Monday, November 03, 2008

Another Challenge

BREAKTHROUGH I’d been sitting in the waiting room for thirty minutes, and was starting to get impatient. Who does he think he is, anyway? He knows I’m waiting out here for him. What kind of game is this, anyway? The truth is I know exactly what he’s doing. This is my last session with him. He hasn’t told me that yet, but he’s sure thinking it; devising a way to let me down easy. As if I care. I can see him in there, behind his glorious mahogany desk, scribbling away in my patient folder with the nub of a pencil; I just wish I could see what he was writing. “Finally,” I think to myself as the door to his inner sanctum (as I call it) opens wide enough for him to poke his pig nose through and beckon me to join him. I rise, slowly – taking my time, making him wait – and cross the room. As I come closer to his office, he pushes the door wider to allow my entrance, and steps out of the way, casually closing the door behind him as I make my way across the threshold. “Michael,” he booms, good-naturedly. “Good to see you today!” as he smacks a meaty hand across my back, just like two good old friends. “Can I get you something to drink?” “Yes, I’ll have a double vodka martini and a beer to wash it down with.” I respond, sarcastically. If only he did keep liquor in his office, then I wouldn’t mind these sessions so much. I could drink myself into oblivion and fall into a stupor on his fancy leather couch. “Sorry, buddy – I’m fresh out of vodka and beer today. Maybe next week, eh?” This last was said with an evasive chuckle. I doubt he knows I picked up on that. For a psychiatrist, he’s not too perceptive. I’ll bet he got his PhD from the College of Don’t Know Much about Squat, Arkansas. “Water then,” I say. While Dr. Pig Nose busies himself over at the bar built into the wall behind the couch, I walk to the enormous picture window and pull open the vertical blinds. It’s too damn dark in here. I’m supposed to be getting myself into a “better frame of mind” but I’m not exactly sure how to do that if it’s always so gloomy. Dr. What’s-His-Face looks at me askance, but because I do this every time I set foot into his office, he says nothing. He comes back around the couch and hands me a cold bottle of water; I don’t even look at it, but simply put it aside and forget it’s even there. He settles himself into the “big” chair across from me, puts his Albus Dumbledore glasses low on his fat nose, hooks his notebook, my client folder, and his pencil nub off the edge of his desk and looks at me over the rims of his eyewear. “So, what’s on your mind today?” he asks. “It’s my last session with you today.” I respond, getting right to the point. He looks uncomfortable again, fidgety. Then he looks shocked. It’s amusing to watch these two emotions war with one another on his face. “Perceptive, Michael – how did you come up with that?” “If you really want to know...I’m psychic. Didn’t I tell you?” I respond, not untruthfully, as I gaze out the window and over the rooftops across the street. It’s true that I have a keen perception; some might even say I have psychic tendencies, but it’s only perception. I get glimpses of things, but not things like what’s going to happen two days from now or what numbers are going come up in tonight’s lottery drawing. Some things I’m certain about, like today – knowing Dr. Idiot was planning on putting an end to our therapy sessions. But I also know things like who is coming for a visit before they set foot on my doorstep, or what my mother has cooked for dinner before she calls at the last minute to invite me to join her. I have not been allowed to play cards with Gary and Buster in years – they are convinced I cheat; I guess I do. I have trouble with movies because I can always (yes...always) predict what’s going to happen and they hold no interest for me anymore. It’s not a particularly useful talent and, in fact, has been more of an annoyance than anything else. I’ve never tried to hone it. I glance at him sidelong, to see if I can catch his reaction. “Will he believe me,” I think to myself, “or, will he decide I’m just crazy enough to continue these horrid weekly meetings?” Dr. Pig Nose simply looks bored, as he always does, and begins to scribble something (I wish I could see what he was writing) in his notebook. “Hm...” says he. Then, after a pause, he continues. “How long have you been psychic? Is this something new, or have you always been able to do it?” I decide that he needs to know nothing