It was a busy clinic in a tough, blue collar neighborhood. Antsy toddlers bawl loudly while the exhausted parents try to rock them to sleep.
Young boys run amok in the waiting room, with their frustrated mothers yelling threats at them.
Two old men, one in a wheelchair, gab about last night's baseball games while old women sit watching soap operas under the wall-mounted 19-inch television.
Among them, like a fish in the desert, sits a young man in his early twenties, staring off into space, as if no one around him existed.
"Are you all right, young man?" asked one of the old women. He is so far off that he couldn't hear her. "Son? Son!" He is brought back to earth.
"Huh?" he answers her.
"I said, are you all right? You look like you're about to meet the devil or something.
"Maybe I am," he says under his breath.
"I'm fine, thanks."
"Whatever you are here for, it'll be all right. You'll get through it."
"I'm sure I will, ma'am," he smiles politely at her. She smiles back and returns to her soap opera.
Suddenly, a nurse appeared.
"Douglas Torbin?" She announced, looking at a file. The man begins to shudder; Douglas Torbin is his name. He rose from his seat and approached the nurse.
She smiled at him and led him to the examination room.
"Dr. Gaston will be in to see you shortly," she said after she took his vitals. I know you're here for abdominal pain, but I am worried about your blood pressure.
" She handed him an examination gown. "Please put this on." She left the room, closing the door behind her.
At first, Douglas stood holding the gown, as if he were still in a trance. Slowly, he removed his clothes and put on the gown.
As if on cue, he heard the ruffling of papers on the door, and with a brief knock, in walked a plumb, balding 60-year-old man wearing a white lab coat, a stethoscope over his thick neck.
A painful chill went up his spine, and his heart beat heavily against his ribcage.
"Mr. Torbin?" the doctor smiled. "I'm Dr. Gaston. So, abdominal pain, is it? How long have you had it?"
"About a month," said Douglas, trying hard to compose himself.
"And where do you feel them exactly?"
"Around the midsection."
"Can you describe the pain? Is it sharp, dull, or throbbing?"
"I see. Please lie on the examination table, and I will check you out."
"Okay," said Dr. Gaston. "Young man, you are shaking. Please try to relax."
"I'll try," Douglas replied.
"Can you please lift up your gown?"
"Of course," Douglas said, lifting the gown to expose his stomach. Dr. Gaston then leaned over the patient, positioning his hands to examine him.
His hands almost touched his belly when Douglas sat up. Doctor Gaston took a step back, perplexed.
"Is something wrong, Mr. Torbin?"
"Oh, nothing, " answered Douglas. "I just remembered that I needed to remove my boxers."
"That won't be necessary," said Dr. Gaston. "This is not a pelvic exam."
"Really?" replied Douglas. "That's odd. That's not how you did the exam last time."
"Mr. Torbin," the doctor grew frustrated, "I have never seen you before."
"Well, it has been 10 years, hasn't it?"
"I have not treated a Douglas Torbin ever. Now, please lie back so I can examine you."
"Oh, what's the matter with me? My name is not Douglas Torbin; it's Douglas Miles. Now do you remember me?"
"I'm sorry, but I have treated many children in this clinic."
"Oh really? How many of those children have you molested?"
"Mr. Torbin, Miles, or whoever, I will not listen to such a disgusting accusation or have you waste my time any longer. Please change your clothes and leave this clinic now." Dr.
Gaston turned and headed for the door, but Douglas sprang up and blocked his access to the door.
"Not until I get what I came for. Besides, when I leave, you are coming with me."
"What do you want?" asked Dr. Gaston, increasingly nervous.
"I want to beat you black and blue," Douglas stated with resolve, picking up his pants. "I want my teen years back. I want to feel normal again. But, I'll settle for justice."
"Justice? I've done nothing to you."
Douglas shoved the doctor, causing him to stagger backwards.
"You have a very bad memory, doctor. Sit down, and I'll tell you a story. I said sit!" Douglas pointed a corner of his pants at the doctor, and the doctor speedily sat in his chair.
"Son, there's no reason for all this."
"Shut up! And listen up. I was 14 years old. Just starting puberty, you know.
My old man died a year after I was born, and my mother didn't have relatives around to help her, so it was just us, and my mother had her hands full with raising me.
I had some bad stomach cramps that wouldn't go away, so she started looking for stomach doctors since she was scared my appendix might burst.
