(written for the [Fiction] Friday prompt on April 10, 2009, which was “A dentist is stabbed while he waits in line at the movies”.)

Dr. Richard P. Hanning, III stood in line outside of his favorite MovieMax Theater on the dreary gray autumn day, watching as the crowd continued to swell in anticipation of the opening of the ticket window. Only thirteen minutes until opening, he thought, excitedly. He had been waiting for three years for this movie to come out and it was clear that he was not alone in his excitement. The crowd was growing more quickly now as the opening time approached, but the real hardcore fans had gotten to the theater’s parking lot several hours early with Richard arriving at 3:30 AM and finding that he was already the fiftieth person in line. But now, thirteen minutes ahead of the special 11:00 AM opening, the crowd had grown to nearly two thousand people waiting to see the movie on one of the twenty-four screens in the theater that were dedicated to showing it.

Suddenly, the crowd lurched to the side for no reason in particular, as is the case with most crowds of this size, and then he saw it: the movie poster that hung just inside the doors, beckoning or perhaps daring people to come in and drop what seemed more and more like a half a day’s salary on a movie ticket and a large bucket of stale, artificially flavored popcorn. Yes, there, before him, was the full-sized poster which matched the small, 8 inch by 11 inch replica he had downloaded from the internet. He was in awe as he looked at it – the small version he had printed off on his little inkjet printer and hung in his bedroom, dining room and office did not do appropriate justice to the Real Thing which hung there just inside the entrance, its three-dimensional red letters seeming to glow and jump off of the white and black poster as if they were on fire as they reflected the dim fluorescent lighting within the building:

Tooth Fairy 13: The Gnashing of Teeth

The thirteenth installment in the unlikely cult hit, “Tooth Fairy 13” was being touted as the movie that was supposed to change everything. Again! Richard could not imagine what more they could do with the franchise, what with the stunning revelation in “Tooth Fairy 12: Tongue Tied Taxidermist” that Samantha was actually the long lost daughter of The Tooth Fairy, given up at birth by her mother, Flo Ryde, after she learned the truth about The Tooth Fairy. Samantha learned this, of course, when her mother appeared to her in a vision, explaining that things were not as they seemed and that Samantha had to find out what had happened to her because she had not died due to a severely bad case of gingivitis as had been determined by the medical examiner that was hired by The Tooth Fairy. As it turned out, the medical examiner was actually a taxidermist and when confronted by Samantha he could not explain what had happened. Eventually the taxidermist led Samantha to where Flo Ryde had allegedly been buried… only to find that the body was gone, replaced by a note that said,

“Brush after meals, at least twice a day, take care of your teeth or they’ll go away. Flo Ryde was once here, though death had not taken her. It just took the Tooth Fairy to come and awaken her.”

Under the pillow in the casket was a shiny coin, the Tooth Fairy’s trademark. “Tooth Fairy 12” faded out by having the camera zoom in on the brightly lit coin, blinding the audience with its silver brilliance and leaving them with the image of the Tooth Fairy burned into their retinas.

Richard’s heart rate picked up as he remembered the end of the twelfth movie while he stared at the poster. The poster had very little else on it besides the title, but that did not matter to him. He could see the faint outline of a watermark on the poster, the image of the Tooth Fairy. Suddenly, the crowd lurched again and his view of the poster was once again obstructed.

He adjusted the black hood he wore to block the stiff breeze that had picked up as the incoming storm approached. He looked around him at the crowd of costumed moviegoers that were waiting with him, each dressed as their favorite characters from the series of movies. There were the usual characters: nearly fifty women dressed up as Samantha, the archaeologist who had decided to become a dentist in “Tooth Fairy 3: Cavity Search”; a few dozen men dressed as Dale, the dentist who decided he wanted to be a full time camp councilor in “Tooth Fairy 5: Camp Halitosis”; there were even a few people dressed up as Clever Trevor, the stand-up comedian who inadvertently saved the day in “Tooth Fairy 7: Long in the Tooth”. Richard laughed slightly as someone squeezed by him, carrying a grotesque, stuffed dog, styled after Samantha’s dog Fifi from the second movie, “Tooth Fairy 2: Canine Teeth’. There were internet rumors that Fifi was going to make an appearance in the new movie, but Richard had a hard time figuring out how they were going to do that since Fifi had died in a fluke Frisbee accident in the second movie and then got run over by an eighteen-wheeler when she showed up unexpectedly as an apparition in the twelfth movie.

Richard’s people-watching was interrupted by a jostling from the crowd behind him. He ignored it at first, figuring that he had just been bumped by someone as the crowd behind him surged, but then it happened a second time. Turning around he found himself standing face to face with Cole Gate, the principal investigator assigned to try to find The Tooth Fairy in each movie. He carried a red notebook in one hand and a black briefcase in the left hand. On his head he wore a tan fishing hat.

“Ahhh, hah-hah-hah!” cackled Cole Gate, or at least the man dressed as Cole Gate. “At last we meet, Mr. Tooth Fairy. Long have I waited to meet you and bring you to justice.”

“Very funny,” said Richard, adjusting his necklace and hood again. “Nice costume.”

“This is no costume,” said the short man. “You have a lot to answer for, Mr. Tooth Fairy.”

“Whatever,” said Richard. “Your costume isn’t even right, man. Cole Gate always uses a blue notebook, because blue was his wife’s favorite color.”

“Ah, but in scene 47 of ‘Tooth Fairy 6: The Trouble with Teething’, he is caught unprepared when the Tooth Fairy strikes at a preschool and so he borrowed a red notebook from the school nurse who wants to be a dancer. And who are you to say anything? The Tooth Fairy never wears a hood on a Friday unless the sun is out. Clearly, it is cloudy out today so you just look dumb.”

