Fiction: Star on the Mountain
by Jennifer Burton
Posted on June 13, 2005
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So this is how my first day of psychotherapy went. Tell me what you think…
Dr. Rogers: “How are you doing today Carlos?”
I look over and doc's got this tank full of catfish. I guess he likes bottom feeders. You'd have to like them in his line of work, right?
Me: “How should I be?”
Dr. Rogers: “Kiddo, let's get something straight right now- I'm here to help you. I am not your enemy. My job is to help you get better.”
Me: “So why all the bullshit? Why don't you get to the point and fuck all the chit-chat. My uncle's paying you $100 per hour for you to get cozy and talk about the weather?”
D.R: “If you keep on with that attitude, we're not going to get anything accomplished. You want me to get to the point- okay…(he looks at my arms) how long have you been cutting yourself for?”
Me: “I dunno…two years.”
DR: “Do you do drugs?”
Me: “Doesn't everybody?”
DR: “No. Answer the question, Carlos”
Me: “Do you drink, doc?”
DR: “Is that any of your business?”
Me: “Well…I'm just saying if you do drink, you're a drug user too, right? I bet you probably prescribe yourself meds. Fuck! Even cold medicines are drugs!”
DR: “Carlos, I believe you are the patient right now, and I should be asking you the questions…”
Alright, so I'm paraphrasing, but he said something along those lines. He seemed pretty pissed, though.
Me: “Okay, you wanna know…yeah, I smoke weed. Yeah, I take acid on the occasion. I like mushrooms. I like tequila and scotch.”
DR: “Any cocaine, pills, meth, ecstasy…”
Me: “Ecstasy, yes once in a while…at a good party. Coke- fuck no. That shit makes you crazy. That shit killed my pops.”
DR: “How old were you when your father died.”
DR: “How did he die?”
Me: “He was shot by a narc.”
DR: “Was it the business that killed him, or did he also do cocaine?”
Me: “He didn't do that shit. Running it was good money though.”
DR: “We'll get back to your father. I just want to go over some things…is your mother still alive?”
DR: “How did she die?”
DR: “How old were you when she died?”
Me: “Thirteen. I went to live with my uncle and aunt after that.”
DR: “You've been living with them for four years?”
Me: “About that long, yeah.”
DR: “How is your relationship with them?”
Me: “Pretty good. They're good people. They take care of me.”
DR: “Anyone else passed away? Grandparents, brothers and sisters?
Me: “My grandparents died of old age when I was like three or four. I don't have any sisters. My brother died when I was in third grade. He was running with a gang, and got shot in a driveby.”
DR: “Did you see either your father or your brother killed?”
Me: “My dad went missing and they found him in the desert two months later. My mom identified the body. It was closed casket, you understand. My brother was shot in front of my elementary school. He was sixteen, and I was eight. He was dropping me off, and right when I got in the gates of the playground, this car rolled around and fired off a few rounds into the car windows and that was that.”
I'm telling doc this story with a real blank face, because I've told it a lot of times before, you know and after you tell a story enough times it doesn't seem like it really happened anymore. It becomes like part of your personal myth. He's looking at me with these wide eyes, and I give the man credit, because they were already tearing, so I know that he's got real empathy. I've been to shrinks before, and most of them look at you like a case study, like a little lab animal they want to pump full of pharmaceuticals and record results. This guy seems to take pride in helping others, and was really hurt by my story, and he just says to me…
DR: “You've been through an awful lot for someone your age.”
No shit, Sherlock.
The rest of the session went on like this for some time. He asked questions about the books I read and the music I listen to and what I do to relax. I told him I like true crime novels, Henry Miller and JD Salinger, and Anais Nin is one sexy lady. I like Bukowsky shorts, and Ralph Bakshi cartoons. I like goth/industrial music (the Beggars Banquet variety) and skateboarding. When I relax, I draw comics or shoot bottles out in the desert or just read. And doc sat there listening and taking notes. He asked me to bring my comics in next session.
