Sunday, February 5, 2017

Excerpt from It'll End in Tears

It started out like any other day.  The alarm went off.  I got up.  I went downstairs and got the coffee started.  I went back upstairs into my home office and grabbed my weed box.  I scraped the remaining ashes from the previous night into the trash.  I put fresh weed into the pipe and went out on the back deck to smoke.  I came in and got ready to take a shower when I remembered something: Elisa had to get up early today to go to her meeting for work.  I could still hear the shower running when I approached the bathroom door.  Shit.  Well, I guess today would be one of those days when I wouldn’t take a shower, but I had to get in there to get my things.  I could use the upstairs bathroom to take my vitamins and fix my hair and take a shit.
“I just need to get my stuff,” I said as I opened the bathroom door, then thought how rude it was of me to not say good morning first.
“Good morning,” I added.
“Good morning,” I repeated a little louder when I got no response.
“Jesus Christ, you scared me,” she said as she dropped the soap.  God, she looked so sexy behind the frosted glass door.  She looked even sexier bending over to pick up the soap.
“Just wanted to say good morning,” I replied.
“Good morning to you,” she said, which put the conversation to rest.
I grabbed my toothbrush, the toothpaste, my vitamins and my hair gel and deodorant and went to the bedroom to get dressed and then into the upstairs bathroom.
Our bedroom is upstairs, but the “master bath” is downstairs.  When we bought the house there was only one bathroom, which was on the second floor, and we figured it would be much better to turn the downstairs library into a large, luxurious bathroom, rather than trying to expand the one upstairs and then adding a smaller one downstairs.  And you weren’t there to help, so don’t criticize.
On this day I had that blank okay feeling, and I knew when the morning weed wore off I would be back to feeling that way again.  Except then I’d also be tired on top of that.
I stepped out of the bathroom to find Elisa standing there wrapped in a towel.  I just wanted to rip that towel right off her and drag her into the bedroom to ravage her naked body, but instead I just said, “Hey.”
“Hey,” she said back, giving me the look of disdain that I knew so well.
“What?” I inquired, wanting to get whatever argument was about to ensue over with and get on with my day.
“You made a mess all over the kitchen counter.  There’s coffee grounds and weed everywhere.”
“I cleaned it up,” I said.  I did it half-heartedly, but still...
“Your bowl is still on the counter.”
“I didn’t even have cereal this morning,” I tried to joke with her.  I knew that wasn’t the bowl she was talking about.
“I’ll take care of it,” I thought, but didn’t say.  Instead what came out was: “Shut the fuck up, you dumb bitch.”
Now, most guys would get their asses wrapped up all nicely in a body bag for a comment like that.  But I’ve called my wife much much worse.  Slut, whore, bitch, and the ever-popular “C” word.  All in jest, mind you.  And normally I do get punched.  All in jest, mind you.  But today she was in no mood for joking or punching.  Today she had something on her mind.  And today I did not want to know what that was.
But she told me anyway.  “Why do you insist on smoking weed every morning?”
“I’ve been smoking weed every morning since the day we met, except for lately because I’ve been low on supplies.  Nothing’s changed.  Why do you insist on calling me out on it every morning?”
“I don’t know.  It’s getting old.”
“So is this conversation,” I said, which I thought was pretty clever.  “And besides, I’ve been without weed for over a year.  And now that I found a connection I’m going to enjoy every day that I have it.”
I had lost the only marijuana connection I had when a client of mine decided he was cured and no longer needed my help.  He had been “cured” for some time, I thought, but who am I to deny him treatment just because I didn’t think he needed it?  Plus, he had the stuff.  Probably not the best thing to do, buying drugs from a client, but desperate times...
“Look at you, you’re giddy every time you talk about weed.”
“Well, it makes me happy.”
“I’m glad something does,” she said.
I really didn’t like where this conversation was going.  Not one bit.  It sounded like this was about more than pot.  “Are we done here?” I said, looking at the clock.  “I’m going to be late for my first appointment.”
