Short stories

The Best Medicine


Stanley Willow had been depressed since 1972 when his mother, after shooting the one and only hole-in-one of her life, had reached into the cup to retrieve her ball and bin bitten on the hand by a Guatemalan pit viper.

Her subsequent death made a deep impression on Stanley. His mother was usually the most refined and cultured of women, but here she was, with her hand stuck in a hole in the ground, shrieking "Hell's Bells Stanley, it's fucking got me!" and kicking her thick legs in the air like an exotic dancer. She'd expired before Stanley could think of what to do.

Later he'd had a small brass plaque installed on the ball-washer which read; "In loving memory of Babette Willow and her only hole-in-one." Stanley had tried everything he could think of to cure his depression: Prozac, Freud, Compazine, magazines, Reichian Orgone boxes and even a trip to a topless bar in south Miami, but nothing helped. Now, he looked at an ad in Popular Psychology with some interest:

"Laughter Therapy, a novel and effective drug-free approach to the treatment of depression, Dr. Harold Weisskopf, 221B Watson Street."

Stanley decided to go for it.


Dr. Weisskopf turned out to be a portly man in his early sixties, who's wire rimmed glasses, steel gray crewcut, and crisp white jacket made Stanley think of a movie from his youth, "The amazing Doctor Cyclops."

"Tell me," began Dr. Weisskopf, "what things do you normally perceive as being humorous?"

Stanley shrugged. "I don't now," he answered.

"Hmmm," said the doctor touching the tip of his pencil to his tongue and making a note on a yellow legal pad. "And when is the last time when you can recall actually laughing out loud?"

Stanley shrugged again. "It must've been a long time ago," he told the doctor.

"Well then," said Weisskopf, "we shall have to begin at the beginning. We will have to start with the earliest evocators of laughter and then move forward up the learning chain of humorous stimulants. Okay?"

Stanley shrugged. "Ooga booga!" shouted Dr. Weisskopf suddenly and crossed his eyes.

Stanley was somewhat alarmed but not in the least amused.

"Watch me!" called the doctor, and he walked over towards his desk, tripped over the wastebasket and fell with a heavy thud on the oriental carpet.

"Are you all right?" called Stanley rising slightly from his chair.

The doctor got back on his feet with a dismissive wave of his hand. "Keep paying close attention," he ordered and walked over to the door of his office. He yanked the door opened so quickly that it's edge caught him neatly on the left temple sending him crashing to the floor again.

Stanley's eyes widened, but that was his only reaction.

Dr. Weisskopf dusted himself off as he regained his feet and made a notation on his legal pad. "So," he told Stanley, "We must progress beyond physical stimuli to preadolescent modes of humor induction." With this, the portly doctor raised his right leg up off of the ground and swayed back and forth on his left. He appeared to be straining mightily, with his eyes squeezed shut and his face rapidly turning a beet red. At last he was rewarded by a prolonged blast of flatulence which sounded rather like a tugboat sinking in murky waters.

Stanley's brow furrowed, but his only reaction was to wave his hand in the air in front of his nose.

Dr. Weisskopf looked back over his shoulder, plucked carefully at the back of his trousers, and then made another note on his pad. Turning to Stanley, he suddenly said, "Poo poo! Wee Wee! Dingle whizzer!" but Stanley remained unimpressed.

"Diarrhea! Snot! Eating boogers!" the doctor tried again.

Stanley looked plainly embarrassed.

"Dildo! Corn-hole! Bearded clam!" the doctor made a final stab.

Stanley was now desperately embarrassed.

"It would seem," said the doctor as he made another note and walked over to a shelf with a VCR and monitor, "that your risible capabilities may indeed lie on a somewhat more intellectual plane." He looked over at Stanley. "Next we will try both visual and auditory stimulation through the use of a Huckleberry Hound cartoon."

Stanley watched as the doctor inserted the cassette into the video player and pushed a button.

Nothing happened.

The Doctor pushed the button several more times and then looked down at the screen in puzzlement. "Excuse me," he said, "Something must not be hooked up correctly," and he pushed his hand down behind the back of the VCR. "Ah-hah! here it is!" he cried, "It's not plugged in! The maintinance people must have unplugged it the last time they cleaned the office."

Stanley watched as the doctor's arm disappeared even farther behind the electronic equipment. Suddenly there was a flash of light, the sound of an electrical arc, and the doctor began to thrash through the air, his hand still caught behind the shelf. "Oh my God!" he shrieked, "It's got me!"

Well, with that, Stanley finally erupted into the biggest belly laugh any comedian could ever hope for. The more the doctor shouted and flailed his legs, the harder Stanley laughed. Soon he was clutching himself and gasping, both cheeks tear stained as all of the lights in the office flickered wildly and the doctor began to smoke. Stanley laughed so hard that he literally fell out of his chair, his chest heaving, making high pitched sounds like a cat with it's tail caught in a blender.

He was still laughing when the police and paramedics arrived.

Copyright 1998 by Luther Conant III

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All images, text, animations,and music 2000 By Luther C. Conant III (unless where otherwise noted.)