The Craigslist ad wanted a male companion for 6 hours. No sex, nothing illegal, and, get this: it paid $10,000. Who wouldn’t jump at 10k?
We met at his house. His handshake was firm. He seemed solidly middle-class; modest home, basic decor, nothing ostentatious. A suburban bachelor pad. After our hellos, he asked if I’d like something to drink. His fridge was stocked with microbrews. Good stuff! I grabbed a Dogfish Head 90 and he guided me to the basement. “That’s where we’ll be working,” he said.
The basement was sparsely furnished. Most prominent was what looked like an old dentist’s chair with a table next to it. The table was covered in a gray cloth. The man handed me an envelope he’d been carrying. $5000. “You can have the rest when we’re finished,” he told me. “It’ll only be a few hours.”
He sat in the chair. With a smile, he gave me my instructions: “I want you to pull out all my teeth.” As he spoke, he pulled the cloth away. Underneath was a pair of gardening gloves, pliers, a ballpeen hammer, and a shoebox. I processed the last 5 seconds for a good 30. Pull his teeth out? I asked him and he confirmed that what I’d heard was, in fact, accurate. “No more questions, now,” he ordered, “just do whatever you need to do to get them out.” With that, sat back in the chair and opened his mouth.
I’m not, and never have been, a f*cking dentist. But, there he was. His mouth was wide open, exposing brilliantly white, healthy teeth. His gums were a soft pink and his tongue seemed to be patiently waiting on the floor of his mouth. I fingered the money in the envelope and chugged the remainder of my beer. “You can run upstairs and get another one if you want,” he told me.
I ran upstairs, as suggested. Staring at the dozens of beers, I tried to gather my thoughts. Long story short: I said “f*ck it,” grabbed as many as I could carry, and trudged back down into the basement. After cracking open a bottle of Rasputin imperial stout, I approached the man, his mouth still open, and tentatively pressed on one of his front teeth. It was smooth and firmly anchored in his jaw. I sighed and put on the gloves.
The feeling that came over me was one of resignation. I knew I was going to do what he asked, and I figured I could always leave with the 5k if it got any weirder. I picked up the pliers, which looked brand new and shiny, and gripped the front tooth I’d poked. Applying careful pressure, I gently pulled back. It didn’t budge. The man exhaled softly though his nose and his eyes rolled. My next pull was fierce and quick. The tooth bent toward me with an audible crunching sound. Blood seeped from behind it. Still, it was lodged in his gums. Muttering under my breath, I squeezed the pliers as hard as I could and pulled with all my weight.
The tooth came out and I fell on my butt. Still holding the pliers, I stared at what I’d done. There was the tooth, white and gleaming, with an ugly, short root jutting from the top. I got up and looked at the man. Blood oozed from the hole in his gums. He sat, calmly, arms crossed in apparent impatience. I loosened my grip on the pliers and let the tooth fall on the concrete floor.
The remaining top front teeth went easily enough now that I had an idea of what kind of work had to be put in. Never once did the man make a sound aside from small changes in his breathing when my hands were blocking his mouth. The blood was beginning to be a factor. It limited my grip and I frequently had to ask him to spit it out. He just swallowed. After the top six teeth were gone, I was presented with a problem. Molars. I drank a Lagunitas Lil Somethin’ Somethin’.
I decided to wait on those and go with the bottom row. The leverage was easier with them. I could put the pliers straight down on the tooth and yank back and downward. Those six went quickly. Again, the problem. Molars. I drank a Fat Tire ale.
I took the hammer and asked him to clench his remaining teeth together. Then, I pulled back his cheek as far as it would go without breaking the skin. I tapped the molars with the hammer. He sighed in annoyance. I swung. Teeth exploded in shards of enamel into his mouth. I took the pliers and yanked out what was left dangling. I repeated this on the other side. Then, all that were left were the wisdom teeth.
The hammer trick worked on the top ones. The bottom ones, though, were a bitch. I stood on the chair, reached in with the pliers, squeezed, and pulled. They came out with the sound of a shrub being ripped out of the ground. And then I was done.
The man grinned at me; his mouth a crater-filled wreck. He drooled blood from the corners of his mouth. Reaching into his jacket pocket, he pulled out the other envelope and handed it to me. I thanked him and backed away. As I was counting it out, he reached into the shoebox that was on the table. When he opened it, my spine immediately started tingling.
The box was filled with spiders. From the look of them, they were brown recluses. They skittered up his forearm and he clenched a handful of them in his fist. Then he stuffed them in his mouth. I could see his jaw working as if he was chewing – which was now impossible because of the status of his teeth. He beckoned for me to come closer. I’d finished counting; he hadn’t shorted me. I moved forward maybe an inch. “I like their little legs in the sockets,” he choked out. “They tickle.”