Exercising the craft—February 16, 2015

By Ekta R. Garg

Prompt: Dentist Disaster–You go in for a rather complex dental procedure and the dentist has to put you under in order to complete it. When you wake up, though, you are no longer in the dentist office. You are on a train with a briefcase handcuffed to your wrist. Just as you are soaking in this situation, a man walks in with a gun and points it at you. What happens?


Jack March sat in the waiting area of the dentist’s office leafing through a magazine, but he didn’t feel as nonchalant as he tried to look. His right knee jiggled up and down, and he hadn’t changed pages since he sat down.

Man oh man. Why can’t this day be over with already? I hate coming here.

“Jack?” the attractive hygienist called.

He stood up and half raised a hand. “That’s me.”

The hygienist smiled, and despite his nervousness Jack couldn’t help grinning at the dimple in her cheek.

Well, maybe there are some perks to getting my wisdom teeth taken out.

“Why don’t you go ahead and come on back,” she said.

He followed her to one of the dental chairs and made himself comfortable. After the cute hygienist did a quick check of his teeth, she left and came back several minutes later with Dr. Browne. The hygienist put down a tray of instruments on the counter to Jack’s left, and his anxiety level rose.

“So, Jack, how are you feeling today?” Dr. Browne said.

Jack shrugged. “Fine. Just looking forward to being on the other side of this whole thing.”

Dr. Browne sat on the rolling stool and folded his hands. “We’ve talked through this whole thing, Jack, and I really think general anesthesia is unnecessary. It’s a standard procedure—really simple, actually—and you might actually feel better if you just go under the local so that we can communicate.”

Before Dr. Browne had even finished Jack had started shaking his head.

“No way, Doc, you’ve gotta put me under. There’s no way I want to know what’s going on. I just want you to put me under, take out the teeth, and let me come to so I can be on my way.”

Dr. Browne seemed to think about it for a moment and then finally nodded. “Okay, then. Just give me a few minutes to get everything set up, and then we’ll begin.”

The jiggling had transferred to Jack’s fingers, and he fought to keep them still. The hygienist handed him an oxygen mask, and when she told him to put it to his mouth and take a deep breath he tried to hide his relief.

He took a deep breath. Is this thing even on?

He took a second breath. That smells kind of minty. Is this stuff supposed to smell like anything?

He took a third breath—and saw black.

Sometime later Jack heard a weird clacking. It sounded rhythmic, coming in double beats, with the emphasis of the clack on the first beat. The sound seemed to come from a distance, but the more he concentrated the closer the sound seemed to get Jack frowned, and that’s when he realized his eyes were closed.

He tried to open his eyes, but he had to make an effort to pry his eyelids apart. When he finally did he saw a roof. That’s when he noticed that when he was lying down and that his body was moving in the same rhythm as the clacking.

What the…

Jack put his right hand to his head. His left hand didn’t follow suit; something restricted his movement. He rolled to his left and saw a handcuff holding his wrist. The other cuff held the handle of a briefcase in its grip, and the briefcase sat on the plaid cushioned seat next to him. The chain of the cuffs ran through the metal arm rest, which meant that every time Jack tried to move his left arm the briefcase got pulled against the arm rest. He struggled to a sitting position.

Just then Jack heard a metal tumbler rolling through its teeth, and after a couple of moments he recognized the sound: a gun cocking.

“Don’t move.”

Jack saw a pair of black wingtips in front of him and looked up slowly. Black dress pants. Suit jacket. A pair of hands holding a Glock nice and steady and a chiseled jaw below ice blue eyes.

“Where am I?” Jack asked, hating the tremor in his voice.

“It doesn’t matter,” Chiseled Jaw said. “Don’t move, and you don’t have to worry about anything. I’ll just take that”—inclining his head in the direction of the briefcase—“and you don’t ever see me again. Unless, of course, you decide to open your mouth and tell the wrong people you saw me.”

“But, uh, I don’t—I mean, I have no idea how…look, man, I just went to the dentist’s office, I’m—”

Chiseled Jaw’s attention got diverted above Jack’s head.

“It’s all right, Jack,” a voice said behind him. “You have nothing to worry about.”

“Dr. Browne?” Jack asked, turning around. “What are you…”

Dr. Browne had a huge bruise close to his left eye, but Jack felt a ripple of shock at the gun Dr. Browne held.

“Just stay calm,” Dr. Browne said, although his eyes stayed on Chiseled Jaw. “This doesn’t concern you at all.”

“Dr. Browne, what am I doing here? Who is this guy? And why am I…”

He tugged at the handcuff and pulled on the briefcase.


Chiseled Jaw said just the one word, but the coldness in his voice stilled Jack’s hand right away. Jack stopped moving. He heard another gun cock, and he realized Dr. Browne had taken aim at the guy.

“That wouldn’t be a good idea, Frank,” Chiseled Jaw said to Dr. Browne. “You know it and I know it. All I want is the briefcase. Then I’ll disappear and you won’t even remember what color my shirt is.”

Jack’s heart beat like a snare drum. What kind of crap had Dr. Browne gotten him into?

“You know I can’t let you have the briefcase,” Dr. Browne said in a calm voice. “You’re better off going back to whatever loser you’re reporting to and telling them to forget it.”

Chiseled Jaw took a threatening step forward.

“Don’t mess me with me, Browne,” he said through clenched teeth.

Jack heard a gunshot and Chiseled Jaw grunted and then collapsed. He looked back at Dr. Browne.

“Turn your face to the right and close your eyes,” Dr. Browne instructed him.

Jack obeyed. He heard a second gunshot and felt his left hand rebound against him. An acrid smell told him Dr. Browne had shot the chain of the handcuffs. Despite not feeling any pain, Jack still couldn’t help running his hands over his body in a rush to make sure he was okay. The handcuff on his left wrist felt heavier and lighter at the same time.

“We need to leave,” Dr. Browne said, and Jack rushed to his feet. He watched Dr. Browne pick up the briefcase and felt like he might pee in his pants.

“What the—”

“Not now,” Dr. Browne said. “I need to get you to a secure location, and then we can talk. And for the record I’m Special Agent Frank Browne with the CIA.”

Jack’s jaw dropped open but he managed to recollect his wits long enough to follow Dr. Browne down the aisle of the train.

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