Three women stood ahead of Julia in the customs line in the airport. All of them were spray-tanned bleached blondes with the combined IQ of a horse.
“What is the purpose of your visit to Lao Tsong?” the customs man asked.
“Pleasure,” the first woman answered, staring into the man’s eyes with her finger twirling her hair. “What time do you get off of work?”
The second woman answered, “Business.” She leaned over the counter, pouting her lips and showing off her cleavage. “Maybe you’ve seen my new movie, Monster Cock Blowjob III?”
“Boobs!” giggled the third woman. “I wanna get a boob job, a big one!”
Each time, the customs officer smiled and stamped their passport. When Julia got to the desk, however, he paused.
“I know,” Julia joked. “The photo is terrible.”
“Miss Julia Nakamura,” the customs officer frowned. “What is the purpose of your visit to Lao Tsong?”
“Doctor Julia Nakamura,” Julia corrected. “I’m here for humanitarian aid purposes,” she said proudly, “I’m here to teach.”
“Teach?” he frowned. “Teach what?”
“Cardiac procedures—surgery on people’s hearts.”
“Really?” he snorted. “Do you have any documentation to back that up?”
Julia presented her credentials from the International Surgeon’s Outreach Council. “That should explain everything,” she said pleasantly.
The customs officer looked skeptically at Julia, read the documents thoroughly, and shrugged. “Americans…” he snorted.
“What do you mean?” Julia inquired.
“All the women coming through here are here for plastic surgery.”
“Yes,” Julia said politely. “I plan on changing that.”
“You could get some surgery before you leave,” the officer suggested. “Lao Tsong is well known for the quality of its plastic surgeons.
“No,” Julie fumed. “I’m here to do real work.”
“I see,” he coughed, changing the subject. “Where will you be staying?”
“Bao Long General Hospital. They have dormitories there.”
“For women?” the guard asked in surprise.
Julie frowned. “Of course, why not?”
“Just asking.” When he was finished he stamped Julia’s passport and handed it back, along with her credentials.
“Welcome to Lao Tsong, Miss Nakamura.”
“Doctor Nakamura,” she corrected.
The customs officer rolled his eyes. “Go to the lobby and you’ll find a shuttle that drives directly to the hospital.”
Annoyed, Julia she picked up her luggage and marched to the lobby. She didn’t have to look hard to find the shuttle stop. It was crowded by spray tanned white women, their bleach-blonde hair sparkling in the sunlight as they searched the airport terminal for a wireless signal.
“Omigod, why isn’t there a wi-fi signal here?”
“I can’t, like, update my status? What the fuck?”
“Where am I going to post my ‘before’ pics before the surgery?”
Julia rolled her eyes. “Please, tell me I’m not going to have to ride with these bimbos.”
The shuttle pulled up to the terminal gate. It was painted faded pink with the words, “Plastic Hospital Ride” spray painted on the side.
“Please God…” Julia groaned. It was then that she noticed the taxi driver standing off to the side. He had a long grey moustache. His heavy-lidded eyes drooped as he held a piece of paper with “Nakamura” printed in English
“Hello!” Julia smiled. She asked in Tsongian, “Are you from the hospital?”
“Oh, thank God!” she sighed. “Let’s go!”
Rushing past the spray-tanned bimbos, Julia helped the cab-driver load her luggage into the trunk, despite his objections. Soon she pulled away from the airport and started the long drive to the hospital, eager to begin her work.
The ride took Julia through the countryside, along dirt roads well-worn by both cars and cattle. Julia saw a girl herd her flock of ducks across the road ahead of the cab. Housewives and old women washed laundry by the side of a river, beating clothes against the rocks and sprinkling powdered soap on the stains. The brown current carried the soap bubbles downstream. The closer she came to the city, the more western the clothes looked. Instead of hempen shawls and naked breasts, Julia saw skin tight shorts, mesh shirts, and high heels.
‘Weird,’ Julia thought. ‘The prostitutes wear more clothes than the country girls.’
As she neared the hospital gate, Julia was struck by how old the place looked. It looked like something that had been built before the War, with pink stucco walls and glass blocks cemented in the window frames instead of panes of glass. The giant, green lawn was flanked with palm trees Orderlies wearing white, high-collared shirts and white slacks, pushed patients in old wood and wicker wheelchairs. Julia felt like she had stepped back in time. The feeling both enchanted and worried her.
