The Treatment
by Arthur Hinds


See, this is the size needles I'll use on you. They're the smallest. They
won't hurt a bit. All individually wrapped to keep them sterile. Just trust me,
darling. I know what I'm doing. Lie down on this towel I spread over the bed and
relax while I gather things together. I'll take care of your leg. Don't forget I studied
for four months with the best teachers in Shanghai. I can do everything. I was one
of the best students in the school--not like the stupid one who was expelled for
hitting a nerve. He didn't study. I studied very hard. You don't need a doctor
anymore. You have me!
Just relax and take some deep breaths. I'll turn on this space heater. Are
you warm and comfortable? There, that one's in. Did that hurt? Didn't I tell you it
wouldn't hurt? This is the meridian for the left leg. Isn't it amazing how the body is
connected by all these. . .
Oops, there's the phone. You take some deep breaths and relax. I'll be
right back.
* * * * *

It was Mrs. Yang. She asked me to make her a chi pao for her daughter's
wedding in June, but I told her I'm not making Chinese dresses anymore. They're
too much trouble and people are so fussy, never satisfied until every detail is
exactly right, and then changing their minds about the trim or something else. I
liked making clothes for people who appreciated my work, but most people don't
know enough.
There, that one didn't hurt, either, right? You didn't even know I put another
needle in, did you?
Remember, how the newspapers would do a story on my dresses each
Chinese New Year? I would paint the zodiac animal for that year right on the dress
-- white satin was the best-- and hire a model to show off my work. I still have those
articles in my scrapbook, complete with photographs of me, the models, and the
dresses. Did you have a favorite ? dress, I mean? Even if they didn't sell, they
were great publicity, and it was fun. . . for awhile.
Oh, sorry. Did that one hurt? It shouldn't have, maybe I'm just a little bit off
there. It'll be all right in a few minutes. You'll get used to it. Now, one over here two
fingers below the navel. One here on your foot, and--oh, did that one hurt too? I'll
take it out and try again. Oops, it shouldn't have drawn any blood. How about this?
OK? That's good. Now, another . . . oh, the phone again! I should just disconnect
it when I'm working. Hold on. I'll be back in a jiffy.

* * * * *

Sorry, darling, that took longer than I expected. It was Jenny. I told her I
was giving you a treatment and you couldn't come to the phone. She sounded
worried and mistrustful. She has no confidence in me! I reminded her that I have a
certificate from the best acupuncture school in China. It even had students from
Europe and Australia. I may have been the oldest woman in the school, but I
already had a medical degree--a surgical assistant--so I was far ahead of those
young people with no medical knowledge at all. I gave her an earful!
You know, I didn't want you to spend all four months at Jenny's while I was
away. Before I left, I told her you could only stay for two weeks, but she didn't listen
to me. She had the nerve to phone me in Shanghai and practically accuse me of
abandoning you! She claimed that you fell in the bath tub and couldn't get up and
that you had trouble changing planes. Did you really fall? I think she made it all up
to get me upset. She just resented my going to learn something she doesn't know
and wanted to make me feel guilty. Anyway, where was I supposed to keep you? I
only had a small dormitory room with a single bed. No one else brought spouses
with them. Step-children are always full of anger