Nick Thumb, Monster Doctor

The author thanks editors at an unnamed publisher who accepted this story. then deemed the it "an inferior product" and told me to find another publisher. It is presented here in all its inferior glory with gratitude to the publisher I found at their suggestion.
~ cjm

Name's Thumb. No, not Tom. Nick. I'm a monster doctor.

That's what I said.

A monster doctor. I doctor monsters.

When the werewolf wakes up all bloody and bruised after a night terrorizing people and perhaps slaughtering one, he comes to my office for a stitch up. He may be confused waking up naked, stoned and stabbed. His brain might be still fuzzy even if the rest of him no longer is, but he remembers me and how to contact me.

If he doesn't, I contact him. How do I know to contact him?

It's called a gazer, made from wizardstone and amped up with some pursuit spells. I don't really know and you don't really want to.

Suppose the Blob needs some diet advice.  He contacts me. I've developed a program.

The mummy's bandages aren't rotten enough?  He contacts me and I get in contact with the suppliers. We just skim a box off the shipments they're fobbing off on the Red Cross.

When Frankenstein's monster needs the bolts in his neck tightened -- well, no, he doesn't contact me. He goes to Dr. Victor Frankenstein. Vic likes to think of himself as the monster's Creator, but he's more like its Assembler.

So when the monster needs some high maintenance work done, well, he gets in touch with my gazer. A lot of times, all I have to do is give him some salve and remind him, "Fire bad," and he's good to go.

Even if he's popped his stitches or twisted his ankle with those big shoes of his, I tell him fire bad. His blood tends to settle, and this gets it going again.

By the way, he hates it when I talk in that Frankengibberish. He blames the movies for that, and who can blame him? They've ruined many a good monster's bad image. In real life, the monster speaks several languages fluently, including French.

I can't even speak French. Any Frenchman will tell you my pronunciation is monstrous.

The first time I told the monster, "Remember, fire bad," he got all huffy on me.

"Really, old bean. I was originally designated the new Prometheus. Prometheus is Greek for 'foresight.' He was a god who stole fire from the gods and gave it to mankind. So, really, despite your assertions, fire good, so to speak. They just keep chasing me with torches."

"I'll send you a bill," I told him.

You know that orange furry monster with the huge head and the little feet?  I said to him, "Gossamer, with a cranium that size, not only are you top-heavy, you've got fallen arches. This prescription is for orthopedic shoes." He was all fashion-conscious, him with the manicures and getting his fur curled and stuff. He actually paid extra to have the orthopedic shoes look like sneakers.

When Mr. Hyde turns back into that eager weakling Dr. Jekyll, well, like most doctors, I'm handy with the drugs. Like all drugs, they merely mask the symptoms while perpetuating the disease. Plus, the pharmaceutical company gives me kickbacks. I'm just in it for the money.

Like my colleague Dr. Zombie says, "Hey. Even the undead gotta make a living."

Besides, if I didn't do it, somebody else would.

That's always been a handy bit of reasoning.

Up til now.

See, that's the thing. I recently got tired of people asking me why I do it, monster doctoring.  When I got tired of other people asking me, I began to ask myself.

Why do I do it? I know, if I didn't do it, somebody else would. Would they, though?  If I sold my gazer and my client list to some other organ broker or blood banker, would they?  Even more, would I or anyone but the clients care if they didn't?

See, what they don't tell you in monster doctor school is the scariest monster of all is the conscience monster. Sure, they have drugs for it. Again,  it's just symptons masked but disease perpetuated.

After awhile, even the drugs won't work.

There are some conscience salves, things like the "monsters are people too" school of rationalization.

That, too, doesn't work after awhile.

There's no conscience-ectomy. They can't cut it out of you. You're either born with one and have to club it into submission, or you're born without one and have to go into politics. Or, god help you, plastic surgery.

I weep for those people. Weeping for them is how I knew one day that my conscience monster had begun nibbling away at my essence.

Turns out the conscience monster rests on an unbreakable premise.

It's wrong to help monsters.

So here I am. I've got enough money. Let somebody else do it. Let somebody else get these visits from a monster that surrounds you even more thoroughly than the Blob. Let somebody else wither into gnarled husks of humanity while their very vitality is slurped dry.

I mean, yeah, it was thrilling for awhile, having a cool title like "Nick Thumb, Monster Doctor," as in, "Tune in again next week for another thrilling adventure of," kind of cool.

It was cool. The money is in fact good. Chicks dig caring nurturers, even if you care for and nurture monsters. Goth chicks actually think it's legitimate.

Fact is, you can only be dead for so long before you become undead.  You can only be undead so long before you wish you were either dead again or alive again. Add to that, things can only be cool for so long before they decompose into being uncool. Then you can only be uncool for so long before...well, before you wish you were dead. That's what it comes to.

That ol' conscience monster, man is it uncool. It never kills you. It just slices you thinner and thinner while keeping you alive. It peels away your rationalizations until all you are is someone other people should weep for because you’ve run out of excuses.

I'm tired of monsters, and money, and uncool and even cool. I'm tired of all of it.

You know what I'm looking forward to?