Julia she asked the cab driver in Tsongian, “Do you know where the dormitories are?”
He looked at her in the rearview mirror and shrugged.
‘Maybe my pronunciation is off,’ she worried. She grabbed her purse and stepped out of the cab onto the dusty patio.
“Wait for me,” she told the cabbie, speaking clearly as she could. “I’ll be back.”
“No problem,” he smiled.
Julia heard footsteps on the patio as pair of orderlies approached her.
“Welcome, ma’am!” they said in unison.
Julia smiled. “Hello!” she said. “I’m Dr. Nakamura. I’m here from the International Surgical Outreach Commission. Can you bring me to Dr. Ling please?”
The orderlies looked at each other nervously.
“Dr. Ling,” Julia repeated. “…the hospital director…”
“Welcome, ma’am!” they repeated. “We hope that you had a pleasant flight.”
Julia sighed, and mopped her brow. She wasn’t sure if it was the brutal humidity or the frustration that was making her sweat. She told the orderlies in Tsongian, “I’d like to see the director, please.”
This stunned them, but they quickly ushered her inside.
The hospital lobby was just beyond the thick, oak doors. The walls were oak-paneled near the floor, and halfway up the walls turned to bright white tile, gleaming like polished teeth. A ceiling fan spun lazily from the ceiling, providing little relief from the stifling heat. Still, the nurse receptionist sitting behind the desk barely broke a sweat. She was talking to a white-coated doctor, smiling at him and twirling her hair around her finger. When she saw Julia, the nurse snapped to attention.
“Welcome, madam!” she said in polite English. “Can I have your name, please?”
“Dr. Julia Nakamura…”
“Excellent, madam. I’ll have you checked into your room as soon as possible.”
“Thank you,” Julia smiled.
The receptionist didn’t even have a computer at her desk. She worked from a ledger with all sorts of notation in Tsongian. Julia was nowhere near fluent enough to read it. Besides, she was distracted by the nurse’s uniform.
The usual blue green scrubs that were ubiquitous back in the States were nowhere to be seen. This nurse wore a white dress with buttons down the front. A canvas belt was cinched around her narrow waist, and atop her perfectly coifed black hair she wore a stiff white cap, the kind that Julia had only seen in black and white photos.
“It seems that I can’t find a record of your reservation, Miss Nakamura—“
“Dr. Nakamura,” Julia corrected.
“Can you tell me which surgeon is performing your procedure?” she asked. “That might help me find your records.”
“Procedure? No, no, no,” Julia laughed. “I’m here with the International Surgical Outreach Commission.”
“No surgery?” the receptionist frowned. “My, that’s an awkward fact. Why would you come here, then?”
“I’m here with the I.S.O.C.” Julia repeated.
The nurse shrugged.
“I’m here to teach,” Julia said impatiently. “The director of the hospital knows I’m coming. He sent me this letter.”
The receptionist looked at the letter and frowned. “I’ve never seen this letterhead before. Are you sure that you’re not confusing us with another hospital, ma’am?”
“But you sent a car for me!”
“You mean the shuttle?” the nurse asked. “That shuttle is for anyone to ride, ma’am.”
“No, I mean an actual car,” Julia said.
“The taxi!” Julia snapped. “It’s outside right now.”
The receptionist looked over Julia’s shoulder. “I do not see a car, madam.”
Julia turned around. The taxi was gone.
“Are you alright, madam?” the receptionist asked.
Julia ran outside. She hadn’t even heard the taxi drive off, and now there was no sign of it, not even a dust trail down the road. Julia stood on the patio, her hands clutching her hair, trying not to panic.
The receptionist approached Julia from behind, her thick white heels clacking on the tile patio.
“All of our patients usually take the shuttle,” she said, laying her hand of Julia’s shoulder. “Are you sure you’re not confused?”
“Of course, I’m not!” Julia shouted. “The taxi was right here—oh no!” she cried. “My bags were still in the trunk. They’re gone!”
“Madam, please come inside.”
Julia clutched her purse. “Is everything—oh, thank God!”
“What?” the receptionist asked.
“My passport,” Julia sighed. Julia put her hand over her heart and took some deep breaths, following the nurse back into the lobby.