“Shows what you know,” laughed Richard. “In ‘Tooth Fairy 1: The Tooth, the Whole Tooth and Nothing but the Tooth’ the Tooth Fairy wore a different hood every day. In fact, he had a different color for each of the days of the week.”

“Yes, but he did not ever wear his necklace with the hood and robe like you are. The necklace was not even shown on screen until ‘Tooth Fairy 11: Shiny Teeth of the Glorious Snow Gods’, a movie in which the Tooth Fairy never wore a hood at all. So you’re just some freakishly weird combination of the Tooth Fairy from several different movies. You should be ashamed of yourself.” The man who thought he was Cole Gate laughed loudly, showing his teeth.

Richard fiddled with his necklace, a long, multi-stringed necklace made up of dozens of realistic looking teeth for a moment before pulling out his business card and replying, “Well, sir, I guess you’ve got me there. Listen, though, you should call my office and make an appointment – it looks like you have some major issues with your gums.”

“Oh, touché, touché indeed!” laughed the man. “That’s from the forty-third scene of the ‘Camp Halitosis’, when Dale is attempting to get the Tooth Fairy to come in for a checkup. You almost had me there. But, alas, I am ready for you and I am happy to say that I have waited for many, many years for this opportunity to put you, Mr. Tooth Fairy, in your rightful place.”

The man who thought he was Cole Gate moved quickly, reaching into his pocket and removing a white, pointy object. Lunging forward, he stabbed and jabbed at Richard’s chest with one hand while holding back Richard’s attempt at self-defense with the other hand. “Take that, you filthy slime! And that!”

Other members of the crowd pulled the man away from Richard and held him. Richard looked down at his chest to see a tiny hole in his shirt and a little pinprick of blood peeking through. Looking at the man who thought he was Cole Gate, he saw a white, plastic toothpick in the man’s hand. Laughing, he said “So you thought that the trick from ‘Tooth Fairy 4: Tooth Zombies’ would work in real life? You silly, silly man. Did you really believe that you could stab a man to death with a plastic toothpick?”

“Ahh, no,” replied the man. “I know better than to believe that. That’s why I dipped the toothpick into a vial of venom from the Cobra snake. It causes paralysis in minutes. You should be starting to feel its effect now.”

Richard dropped to his knees as he felt a coldness radiating outward from the pinprick he had received but a moment ago. Fear running through him, he gasped, “Ahh, so you noticed that this is what Samantha did in ‘Tooth Fairy 8: the Last of the Samurai Dentists’ when she had to figure out how to escape from the mysterious and ancient tribe of salmon worshipers in North Dakota when she was led there by an erroneous reading of the Tarot cards.”

“That’s right,” said the man. “Had the cards been read correctly, she would have been at the donut shop at the corner where her mother’s ghost was waiting to give her the secret weapon for rendering the Tooth Fairy harmless. But instead she ended up in the middle of a gang war –”

Richard coughed as he joined in to finish the sentence along with the man, “—all over an argument about whether gel-type tooth cleansers could be called ‘toothpaste’ since they are not paste at all!”

Richard fell sideways and landed roughly on his shoulder since he could not move his arm to break his fall. “Very good job, here,” he said to the man. “Very good. You have smote the evil Tooth Fairy. Let’s hope that the Tooth Fairy in the movie is harder to stop than I am, so that there can be a fourteenth movie. I will not be able to see the thirteenth movie, I’m afraid, since you have vanquished me. But I do wish you a pleasant viewing experience.”

The doors to the theater opened and the crowd swelled forward. The man who thought he was Cole Gate stared down at Richard as he fought to take a few more breaths. “You will not ever wield power over teeth again! And you, Richard P. Hanning, the third… you will never botch a simple root canal again!”

As Richard felt his breathing becoming more and more labored, he tried to force his eyelids to close. Suddenly, a rough push rolled him to his back and through his blurred vision he saw Flo Ryde leaning over him. “Not so fast,” said the woman who was dressed as Flo Ryde, Samantha’s mother, who was thought to be dead from complications from improperly treated gingivitis. “Did you forget that in ‘The Last of the Samurai Dentists’ a wise tribal leader whispered to Flo Ryde’s ghost that the antidote to most poisons that were applied via a plastic flossing implement was three drops of espresso mixed with two drops of decaffeinated coffee? No? Well, it is your lucky day, Dr. Hanning, for I just so happen to have a vial containing exactly this formula right here with me. You will live to use your dental drill on another day!”

The woman shoved the plastic dropper filled with the espresso and decaf coffee mixture between Richards lips and squeezed it. He felt the warm coffee as it slid, slowly, down his tongue and into his throat, with every muscle it passed slowly warming up and beginning to function again. A mere moment later, Richard stood up and brushed the dusty dirt from his robe. Looking around for his attacker as he pressed forward toward the now-opened doorway to the theater, Richard shouted, “Maybe next time, Cole Gate. Maybe next time. But you’d better be careful for I’ll be waiting to collect your teeth and when I do, you will not be the same!”

Richard saw a little girl, not more than six years of age, standing in the slowly moving line and holding in her hand a freshly lost tooth, her first. He reached into his little bag and pulled out a shiny coin. With a quick flick of his wrist, Richard swapped the coin for the tooth, leaving the girl with a stunned look on her face as she tried to figure out how her tooth became a quarter. Tapping his small tooth bag, Richard P. Hanning, III, the Tooth Fairy, stepped forward to pay for his ticket to the next chapter of his unauthorized biography.