source: Dali - "Ship" 1942
I will be writing a series of posts regarding my experience as a young physician working in remote seaside fishing community in the 1980's and 90's. I finished my internship in 1984 eager to begin to experience real medicine in a challenging environment where my skills could be challenged. What unfolded over the following seven years was a series of experiences so bizarre and otherworldly that most people of right mind will question my sanity. It is my contention that this community, existed as a microcosm, geographically and socially isolated from the rest of the country. Although this alone could account for much that I experienced, it is my belief that this would be merely scratching the surface of the Strangeness. This world was not governed by any semblance of accepted standards of behavior or thought. Even the natural laws of physics seemed warped in this world.It is my belief , aged over time, that I had stumbled into a mini- parallel universe, If I have piqued your interest please read on and join me as I navigate the difficult, bizarre and hilarious world of Enasni.
Each and every event described is the absolute truth with no embellishment, as none is needed.
I had only been in Enasni for a week or so and had not had time to fully absorb the strangeness that screamed at me from every face, building, cloud or wave. I just knew I was on constant high alert. To say I was vigilant would be an understatement. There was a heaviness in the air that seemed to push down on my shoulders and head. My usual high energy and natural body flow seemed to be impaired. 'Just the stress of my first job' I told myself. Shake it off and get settled. This place was everything I loved in nature, rugged coastline, beautiful clear waters and fantastic windsurfing. But everything just felt wrong.
I had inherited a list of patients from the outgoing physician I was replacing and on this day I was scheduled to visit a geriatric gentleman who had requested a visit. As I pulled into the driveway leading to this small faded yellow shack, I noticed that this residence was extremely run down, even by Enasni standards. I knocked on the front door but quickly noticed that there was no door handle or lock, only the round hole where one had been with a piece of twine looped through to act as a makeshift handle. The door opened and I looked down on a small gray head that extended and squinted at me through thick and oily glasses. "Hi, I'm Dr. S and I'm here to see.. Fred, I believe?" . The old weathered face gifted me a smile that demonstrated the largest number of grossly decayed teeth in one mouth that I had ever seen. I cringed internally, as I got a generous whiff of her feculent breath, but followed her into the small kitchen where Fred sat in a wheelchair that looked as decrepit and nasty as he did. "Hi Fred, I'm Dr. S." He just stared at me with an angry look.
I surveyed the surroundings as my stomach contents slowly began to rebel. Fred was a filthy man that had been wearing the same pair of long underwear for eons. I could tell this because his matted chest hair had actually grown through the fabric of the once white Standfield's longjohns. His lined face showed streaks of dried tobacco juice that had dripped down each corner of his mouth, following the riverbed of his natural facial lines, off his chin, running down his neck, merging into a caked mass that was part underwear, part chest hair and part tobacco juice. Sitting next to Fred was a 5 gallon white plastic pale. This pale was overflowing with aged tobacco juice that had run down the stained sides onto the floor in a congealed mess. To make matters worse, on the surface of the tobacco juice floated thousands of cigarette butts, dead flies and a healthy crop of maggots wiggling delightedly. I looked away and my eyes locked on to a decapitated pigs head that has sitting in the kitchen sink. The flies particularly liked the oral cavity and the eyes. There was a dead smell coming from that area as well which I was not fully convinced was coming from the pig remains. My mind began to lurch. I was having difficulty processing the depths to which this elderly couple had sunk. Had they Sunk? Or was this just the standard living behavior that was their norm? Did they all live like this? I desperately sought my professional composure and God damn, it returned with a remarkable calm. I began to absorb the surroundings and accepted it as their reality.
"Tell me Fred, what can I do for you?" I asked. Although Fred was an emaciated, and frail creature, he had a booming violent voice that projected indignation and outrage. "I want you to talk to that stupid bitch of nurse that came by here last week to see me. She is crazy as a sick whore. She says she is coming back here to give me a bath and I will God damned not put up with it". My mind lurched again but returned to the Doctor persona more easily this time. "Tell me what you're worried about Fred?" I asked. " What the fuck do you think I'm worried about Doc. Everyone knows that it is way too cold this time of year to have a bath. I will get pneumonia and die. That silly c***." It was late fall and yes the wind could be felt creeping through the walls. Fred continued " I told the slut I would have my bath next July or August like I do every year for Christ sake."
Mind lurch number three occurred but my Dr. friend quickly returned, and purely through intuition I spoke without any conscious thought. "Fred, I can certainly understand your concerns, and I will speak to the nurse. Maybe we can come up with a solution that does not involve you requiring a full bath...". Fred smiled for the first time and thankfully he had no teeth left to torture my senses. I quickly retreated from the house and returned to my car and let some of the experience sink in. Some of the heaviness began to lift and I felt a bit lighter. I had encountered, head on, the energy that I had been feeling in this new world. I had come out of the skirmish reasonably unscathed with some sense of what I was to encounter in the years to come.
I had experienced but a small taste of the banquet.