A doctor, keeping to his promise to do no
harm, keeps a spare old man with a white beard in his medical
closet in case someone
should choke to death
on a tongue depressor. Then he presents the spare old man to the patient’s
wife, in lieu of her husband, as another miracle of modern science—No
extra charge for the beard.
Or, say he accidentally cooks a little
girl to death with his x-ray machine, he can hide her under his white
jacket and present
the spare old man to the mother waiting in the waiting room,
explaining that as he cooked her little girl she suddenly went
sprouting all kinds of secondary hair and nipples—Look,
she even has a beard like a billy goat.
But even so, say the doctor
should accidentally cut his own throat while shaving with his
scalpel (this rarely happens), then he collapses
into a pool of his own blood wondering if there is anything past
death. If not, he simply fades into what he was before his mom
and dad had groped each other in the dark.
And still no harm was done. . . .