“I’ll call the airport,” the receptionist comforted. “If your luggage is still in the cab, we can hopefully contact the driver. Do you remember his name?”
“No, but he was an old man…” Julia said.
“Do you remember the number of his car?”
“No, but it was yellow.”
The receptionist bit her lip. “I’ll certainly tell them that.” She picked up the receiver of an old black rotary phone. The dial clicked and hissed as the nurse dialed zero.
“Yes, operator?” the nurse said politely. “Please connect me to the airport.
Julia ran her hands through her hair and tried to tune out her pounding heart. All her dress clothes were in her luggage, along with her makeup, shoes, and underwear. The luggage was a gift from her parents. Now, all her belongings stuck in a random taxi on the streets of Lao Tsong, and the hospital didn’t even know she was coming.
As Julia fretted, a doctor walked up to the desk.
“Any messages?” he asked the receptionist.
“Oh, Dr. Souh!” the receptionist stood at attention and bowed deeply. “What an honor to see you this afternoon! Please excuse me for not bringing these to you earlier—“
“Enough,” Dr. Souh scolded. He swiped the messages out of the nurse’s hand and looked through them as she bowed over and over. Only when he was done reading them did he look up and see Julia sitting beside the desk.
Dr. Souh glared at the nurse. “Why isn’t Miss Nakamura in her room,” he demanded in Tsongian.
“Forgive me, sir!” the nurse replied. “I was negligent. Forgive me! Forgive me!”
“Silence!” he snapped. “Go to the patio this instant!”
Sweat dripped from the receptionist’s brow. Trembling, she sank to her knees and bowed her head to the floor. “Please, honorable, merciful Dr. Souh, any but that—“
“Please!” Julia jumped out of her seat. “This is my fault. Do you know me?” Julia was willing to take the blame as long as someone recognized her.
“Of course,” Dr. Souh smiled, speaking in English. “You must be exhausted. Come with me. Let’s get you comfortable.”
He was an older man, with a little silver around his temples, discreetly hidden behind a layer of hair oil and a pair of black plastic glasses. His hands were a little rough, but he took Julia’s hand with all the gentleness and firmness of a man holding a scalpel at the surgical table. He had an old school charm that Julia couldn’t help thinking was cute.
Dr. Souh led her through the hallways, which, despite their old-fashioned appearance, were spotless to the point of reflectivity. Julia could practically see herself in the black and white checkered floor. Dr. Souh led her to a lounge full of wicker recliners and sat her down beside a wiry oscillating fan. The hot air blowing past her face cooled the sweat collecting on Julia’s forehead.
“Let me get you some water, miss.”
“Thank you,” Julia said. She watched Dr. Souh pick up a glass pitcher off the nearby orderly cart and fill it from the nearby water fountain.
“I always tell the orderlies to keep ice water on hand for the foreigners—no offense, ma’am,” he said, rebuking himself gently. “I don’t mean to speak harshly, but my countrymen have an immunity to the heat which outsiders have yet to cultivate. If only you could be immunized,” he joked. “It would be Lao Tsong’s greatest export!”
Dr. Souh reached into a bucket on the orderly cart and pulled out a few chunks of ice half the size of his fist. He chopped it up with an ice pick, sending shards of ice flying all over the floor. The chips that hit the ground seemed to melt into the floor and evaporate like water on a hot skillet.
“Here you go…” Dr. Souh handed Julia the glass dripping with condensation. One touch of the glass to her hand cut through the haze in Julia’s mind.
“Thank you very much,” Julia said. “I just wish that you had a way to find my luggage.”
“We’ll find it, madam. No doubt, your luggage will be found, if not now, then certainly after your procedure.”
“Procedure?” Julia frowned. She had just taken a long drink of water and had to keep from spitting the water out. “I told you, I’m not here for surgery!”
“You told me no such thing,” Dr. Souh insisted.
“I told the nurse, I mean,” Julia corrected. “But that’s the point. Everyone thinks that I’m here to get some cheap plastic surgery. Why doesn’t anyone listen to me!”
“I’m sorry, Miss Nakamura—”
“It’s Doctor Nakamura!” Julia snapped, slamming her glass down on the table. She pinched her nose and took a long breath. “God, this place is giving me a headache.”
“Headache?” Dr. Souh frowned. “Are you ill?”
