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“And?” the patient asked seemingly unconcerned while putting his shirt back on.
“Well,” the doctor began to answer but then fell silent.
Stopping mid tuck, Bob glanced, “What’s wrong?”
“Well,” the doctor started, “everything came back clean.”
“That’s good, right?”
“Yeah, that’s great. Your PSA levels are fine. Your cholesterol is right where it should be. Your heart is strong. You would seem to be in good health.”
There was a moment of silence between them.
“But you’re dying, Bob,” the doctor spoke sadly while looking into Bob’s eyes.
“I’m… I’m…” Bob stuttered.
“You’re dying,” came the repeat of the dreadful announcement.
“How?” Bob stuttered again. “How do you know? What… What’s wrong with me?”
“I didn’t catch it in time, Bob,” the doctor continued, “I’m sorry.”
“What is it?” Bob asked grabbing the doctor’s arm.
Setting a hand on Bob’s shoulder, “I just noticed something that I missed on your registration forms from way back when you first became one of my patients.”
“What is it?”
“You answered the question about consuming alcohol by saying that you drink Southern Comfort fairly regularly.”
A little surprised, Bob drew back, “Yeah, so?”
“As your doctor,” the doctor said putting his head in his hands. “No, as a Scotch drinker…”
“What?!” Bob shouted.
“If only I’d known, I could have stopped you.”
“But it’s just Southern Comfort, Doc,” Bob said. “What difference does that make?”
“You don’t get it, do you, Bob?” he looked up, sternly fixing his eyes on Bob. “Southern Comfort is the same stuff they put into moisturizing dust cleaners, and it’s one ingredient shy of being the same stuff used by morticians to preserve dead bodies!”
“Yes, Bob,” the doctor said. “It’s poison!”
“Didn’t you ever notice the similarities between your drink and the citrusy dust sprays you use in your home?”
“No,” Bob said looking away and pondering nervously, “I never really do the dusting.” He started tapping, “My wife does all that. I just thought the place smelled nice.”
“What you smelled there, Bob, was the forescent of your demise.”
“But… But the stuff tastes really great…”
“No, Bob, it doesn’t,” the doctor said abruptly. “That’s the poison acting on the temporal lobes of your brain, making you think it tastes alright, but really, it’s a syrupy mess of cheap booze, artificial sweeteners, and Pentaerythrityl Tetra-di-t-butyl Hydroxyhydrocinnamate, all coming together for a short, candied finish that tastes a lot like you’ve been sucking on a scented candle.”
“What… What did you say it was?”
“Pentaerythrityl Tetra-di-t-butyl Hydroxyhydrocinnamate, Bob, and it’s killing you!”
“Yes, Bob. It is.”
“So, what do I do?!” the patient pleaded.
“There may still be time to turn back the effects,” the doctor said earnestly, “but I can promise you, it won’t be easy or cheap.”
“Anything, doc,” Bob teared. “Anything!”
Taking out his prescription pad, the doctor scribbled, “I’m going to write you a prescription for a bottle of The Balvenie 30-year-old.” He kept scribbling. “You need to make sure you sip a dram of this every night for a week.” Still scribbling, “And then reduce it to every other day the following week, keeping that regiment until the bottle is empty.”
“Absolutely, Doc!” Bob said feeling as though hope had been restored.
“And then come and see me when you’re done,” the doctor concluded, handing over the prescription. “Don’t worry, my friend,” he said, “we’ll get through this together.”
Bob smiled. “Thanks,” he said and shook the doctor’s hand, “and I’ll be sure to dump that Southern Comfort when I get…”
“No, don’t do that,” the doctor interrupted. “Go ahead and keep it to polish the furniture.”