The Only Living Neanderthal in New York (short story)

“I started growing them when I was fourteen.  It was a Saturday, I believe—because it was already ten o’clock when I checked myself out in the mirror.  At the time, my parents were undergoing that legendary divorce, so they had enough issues to deal with.  I wasn’t very well-liked in middle school, but it just got worse after these stupid protrusions appeared.”  Tears grew in her eyes, which were naturally gray, but were concealed by bright purple contacts.

The Dathanite nodded as he took some indecipherable notes on his psychotherapy patient.  “Go on,” he mumbled a bit rudely, “how did things get worse?”

“Well, there was a group of four boys who did repulsive things such as tasting the tadpoles in the creek by the schoolyard.  And they weren’t in grade school anymore.  Before my sideburns appeared, these boys wouldn’t pay any attention to me except call me immature names like ‘Bare Clair.’  Anyway, after these horrid sideburns curled around my cheeks, not only did their unoriginal nicknames get worse, but these nicknames were accompanied by actions.  They would try to feel my sideburns.  This one boy, Kirk, even attempted to pull them from the pores and keep them for himself.”

The Dathanite was a bit confused.  “Why didn’t you shave them off?”  As he stared at the seventeen-year old girl, he noticed that although the golden hair on her cheeks was gone, it slowly was growing back before his eyes.

The heavy weeping of Clair Rommack suddenly changed into a narrow dripping of crocodile tears.  “Doctor, what’s my diagnosis, anyway?”
As the Dathanite looked through his charts, he realized that bizarre hair growth was not a psychological subject.  Not wanting to waste this almost-normal girl’s time, he thought up his own diagnosis.  “Uh…you’ve come down with Chaubski’s Contraction.”

“Chaubski’s Contraction?”

“Chaubski’s Contraction.  It’s a condition that slowly and steadily turns a normal human, often one of Polish descent, into a Neanderthal.”

“I’m only one-eighth Polish.”

“So was Varrick Chaubski, the first known victim of this rare condition.”  The Dathanite smiled for a nanosecond, realizing that this girl was actually believing him.

“Oh, Doctor!  Am I going to have to go into Special Ed.?”

“Ah, yes.  You’ll already have graduated high school by the time you’ve completed the final transformation.  You will have realized that you are a C student and not a straight A student anymore.  So, you won’t get into that Ivy League college you’ve been saving up for.

“Instead, you’ll end up either homeless on the streets of New York, or grilling and flipping at Jack in the Box.  And Jack in the Box is much more tolerant of clowns than Neanderthals, you know.  You’ll never make much of a promotion there.

“I have seen this case once before, so I am completely familiar with Chaubski and his alarming contraction.  I am the one who diagnosed Chaubski back in 1992.  You know where he is now?”  The Dathanite knew exactly where he was going with this one.

“Where?”

“In a laboratory.  He had to give up his drumming career for experimentation.  Sure, human experimentation is illegal, but who says he’s human, anyway?”

“I do.  They’re Homo sapiens.  I know that for sure.  My mom’s a history teacher.”

“Then she should know that Homo neanderthalis is the correct species.  Neanderthals cannot reproduce with ordinary humans.  You weren’t expecting to have any children in your adult years, were you?”  Clair was about to answer, when the Dathanite cut her off again.

“Well, you can’t—wait, you can with Chaubski!  How would you like to be the mother of the new Neanderthal population?  I have his most recent photo somewhere!  Does this interest you?”

“No thanks.”  Clair shuddered.

“I’ll show you him anyway.  He’s a very good-looking simian.  If you were a Neanderthal, you’d find him the equivalent of Tom Cruise.”

Clair frowned.  “What’s my mom going to say when I tell her that you suggested intimate relations with…”

“By the way, your time is up.  Please come back in a couple days,Clair.

As Clair sadly exited her psychotherapist’s office, she realized that she was slouching, much like a Neanderthal.  Of course, she was starting to doubt the theories.

*                                              *                                              *

Mrs. Diane Rommack sat in the lobby of the Corralberg Psychotherapy Ward.  She was very annoyed, as her daughter Clair was the gossip of the school, and that did nothing for Diane’s once-prominent reputation.

As she read through a strange magazine called Soapbusters for the fifth time (the only other supplied reading material was Highlights), Clair came out of the third door and greeted her.

“So, how’d it go, Clairissa?”  Diane lifted the stupid magazine from her eyes.
“I think my psychiatrist is a quack,” she angrily told her mom.  “He said I’m turning into a Neanderthal.”

“Look, I think he’s a bit mistaken.  You see, the man you always thought was your dad…wasn’t.  I was around your age when I met this really hairy man at a club.  I think that’s probably it.  You’ve just earned some of his genetics.”

“…What was his name, Mom?”
“Varrick Chaubski.”

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