“I really don’t mind the scars. Really.
“Just get the bandages off my face, Doc. But, take it easy. I don’t want the incisions to open up again, and start bleeding all over the place, like they did th
e last time. I wouldn’t want to see your delicate hands and nice white lab coat turning red, would you? Ha…ha…ha…I didn’t think so.
“All right, relax, relax…just stop shaking…you’re making me nervous. Besides, this isn’t The Twilight Zone and Rod Serling isn’t going to walk through that doorway to scare us with one of his science fiction stories. To tell you the truth, I’m kind of nervous myself. Harry, don’t just stand there in the corner like a wet poodle shivering in the rain, give me a cigar. I need a smoke, something before the bandages come off.
“Hey, where are you going, Doc.? To call your pretty little wife and to tell her you’re going to be working late tonight? Fine…fine, but make it fast!
“Thanks, Harry. You can return to your corner now. I’ll call you if and when I need you.
“Joey! What are you looking at? Even through these bandages, I can feel your beady eyes staring at me from across the room. The Doc hadn’t even taken them off yet. You won’t recognize me, anymore. No one will recognize me, anymore…not even my own mother. Ha…ha…ha. She always said I had an ugly mug…well, now that’s all been changed. Everything’s different now, thanks to the Doc.
“All right, all right, Doc, you’re back. Yes, I’ll get rid of the cigar. Here, Harry, take the cigar and save it. I’ll finish it later while I strolling around town under the watchful eyes of the police, with them looking right into my mug, and not one of them recognizing me.
“My girl won’t even recognize me. I haven’t seen her in six months. Six long months! I can’t wait to walk up to her apartment on the upper west side, ring her bell, and watch the reaction on her face when she opens the door and I say, ‘Hello, doll. Why don’t we step out and paint the town red?’ Isn’t that what they say in the movies? We’ll drink champagne and dance all night at the Waldorf Astoria. I feel like celebrating.
“All right…all right, Doc, maybe in a week or two. But, I feel like a new man, a new man with a new face, a new identify, a new start on life. In a way, I’ve become the invisible man. People will stare at my face and look right through me. It’ll be as if Louie Dee doesn’t even exist.
“What did you say, Joey? You said that I’m the same old Louie…the same old Louie that took you out from the gutter and gave you a reputation to be proud of, a name that’s feared by the authorities? Your pictures are now decorating the walls of post office lobbies from sea to shiny sea. You guys are famous! You can’t walk the streets without someone recognizing you and snitching to the police.
“But, I’m free, now…free to roam this great, big land, to go where I please – New York, Miami, San Francisco, Chicago – to enter any restaurant, bar, or lounge, without having to look over my shoulder.
“Ah…what do you guys know? I’m disgusted. All any of you know is how to rob little old ladies, candy stores, bodegas, and gas stations. You guys were nothing but petty thieves until I came along. That was your lucky day, and you know it.
“All right, Doc. I’ve done enough talking. Now come over here and remove these bandages. That’s it, come over here, pick up those scissors, and snip away…that’s it, snip, snip, snip, nice and easy. Grab a whole of yourself, Doc, and stop shaking. You’re making me nervous. All right, calm down and steady your hand a little, before you gouge out one of my eyes or snip off one of my ears. Give him a drink to steady his nervous, Harry. All right, now, continue, and don’t mess it up.
“We’ve been pals for a long time, Doc, ever since we met on the lower east side at that reform school. Ha…ha…ha…. You’ve done pretty well for yourself. You have a pretty wife, a nice office in an upscale neighborhood. You’re probably wondering how I found you after all these years. Well, I’m resourceful and that’s all you need to know.
“All right, you know what to do. Take it easy and start at the bottom and work you way up, slowly and gently. That’s it…easy…easy…easy, dunderhead! I’m not some petrified mummy that’s been buried for thousands of years in some pyramid in the desert of North Africa.
“All right, I’m sorry I yelled at you, Doc. Just continue and take it easy around the proboscis…ah…now I can breath, thank God for fresh air. Can you believe it? I’m getting high on oxygen.
“All right, now for the eyes – carefully, slowly. Turn off that freaking floodlight. What do you want to do blind me? Oh, the light! The light! It’s bright! Too, damn bright! It’s all right…it’s all right, now…I can see…I can see clearly…I can see your mug, Doc, and you’re still ugly. Ha…ha…ha. I was just joking.
“Now remove the rest of the bandages from around my head…that’s it. Ah….
“Joey! What are you looking at? Haven’t you ever seen a new face before? Doc, give me a mirror…a mirror…a mirror…quick!
“Not bad…not bad, at all, Doc. You can relax, now. You did all right, if I do say so myself.
“Who do I look like, Harry? Do I look like a movie star? How about Robert Redford? All the girls were crazy over Robert Redford. Remember him in Barefoot in the Park? How about Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid? He was the Sundance Kid, right? Or how about Dustin Hoffman, when he played Benjamin in The Graduate? Do you think Mrs. Robinson will invite me to her bedroom and try to seduce me? Ah, forget it.
“All right, Doc. You did well. Thank you. I feel great…I feel like a new man, a man who has finally been released from prison and can now walk the streets of the world with my head up high. And, I owe it all to you, my old pal, and to your skill as a cosmetic surgeon.
“Harry, Joey and I’ll be leaving you now. That’s right, we’re leaving. I can’t stay any longer. Someone might have seen us slipping into your office and might have called the police.
“There’s just one problem, one loose end that has to be tied off. That’s right, you’re the loose end, Doc. Besides Harry and Joey – whom I trust, unequivocally, you’re the only one who knows my true identity.
“What am I reaching for inside my pocket? It’s nothing of importance. Don’t worry about it. Don’t even look at what I’m doing. Don’t even look at the steel blue barrel or white pearl handle. Just look at the corner of the walls where they come together at the ceiling and don’t worry. It’ll all be over in a few seconds…if you’re lucky.“Oh, and by the way, as I said before, I really don’t mind the scars.”