“No, just frustrated.” Julia took another gulp of cold water and sighed in relief as it pooled at the bottom of her belly.
“What are you here for?”
Julia pulled her credentials out and explained. “I can’t believe that no one heard of me. I’ve been scheduled to come for four months.”
“Well,” Dr. Souh laughed good-naturedly, “I can’t say that I’m privy to all of the Director’s business. I’ve been so busy that I only have time to look after my patients. I’m certain that the director will remember you when you introduce yourself.”
“But how could no one else know?” Julia demanded. “I’m supposed to be teaching the doctors heart surgery. That’s no small thing.”
Dr. Souh nodded understandingly, but there was a hint of skepticism in his eyes. “Are you sure that you’re not confused, madam?”
“Yes,” Julia fumed. “I’m sure.”
She was starting to feel hotter than ever. Sweat was dripping off of her face and soaking into her blouse. “God,” she moaned. “Why is it so hot?”
“Let me get you some more water,” said Dr. Souh. You might be dehydrated.”
“I’m not dehydrated, I just got off the plane an hour ago,” Julia growled. She tried to look determined, but her head was pounding. The room started spinning and Julia dropped her glass of water.
“What’s wrong?” Dr. Souh asked, pulling out his stethoscope.
“I…I don’t know.”
“You need a doctor,” Dr. Souh declared.
“No…” Julia groaned, losing consciousness. “I am a doctor…”
The last thing she remembered was lying on the floor, her vision growing darker. The only sound she heard was the oscillating fan buzzing like a helicopter above her.
Julia awoke in a hospital bed, a large paddle fan spinning overhead. Her mouth was dry, but she had ice packs stacked on her chest: the only source of coolness in the entire room.
“Jeez, they could at least put some air conditioning in here,” Julia moaned. “They got no other way of keeping patients cool? I’m surprised half the staff hasn’t died of heatstroke.” Julia tried to push the ice packs away, but when she moved once she felt a pain in her chest.
“Ah!” she cringed. “That can’t be good.”
Julia slowly pulled away the packs of ice sitting around her chest, trying not to disturb them too quickly, lest she feel another dull pain. She pulled off the last ice pack and discovered her chest, wrapped in bandages and gauze.
“Nurse!” Julia screeched.
A woman wearing a white dress and cap ran into the room as fast as her high heels would carry her. “What’s wrong, madam? Are you in pain?”
“What happened to me?” Julia demanded, her breaths getting quicker and quicker. “What happened to my chest?”
“Oh, you are delirious from the anesthesia, madam. No need to worry, you are perfectly safe.”
“Anesthesia!” Julia sat up in bed, but the pain in her chest was so great that she quickly laid back down. “Why… the hell,” Julia gasped, “…would I need anesthesia?”
“Madam, remain calm,” the nurse smiled. “I’m sure that your memory will return to you in due time.”
“My memory?” Julia swore and started tearing off her bandages.
“Please, don’t!” The nurse ran out into the hallways and shouted something in Tsongian. Julia heard footsteps running down the halls, but she kept pulling out the gauze and linen bandages, pulling layer after layer off of the large hump that had accumulated on her chest. The trouble was that no matter how many bandages Julia pulled off, the mound on her chest never looked smaller.
The orderlies arrived and quickly tried to subdue Julia, but they stopped dead in their tracks. The nurse had grabbed a syringe full of sedative and was waiting to plunge it into Julia’s naked backside, but the orderlies weren’t holding Julia down. Speaking in Tsongian, the nurse demanded to know what they were waiting for. The orderlies didn’t answer. There were staring at Julia’s giant boobs.
Julia had pulled off the last of the bandages and revealed a massive pair of fake breasts. Her skin stretched tight over the giant silicone implants inside, so tight that the breasts were almost rock hard. The briefest look at them had petrified the orderlies and rendered them mute.
“Enough!” cried the nurse in Tsongian. “Hold her down!”
Julia barely resisted as the orderlies grabbed her wrists and rolled her over on her side. Her breasts felt full to bursting, and when she rolled over she felt them bounce hard like a pair of overinflated basketballs. It was so painful that she barely noticed the needle sticking into her butt.
“No…” Julia cried. “I don’t want boobs…I was gonna teach, not get some cheap-ass boobs.” Her voice trailed off until she fell asleep. Her breasts were the last things that she saw.
