They appeared at daybreak, dressed in white from head to toe—masks, smocks, gloves, the whole nine—bearing their bourgeois tools, their instruments of Empire and extraction: drills, wrenches, forceps, chisels, even a mirror, so they could admire their handiwork, I suppose.
Perhaps in some Orwellian nod to Fanon, or maybe Obama, or shit, maybe Hil, they were all Latinas, women of color, and pretty at that. The Colombian spoke first. She said she was a dentist, and the other two were her assistants.
“We’re here to help,” she said.
But I knew better.
For all their denials and Charlie’s Indigenous Angels appeal, these (bag)women standing before me were, sure as shit, the Empire’s muscle, Pharaoh’s paramilitaries, the Godfather’s gendarme.
And they were out for blood
They showed their hand early on. My molar was infected and needed to come out, the Colombian said. They would extract it. . . .for a fee.
“Well, won’t my insurance pay for it?” I asked naively.
“Afraid not,” the Colombian said. “That’s a different outfit; they’ve got their own racket. Got nothing to do with us.”
“What about Obama’s Affordable Care Act?” I pleaded.“What about it?” she taunted me mercilessly.
From her confidence, her swagger, I could tell this was not her first rodeo. Accumulation by dispossession was her game. I was the target.
“Better do as she says,” I thought to myself. Emulating a traffic stop, I seamlessly reached for my wallet and opened wide.
But then something surprising happened. Like some revolutionary splinter group that refused to compromise or betray the proletariat, my mouth broke from my sorry-ass neoliberal heart, and refused to surrender that tooth.
They drilled, heaved, pried, and cursed me.
From my mouth had emerged a bona fide resistance movement, my molar its unquestioned guerilla leader.
“Give us that tooth!” they demanded.
“Never!” I said.
“Communist!” they spat.
“Capitalist lackey!” I spat back.
“Terrorist!” they snarled.
“It doesn’t matter what you call me,” I said as the pain shot through me, “history will ABSOLVE me!”
On and on it went for more than 90 minutes, an epic firefight, sure to transform my mouth into a battlefield as hallowed as Cuito Carnavale.I was contemplating my martyrdom—or at least that of my dissident tooth—with all three attacking me in Guantanamo-like fashion. One held my jaw open, another water boarded my mouth, while the last pulled as though Trujillio or Batista had threatened HER with torture if she failed in this mission.
And then, in a single, transformative moment it was over. As I battled valiantly, I inhaled and thought—“boy, they smell good!”—and just like that, BAM!!– this coven of counterrevolutionaries snatched victory from my dissident jaw.
My tooth joined the ranks of the disappeared, and I exhaled in grief, betrayed by my bourgeois reflexes just as surely as the ANC has betrayed the people of South Africa.
“Don’t take it so hard,” the Colombian said, her voice filled with equal parts pity and contempt. “You gave it a good go. Next time, take the Novocain. It will be a lot easier on you.”
And with that, I was off, into the sharp light of midday, like a wounded animal, bleeding, desperate to survive, and in a great deal of pain.