The thing is, the only stomach specialist around here that would take our insurance was you, so she didn't think twice. When we came in, she told you all that was wrong with my stomach.
Then you had her wait outside so that you could examine me. That was the first time I was going to be examined without her present, and I felt grown up. But you fixed that all right. "
"Wait a minute," the doctor interrupted. "How could--"
"I am talking now, moron!" shouted Douglas, holding the corner of his pants closer to Dr. Gaston's face.
"And I am NOT going to tell you to shut up again! As I was saying, you asked my mother to leave the room, and then you had me lay down on the table to examine me.
As you pulled up my gown, you saw I still had my briefs on. You asked me to take them off for the examination.
I told you that it was stomach problems, but you said that it was a part of the exam. You reassured me. So I did what I was told. After all, my mother told me to trust doctors.
But you lied to me. I was a sick kid, so I had lots of exams. None of them were like yours. My stomach was hurting, but the first, the main thing you touched, were my private parts.
Even though I thought it was weird, I trusted you at first. But, you didn't wear gloves in your exam, Dr. Gaston. No doctor ever examined that area without wearing gloves.
Most doctors checked briefly and then moved along. You? You took your time, didn't you, Dr. Gaston? When other doctors examined me, it never hurt. With you, it was painful. You were rough.
You dug your nails deep into the most sensitive areas of my body. When I cried out in pain, you just laughed and told me that you would give me something to scream about if I didn't shut up.
No doctor ever threatened me. You continued pinching and digging into me, you bastard! You bastard!" Sobbing, Douglas gave Dr. Gaston a hard slap with his free hand. Dr.
Gaston, stunned, just stared up at Douglas.
"My goodness. Douglas Milo."
"So you remember now, you pervert? You remember who I am? Remember what you did?! I tried telling my mother what happened, but she didn't believe me.
She thought it was all in my mind and that I had a vivid imagination.
They told us in school to tell our parents if someone touches us the wrong way, but what good is that when our parents won't believe us?
I don't blame her; she thought all doctors were good as gold. She made me come back and face you while you lied your mouth off.
You took everything I said explained it with medical school terms that she couldn't even understand. She agreed with everything you said even though she didn't know what she was agreeing to.
That's how much she trusted you. Seeing her agree with you made me look not only stupid but also made me feel as if it was all in my head.
It made me feel guilty for falsely accusing you even though I didn't. I doubted everything I remembered and felt.
Not only did I feel false guilt, but I was irrevocably confused about everything--even my own body. Whenever I felt sick, I never let it be known to anyone.
I bore it silently so that I would not have to see a doctor. I had to wear my gym clothes under my regular clothes so that I wouldn't need to change in front of other guys.
I had to change in the guy's room during lunch so I wouldn't stink all day in sweaty clothes and not showering. When it was 90deg outside, I was the only one with long sleeves and long pants.
Because I was too ashamed to let anyone see my own body. And it's all your fault!"
"And how could one exam cause all this?" asked Dr. Gaston.
"Try being violated by someone who is supposed to help you, have no one believe you, and never receive justice, and then ask me that ludicrous question again!"
"So, be honest. This is a shake down. You want money, don't you?"
"I am no one's whore, damn you! You can't silence me with a check! I am a man. In spite of everything, I am a man!"
"So then," insisted the emboldened doctor, "What are you going to do? Shoot me? Castrate me? Cut off my hands?"
"I'd love to do all three, but I'm not going to. I don't even have a weapon." Douglas then lowered his grip on the pants. "What I really want is an apology."
"An apology for an exam? For doing my job?"
"Your 'job' gave you access to vulnerable kids. You used your 'work' as a venue for your depravity."
"Then, why are you the only one complaining?"
"You don't read the newspaper? None of your 'patients' stood up to you. They are in psych hospitals, in prison, on the street, or dead. They didn't know their rights. I do.
And I am going to make sure that all other survivors know."
"Those kids will be too high or too busy fornicating to listen to you. They're losers, just like their parents were losers. That's why they were so easy to play with.
At least I gave them medicine and ordered surgeries. I saved their lives, and all they had were the cheapest HMOs and public aid."
"So, you went after us because we weren't rich?" asked Douglas, putting his pants back on.
"You seem smart. Think about it. I earn much less at this clinic than I would at a hospital downtown. No matter what, I am the s