Outside, near the loading bay in the back of the hospital, far from the entrance, a pale yellow cab sat parked by a dumpster. The driver, an old man wearing a flowered shirt, nervously fidgeted with his hat. He wiped his brow with a grabby handkerchief and looked towards the driver’s seat. He reached for the door handle, pausing briefly. He looked around to see if anyone was looking, then opened the door.
“Where are you going, old man?”
The startled cab driver let go of the door and jumped back. “Why, Dr. Souh! What an honor to see you again!”
“Silence,” Dr. Souh hissed. “Where’s the luggage?”
The driver opened the trunk. The green suitcase and carryon were exactly where Dr. Nakamura had left them. Dr. Souh reached down and pulled off the luggage tags.
“What are you doing?” the driver asked.
“None of your business, old man,” Dr. Souh snapped. “Go back to the airport and get back to work. You didn’t see anyone…” Dr. Souh pulled a folded wad of cash out of his pocket and tossed it on the ground. “…understand?”
“Yes, honorable doctor!” The cabbie stooped down to pick up the money, putting his knees and forehead in the dirt as he bowed over and over again. “Your servant humbly obeys! I am unworthy of your generous—
The cabbie sped off down the dirt road. Dr. Souh hoisted the luggage down the service ramp where the old coal chute led to the hospital basement. He set the bags on a table, right next to the purse he had swiped from Julia’s room. After lighting the furnace, he dumped all of her clothes onto the table and got to work.
Sitting in the Director’s office, Julia felt uncomfortable on her knees. The Director himself seemed undisturbed. He sat on low a wooden stool, nearly motionless like a Buddha. Julia, meanwhile, struggled not to squirm. Her foot muscles ached and she longed to unbend her knees, but all Julia could do was shift her weight and hope that the Director started speaking soon. She was wearing the same jacket and pants that she had walked in with, and they were beginning to stink from the sweat pouring out of her body.
Her chest was another problem. It had been a week since her accidental surgery, and the scars under her breasts weren’t fully healed. Worst of all, her dirty jacket and blouse were much too tight. Though she wouldn’t admit it, Julia knew that her large breasts were causing her more arousal than normal. Her nipples were in a semi-permanent state of erection which her now-tiny jacket did nothing to conceal. The Director stared intently down at his desk, but Julia was afraid that the moment he looked up he’d see nothing but her tits about to burst through her clothes. Instead of teaching heart surgery, she get thrown on the first flight back home without getting a chance to have her implants removed.
The Director looked up from the file on his desk. His gaze met Julia’s eyes, and rather than knitting his bushy grey eyebrows in disdain and telling her to get out of his office, he smiled.
“Good news, Miss Nakamura.”
“It’s Doctor—“ Julia sighed. “Oh, never mind.”
“Your references have been received” the Director smiled.
Julia was so thrilled that she almost forgot about the pain in her breasts.
“They arrived this morning in the mail,” he explained. “Although, if you’d just told us you were a nurse,” the Director snorted, “We wouldn’t have had to go through all this nonsense.”
Julia felt a sharp pain under her boob. “I’m not a nurse,” she stated in disbelief.
The Director laughed. “You Americans have such a bold sense of humor. I tell you, during the War I thought the Americans would die laughing. Even in battle they never stopped making jokes—”
“This isn’t a joke,” Julia insisted. “I’m not a nurse!”
The Director smiled and opened the file on his desk. “I’m not concerned about you inflating your qualifications,” the Director said. “Your American nursing schools are quite good, but when you told us that you were a doctor, I think all of us found it hard to believe.”
“There must be some mistake,” Julia explained.
The ignored her. “It says here that you’re well-qualified. It says, ‘Julia Nakamura has the best interest of her patients at heart, despite…’ I’m sorry,” the Director laughed. “I’m unfamiliar with this word. Could you read that for me,” he pointed.
“M-middling grades!” Julia gasped. “Middling grades? I haven’t gotten anything lower than a B since kindergarten!”
The Director only smiled and nodded. “I’m a bit off-put by your deception,” he said sympathetically, “And there’s still the unresolved matter of your ‘accidental’ surgery, but I think that we can find a place for you in the nursing staff.”
