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Short story By: Philip Roberts

Based loosely upon a true incident with my father, who had this gross habit of spitting great gobs out of the car window as he drove along.

Submitted:Dec 30, 2010    Reads: 54    Comments: 0    Likes: 0   

Michael Muggalby was always an exceptionally clumsy person and his life was full of embarrassing little accidents. But this tale is only about one of his misadventures, namely the story of his disappearing dentures. Or Muggalby's missing molars as his friends loved to say. "Lost any good dentures lately, Muggalby?" they'd tease him.
Before describing Muggalby's misadventures with his dentures, however, it is necessary to go back a little in time. All his life Muggalby had been notorious for losing things. While many parents complain about children breaking their toys, Muggalby's parents had no problems with breakages, only losses. His mother would often say, "No matter how many toys we give Mick for Christmas, you can be certain he'll have them all lost before New Year's Day!"
Despite this though there was one thing he was careful not to lose: his teeth. All his life, right up until late middle-age he had been a studious adherent of dental hygiene. He avoided sweets and sugary foods and was careful to always brush his teeth three times a day.
So, despite losing everything and sundry throughout his life, Muggalby managed to hold onto his own teeth until just after his sixtieth birthday.
Shortly after his fifty-eighth birthday, Muggalby, who had never had a day's illness in his life, came down with a bout of flu. Although in fairness to him, it was an unusually virulent variety of flu strain-B, which killed more than eighty thousand people world-wide that year.
In Australia there were only a couple of deaths, but nearly three million people came down sick. Including poor Muggalby who went close to death but managed to recover.
What he didn't seem to be able to recover from though, were the endless colds he came down with the following that winter.
"They're a result of the flu overloading your immune system last year," explained the doctor.
"How do I cure them?" he asked. Although it came out, "Ow ooh oor em."
"You can't, I'm afraid," said the GP. "There's no cure for the common cold."
Muggalby was not convinced, so he decided to get a second opinion. He found his local chemist far more reassuring, since, unlike the doctor who got paid whether or not he wrote any prescription, the chemist had to make a sale before getting paid. Therefore he was very helpful indeed, recommending almost everything that he had in stock. Carefully pointing out that anything he did not have in stock could not possibly work, otherwise he would stock it.
In this way the chemist managed to sell him a small mountain of costly lotions and headache powders, rubs and sprays over the next few months. By the time everything else had failed and Muggalby finally got around to trying relatively inexpensive cough lollies, winter had given way to spring which in turn was well on the way to becoming summer. However, the chemist assured him, "You can't be too careful though, what with summer colds and all."
Muggalby wasn't too sure what summer colds were, but then he had never taken much notice of winter colds until after his bout of flu, so he decided not to take any unnecessary chances.
He bought and sucked sweet, sticky cough lollies by the hundreds, sometimes going through half a dozen packets in a single day. This in itself was no problem, until he took to sucking them in bed. He would fall asleep with a mouthful of sticky sweets, which dissolved into a sugary syrup, which oozed around inside his mouth, coating his teeth and starting to rot.
For the first time in his life Muggalby suffered from tooth aches. And, to his horror, the dentist started to drill, then later extract his teeth. Until one by one they had all come out shortly after his sixtieth birthday.
Even worse though was the discovery that his new dentures were not only ill-fitting and uncomfortable, but actually hurt his gums. Although not quite the "Sooky-boy, cry-baby!" that his wife, Myrtle, accused him of being, it was true Muggalby was not particularly fond of pain. So, to his wife's dismay, he only wore his new dentures while eating, when at work, or when they went out for dinner.
Although even then he could not always be trusted to wear his dentures, preferring to put them in a coat pocket (wrapped in a clean handkerchief) when not actually eating, or else in a glass of water on the table. Which was how he first lost his dentures.
The first time he was lucky. The dentures were found by an old lady who sat at the table after him. After the waiters brought her around with smelling salts, she pointed up at the glass on the table and said, "Uqh! Ugh! Eek! Eek!" One of the waiters took away the glass and kept it, ready when Muggalby returned to ask after them.
Although unable to understand his, "Id ooh ind a et o eef!" it did not take an Albert Einstein to realise this was the owner of the factitious fangs.
