See that guy in the red jumpsuit? That’s my third poison-capsule tooth implant today.
Those used to just be for Baron von Blitzkrieg’s top field agents—you know, the cufflink-garrote, shoe-spike, razor-derby set—but now he wants all sector heads and assistant heads to have them in case of infiltration or seizure as we gear up for his final push for world domination. Or was it extortion? I’m kind of hazy on the details. People don’t tell me much.
I’m just “the tooth guy.”
Truth be told, those implants should only be for field agents—they’re the only ones tough and dedicated enough to really use them in a pinch. I mean, if MI-6 captured Killoton or U.N.C.L.E. got its hands on Sabrina Foreplay, they’d pop those prosthetics and down that poison without giving it a second thought. But Jerry in I.T. or Tammy in Accounting? Not going to happen. Hell, they’d probably sing like canaries if that guy in the top hat—the British one, that is, not the badass Asian one—just showed up and asked politely.
Not that the field agents are a picnic to deal with. At first I thought they were awesome—super-cool, really polite, never complained even though all their work was done without anesthetic. (That wasn’t my idea, by the way. I always tried to get them to at least take a shot of Novocain, but they never would. They always claimed it would “hurt their combat reflexes,” but I think it was just part of this pathological need they have to prove they’re tough. But don’t tell them I said that.) Eventually, though, I realized what a pain they could be to work with. I mean, nothing I could say or do would get them to take even minimal care of their teeth. It’d be like:
“You really should floss at least three times a week.”
“I vill likely to beink dead mitt in fife years.”
“If you’d pop in a mouth-guard before fighting that Bond guy, we wouldn’t have so many cracked or broken teeth to fix.”
“That would show weakness.”
“It would show foresight and concern for your dental health.”
“Just fix my teeth—and make them metal this time.”
God! The specialty teeth craze. Now that was the absolute worst! It started with this huge field agent—obviously muscle and not stealth, that guy. He comes in and wants all his teeth yanked and replaced with stainless steel: super-sharp and strong enough to bite through steel cables. I tried to explain all the periodontal problems that would cause in the long run, the regular soft-tissue lacerations he’d probably suffer, and the trouble he’d have just chewing and enjoying food. He wouldn’t listen to any of that, and he couldn’t give me a compelling reason why anyone would need or even want to bite through metal cables. But he wouldn’t back down, so all I could do was tell him that the Baron needed to sign off on it and hope that von Blitzkrieg would rein in his dumbass henchman.
But, no! The Baron loved the idea of a metal-toothed assassin! “Put zem hin, herr Doktor Craig!” he said. “Put zem hin!”
So, of course, after that, every hard man in the boss’s stable was all like, “I want bronze teeth!” or “Give me gold fangs!” or “Tusks, dude! Diamond tusks!” Seriously, if the American Dental Association knew about everything I’ve implanted in people’s mouths over the last few years, they’d probably hire their own assassin to come and take me out.
Sigh. This isn’t the life I expected when I started dental school in Milwaukee. I was going to join a nice little family practice somewhere in the Midwest, help kids keep their teeth healthy, show older patients how to fight off gum disease, maybe get married, maybe have some kids or something…
But, that’s not how it played out, is it? Instead, as I was finishing up my fourth year of school, eating Ramen every night and staring at a couple hundred–thousand dollars worth of student loan debt, a gorgeous woman in a low-cut ball gown showed up in my apartment in the middle of the night and told me that her wealthy employer could use someone with my skills and was willing to wipe out my debts and pay me $2 million over five years, tax free, if I was willing to relocate to a “tropical island paradise” and be the company dentist for his secret spy organization. So of course I jumped at the chance! Money, adventure, hot spy women—what guy in his twenties could turn down an offer like that?
And now here I am. Stuck in a cramped little office in a secret lair inside a dormant volcano on an uncharted island in the middle of an ocean (Pacific, I assume—I was drugged and hooded before they brought me here).
It wasn’t that bad at first. Sure, the field agents and security guys never thought much of me, and the medical staff never let me hang with them (honestly, how many times can you tell the “What do you call a doctor who flunks out of medical school? A dentist!” joke to a dentist before even you get sick of it?), but I used to be able to sit with some of the support staff at lunch or get in on the occasional poker game before this poison capsule program expansion. Now nobody wants to be anywhere near me. Like it’s my fault several sector heads have accidentally poisoned themselves. I told them nothing tough or chewy for at least one goddamn week! Jerky and bubble gum may end up killing more people around here than Derek Flint and Jason Bourne combined.
So I do my job. I eat alone at my table in the mess hall. I go to my little bedroom and use the spotty WiFi to read up on the latest dental advances and binge-watch shows on Netflix.
And sometimes I lie on my bed and dream of the day when Baron von Blitzkrieg is triumphant, and I can take my money and go start a little family dental practice—maybe even start a little family—somewhere quiet where the seasons change and the people smile at me and say “Hey, Doctor Craig!” when they see me walking down the street.
And other times, I dream of suave, dangerous agents of the various powers of the world coming in and blowing this whole goddamn place up and all of us with it.
And then I wonder, would that really be so bad?