I don’t know why I’m telling this story. Maybe it’s so I can start the process of forgiving myself, knowing that what I did was beyond my control. Or maybe that’s a lie. Maybe I wanted to do it all along. I honestly don’t know.
When my buddy Raul and I heard that the Puerto Rican government was paying people to help clear the abandoned and unlivable properties that got wrecked by Hurricane Maria, we jumped at the idea. After the hurricane, neither of us were able to go back to work. Things were looking pretty bleak until that opportunity presented itself.
We went to the coordination center and got a map telling us the areas we’d be responsible for and what to do with the stuff we dragged out of the ruined houses. It was pretty straightforward – pull all the furniture and carpets and appliances out of the houses and put them on the side of the road. Trucks would pick up the junk, and, eventually, the homes would be properly demolished.
I did my best to not grimace when we were told how to tag and handle any bodies that had been missed by the initial sweeps right after the storm.
There were red X’s on the map showing where other crews were working. One spot on the far end of the grid was unmarked. It was ours.
“The Secret Doctors of NASA” is a series of memoirs, diaries, and reports from actual doctors employed by an undisclosed arm of NASA between 1970 and 2001. These writings contain true accounts of the unusual and often highly-classified medical conditions experienced by astronauts during and after their space missions. Following the defunding of the clandestine medical program after the September 11, 2001 terror attacks, the majority of these accounts were left, forgotten, on tape drives in a NASA storage facility. In 2016, a former intern, whose job was to clean out one of these facilities, discovered them. Two years later, he is ready to release what he found.
A Dentist’s Discovery
Arnold F. A*******, DDS August 4th, 1989
I met the astronaut after a half-year mission on the Russian space station. He’d gone through his preliminary post-landing physical but complained about pain in his jaw and gums. His health, aside from those complaints, was fair.
It was my job to find out what was wrong with him before moving him on to the next specialist. The urologist, I think. The order always changes.
For most of my life, I’ve been self conscious about the appearance of my inner labia. It didn’t come out of nowhere. I think I first noticed I was unique when I was 13 and saw my first few porn scenes. The women there looked different from me.
Still, I didn’t feel uncomfortable until I was 16 and my first boyfriend made a hurtful comment. “What’s wrong with your pussy?” he sneered, and giggled to himself. That was all it took for me to develop a complex.
That relationship, thankfully, didn’t last very long. But the embarrassment and insecurity remained. I didn’t seek out new boyfriends or sexual partners for the rest of high school. I didn’t say anything to my mother, who’d noticed I’d grown depressed and self conscious. All I did was hate myself and wish I could change.
“Low motility.” That was the diagnosis. My sperm sucked.
The news was disheartening, for sure. Felicia and I had been trying to conceive for over a year. When we didn’t have any success, we both got checked out. She was fine. I wasn’t. Typical me.
I followed the urologist’s instructions: boxers instead of briefs, avoided temperature extremes, and even changed my diet to a more Mediterranean one. Every follow-up visit brought the same result: low motility. My name’s Larry Mangold. We even have the same initials.
I don’t provide my services in a back alley. Far from it. The spare bedroom of my home is warm and calming and safe for those who, at the peak of their emotional burdens, can feel the weight of their worry and sorrow lift from their bellies.
I accept no payment.
I ask no names.
My wife, the light of my life and my partner in our secret community outreach, passed away five years ago. It still hurts to mention her.
Her loss was a singular catastrophe for my health and wellbeing. I meandered without purpose or direction for months before I could resume a semblance of my day-to-day activity. With no one left to love, and I include myself in that calculation, I had little remaining but my work and charity. Those would have to suffice. It was either that, or to join my wife in death. I knew it wasn’t time yet.
For those unfamiliar with Sade Smols, the small man I devoured, I insist you read his story before proceeding here. It’s not because I worry you won’t understand what I’m about to tell you, but rather because you need to know what kind of creature I am.
I am a monster. I am a murderer. A cannibal. A savage. And for those reasons, and many more, I decided to take my own life.