It quivers as it approaches, jerks once, then stops a few inches above your skin. Your eyes widen but your mouth remains clamped shut. The table is cold, the sheet thin. There is a pile of outmoded machines stacked in the corner. The blade retreats. Gloved fingers clutch the gloved wrist of the hand that wields the scalpel. A wince, a tense smirk; maybe imagined. A fly circles the room. A sign above the sink admonishes everyone to lather up. The lights in the drop ceiling are tombstones of pebbled plastic. He coughs without parting his lips, cheeks puffing out to contain it. The knife approaches, stops a few inches above the skin. Hovers. He glances away, looks back at the patch of shaved flesh. A slight vibration. The entire room is trembling. The knife should descend but it just hangs there. It hangs there. The fly lands. The lights flicker. The air bleeds.