While waiting for my first appointment with psychiatrist Dr Henry Jekyll, I couldn’t help but notice one wall in the waiting room was plastered with inspirational signs.
PAYMENT IS EXPECTED WHEN SERVICE IS RENDERED
IF I CAN’T CURE YOU, YOU BELONG IN AN ASYLUM
PRIMAL SCREAMS, $150 EACH, TWO FOR $275
IT’S LATER THAN YOU THINK, DO YOU KNOW WHERE YOUR DREAMS ARE?
I was about to tell the receptionist, a nurse Ratched look-alike that I had to go see a shaman about an evil spirit, when the cuckoo clock above the door to the inner sanctum squawked high noon and a pale little man came out and said “Mr. Campbell, please follow me.”
He sat in the comfy chair next to a bottle of Jim Beam and I sat in the straight-back chair next to a dirty glass of tap water. Before he said anything, I counted 13 mangled sock puppets on the shelf next to his collection of Freud bobble-head dolls.
“First things first,” he said. “Did you bring the money.”
I slid a briefcase of sorted, well-laundered $100 bills across the glossy hardwood floor. He counted the money, moving his lips as he did so.
“Second things second,” he said. “Are you here for our primal scream therapy or do you want to pursue a 15-year Freudian analysis.”
“I scream at home for free,” I said.
He nodded sagely, with a hint of oregano on his breath. “You shouldn’t self-medicate,” he said. “Be that as it may, I understand from Nurse Wretched’s pre-therapy interview with you that you hear voices. Are they mean and nasty or are they sweat and vapid?”
“The last voice I heard was yours,” I said, “and so far it sounds rather expedient. But far be it from me to judge, I hear what I hear and write the stuff down.”
“How do you feel about that?” Jekyll asks.
“Humorous,” I said, “because I know that at night you turn into Mr. Hyde and careen about the neighborhood doing vile acts that drive people so crazy they have to come here and gnaw on sock puppets.”
He maintained a dour expression and wrote something down on a yellow pad. “Not counting my voice or my nurse’s voice or any other real voices like Bob who runs the parking deck, what other voices have you heard?”
“Jock Stewart’s voice.”
“Who is he?”
“The protagonist in my satirical novel.”
“So, you’re a writer?”
“That tells me a lot. It tells me you probably belong in an asylum. It tells me you’re probably incurable. It tells me you’re going to be here for years and that I’m going to make a boat load of money writing up your case for HarperCollins weird psychology series.”
“You are wise beyond your years,” I said. “Jock tells me that he likes you.”
Jekyll looked around the room with alarm as though he expected to see ghosts. “Is he here now?”
Jekyll’s face went white. Of course, it already was white, but suddenly it had a bleached out look.
“What does he want.”
“He wants you to continue acting in a way that invites satire,” I said. “He’s a master at it. He talks, I write it down, and then I send it to the publisher.”
“Holy superego, Stewart doesn’t use real names, does he?”
“But of course.”
“Then he’s crazier than you are, and you are definitely certifiable.”
“If I were to slide this suitcase of money back over to you, would Mr. Stewart see his way clear not to use my real name?” asked the quivering shrink.
“Oh thank you. Here’s an extra $150. I really do need to scream now.”
And he did, like a banshee in heat, like a blind man falling into a volcano, like a woman looking out an open window in an old movie seeing a killer trying to get inside while she sits at her dressing table.
I felt cured, I really did. And so did Jock.
“Armed with a sharp wit and a (secretly) soft heart, Jock sets out to investigate the theft of the mayor’s missing horse, Sea of Fire. For readers, arriving at the solution to the crime is secondary to simply enjoying as the colorful (and aptly named) characters become embroiled in a multitude of small-town hi-jinks.” — Nancy Whitney-Reiter, “Unplugged: How to Disconnect from the Rat Race, Have an Existential Crisis, and Find Meaning and Fulfillment “