absence of evidence is not evidence of absinthe
“You are suffering from all the hallmarks of pycnodysostosis: fragile bones, short stature, large head, weak chin. Were you never examined for this as a child, Mr. Monfa?”
“No, Doctor Durand. Medical resources were few in my youth. I was always unwell. A very vulnerable child.”
“That is unfortunate. Growth hormones might have provided some benefit in your early years.”
“Would they help me now?”
“That is unlikely as the disease has progressed and,” the doctor broke off eye contact, “you now have other underlying conditions that are compromising your health.”
“You mean, my methods of self-medication?” Mr. Monfa laughed. “Come, doctor, Paris is the best medicine. A very strong medicine, but with its side effects: syphilis, alcoholism. To fight pain with pain and pleasure with pleasure is the French way.”
“As you say. But at this point, I cannot offer you much more in the way of treatment, Mr. Monfa.”
“Are you so sure, doctor? I have sought you out over many, many years.”
“Why is that?”
“I have heard that you are…curious. Adventurous. Connected. You know people doing interesting, under-the-table treatments with experimental gene therapies that command the utmost discretion. And the utmost compensation.”
The doctor studied the diminutive patient’s dour face, unkempt beard, thin mustache, and very affected bowler hat and monocle. He remained silent.
“May I?” Mr. Monfa motioned to the sizable satchel he’d placed next to a nearby chair with his cane and overcoat.
After a careful moment, Doctor Durand nodded.
Mr. Monfa unlatched the worn leather case and withdrew a largish rectangular object loosely wrapped in neat cloth which he handed to the doctor. “Please,” he offered.
The doctor lifted the cloth. He studied the object. He studied Mr. Monfa. He studied his watch. “Am I to believe?”
“As I am. That there can be a namesake cure for a namesake disease.”
“It will take time,” the doctor explained.
“I can return.”
“How is that possible?”
“The universe dances. If you watch closely enough, showing proper appreciation and respect, Time is a willing partner.”
The doctor turned to his window and the vibrant Parisian skyline where past and present were lit in colors so like the painting he’d been offered. “I think we must try, Mr. Monfa.”
“Please, call me Henri,” the most patient patient said, reaching for his cane. He gave the ornate handle a practiced twist and lifted it off. A prescient scent of aniseed, fennel and wormwood filled spacetime.