After Fourth Disease

My daughter has contracted, yet another illness. This latest diagnosis scared the hell out of me. It turned out to be far less serious than I thought. It got me thinking. Why would a medical professional give a viral infection such a chilling name. So, I wrote a short film about it.


A man with bushy sideburns is pacing back and forth in a medical research lab. The lights are dim. He is in deep thought and does not hear the door open.

“Hey, what are you working on?”

The frustrated scientist, who won’t realize how ridiculous his facial hair looks until his children snicker at old photographs, is startled.


“I have to come up with a name for this rash kids are getting, but I am having a bit of writer’s block. I was up late disco dancing and only got a few hours of sleep on my bean bag chair.”

He pounds his hands against the earth tone colored wall. His colleague escorts him to an orange couch. They both sit down.


“Sometimes it helps if I talk to my pet rock. Have you tried that?”


“I have tried everything. I even tried to get some ideas from people on my CB radio, nothing.”

The second scientist chuckles.


“I have an idea. Let’s make sure the name of the illness has the word ‘disease’ in it.”


“But it’s just a viral infection and most of the time it isn’t that serious. You know, man, it’s like a rash, maybe a low grade fever. The word “disease” scares people, man.”


“Yeah, but they would take you seriously.  Plus, wouldn’t it be fun to psyche out these square, uptight parents. That would be totally rad.”


“Rock on! Let’s name it ‘Fifth Disease’ that way when they try to explain the diagnosis to other people they will stutter. Nobody can say the word ‘fifth’ man!”

The men take off their white jackets revealing tie-dye shirts and bell bottom jeans. They light up and laugh imagining the anxiety attacks they will cause for years to come.



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