Dr. Wu braced himself for his next appointment. Patience was critical, and he had tried. God help him, he had tried to be patient with this man. But his 3:15 client was testing him.
On their first session, Dr. Wu had beheld a man with a face that was scarred to shit, and chest wounds that made it hard for the man to breathe. But the man did something incredible; he tried to downplay the fact that he had been mutilated. He joked about it. All well and good: humor was a coping mechanism that Dr. Wu approved of wholeheartedly. But the man didn’t need a therapist because of his injuries, no. The man needed a therapist because he was deranged. Honest to god, the man thought he saw musicians.
Ruben Craig entered Dr. Wu’s office.
“Hey Doc,” Ruben said. He shook the doctor’s hand, and took a seat on the couch. “What fun activities do you have in store for me today?”
Dr. Wu sat down in a chair beside the couch, holding a pen and notepad. The arrangement was cheesy, and Ruben had been sure to point it out during their first session. But when asked if he would prefer something different, Ruben said it was all fine. Wu clicked his pen. “I’d like to talk to you about your new medication.”
“Hit me,” Ruben said, and he laid back on the couch.
“Have you been seeing anything unusual since you started taking it?”
“Nothing new, Doc.”
“Already had both from the pain killers.”
Dr. Wu made a note of it. “And these visions of musicians. Do you still see them?”
“Always. And if I can’t see them, I hear them.”
“You described Bob Dylan as your personal musician. Is he here right now?”
Ruben laughed, and looked… well, he looked all around the room, and it was plain to see that he and the doctor were very much alone between the four white walls. Ruben laid back down on the couch. “I can’t see him right now, Doc. Maybe he stayed home today. But he is around.”
Dr. Wu jotted another note with vigor. “Tell me Ruben, these musicians: what do they do?”
Ruben reflected on it.
“Do they tell you to do things?” Wu pressed.
Ruben laughed. “Not a chance in Hell, Doc. They know better than that.”
“Do they ever do things on their own, then? Can they move objects without your help?”
“Sure, all the time.”
“But they aren’t real, Ruben.”
“Well, I suspect they’re deeply metaphysical.”
Dr. Wu suppressed his disapproval. He had dealt with patients who were far more gone. What made this man a simple case was exactly what made him so infuriating: he acted fine. In every measurable way, Mr. Craig should have been in and out of therapy faster than Dr. Wu could write a prescription. But there was something psychotic lodged in the man’s mind, and by God (or any other means necessary), Dr. Wu would pull it out.
“Am I crazy? And be honest, because if I am, there are some people I need to keep myself away from.”
Dr. Wu leaned back in his chair, and chuckled. “You’re not a danger, Ruben. You’re hurt, and you’re coping with it in an unusual way. But you’re not going to cause harm to anyone at all. Let’s keep your medication at the same level for now. It seems to be working.”
Ruben nodded. “Okay, Dr. Wu. Thank you.”
Wu put the notepad aside. “Tell me Ruben, is there anything else on your mind?”
Ruben thought about Katie, but he didn’t mean it. Reflexively, he knew he should still be missing her. But he didn’t. He barely remembered why he cared about her to begin with.
© Ray Underscore Thompson, November 2015