When 47-year-old Henry Newman experiences testicular pain, he gets little pity from his wife, Arlene. His personal physician, Dr. Vikrami (a woman who has only reluctantly examined Henry’s "private parts" in the past) schedules him for an ultrasound study of the testicles rather than examining him first. A young nurse performs the test and a female radiologist apprises Henry of the findings-- epididymitis.

A urologist confirms the diagnosis, but Henry is more interested in learning that the doctor has a twin brother who is also a urologist. Henry goes to see his 80-year-old mother who resides in a convalescent home. She pesters him about checking on the condition of his brother’s grave. His brother, Aubrey, died as an infant, and Henry was born two years later.

Henry visits the cemetery and finds the small tombstone marking Aubrey’s grave covered by weeds and bird excrement. He tidies it up. When Henry returns to the convalescent home, his mother’s bed is empty. He fears she has died but then spots her exiting a bathroom. Henry tells her that he has finally spruced up Aubrey’s grave, but she seems oblivious to his announcement and just babbles on.


This story concentrates on intimate areas beyond male anatomy, especially the complex personal relationships between husband and wife, son and mother. Middle-age and men’s health (physical and emotional) are cleverly undressed in a story that is at times funny and touching. The tale also illustrates how a man with a urological problem might react to female health personnel and vice versa.


The story was previously published in The Slow Mirror: New Fiction by Jewish Writers in 1996.

Primary Source

An Ambulance Is on the Way: Stories of Men in Trouble



Place Published

New York



Page Count