Chinese Stories in English
Another Stomach, Please
By Son of North Sichuan
When the doctor finished operating that day, and had just come out of the hospital front gate, he saw a tall, fat, middle aged man with three chins coming to meet him. The man laughed and beckoned to him, "Doctor Tang, how are you?" Dr. Tang thought that "Three Chins" must be one of his former patients. For the moment he couldn't remember who he was, though, so he just smiled and nodded to him, and casually mumbled a greeting.
He didn't expect it when Three Chins spoke to him directly. "I'd like to ask for your help, Dr. Tang. Put in an extra stomach for me, right here." As he spoke he patted his huge, protruding belly.
Taken aback, Dr. Tang stared at the man. "You… There's nothing wrong with you?"
Three Chins pulled a long face. "Don't say that, Dr. Tang. Why am I asking you to give me an extra stomach? It's really simple. It's because the one stomach I have now isn't enough. It doesn't meet my needs! I'm constantly being invited to business meals, or inviting others. You know, it's really hard on a guy. Nonstop banquets, here today, over there tomorrow. I can't finish a breakfast but then I have to go to a luncheon. I eat all day and then go eat more at a dinner! I eat so much it's bad for my digestion. I'm not kidding, sometimes I even piss straight booze! How could one stomach be enough when I'm eating such huge quantities and drinking like a fish? How about it, Dr. Tang? Just tell me the price for a stomach, money isn't a problem for me."
Three Chins sprayed spittle as he spoke. Dr. Tang thought he was nuts, so he ignored the guy and kept on walking.
Dr. Tang couldn't believe it when, the next day, when he'd just gotten to work and walked into his office, sitting there waiting for him was a man with three chins, the man who had asked him for a stomach yesterday. He could believe it even less when the man said, "Your Hospital Administrator asked me to tell you that he would like to see you in his office when you come in."
This really surprised Dr. Tang. He couldn't figure out exactly who this guy was. He looked at him suspiciously, then walked off toward the Administrator's office.
"Dr. Tang," the Administrator sighed, "I've thought it through. You're the only one in our hospital who would dare do this kind of procedure, and you're the only one with the ability to do it. Do it for the hospital! We're a private operation and can't afford to have this guy mad at us. If you say no, he'll be offended, and don't even think that we could continue in business without problems after that."
Such an absurd thing, Dr. Tang had never heard the like of it. But when he saw the pleading look in the administrator's eyes, all he could do was nod his head yes.
Once he'd agreed, the next thing was to do the operation. But what about a stomach? Where would he get a stomach that could be added into Three Chin's belly? A dead person's stomach would be useless, because when a person dies the stomach dies with him. "I considered that problem," the Administrator said. "Your patient said not to worry about it, that his people had a way to get one."
Dr. Tang felt a chill go down his spine when he heard that. "What way? You mean they're going to kill someone?"
The Administrator shook his head, thinking about it. "That's not our problem, and there's nothing we could do about it, anyway," he said. "You just go ahead and get ready. Work out a specific plan for the operation."
Dr. Tang worked up a plan for the operation very quickly. He had several years of clinical experience, after all. Even though it would be the first time he'd done this type of procedure, it wasn't too difficult for him. His plan was to first open up Three Chin's abdominal cavity and slice open a nearby section of the esophagus, then attach two artificial "rami esophagi." He would simultaneously create a miniature "Du River Dam" in the man's belly to divide the flow of food, with one part flowing into the new stomach, thereby naturally lessening the burden on the original stomach…. The Administrator felt that Dr. Tang's plan was eminently feasible, and settled on it after making a few improvements.
The day for the operation was settled quickly as well, because Three Chins told Dr. Tang that the new stomach was ready. And yet, when Three Chins put the stomach down in front of him, Dr. Tang almost started to laugh. It was a pig's stomach, in fact a sow's! Three Chin's explanation was that pigs have very strong digestion, and a sow's digestion is especially strong, so nothing could be more suitable for him.
Dr. Tang suddenly thought of an old folk tale. They say there was a kind of wild animal called a taotie that was as gluttonous as it was savage. Its appetite was frighteningly scary – it would eat whatever it saw. After eating up all the food in the world, it started to eat the sky; and when it finished eating the sky, it started to eat the earth; and when the earth was all gone, and there really was nothing else it could eat, it started to eat itself. First it ate its feet, and then it ate its hands, and after it had eaten itself all up, it starved to death. Dr. Tang looked at this guy Three Chins standing in front of him and thought, he really is a living taotie!
The operation officially started at two that afternoon. Three Chins got up onto the operating table and Dr. Tang efficiently opened his abdominal cavity. It was too much! All he could see crammed in the abdominal cavity was undigested meat and vegetables, and pasty white lard. A rotten stench immediately billowed up toward the ceiling and spread throughout the operating room. Dr. Tang had had the foresight to wear two surgical masks, but there was still no way he could stand it.