“Oh dammit,” she said, realizing that she had completely forgotten about the meeting.  “I just realized I’ve completely forgotten about the meeting.  Dammit.”
“Well, I’m outty,” I said, and moved in for a kiss.
“You smell like pot,” she informed me.
“I brushed my teeth,” I replied.
“Then it’s your goatee or something.  Something smells like weed.”
I made a mental note to rub some coffee into my beard, and opted for a kiss on her cheek instead.
“Have a good day at work.  Love you.”
“You too,” she replied, and I was out the door.
And now that I’m thinking of it, did she mean You have a good day at work too, or I love you too, or both?
And also, I forgot to clean off the counter.
I made it to work on time, but barely.  Of course, I had to speed like a bastard and I think I cut some old lady off, but they’re always doing it to other people, so why can’t I do it back?  No sir, I ignored the withered old finger sticking out of the window and continued onward.
And the second I met Bryan I realized that it wouldn’t have mattered whether I was late or on time or not there at all.  This guy was on a different planet.
[If I speak frankly about people it’s because I am frank. These are my notes, and I can write about people however I want to, because it’s for my eyes only.  And it’s about time us therapists rose up and told how we really feel about people instead of keeping up the therapeutic curtain.  A good portion of the people I see on a weekly basis are total fucking nutjobs, and Bryan is the King of Nutland.]
He’s not much to look at, about five-foot-seven and portly, semi-bald and sporting a mustache.  One thing I can’t stand looking at is a lone mustache.  Unless you’re a cop, or gay, or a gay cop, grow some chin hair to accompany that lip hair you got.
He has a strange way of acting that is not unlike that of Johnny Depp in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas- this paranoid, choppy quick-speak like at any moment something was going to burst through the door into my office and eat him alive.
“So, it says here you’re here because you lost your job,” I said, pointing out his answer on the dumb questionnaire that my receptionist makes all my new clients fill out for no apparent reason.  I mean, we’ll cover all of that material eventually.
“I didn’t lose my job,” Bryan answered.  “I quit.”
“Then why did you put ‘I lost my job’ on the form?” I asked, knowing damn well what the answer would be.
“I didn’t.”  I really didn’t want to hear his inanities at the moment; my mind was still wrapped up in what was going on at home, at just what Elisa wanted to say that she didn’t get the chance to say.  “Somebody else filled this out,” he said, sounding appalled that I would even question him.  “This isn’t even my handwriting,” he explained, with a tone in his voice that implied that I should know that.
“Well then, who the fuck?” I said.  [I find it’s best to speak to people on a level that they can relate with, rather than carry any air of pomposity.]
“I don’t know,” he said.  “Nor do I care.  Somebody was trying to send me messages.”
Oh here we go, one of T.H.E.M.
“Messages, huh?” I asked.  “What the fuck?”
“I’ve been trying to ignore them, but I just got to the point where I couldn’t handle it anymore.”
“Well don’t beat around the bush, dude.  Spill it.”
“They kill people,” he whispered.
“Who does?” I asked.
“I don’t know, dammit.  I...don’t...know.”
The drama was kind of awesome.
“Well, I’m sure they don’t mean to,” I said, trying to follow whichever direction he was leading me.
“No, they do,” he said.  “And they’re messages meant for me.”
“Okay.  Fine, so they kill people,” I agreed.  “What makes you think I can help you?  I’m not an investigator or anything.”
“Because I’m not sure where else to go,” he said.  “Plus, I was hoping you could help me kick the drug problem I have.”
“Oh, so that’s what this is all about?  Drugs?  Let’s get one thing straight here, I can certainly help you with that, but when you come into my office, you’d better not be high.”  The irony was not lost here, by the way; I was pretty fucking stoned.  “If you’re high I can’t help you.  None of the stuff I’m saying will stick.  Not even the really sticky stuff.”
“I’m not high right now,” he said.
“And you still think people are leaving you messages?”
“So can you help me or not?” he asked.
Oh boy, do I want to deal with this guy?  Do I want to commit to that?
“Yes I can,” I said.  It’s what I get paid to do.  I begrudgingly added: “So tell me your story.”
