“Do you know what happens when two dogs fight? No wait, or is it, do you know what happens when you have two dogs living inside of you. No wait. Do you know what happens when you have two dogs living inside of you and they’re fighting with each other?”
“Why are they fighting?” I ask.
“They just are. So. Do you know what happens when there are two dogs inside of you and one is good and one is evil? Which one wins?”
I’m lying on my stomach, face down on the chiropractor’s chair, which , when I first saw it, just kind of sitting out there in the middle of what appears to be the living room of a shabby brownstone, but passes for a treatment room, a waiting room and a receptionist’s office rolled into one, I thought I was looking at some kind of torture device from the Dark Ages.
Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang! I hear in quick succession as I feel the throbbing pressure pulse through my spine. I can’t see what he’s doing, but I picture him in a fedora and trench coat, holding a Tommy gun and emptying the barrel into the back of my neck.
“Well,” he says. “Who wins?”
And I say, with my mouth squashed between the green vinyl face pads, “Ummmm, No one? They fight to the finish and kill each other?”
Without answering my questions, he says, “You’re going to hear a snap. Don’t be alarmed.” And before I can blink my eyes, he proceeds to press down on my neck as if he’s the Boston Strangler and I hear a crack so loud it makes me jump.
“The dogs,” he says. “You didn’t answer my question about the dogs. No wait. You did answer. Your answer was thoughtful.”
“Thoughtful, as in wrong?”
“Sit up,” he says stepping away from the chair.
“Which way should I face?” I ask, hoping he says towards the window with my back to the waiting room and the persons-in-waiting and the receptionist cheerily chatting on the phone.
“Any way you’d like,” he says as I turn to face the window – French doors actually looking out onto an urban garden.
“You get to enjoy the bicycle sculptures,” he says, pleasantly and I look out on a scene of broken wheels, tattered seats and rusted frames hanging from trees in what someone must have thought was an artful fashion.
“The dogs,” he repeats and I think, oh no, he’s back to that. “Do you know which dog wins?”
I’ve given up after he rejected my last best answer. I no longer give a fuck about which dog wins even if I did a minute ago and then he says, “Lie on your stomach again,” and I do and as I am adjusting my face between the vinyl rollers, he puts all of his weight behind the heal of his hand, places it squarely on my 9th vertebrae and presses down with the force of a jackhammer.
“The one you feed,” he says.
“The what?” I say still breathless from that last maneuver.
“The dog you feed. That’s who wins.”
I sit up slowly and turn to look at his face for the first time. It’s kind and earnest.
“You’ve been feeding the wrong dog, Marsha. You’ve been feeding the dog of disease. Today, you begin feeding the dog of wellness.”
“Woof Woof!” I say as I stand up, shaking out my back.
“Arf Arf!” he replies, kissing me on my forehead.
I pay the receptionist, make my next appointment and walk out the door on my way to wellness.