The Dentist’s Dilemma

The devil is in the details

p10003331Francisco Caputa, DDS, was ready for a life change in the summer of 1938.

He was sick of living in New Jersey, and had no roots to keep him there. His practice of five years was successful, but terribly boring.

That’s why when his cousin Alesandro Carbone called and said he was retiring from his dentistry practice in Bisceglie, Italy, he asked if anyone else was taking his place?

When Alesandro said no one was, a crazy thought went through his head. Move to Italy? His ancestors were from Bisceglie. He only spoke broken Italian, but the allure of moving to an exotic location like Italy was strong.

A month later, after selling his practice in the small town of Millstone, Francisco  moved to Bisceglie. At first, he stayed with his cousin while he searched for office space and an apartment.

Two weeks later he was ready to open. Alesandro helped him settle and vouched for him among the townsfolk. It wasn’t long before he had a steady flow of customers. The people were friendly, especially when they found out his family once lived there three generations ago.

A month later, while drinking at a bar, a drunk Allesandro was talking about the special visitors who sometimes came to get dental work done…at night. “They pay well, just don’t pester them with questions,” his drunken cousin warned.

That sounds strange to me,” Francisco responded, slurring his words while trying to focus on what his cousin was telling him.

“I assure you it’s an old practice, dating back hundreds of years, here in Bisceglie,” Allesandro explained.

Francisco woke the next morning with the worst headache in his life. He’d never consumed that much wine in one setting. While splashing water on his face at the bathroom sink, he vaguely recalled a conversation about “night visitors.”

Two days later an elegant card was hand-delivered to him. The beautiful hand-written script was bordered with Black Roses. It said: “Appointment at 9 p.m. I look forward to meeting you.” It was signed, Count Massimo Barzetti.

The hours slowly drug by. Francisco was torn between curiosity and dread as he puttered around his apartment. At ten to nine, he walked over to his office which was just a short way from the apartment.

Oddly, the streets were empty, unlike a few nights ago when he went on the drinking binge with Alesandro. He unlocked the door to his office and flipped on the light switch. No light. Frowning, he found his desk and lit the candle on it with his Zippo.

It was a small office with just two rooms. One with a dentistry chair and acudaments, and the other a bathroom. The waiting room consisted of his desk and three old wooden chairs by the window.

Promptly at 9 p.m., Count Massimo Barzetti, appeared outside the front door. He seemed to be waiting for something, so Francisco opened it for him. The tall thin man was dressed in a black casual suit and gold tie.

Once inside, he introduced himself and said it was time for his monthly cleaning and whitening. As surreal as it seemed, Francisco still managed to function and extended his arm towards the room with the dentistry chair.

“I’m going to need power,” Francisco said in a daze.

The count waved his arm and the electricty was restored. He then calmly got into the chair and leaned his head back.

When the count opened his mouth, Francisco reeled back in fear and loathing. The sharp fangs were tainted by old blood!

It’s really alright Mr. Carbone. Your great-grandfather was a good friend of mine. I must say, I’m pleasantly surprised to find out that my new dentist has local roots. It’s not in the contract, you know.”

“What contract?” Francisco managed to squeak in his suddenly high voice.

“It looks like your cousin forgot to mention this to you. He’s a sneaky one, I’ll give him that. As they say, the devil is in the details! According to the contract, there is only one Dentist allowed in Bisceglie, and he can’t quit his job until he finds a suitable replacement.”

The room started to spin and Francisco felt faint with fear. He had to ask what happened if the “new” dentist decided to leave?

The count smiled warmly and said he’d be locked up in his castle where he’d become a taste treat for his guests. “But it’s never happened before, and we’ve been doing this for untold generations.”

Francisco’s choice suddenly became crystal clear.

“When was the last time you flossed?” he asked.

As It Stands, I admit to having an unnatural interest in vampires.

 

Author: Dave Stancliff

Retired newspaper editor/publisher, Vietnam veteran, freelance writer, blogger, married 43 years with three sons and five grandchildren.

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