In order to stuff that frighteningly large sow's stomach into Three Chin's belly, Dr. Tang would have to clean the belly out to make room for it! He resolutely set to it with his knife, first peeling away part of that pasty white lard. But that first cut made his assistant stare dumbfounded. Why? The part cut out was really only a tiny bit of what was originally there, but when weighed, it came to more than eleven pounds!
Actually, Dr. Tang didn't really proceed with the operation in accordance with the procedures he had drawn up in advance, because he discovered that the sow's stomach supplied by Three Chins was much bigger than Three Chin's own stomach. This discovery put him on alert, so he immediately changed the procedures to adjust to the new circumstances: instead of creating a miniature "Du River Dam" in Three Chin's belly, he put Three Chin's stomach inside the pig's stomach, like a bowl in a steamer, and cut an opening in the esophagus. Whenever Three Chins took in too much food for his own stomach to hold, the excess would automatically go into the pig's stomach.
Of course, the procedures performed by Dr. Tang were actually nowhere near as simple as stated here. Some steps have been omitted because describing them would be rather complicated. It's enough if the reader can get a general idea of what was done.
Several days later, Three Chins called Dr. Tang with some good news. He declared that the new stomach was extremely efficacious. "Now I don't have to worry," he rumbled into the phone, sounding pleased with himself, "even if they want me to go to ten banquets in one day!"
The word got around very quickly. It even made the front page of the local paper as the lead story, and just like that the hospital's name had become a household word. An endless stream of people came to Dr. Tang for the stomach insertion operation. He tried to turn them away but couldn't, so the hospital went ahead and set up a "Department of Gastrointestinal Implants" with Dr. Tang as its director. On the day they hung out the new nameplate for the department, the hospital corridor was so crowded with people coming to request the operation that it was impossible to squeeze through. They were all carrying pig stomachs in their hands, and if you didn't know what was going on, you'd think they'd all come for a Pig Stomach Exposition!
The fuss hadn't been going on long before Three Chins came knocking on the door, so mad he could hardly breathe. He said that recently his digestive capacity had again become unsatisfactory, the same as it was before putting in the new stomach. He accused the hospital of intentionally scamming him, claiming that that was why Dr. Tang hadn't completely solved his problem at the time.
Dr. Tang thought it was strange, too. He commiserated with Three Chins a bit, then started to examine him. During the examination Dr. Tang was surprised to find that Three Chins had only one stomach, the sow's. "And his own stomach? Does this mean it was completely digested by the pig's?" Dr. Tang was half asking the Administrator, who had come running over to hear the news, and half talking to himself.
"Shh!" The Administrator shushed Dr. Tang at once, telling him not to say anything that Three Chins might overhear. This Three Chins, if he knew his own stomach had been digested by the pig's stomach that it had been put into, well, it'd be a cold day in Hell if he didn't come after the hospital with all his power!
But it was already too late to avoid that. Dr. Tang snuck a glance at the Administrator and saw that his face had turned a deathly shade of gray, and beads of sweat were dripping down his forehead. Right away Dr. Tang appreciated how serious the situation was, because he had already performed almost a thousand of these operations. The procedures utilized in each were the same as in Three Chin's, suggesting that they all might encounter the same problem.
Just at that moment, their attention was drawn by a loud, gruff voice echoing in from outside the door. "Where's the Administrator? I'm looking for your Administrator!" There was a roar, then the door banged open and a man in his forties burst into the room. He seemed to pick out which one was the Administrator and strode over to him. "I'm the mayor of this township," he rumbled. "Do you realize that every day since you set up this dog-fart Department of Gastrointestinal Implants, we have people coming over there to spend big money to buy sow stomachs? Some of the farmers get greedy when they see all that money and slaughter pigs that aren't fully grown yet. Now in this whole big township you can't find even one fat pig. Do you know, Mr. Administrator, that your hospital has had a serious effect on our pork production industry? I'm gonna sue you guys. I'll put you in jail and make you compensate us for our losses!"
The Administrator couldn't stand any more of this. "We save the dying and nurse the injured here," he bellowed. "When someone who's afflicted comes to us for a stomach implant, how could we turn our backs on their need? If you want to sue someone, you should sue the ones who are buying up all the pig stomachs. Go sue those gluttons! You're barking up the wrong tree coming here!"
The Administrator and the Mayor argued until their faces were all red, and still no end in sight. Without hesitating, Dr. Tang took the opportunity to slip away….
股市会精品系列，奇异故事, 第142页， 2010年11月
Stories Magazine Premier Collection，Fantasy Stories, p. 142， November 2010
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