I'm not an avid reader of the dental trades, but I'm fairly convinced that what happened here in Rome this week was a first for the profession. The local media is calling it la chronica del falso dentista.
On Tuesday, police were called to an apartment complex to investigate the sound of gunshots, telephoned in by a concerned neighbor. The carabinieri were directed to the apartment where an incoherent man, after much knocking, answered. Enter: the victim of the shooting. At first, he told police nothing was wrong, that it was merely an attempted robbery. They could go home. Suspecting more, the carabinieri started a grueling line of question that revealed:
1) the man they were questioning was bleeding right there in front of them.
2) The blood was from a gunshot wound.
3) He'd been shot in the leg.
Woah, now this is a different matter altogether. This is no attempted robbery, the carabinieri no doubt informed him. This is now attempted murder. Attempted murder of you!
After more lame protests from the bleeding man, he cracked. Yes, he was bleeding. And, yes, it's a gunshot wound.
No doubt impressed by their sleuthing, the carabinieri persisted with their line of questioning, the victim weakening under the strain. The man then recounted what happened:
His attacker, an irate man in his 50s with an excruciating toothache, a toothache apparently so bad it reduces you to thoughts of vigilante justice, approached the victim. He drew his revolver and began firing, right there in the apartment complex.
Ok, but why did he fire at you?
Here's where the confession comes in. The bleeding man had for years been running a dental practice. Except, he has no qualifications, he confessed. You see, our man spent years as a dental assistant. He watched intently, no doubt, filling after filling, handling the sucky straw thing while the dottore did the glamorous stuff: the drilling, the bonding, the scraping and cleaning. One day, looking into a mouth full of crooked teeth, he figured, eh, this ain't so tough. I could do this. So, he bought the reclining chair and the interrogation light and the drills and the sucky straw thing and opened up his own practice, and started working on his neighbor's teeth.
It was all going perfectly well until one patient opened fire.
The police eventually tracked down the gunman and charged him with attempted murder. The falso dentista recovered in the hospital and then was arrested too. For good measure, his ex-wife, son and nephew have also been charged for helping the man open up an illegal practice.
Another day. Another happy ending here in Rome.