“Okay, well it all started about a year ago.  I had been working there for a while and wasn’t really sure if I was into it or not.  But the job started to grow on me, you know?”
“And what is it you do?”
“I am... was a cable guy.”
“So I get up to this one house.  I had an appointment to tweak their signal.”
“Tweak their signal?” I asked.  “Is that the official term?”
“Your attempt at wit will only get you further from your goal,” he said, in a tone not unlike Hannibal Lecter.
“Which is...?” I asked.
“Making me well, Dr. Chavez.  Making me well,” he said, knowing full well my name was not “Dr. Chavez”.  He continued.  “Anyway I had an appointment to do some tweaking because their DVR was not working and they had a slow Internet connection.  And as I got up to the house I could tell right away that something wasn’t right,” he said, and then added, “I just got a real creepy feelin’,” with a tone not unlike that of an old gold-mining pioneer.
“So I went up to the door and rang the bell. Nobody came.  So I knocked, thought maybe the bell wasn’t working.  Still nobody.  So surreptitiously I opened the door.”
Surreptitiously?  Who says that?
“And came upon a most horrible scene.  It was an old lady, propped up in an easy chair, her throat slit from ear to ear, and a big slice of birthday cake in her lap.”
I would have left the birthday cake part out.  Too creepy.
“So I screamed like a banshee, and turned tail to run, but then I thought, No, you came here to fix the cable and that is what you’re going to do.  And that’s what I did.  I fiddled and tweaked and soon the DVR was recording fine, and the Internet connection ran as fast as a...well...a roadrunner.”
“And then what did you do?”
“Nothing,” he said.  “What could I do?  I couldn’t tell anyone. They’d think that I killed her.”
“Why would they think that?” I prodded.  “You could have just said you found her that way, as you did.”
“Yeah, but they would never believe me.  Look into these eyes, Doc.”
I did.  I didn’t see anything.
“These are the eyes of a killer.”
I examined them more closely.  A little red from the drug binge the night before, maybe, but they certainly did not look like the eyes of a killer.
“I’ve never harmed anyone in my life, but they would never believe that.  They’d lock me away for life.”
“Okay,” I said.  “So you found one dead old lady.”
“One murdered old lady.  A year ago.  Why are you quitting your job now?”
“Because that wasn’t it.  It kept happening.  The next one was not a month after that.  Snow on channel six.  A little child dead in his dead mother’s arms, both poisoned, from the looks of the froth on their lips.  And a few weeks after that.  Upgrade to the Premium package.  A young couple strangled to death.  And more and more frequently they came until it was every day, and now it’s every house I go to I find somebody dead in it.”
“Murdered?” I asked.
“Somebody murdered in it,” he said.
“Hmm,” I said.  It was all I had.
“So what do you think?” he asked.
“Well, like I said, I’m not a detective or anything,” I said.  I didn’t believe a word of what he was telling me, but that really goes without saying, c'mon.
“But what do you think it all means?” he asked.
“Why does it have to have any meaning?  Why do you think these are messages?  Maybe there’s some sort of strange coincidence.”
“Yeah, I told myself that,” Bryan said.  “For the first hundred or so.  Then it started to raise my suspicion.”
“And this whole time you’ve never been accused of anything?”
“No, that’s just it,” he said.  “Nobody ever found the bodies.  There were no reports of people dead or even missing.  It was as though none of it ever happened.”
“And what do you think?” I asked.
“Look into these eyes, Doc,” he said.  “These are the eyes of somebody who’s scared shitless.  Who’s scared shitless...but knows something.”
So I looked in his eyes again, to humor him.  But this time he was right.  They did look like that.
I didn’t know whether to keep patronizing him or to put an end to this fantasy right away.  Maybe I’m not a good therapist.  I have my doubts.
I let him ramble on and on about some other things, but I couldn’t concentrate anymore.  The weed was wearing off and all I was thinking about was whether or not Pauline had brewed any more coffee.  And the thing Elisa had to tell me.  The thing that went unsaid.

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