ago

    Wow mate amazing job really captivated by the story.

  • Andrea Corwin 5 months ago

    Oh boy, Alex. Another good one. Don’t look in the basement, LOL.

Alex H Mittelman Written by Alex H Mittelman

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