EXPOSURE (an excerpt)

BY JACOB M. APPEL

Wednesdays and Saturdays are my days off at the pharmacy, but Saturdays my wife is off too, so I do my flashing on Wednesday afternoons. In the mornings, I have my weekly rap session with Dr. Quince-Martin. She rents space on a corridor down by the waterfront—opposite a urologist named Littlecock—and, after a bad storm, the entire office suite smells of rotting fish. Dr. Quince-Martin makes a point of revealing nothing about her private life, but I’ve taken the liberty of looking her up on the Internet: Her husband is Dr. Martin-Quince, also a shrink, and she acted off-off-Broadway between college and medical school. Bit parts, mostly. Uncle Charley’s receptionist in Death of a Salesman . A servant girl in Hedda Gabler . I’m holding this knowledge in reserve. The reality is that I just see Dr. Quince-Martin to keep Dawn off my back. My wife is all into head-shrinking and pill-popping and talk therapy, says it “rewired her neural circuitry” after the miscarriage, though she doesn’t seem so different to me. Personally, I find Dr. Quince-Martin horrendously narrow. One time, when I tried to tell her about flashing, her back stiffened like a coffin lid and she advised me of the limits to physician-patient confidentiality in Connecticut. So now we chat about turning forty, and my step-father’s chemotherapy, and Dawn’s harebrained plan to build an outdoor deck onto the kitchen. I don’t mention anything about showing Mrs. Sproul my genitals.

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Jacob M. Appel, a graduate of the MFA program in fiction at New York University and the Harvard Law School, has taught most recently at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, and the Gotham Writers’ Workshop in New York City. His fiction has appeared in Agni, Colorado Review, Missouri Review, StoryQuarterly, Southwest Review and elsewhere. Jacob lives in New York City and can be found on the Internet at jacobmappel.com.