The Harmless Thoughts of a London Gynecologist

“Seems to be a spot of puss, Mrs. Mangrum”—then more to himself than to her:  “From the vulvo-vaginal gland, I imagine. But we’ll want to have ourselves a look-see just the same”—and then, slipping on fresh rubber gloves, in a tone which means This is my choice to make not yours—“Won’t we.”

Because the Bartholin glands are situated symmetrically on either side of the vaginal opening, and because the duct of each is situated laterally, he draws aside the labia, feeling her stir as he does this, a small, unconscionable resistance, a silly waste of time. “Relax, dear girl, relax. Nothing will happen to you here that hasn’t happened to you before.” Then, manipulating the wall, tamping at it with the tip of his nail until the flat of his finger comes to rest and his thumb, outside, on the other side of her flesh, begins to press at precisely that spot, his flesh against his flesh with only her flesh in between.

“I’m going to palpitate now, be prepared,” says Delk.  It is a small, back and forth motion he first saw in a movie, a hoodlum wanting money, James Cagney, he thinks, the American actor.

(It is long into the night and Delk is a guest at Prinzregentplatz, lost to the creeping hour, lost to the whimsy of his host—for he can be whimsical—lost to the excess and the momentum of this, his first invitation.

(Mimi, of course, refuses to speak. She has not said a word all evening. Not even now will she speak, now that “The Public Enemy” has ended and the reel spins round and round, the reel left unattended, and no one has moved for the lights. Not him, not young Doctor Delk certainly. Not the Fuhrer. Not Mimi, certainly, who sits with her nail in her mouth, her lips apout. Not even the Fuhrer’s bodyguards who, in the spirit of the evening, are wearing zoot suits and snap-brim fedoras.

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