Excerpt from Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures by Vincent Lam, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures

Stories

by Vincent Lam

Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures
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  • First Published:
    Sep 2007, 362 pages
    Paperback:
    Sep 2008, 362 pages

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“Fine, Mr. Interviewer. Make up something, then.” Laughing, Fitzgerald said, “Miss Ming, do you really, truly, deeply care about humanity as you claim in your essay?”

“Doesn’t everyone who sits in this stupid chair?”

“Tell me, Miss Ming, what’s the most terrible thing you have done in your life?”

She had been thinking of this, of wanting to tell him about that which answered this question. It would be a trial run of telling it to a man she was in love with, as it would seem somehow necessary to tell such a theoretical man. This would be ideal, she had already reasoned, because Fitzgerald resembled a person that she might fall in love with. In this instance, however, their pre-set constraints meant that nothing would be lost by discussing this thing that she carried like a full bowl of water on her head—so careful to not spill it and yet every moment wanting to smash it into the ground.

Ming said, “Do you really want to know?”

“I must know, Miss Ming. We only admit the purest of character.”

“Forget the interview shtick. I want to tell you something.” He said, “You want to confess that you fantasize about me.” They had both come to accept an ongoing flirtation of feigned seriousness. It allowed them to vocalize their desires in a way that—by being absolutely straightforward—they could treat as a joke. She pulled her legs up to her chest. “I want to tell you something true and awful, which I really hate. Will we go on being friends?”

He said, “We’ll be the same people.”

“Except that there’s a part of me that you don’t see yet — that’s very dark — and you might think I’m a bad person.”

“You mean the fact that you’re withholding the truth—that you’re deeply and soulfully in love with me, as I am with you,” said Fitzgerald. Again, this reality was spoken directly to discount itself. This time, she felt, it sounded slightly too honest to function as the usual throwaway, and given what she was about to tell him, she felt angry at Fitzgerald for saying these words which mocked them both. Now scared, she said, “It’s awful, that our friendship has become important. I wanted to keep everything sterile. I wanted to go to medical school and start fresh.”

He retreated, saying, “It’s best that there’s . . . nothing between us, then.”

Briefly, she thought of making something up, of confessing to something silly. But Fitzgerald had a good instinct for knowing what wasn’t true, of hearing what didn’t fit. Besides, maybe she would tell him and he would hate her. It would be tidy and finished. She said, “I had this, you know, this relationship.”

“Sure,” said Fitzgerald.

“Maybe for you it’s no big deal,” she said. Then, “I’m being touchy.”

Ming’s chest pounded, and her breath felt as if it was coming through a small straw. She was afraid that her next word would crack, and was angry at herself for being close to crying, for not letting the silly fakeinterview question slide away. She had come to assume Fitzgerald’s kindness, but now felt trapped in actually needing to trust it. She said, “It was from when I was twelve until not very long ago. With Karl, who taught me to study.”

A short silence, which seemed to stretch. A click, then the hollow tone.

The other line had been picked up. She could not see—little points of light swirled in front of her. The click had occurred only after she had finished speaking, hadn’t it? Or had it just clicked off ? Had the other line been open all this time, and had it just clicked off ? Ming’s stomach was tight. Was her father listening now, or had he listened? Wait . . . the telephone silence had that hollow sound right now. Was she fooling herself— what was a sound with no one speaking? Then, as she tried to discern the nature of the silence, as she wished that she could reach across the quiet to take Fitzgerald’s hand, Ming’s father said in Cantonese, “Little daughter, you have an important trip tomorrow. Sleep, please.”

The above excerpt is the complete text of the short story "How To Get Into Medical School, Part 1" , pages 1-30 of Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures. Copyright (c) Dr. Vincent Lam, 2007. Reproduced with permission of the publisher. All rights reserved.

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