Daniel Stessen writes, directs and executive produces the hybrid live-action/rotoscope animated Adult Swim series Dream Corp LLC alongside John Krasinski and Stephen Merchant. Currently in its second season, the show has already been picked up for a third. Stessen also directed the Emmy-nominated “Goodbye Videos” for The Office series finale that featured everyone from Will Ferrell to Rob Riggle. Additionally, his animated short The Gold Sparrow premiered at the 2013 SXSW Film Festival and won Best Animated Short at the Berlin Independent Film Festival.
Is five minutes late acceptable for surgery? I’ve completely sweat through the lower back of my shirt, so at least it looks like I’ve been trying to get here. My cardio is shit. I double check the address that I wrote on my dead hand.
22 S. 22nd St. 90291
Doctor China’s Metal and Plastic Surgery.
The reflective store-front door says to push; it’s locked. A bell rings. The door opens out. A nurse in scrubs flicks his paper cigarette over my shoulder and into the street. No one smokes analogue anymore. I apologize for being late, he hurries me inside.
“I’m David,” he says.
I open to speak – “No names,” he says.
“But you’re David?”
“Of course not. We don’t do real names here. You have to make one up. I’m David.”
We shake hands until I understand.
“Right. David. Nice to meet you, I’m Kevin. My hand was badly broken in a car accident last year. Haven’t been able to hold a glass of water since.” Startled, David lets go of my hand. To be polite, I gesture that it’s my left that I’m having a problem with. We both chuckle. David lights another paper cigarette. “It’s cash only,” and disappears into the back.
I sign in as Kevin K. and fill out the questionnaire.
Date & Time:
Saturday February 22nd, 2042
Which procedure(s) did you come in for today?
Removed and Replaced
Which body part/s?
Re-enter body part/s.
Briefly describe issue with each part/s.
Hand paralyzed and fingers mangled. Wedding ring stuck on forever.
You understand the risks involved with this permanent procedure?
How did you hear about us?
I look up from the page. David is pushing a woman in a wheelchair through the room and out the front door. “OK now, Lily, just take those pink ones there before bed. Yellow one in the morning.” She hears none of this. Lily is audibly snoring. Her mechanical feet have shoes on them. I seal my personal belongings in a thick used plastic bag and put my ex-wife’s name down as my emergency contact.
They say I’ll not only be able to hold a glass of water again, but feel it as well. I’m not taking anything away from the science and how grateful I will be for that, but honestly as long as I don’t have to look at this wedding ring, I’ll be good. The goddamned ring is woven like a braid. She’s so tacky. “For our love that has intertwined.” Gimme a break, it takes three ropes to make a braid. What a moron I am. And with my old roommate. I found out because they showed up to the hospital together after my accident. They told me right there. He said sorry, and she took her ring off and left.
We still talk on our birthdays and Christmas, sometimes before work. She’s all upset that I’m going through with this. That’s probably why I’m doing it. I told her, “What’s the big deal? Grandpa has hearing aids. Jenny has fake tits. Why can’t I have the use of my hand back? Do you not want me to be happy, Rachel? Is it that strange to say you’ll want some new lungs when the air goes bad, Rachel? That’s the next step in human evolution, we are designed to leave the earth, deal with it. We began as fish to leave as robots!” She hates when I say that.
I copy down my driver’s license number and two forms of credit. The sweat on my back now cold and dry.
A woman’s voice calls from behind the reception area, “Kevin K?”
I raise my paralyzed hand. She smiles with her gold tooth.
“Doctor China will see you now.”