“Mr. Director, I’m not here to be a nurse!” Julia snapped. “I’m here to teach, and if you think—”
“I tire of this game,” the Director glared. “You’ve played your hand well enough, so stop this charade and be sensible for a moment. I have your personnel file here in my hand. You can’t possibly hope to fool anyone by this point.”
“Let me see that!” Julia snatch the file off the desk, much to the Director’s surprise. Inside she saw her picture: her ID photo and a list of schools she attended.
“This isn’t the year I graduated, and this isn’t the school I went to,” she pointed. “I’ve never even been to these states. Look at these grades!” she exclaimed. “I wouldn’t leave my house with a GPA that low!”
“That’s your photo, isn’t it?” the Director insisted.
“Yes, but…I mean, it looks like me. It’s a terrible photo. I don’t know if you have a Department of Motor Vehicles in Lao Tsong, but if you do you should understand what I mean.”
“Miss Nakamura,” the Director said, the gentle look on his face tensing up. “I begin to tire of this game. You say that you’re Julia Nakamura, but the moment your qualifications show up, you say that they’re not yours. What am I supposed to believe?” the Director demanded. “…that this is some vast conspiracy meant to give you breast enhancements, or that you’ve been lying to us this whole time?”
Julia was stunned. The file photo was her. It was her awful passport photo. None of these dates or places matched up, and Julia wasn’t a nurse, but she couldn’t understand why any of it would happen to her? What had she done?
“Or,” the Director suggested, his face softening again, “Is there another reason that you can’t remember who you are?”
Julia frowned. “What do you mean?”
The Director’s face softened sympathetically. “Women are known to be excitable,” he suggested. “Perhaps you have feelings of being unfulfilled.”
“What are you suggesting?” Julia demanded through clenched teeth.
“I’ve seen it before—women with dreams find out that the independent life is much too strenuous. It happens in Lao Tsong all the time. Wealthy women come here to forget their troubles and never leave. They meet a nice man and settle down. They’re much happier now.”
Julia stood up. She threw the file in the Director’s face. “I’m leaving.”
“Leaving!” the Director barked. “Leaving for where? No money, no passport, no sense in your thick skull: where could you possibly go? Back to your hospital room, which is costing you hundreds of dollars every day while you recover from your oh-so-inconvenient breast enhancement surgery?”
Julia was taken aback. “I didn’t ask for those—”
“Oh, but you’re going to pay for them, Miss Nakamura. No one steals from my hospital,” he declared. “And if you don’t pay, I can easily turn you over to the authorities. They’ll be very interested in an American woman with no passport. Ever been to a Tsongian prison, Miss Nakamura?”
Julia tensed up. She didn’t make another move towards the office door.
The Director took a deep breath and sat collected the papers Julia had scattered across the desk. “Julia Nakamura is a Registered Nurse with middling grades, but a deep passion for the well-being of her patients. I believe,” he said, taking another deep breath, “…that this kind of dedication is a perfect fit for our staff, no matter whatever faults the applicant might have. Don’t you agree, Nurse Julia?”
Julia swallowed. “I’ll….I’ll report you to the I.S.O.C. for this.”
“Oh please, you have as little pull with the I.S.O.C. as I do, but they’ll believe me when I say that their nonexistent girl-doctor is just a con-artist looking for a free boob job. Now,” said the Director, his scowl returning fully. “Are you going to make yourself useful, or shall I call the police?”
Julia fidgeted in the mirror. Her white dress hugged her hips a little too snugly. She cinched the belt around her waist. It just barely fit Julia looked around and noticed for the first time how thin-waisted all of the nurses were.
Julia’s breasts made it impossible to button the dress all the way to the top. She wore a white undershirt to cover up her bust, but it didn’t cover up the stretch lines around her chest, or keep her nipples from poking through her undersized bra. Julia’s scars had healed, but her breasts were still sore. The skin on her chest has stretched out a bit, so her breasts hung down a little more freely. Her bra dug into each bosom and only increased her discomfort. Julia felt like she had been buckled inside of the world’s most exploitative straight jacket, but she stood up, walked out of the nurse’s station, and presented herself to Dr. Souh.
Julia bowed, struggling to keep her balance. She could feel her breasts pulling her closer to the floor, deepened her bow, keeping her from straightening her back. She waited in agony until Dr. Souh nodded and allowed her to rise.
“Nurse Nakamura,” Julia sighed. “…reporting for duty.”