The Root of the Problem

“Root canal is one fifty, give or take, depending on who’s doing it to you. But listen, I’ll do it for a third of the price, cut you a real deal. Provided you can go without anesthesia, of course. But listen here, most people pass out within a couple of seconds anyways, no sweat. A hundred credits is a lot man, think about it.”

A hundred credits really is a lot of money nowadays. A hundred credits can buy you a fully functioning synthetic heart. Can even get you a pretty decent filtered liver if you know where to shop. A hundred credits could get you a 49th story view from Trump tower for two weeks or even a whole kilogram of real steak. You might be thinking, “Well shit, even 50 credits must be a lot then, huh?”.

You’re damn right it is!

I blink twice and try to even my breath.

“So what’ll it be?”

The man across from me runs his large hand through his thick auburn hair. His chart says he’s a Norwegian build (probably A or Ae generation if he’s coming in for a root canal), 6 ft 2, handsome eyes.

“Look Doc, if I’m being straight 50 credits is a steep price just to fix a little tooth ache don’t you think?”

“Well, Mr, uh, Mr. Knudson, 50 credits is the cheapest you’ll find on the west coast. I guarantee it.”

“Well now you gotta understand though. My geneticist gave me this referral, but he ain’t say how much it was gonna cost! 50 credits is a lot, Doc.

“Yes, yes, I’m well aware. But listen, you only got three choices on the west coast. Me, Dr. 145 credits with anesthesia, and Dr. 167 credits, which includes both anesthesia and a happy ending at the end of the operation.”

“Well, what about the east coast? Vacuum-shuttles ain’t so expensive neither.”

“You’re not listening. East coast, west coast — doesn’t really matter. Look, there just ain’t many of us around anymore. Ever since those geneticist boys got their hands on regenerative enamel there just hasn’t been demand for root canals. Hell, you might be my only patient this week, if you’re smart.”

“Well, what if I don’t treat it, how’s that gonna effect me?”

“If I’m honest, it won’t. Other than it will hurt like stink, constantly, forever. Sealing the regenerative nerve stem is the main cost of the operation and there are no other specialists who can do it.”

His hands fall flat against his thighs. I know I’m being a bit harsh, but unfortunately it’s the hard truth. I really need the money.

“Fine, Doc, lets do it. Though this is gonna kill me you hear? Fifty credits, man.”

I stand up a bit too fast and feel slightly light headed. We shake hands and I walk him over to my ex-secretary’s desk and enter his name into the e-calendar. I’m probably smiling an unprofessional amount, but I can’t help it. Business is hard to come about nowadays.

(Story by Raymond Lew)

Leave a Reply