“They’re under the bed! They’re under the bed!” yelled Alejandro Gomez. The middle-aged Cuban-American man rocked his gurney so violently that three burly nurses had to restrain him.
“Sir, you are in Mercy’s Hospital’s emergency room,” said Dr. Dhruv Gupta. “You are simply experiencing a severe case of communitis.”
“I don’t believe you!” shrieked Gomez. “They’re under the bed! They’re under the sink! They’re in my sock drawer! They’re everywhere!”
“There are no communists here…” began Gupta.
“You’re a communist, aren’t you!?” insisted Gomez. His bloodshot eyes bulged out of his skull.
“I assure you I am no…”
“Where did you go to school?” interrupted Gomez.
“Oh OK, then,” replied Gomez, noticeably relieved. His arched back relaxed onto the gurney before he shot Dr. Gupta a menacing look.
“The country or the university??”
“The university,” responded Gupta.
“COMMUNISTS! ASSASINS! YOU’RE ALL A CABAL OF MARX-LOVING REDS…”
Gomez’s diatribe was cut short by a tranquilizer dose injected into his IV line.
“That’s our 40th patient today,” muttered a concerned Gupta. “This is getting out of hand.”
Back in his office, the doctor slumped into a chair behind his desk, absolutely exhausted.
“I’ve never seen it this bad,” he said, rubbing his forehead. “Communitis has been endemic in Miami’s Hispanic communities for decades, but an outbreak of this magnitude is unprecedented.”
Gupta explained how the disease was categorized into three phases based on the severity of its symptoms:
Phase 1: Unease around beards and the color red. A general disdain for New England. Occasional mutterings about the social fabric’s imminent destruction.
Phase 2: Unsolicited Facebook rants. Literal finger-pointing. Distrust of news outlets with acronyms (except OAN).
Phase 3: Violent allergic reactions to anything Left of Reagan. Accosting family members. “But her emails…” All Lives Matter. Friends, family, and inanimate objects perceived as communist. A clear danger to their and others’ physical and mental well-being.
“We’re seeing dozens of Phase 2 and 3 patients on a daily basis,” explained Gupta. “They think everything is communist: loved ones, pets, cars, you name it. One guy was convinced his neighbor’s mango tree was a Cuban spy because it leaned to the left. When I pointed out that it was only his perception, since his neighbor saw it as angled to the right, he called me an apologist hippie socialist.”
Gupta let out a long sigh. “It’s exhausting. Everyone’s tired of it.”
Asked what tools he had at his disposable to fight the disease, Gupta replied with, “So far, we’re just trying to isolate and keep the patients calm and comfortable until the communitis season ends in November. The CDC is working on a vaccine, which we’re all hoping will finally break the pandemic. I hear its active ingredients are perspective, empathy, and common sense, but unfortunately, they’re all currently in very short supply.”
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