“What seems to be the trouble?” The man leaned in, pointing a light at my eyes. I could smell coconut butter and vanilla pudding on his breath.
“I can smell everything.”
He opened my lids with his fingers and shone the light at my eyes. “Mmmm. That’s perfectly normal.”
A nurse walked down the hall and I could smell hamburgers and ketchup and pickles wafting into the room.
“No, you don’t understand. I smell everything, as in all things.”
“All things, all at once? That would be kind of confusing. That’d smell like mud, wouldn’t it? How can you tell them apart?”
“They come to me one at a time.”
“What do you mean, like in a queue?”
“I’m not sure. I guess I just recognize them quickly, so they don’t blend.”
‘I see,” he said and wrote more notes.
“You have no idea, Doc, how many foul things I smell every day. It’s a rotten world.”
“So, this smelling thing, it’s going on right now?”
I looked at the trash can. He followed my eyes, then walked over and popped open the lid. The strong smell of antiseptic and bandages hit my nose.
“What does that smell like, then?” He asked.
“Like a hospital.”
“Hmmm.” He wrote something in his chart, then hit my knee with a rubber mallet.
“That thing, there…” I said, pointing to the instrument.
“The mallet? What about it?”
“You should replace it. It smells like old rubber.”
He looked at the instrument, then smiled. “Remarkable. Very astute of you. You know, this is the old one. I have a new one right here.” He opened a drawer and pulled out a mallet still wrapped in plastic. “You see?” he said, pointing it at me.
There was a knock on the slightly opened door. An attractive blonde woman stood partly obscured in the hallway. “Excuse me a moment,” he said and walked over to greet her. He closed the door, and that fanned a smell into the room. I knew immediately what it was. I cringed at the thought, but I knew right away what she had done.
When he came back into the room, he smiled and apologized and continued writing in his notes. “So…,” he said, not looking up. “This thing you have, is it bothering you? I mean, it’s not disrupting your sleep, or your work? You’re not distracted by it all the time, are you?”
I rubbed my sweating hands on my knees and didn’t say anything. He looked up, obviously reading my concern. “So, it’s causing you some worry?”
I couldn’t help myself. I had to say it. I held my breath for a second, as if inhaling courage from the air. When I felt lightheaded, and began to get dizzy, let it out. “She’s cheating,” I blurted.
He looked confused. “I’m sorry, what?”
“That woman. She’s your wife, I could smell you on her.”
“That’s not your concern.”
“Yes but, that’s not all…” I rubbed my hands harder on my lap, then jumped up from the table. “I should just go.”
The doctor blocked my exit. “Hold on a second. We’re not finished your examination. You have borderline high blood pressure. I want to run labs, maybe get you a referral for this obvious anxiety.”
“It wasn’t you. Okay? It was somebody else, and not that long ago.”
He stared at me a second, then put his iPad down on the table. “I mean…we could have you see somebody…”
“She was with someone this morning. I’m sorry. It was fresh and plain as day. I could smell the man…” He put his hands in his white coat pocket and pulled out a cell phone. He looked at me again, as if to confirm his thoughts, and I shrugged. “Sorry,” I mumbled.
As he registered what I was saying, his face turned dark red and his eyes glowed black. I started to say something, but he bolted from the room.
I stood alone for a minute, considering what to do, when another nurse came in. “I guess he had an emergency,” I said, smiling.
She looked at the exit door, as if she’d find some sort of answer there. “Is that what’s going on? He ran past me and didn’t say a word. Did he get a phone call or something?”
I shrugged. “More like a wake-up call, I guess.”
She smiled and the sweet smell of cherry candy wafted over me.
I started for the door. “I’ll make another appointment.”
“You do that. See the girl at the front desk. I’m so sorry.” She turned and walked to her station to get the ringing phone.
I waved as I walked past the nurse’s desk. A basket of assorted lollipops sat near the phone. “Can I?” I said, indicating the sweets. She nodded yes. I grabbed a lemon pop, then handed her my business card. She turned the card over and read aloud, “Smiley Detective Agency. If it smells we’re on it.”
I tossed the candy wrapper into the trash and waved goodbye as I walked out into the smelly world.