The first "attack" was on his ride home from caring for a patient, the second episode is pretty funny in that a blow-hard surgeon is trying to shock the women at a party and talks about swollen scrotum, hydroceles, and Dr. Service evidently puts him in his place which he only learns of by people's reactions and his wife's comments after the lapse has ended.
The narrator, Dr. Service, then tells in the letter of the library research he has been conducting in an effort to find out what his affliction is. These are great descriptions for what it must be like to blank out for periods of time. "At dinner, I lifted ham to my mouth but tasted pudding. I tossed my grandson in the air and caught my granddaughter. I began Genesis 25 and finished Exodus 12. I unsheathed the knife I used for my caesareans and found myself with a bonneted baby in my arms."
|illustration by Matthew Richardson|
finds a novel instead, unfinished, that mirrors the doctor's own story and life. The poor doctor at this point is desperate and he yanks all of his books off of his shelves searching for the rest of the novel written supposedly written by his doppelgänger. He first tries to kill his double and then warns "him of the fate of the parasite that kills off its host."
"The Second Doctor Service" is a masterful blending of mystery, science, medical history, mythology and religion. It was published in Harper's Magazine, June 2014. Daniel Mason, the author, uses some arcane language and phrasing but it works well with the 1882 time frame and the educated narrator.
Reading this story makes me want to watch the movie The Piano Tuner based on the novel of the same name by Daniel Mason. (I don't bother reading novels. There are many short stories to read.)
interview at Identity Theory