Muggalby wasn't always so fortunate, however. The next time he left his teeth in a glass, it was in a railways washroom when he made a dash for a train. An hour later, Myrtle rang through to the lost and found department of the railways, just in case someone had handed in the dentures.
"It's your own silly fault!" said Myrtle, after telling him that, from what she could make out over the laughter on the other end of the line, no-one had handed in any manufactured molars. "Why can't you keep the rotten things in your mouth?"
"Umph! Umph! Arpa! Arpa!" protested Michael Muggalby, trying to explain a la Marcel Marceau, by pantomiming sore gums.
"Sooky-boy, cry-baby!" taunted Myrtle, before storming away.
Not all of Muggalby's dentures (and he went through a dozen sets in as many years) disappeared in so mundane a manner though.
On another occasion Muggalby's molars had been badly chafing his gums all day at work, so the moment he got home he took them off and put them on the kitchen table.
Seeing his wife's disapproving look, he explained, "I eef ave ee illin ee!" Which meant, "My teeth have been killing me!"
"Oh don't talk with your mouth empty!" said Myrtle, storming out of the kitchen.
Shrugging his shoulders, Muggalby picked up his mail and started to open it. Employed as a plumber by the local city council, he eked out his income by moonlighting on private jobs after work and on weekends, so he had a small mountain of mail to open. However, most of it was from plumbing-supply companies, and, since Muggalby did his private work with pipes and fixtures borrowed on "ninety-nine-year loan" from his employer, there was no need for him to waste money, buying anything. So, scooping up the mail in a great double-handful, he carried it across to the pot-bellied stove, opened the small door, and crammed the mass of papers inside.
Muggalby was halfway up the corridor, heading toward the main bedroom, before he remembered his dentures. With a shrug he returned to the kitchen and started looking round the table. However, there was no sign of the false teeth.
It was only as the pot-bellied stove started to give off a noxious odour, that Muggalby realised what he had done. "I eef, I oot em in the ove!" he said. Which meant, "My teeth, I put them in the stove!"
On another occasion his dentures were returned to him, however. Muggalby's latest set of dentures had been missing for two days, when he received an angry phone call from one of his private clients. He had installed an indoor toilet at their house that Saturday, now they complained that it was blocked up.
Muggalby assured them he would hurry right over to fix the toilet free of charge. Since he didn't want them making a fuss in case it got back to the council that he was moonlighting.
Half an hour later Muggalby was busily plunging away in the toilet bowl, when up came the obstruction: a bright pink and white object. "I eef!" he said in delight. Which meant, "My teeth!"
Myrtle, however, was less than enthusiastic, when her husband displayed his recovered teeth to her. "If you put those things back into your mouth, I'm leaving you!" she shrieked.
"I eef!" protested Muggalby. He didn't understand why he should throw away a perfectly good set of dentures, when a new pair would cost him a few hundred dollars.
As Muggalby became notorious for his missing molars, he started to be teased by his workmates, who thought it was screamingly funny. Unfortunately Muggalby had no sense of humour and would become spitting mad. Literally spitting mad, since a defect in his saliva glands meant that when he became angry or upset his mouth would almost overflow with saliva, which he spat out in great globs to clear his mouth.
One day on the way home from work he was spitting mad after his workmates had hardly let up on him all day. As his mouth rushed full of saliva, he leant his head out the driver's window of his Nissan Pintara and unleashed a mighty burst onto the bonnet of a car going in the opposite direction.
"Ot a ay!" said Muggalby as he stepped into the house.
"Have you taken out your teeth before getting into the house?" demanded Myrtle.
"O ere ill ere," said Muggalby. Which meant, "No, they're still there."
"It doesn't sound like it," insisted Myrtle.
Shrugging, he reached up to take out his dentures to show her.
"That's only the bottom set," she said, looking in disgust at the false teeth.
"Oh oh!" he said, realising that he must have spit out the top set onto the bonnet of the passing car. No wonder the driver was so upset! thought Muggalby.
Muggalby's molars kept going missing over the next twelve years and as his wife complained at his funeral, "He must have spent thousands of dollars on replacement sets of false teeth!"
After his death at the age of seventy-two, Myrtle Muggalby sold or gave away all of her late husband's belongings, keeping only his last set of dentures as a memento of him. As she explained to her sister, "His false teeth are what I remember best about Mick, so they'll remind me of him better than anything else."
Myrtle had the dentures silver plated, so that she could keep them on display upon the mantelpiece. However, she is unable to show them to you, since a week or so after they were plated, the false teeth went missing.
© Copyright 2010
Philip Roberts


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