I had to take that stupid fuckin' Minnesota psychological assessment test. It basically runs down the list of things that indicate schizophrenia or severe depression. Yeah, I'm severely depressed and I can't lie about that. I wouldn't have agreed to go to his office if I didn't need someone objective to talk to about my closet full of shit. But let's be realistic. I'll tell you things, journal I wouldn't tell anyone else, especially not doc. Let's just keep those things between you and me, alright?
* * *
Mesa Street Blues
“You're a good man for doing this, Jeremy. You know how to help a brotha' out.”
He doesn't know how much help he really is as he palms the bindle into the frail hand of a friend worn by the abuses of the trade. He doesn't know how much help he can be. All he knows is that he's been there too many times to count. That moderation is the only garment that suits a man, and he's had to keep it well tailored over the years.
“The name coke fiend becomes no one, Bernie. You better get your shit together.” His face is firm with fury. He glares, “You wanna cop, you go fuckin' bug someone else. I wash my hands.”
“I know, man. I know I've got problems.”
Bernie turns his face away. The bar is well lit. Tints of red and blue from spasmodic Christmas lights flicker on Jeremy's eyebrows like Marfa ablaze. It takes all of Jeremy's patience to hold back the roaring pangs of wrath. He wants to beat Bernie like the family mule for saying that shit.
“Yeah. You've got problems. I've got problems, too…but you're not one of them.”
More clichés and then running thin white fingers through slick, dripping copper hair, he glides to the bar. “Stevie. I need a rum and coke.”
“You all right Jeremy?”
“I'll be cool. Just…it's just fucking Bernie…you know.”
“Bernie ain't gonna change. Wish he would, but he's gotta do it for himself.”
“Yeah. I know that. I know that, Stevie.” Stevie hands him his drink. Jeremy hands him three one's with a present wrapped in porn cradled in between the bills. “Keep the change.”
It's cold in there. He's bundled in a red and copper wool sweater and black Dickies. He always matches. Belt and shoes of the same ilk, the sweater's warmth complements his copper hair. This evening's demeanour matching the bar's chill. His heavily polished eel skin shoes reflect candy-coated lights. They create a false sense of joy in him. The association with childhood bliss, Christmas tide, family is apparent in all the patrons. He sees these people as his family, his children, and he is the bearer of their Yuletide gifts. Naughty children are denied; good children are rewarded handsomely. He smiles at the thought of his children's gratitude, at their dependence. The sight of gleeful faces during the snowfall is a treat, but their disappointment at its absence is problematic to say the least.
Daddy we want more.
Daddy we need more.
Daddy you promised.
We'll do anything for you, Daddy.
I'm sorry, babies. I can't control the weather.
One of his children comes to him, her finely crafted black hair tumbling about her shoulders like a tire swing drifting from an oak.
“Hello, Luce. What may I help you with tonight sweetheart?” Incestuous thoughts drift in and out of his mind while she sits gently on his lap- her soft, desperate voice hums her lust to him in lyric.
“I need a six pack. Can you help a lady out?”
She lifts herself and follows patiently behind him. He holds the door for her, and she slips in unnoticed. The head is empty. They dart into the handicapped stall and lock the door. He reaches deep into his pocket and pulls out a pre-cut bindle. He knows his children. Luce gets a gram and a half and a complimentary taste every Saturday evening. As bindle and money exchange hands, a deep penetrating locked gaze is held. How he wants to hold and penetrate her. He maintains eye contact and stuffs the cash down deep into his sock, pulling out a vial, which was nestled between ankle and tendon. He unscrews the bullet, grinding the contents. Holding her waist with his arm and tilting her head back by pulling the hair, the bullet finds its way to her nostril. He keeps her like that for a few seconds.
“What are you doin' tonight, Luce?
“Whatever you're doing.”
* * *
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