He fitted me with sensors two finger cuffs, a blood pressure cuff on my calf,
another sensor on my chest, a fourth at my waist and began to ask me questions
from slightly behind my right ear.

The black chair was too wide, its armrests too big and too flat:
the electric chair as conceived by a stodgy but reputable design firm.
I looked straight ahead at the three buttons on the arm of his suit coat, inert,
on a coat tree in the corner. There were no pictures on the wall.

I may have, at one point, flinched.

"Do you need some water?" he asked as switched off his machines.

He left the door open when he went to get the water.
I felt embarrassed by the sensors still hooked to my body,
as if he'd abandoned me in the middle of an intimate medical procedure.
But the two suited businessmen who had been in the waiting area had vanished.

The water he brought was in a tiny folded paper cup,
the kind you can unfold into a circle.
It did nothing to dispel my cottonmouth.

"You're swallowing too much," the examiner finally said.
"I can't get a good readout if you keep swallowing like that."

The velcro made a ripping, final sound as he unwrapped the blood pressure cuff.


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