WHEN THE FIRST TOOTH FELL OUT, Leonard was in his boxer briefs. They were the ones his mother gave him two Christmases ago. They were forest green with red block letters that read, "HO HO HO!" in a repeating pattern. He liked them because they were flannel and very warm against his genitals.
He spit the tooth into his palm and fingered it with his thumb.
Strange, he thought, running his tongue along his teeth line like a roll call.
Leonard didn't taste any blood.
He put the tooth on the bathroom windowsill.
When the next two teeth fell out, Leonard was wearing a white button down shirt, with a dark blue tie, and navy slacks. He did not have any particular feelings about these articles of clothing as they were just the regular things he put on in order to go to work. Sometimes Leonard wished he could just go to work in his Christmas boxers. His girlfriend always told him he needed to put more thought into his wardrobe if he wanted to get ahead at his company. Leonard thought she probably was right.
Leonard was in a staff meeting so he rolled them around on his tongue for a while and then nonchalantly spat them into his hand when he thought nobody was paying attention…like discreetly dispensing of a sliver of bone into a napkin during a formal dinner. He put them into his pocket and tried not to smile the rest of the day.
When he got home, he put them onto the bathroom windowsill next to the first one.
Whenever he used his bathroom, he’d see them sitting there. The teeth. He would refer to them as, "The Three Toothkateers".
He wondered if he could find them some tiny swords and plumed hats.
Leonard was naked when the next three teeth fell out. He was in the shower, washing his armpits, belting out Led Zeppelin to his bathroom ceiling. He almost choked.
After he coughed them up, he counted them, and put them on the soap dish and finished showering. When he was dry, these three joined the ranks of the Toothkateers on the windowsill.
Leonard was now getting a bit angry at his escaping teeth. He felt maybe there was something wrong with him, that they were abandoning him after 26 years together. What did he do to deserve this? He felt rejected. Let down. He stared at them sitting on the windowsill. Their silence felt like judgment. But I took care of you, he thought, dejectedly. Nothing. Just quiet condemnation....read more (2/3)
For breakfast Leonard had oatmeal or eggs. Lunch, soup or egg salad. Dinners were mostly potato based; mashed, baked, shredded, with butter and cheese. Sometimes fish.
When he smiled at himself in the mirror, he looked like a broken window pane. The smiles weren’t real, they were reality checks. Leonard did not feel very happy.
When teeth seven, eight, nine and ten fell out, Leonard was wearing a black t-shirt and blue running shorts, the song on his iPod was, "Sympathy for the Devil". He slowed his run to a walk and spat a mouthful of gummy runner's spit and teeth into the dirt. He counted them. "FUCKING SHIT!" he yelled to nobody. Except, with the lack of teeth, it came out sort of like, "fhuthing thit". He walked until his breath returned to normal, and eventually, made his way back to where his teeth lay, and picked them up like pretty stones amongst the dust…Mick Jagger singing, “But what's puzzling you…is the nature of my game…” in his headphones.
People were starting to ask questions. People at work. His boss cancelled all of his client meetings. “Go see your dentist,” he ordered. Neighbors he’d pass in the hall. He was running out of excuses to tell his girlfriend why he couldn't see her. “Are you drunk Leonard?” she’d ask, referring to his new lispy manner of speaking.
And now that the Three Toothkateers were a militia of ten, it was no longer cute. It was hurtful and concerning. The thoughts of tiny swords and plumed hats were gone. His smile now resembled a NY Times crossword puzzle. I cannot live like this, he thought.
When teeth eleven, twelve, thirteen, fourteen and fifteen came out, Leonard was wearing his Christmas boxers again. It was Saturday morning. Three of the teeth were on his pillow, two in his mouth. Half of his teeth gone, Leonard wept until noon and then got drunk.
Enjoying his Jack Daniels haze, Leonard lay on his living room floor playing with his fifteen teeth. He mumbled to them. He set them up in various groupings; figure 8’s, diamonds, spirals. He asked them questions they never answered. He gave them names. He counted their roots. He stacked them. He lay on his back and arranged them on his stomach. He fell asleep.
He awoke in darkness; the bottle of Jack, empty, his head thick, his mouth, sore. He was cold and needed to piss. He crawled his fingers along the rug, feeling for his teeth. He couldn’t find them. He turned on the lights; no teeth....read more (3/3)
He wondered about the teeth, where they had gone. Maybe he’d eaten them. He wasn’t sure. His mouth tasted like meat. Strange, he thought. Definitely some sort of meat.
His tongue took roll call. Where the pulpy, warm gaps had been were now thick, stubby, masses. His tongue massaged them, investigating. He thought of snakes. The stubs felt stiff, but slightly pliable. Ridged. Again, that odd meat taste.
He went to the bathroom where the sill now sat empty. Leonard opened his mouth to the mirror and, after some evaluation, eventually, understood, and at this point, did not care, that where he once had gaps, he now had sausages.
“At least it’s something,” he sighed, twisting one from his jaw. It came free with a meaty tearing sound. It was squat, and brown, a hint of pink in the very middle. Leonard popped it into his mouth and chewed. “I can fucking chew!” he exclaimed excitedly, then swallowed, smiling. The smile reflecting back at him; finally genuine.