He hated doctors, himself included, not because they were venal and did their jobs poorly, but because they pandered to the weak. He’d smelled the peasant odors and the landowner odors and stepped over and around the filths they tramped into their homes, and medicated them and consoled them, and rotated their ankles and rooted in their anuses and consigned them to bed rest, and watched them wither and languish, unable to raise a finger or a breath or a heartbeat in their own aid. They all thought him a man of the people, cheerful and humble and wiser than they, and he kept up the pretense when he was with them, “all,” as he said to his great friend Tolstoy, “for the gifts they give me on my name day.” But at his desk he demeaned them as roundly as his talent allowed, immortalizing their laziness, enshrining their insipidity. Tolstoy understood. They had tea together and Tolstoy said, “You put the talentless and the impotent on the stage for the world to laugh at, but all the world can do is cry.” “I love you,” said Chekhov. “Your stories are not sad and wise, they are pathetic,” said Tolstoy. “You are right,” said Chekhov. “Your writing is weak. It provokes responses you do not desire. You despise, but your writing ennobles. You are a doctor, not a writer. You pander,” said Tolstoy. “I love you with a fever,” said Chekhov, and he went out and bought Tolstoy a forest.
Buzz Mauro lives in Annapolis and works as an actor and acting teacher in Washington, DC. His poems and stories have appeared in Willow Springs, Tampa Review, Tar River Poetry, NOON, Confrontation and other journals; for more about Buzz and his writing click here.