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The Man Who Felt like His Skin Was on Fire

by Eli S. Evans

The man I’m going to tell you about now is a man who felt like his skin was on fire. Consequently, it made sense for him to go to the doctor; but as he could not find a doctor who specialized in feeling like your skin was on fire, he went to a regular sort of doctor.

Before the man was permitted to see this regular sort of doctor, a nurse with a lewd tattoo on her forearm came to take his blood pressure.

“You’re not nervous, are you?” she asked the man.

“Why would I be?”

“A lot of people are nervous that their blood pressure will be high, because that can lead to what we call a cascade, quote-unquote, of risky downstream testing.” 

“Well now I’m nervous,” the man said.

The nurse proceeded to take his blood pressure.

“How was it?” asked the man.

“A little high,” said the nurse, “but that’s probably just because you were nervous.” 

She departed and a few minutes later was replaced by the doctor, a muscular, unshaven fellow who entered the examining room gnawing on quite the wad of bubble gum.

“What brings you here?” he asked, taking a seat in front of a computer.

“I feel like my skin is on fire,” the man explained. 

“I see,” said the doctor. “And how long has this been going on?”

“A few weeks, give or take. I can’t say at exactly what moment it began because it’s been something of a slow burn, ha ha ha.”

“Good to see you haven’t lost your sense of humor,” said the doctor. “By the way, what part of your skin are we specifically talking about, here?”

“Every part of it,” the man said. “Even underneath my hair.”

“If it’s underneath your hair, then you’ve probably got lice,” the doctor said. “On a completely unrelated note, by the way, I don’t know if you’ve ever had the hiccups for weeks on end, but that’s an experience that can be agonizing. As a matter of fact, it’s been scientifically proven to have caused no fewer than several people to kill themselves.”

“Everywhere I have skin, my skin feels like it’s on fire,” the man reiterated. “All I was doing was making the point that this even extends to the skin under my hair.”

“I see,” the doctor said. “Out of curiosity, have you had a lipid panel performed recently?”

“In October,” the man said. 

“Great,” said the doctor. “And what were the results?”

The man, who had an excellent memory for medical data, began reciting his cholesterol, LDL, HDL, and triglyceride levels, as well as his levels of several related proteins and compounds.

“I don’t care about all that extracurricular bullshit,” interrupted the doctor. “Repeat yourself, but this time I only want the HDL, the LDL, and the trigs.”

The man obliged.

“My, my,” said the doctor. “Based on those numbers, I can pretty much guarantee that you’re probably not unlikely to have a not non-fatal heart attack at some point in the near or distant future.”

“Good God,” said the man. “Can’t anything be done? I have a son to take care of, after all. Well, a dog, technically speaking, but he’s practically like a son to me.” 

“I do have one idea,” said the doctor. 

He scribbled something onto the top sheet of a small pad of paper, tore the sheet from the pad, and passed it to the man. 

“This is the name of a particular over-the-counter dietary supplement,” he said. “The recommended maximum daily dosage is 500 milligrams, but in light of your condition I’m going to suggest starting off at a thousand and increasing from there. Keep in mind that one harmless but commonly reported side effect is feeling like your skin is on fire, but if that happens, don’t worry – all its means is that it’s working.”


Eli S. Evans has published work in several now or possibly soon-to-be defunct literary magazines, as well as some with a more promising future. His small book of small stories, Obscure & Irregular, was published in 2021 by Moon Rabbit Books & Ephemera, which recently released his larger book of mostly even smaller stories, Various Stories About Specific Individuals in Particular Situations


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