“Comfortable, Mr. Purtry?”
Jake turned his head to look at the nurse. “I’m half-naked and strapped to a table.” He paused. “Are the straps really necessary? I thought acupuncture—”
The nurse looked up from her clipboard. “We can’t have you moving while the doctor works.” She stepped to the door and opened it. “He’ll be right in.”
Moments later the door opened again, and a gaudily made-up clown walked in carrying a large plastic bin. “Hello, Mr. Purtry,” he said. “I’m Dr. Bozo. How are we today?”
“Is this some kind of joke?” Jake exclaimed. He felt his stomach clench.
The clown laughed. “Not what you were expecting?” He peeled the lid off the plastic bin. Inside were hundreds of individually wrapped toothpicks.
Jake’s eyes widened. “Hey! Those aren’t—”
“Acupuncture needles?” The clown laughed. “No, they’re not. But they are the tools of my trade.” He pulled a toothpick from the bin, held it up before his face, and slid it from the wrapper.
“Now, let’s do something about that stress, shall we?”