Fictional Character
"The Haunted Bicuspid"
Set in OTL
Type of Appearance: Direct
Nationality: United States (born in the Netherlands)
Occupation: Dentist

Vankirk was a dentist practicing in 1850s Baltimore. He was an early adopter of chloroform during the extraction of teeth.

In 1851 Vankirk treated William Legrand. Legrand was sceptical about the effectiveness of chloroform but agreed to have his bicuspid extracted. When Vankirk applied a rag soaked in chloroform to Legrand's mouth and nose, he lost consciousness almost immediately.

On Legrand's revival, Vankirk assured him the procedure had gone well. In fact, Vankirk had never seen a transplanted tooth go in so well. He had wired the new tooth to the one behind to help stabilize it as the jawbone healed and advised Legrand to return in a fortnight to have the wire removed. The two made an appointment two weeks hence and after Legrand demonstrated he had recovered from the effects of the chloroform, Vankirk allowed him to go home.

When Legrand arrived for his appointment, Vankirk first examined him and was astonished at how well the transplanted tooth had taken hold in his jawbone. He declared that this was the best he had ever seen and that if all his transplants worked as well, then he would be a wealthy man. Vankirk then removed the wire holding the transplant to its adjacent tooth since it was no longer needed.

As Legrand was preparing to leave, he asked Vankirk of the true source of the tooth. He explained that his son's friend Ernest Valdemar was a doctor and had told him about "harvesters". Vankirk then admitted the truth, that the tooth was a Baltimore tooth but that it was still quite sound. As proof, he indicated the way Legrand's mouth had healed to which Legrand could only agree. This, along with Vankirk's forthrightness when he was confronted, won over Legrand who left a satisfied man.

Some time later Vankirk was surprised by Legrand who burst into his establishment and, seizing his lapels, demanded that the bicuspid be removed. Vankirk declared it madness until Legrand described his recent dreams. At this he agreed and indicated Legrand should be seated. As he reached for the bottle of chloroform, Legrand stopped him and asked if the tooth could be returned to the proper grave. Vankirk thought for a moment and then indicated that he knew who he had purchased the tooth from and that he had a good notion of the haunts she frequented so it would be returned to the appropriate paupers' graveyard.

This satisfied Legrand and Vankirk prepared to apply the chloroform. This time he hesitated and sought to confirm that Legrand did not want a replacement tooth put in when this one was drawn. Legrand emphatically agreed that he did not want another tooth and so Vankirk put him out.

When Legrand revived, Vankirk showed him the extracted bicuspid and explained how strongly it had taken root. He had feared he would damage Legrand's jaw extracting it but had eventually succeeded. When Legrand asked if he was certain that he had drawn all of the tooth, Vankirk hesitated and said that while he thought he had, there remained a slight possibility that a fragment of the root remained behind. He assured him that if he continued to have disturbing dreams then he could come in again and he would probe for fragments. However, he had been thorough and Legrand did not return.

Literary NoteEdit

The name "Vankirk" comes from the Edgar Allan Poe short story Mesmeric Revelation. This character (as well as "Ernest Valdemar" from Poe's The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar) was a deathbed patient who was hypnotized just prior to his death to learn if there was existence afterwards.