The Asphyxiation Caper
D. Wayne Dworsky
This story is protected by copyright. (c) 2007 by D. Wayne Dworsky
After having spent an arduous day at a wholesaler, I arrived at my tiny party store to find my business partner wheezing and gasping for breath.
“Nancy!” I cried. “What’s wrong?” She motioned with her hand, perched on one knee, holding onto the cash drawer with a desperate expression on her face.
“Get me some help!” she pleaded in a high-pitched, squeaky voice, half-falling down and grasping the back of a chair behind the counter. “I need oxygen!”
“What happened to you?” I begged, struggling to comprehend the gravity of the situation.
“Doctor Payneless,” she screamed, directing me with her hand, indicating his number on a list by the register.
I stepped up to the phone and speed-dialed the number. During the seconds I waited, all sorts of weird thoughts entered my mind. I wondered whether Nancy had struck her head, or had a heart attack or what. I tried to carry out her request wasting the least amount of time.
“Doctor’s office,” the voice answered.
“Doctor Payneless?” I asked, scratching my head for answers.
“Yes,” the doctored answered. “Who’s this?”
“I have Nancy here with me. She’s gasping for breath. She said she needs oxygen. And her voice is very squeaky.”
“Bring her right over.”
I remembered his office, just five blocks away. I helped Nancy into my car and drove her directly to the doctor’s office. I took her right past the waiting room, straight into his examining room, where the good doctor advised me that he would take good care of her and that I could return to my store.
Taking it upon myself to return, I was puzzled by my cell phone’s ring once I drove off. It was the doctor.
“Don’t go into the store,” he said. Now I became worried. Why would he give such advice, especially since he was behind two closed doors?
“Why not?” I asked the doctor. “What’s wrong?”
“I’ll be right there,” Doctor Payneless assured. “I’ll explain when I come.” Now I became deeply concerned. What news could he bear that I was unaware of?
Meanwhile, half a dozen police cars had assembled in front of the store. I observed that several uniformed men emerge from their vehicles with guns drawn just as I pulled off the road and drove into the parking lot. Within a very short time I saw Doctor Payneless drive in, right behind me. Now, more than ever, I was eager to get to the bottom of this bizarre chain of events.
“What happened?” I asked Nancy, who stepped out of the car appearing to speak more coherently than earlier. Then Doctor Payneless stepped out.
“After I gave her the oxygen,” he explained, “and performed a little test, I discovered that she endured helium asphyxiation.”
“You do have helium in your store, Mr. Reynolds, don’t you?”
“Well, yeah,” I assured. “Why?”
“Because she explained to me that she was trying to subdue a robbery attempt.”
My mouth dropped open as we watched the police tugging on someone still in the store. At some strategic point the officers had extricated a handcuffed man from the store, who tried to exclaim in a high-pitched, squeaky voice, “I didn’t do it!”