about the truth behind my words and, as I throw a big, toothy grin on my face, I respond, “Just joking with ya, Doc. I’m sure you don’t put any stock in that psychic crap, anyway. Or, if you do, that it’s only part of the job, right?” “I believe whatever you believe. If you believe you’re psychic, who am I to try to tell you otherwise? One doesn’t always know everything that goes on in this world, does one? I’m guessing you believe in ghosts, vampires, werewolves and other such nonsense, too, right?” He’s goading me now; again, that perception rears its head. Reading between the lines of what he says versus what he means. He wants me to react. “Nah,” I respond, looking away. I don’t intend to carry this line of questioning any farther. He suddenly looks sinister to me and not just like a fat, ugly, slob with an advanced degree. Now I’m uncomfortable; I squirm, trying to find a position on the leather couch that suits my current mood. He notices the change in my demeanor and leaps, as I expected. “You have been playing with me since the day we met, Michael. I have not heard one ounce of truth come out of your mouth – stories and lies, things you think I might want to hear. You’ve been coming here every week for almost 2 years now and we’ve accomplished absolutely nothing. You’re no further along than you were when we started. Finally, today, you say something that I think rings true and then tell me that you were joking. I think you’re lying about that, too, but what do I care? I get my one-fifty an hour and you get to tell stories once a week, right? We’re both happy. Now why don’t you tell me some other bit of nonsense so we can get this hour over with and get on with our lives?” It was the most I’d ever heard him speak. It was quite a speech, too. I’m frankly impressed that he seems to be more perceptive than I’ve given him credit for. But how do I continue? I stay quiet for a long time. “Tell me,” I say, almost in a whisper – not looking at him directly, but over the rooftops again. “Did you bring a roast beef sandwich, a little dab of horseradish, and some celery with you for lunch today?” Doc stares at me, his mouth agape. I continue, “You’ve got your lunch bag in the bottom right drawer of your desk and about now you’re thinking that you should have put it in the fridge at the bar. The celery is to appease your wife, who keeps nagging you about your heart, but it will hit the trash can before it ever hits your stomach. The roast beef is for you. Tell me I’m wrong.” The good doctor has forgotten his pencil. He doesn’t even notice when his notebook, and my file, slip off his oversized lap onto the floor. He looks pale and sweaty; scared, maybe? Have I scared him? Is he having a heart attack? Beginning to worry I make as if to rise from my perch on the couch. He sees my action, and immediately shakes himself out of whatever it was, clears his throat and reaches, with some difficulty, to retrieve his fallen items. “Ah. Um... I’m honestly at a loss for words, Michael. How could you possibly...? How is it possible...? Is it possible? What’s going on here?” he stammers, looking confused. I let out a long sigh and say, “Yes, it’s possible. More than possible, obviously. And you’re right, I’ve never said one thing that is worth your time in two years. So why the Hell are you ending these sessions if you know you haven’t gotten anywhere?” “Because I haven’t gotten anywhere, Michael. Because, until today, it’s obvious that you’re not going to tell me anything important and if we can’t communicate, if you can’t tell me what’s actually going on in your head, than I’m afraid I can’t help you.” He says bleakly. “So I’m right, aren’t I? About your lunch, I mean...” I ask. “Yes,” he responds simply. I look at him sheepishly and say, “I’m sorry. I’m sorry I’ve wasted your time. I guess I’m just now realizing that you’re not the unperceptive pig I thought you were. I’m sorry about that, too. Can we continue, or is today really our last day? Will you give me another chance?” He smiles. “There’s always room for second chances, Michael. Even 104 second chances. Yes, let’s continue, shall we?” And that’s when my life turned around. **** So this is the second challenge G and I have given ourselves. The red text in the above story was it. Write a story around those words, nothing terribly depressing (like last time), but otherwise completely open to interpretation. TTFN JMS

1 comment:

malfunctionology101 said...

Grr and Argh. I haven't even started on this. I'm such a loser.