Saturday, October 31, 2015

The Human Pincushion

Through a series of unfortunate accidents I dropped a box of pins and needles in a dimly lit area of my carpeted living room. Lizzy witnessed the whole thing and without moving to help me pick any of the pins up, knowingly said, “Dad’s going to step on one of those pins”.

“No”, I corrected as I desperately crawled around on my hands and knees, “we’re going to pick them all up. No one is going to step on a pin! Now please help me!”

I think she reluctantly picked up ONE pin, but upon doing so, shrieked in pain as if she had been stabbed with a harpoon and gave up.  She told me she was just a kid and it was dangerous for kids to pick up pins. Besides, she pointed out, she wasn’t the one who dropped them.

Insolent child.

Still, even without her assistance I thought I had gathered up all the pins.

I was wrong…as tends to happen.

Sure enough, a few days after I drop the pins, I get a frantic, angry phone call from John. He is in agony. He has stepped on a needle and it’s inserted so far into his foot that only the eye of the needle is poking out.

I can hear Lizzy, the little traitor, in the background saying, “I told mom this would happen.”

I don’t know why I’m the first person John calls in such situations. First remove the needle and if you need medical assistance, go to an Emergency Room. Do not call me. I cannot help you.

But of course he is not phoning for help or advice. He, with his little sidekick, Lizzy, is phoning to place blame.

In a barely controlled voice he asks me if I know why he stepped on a pin.

“Because you don’t look where you’re going?” I answer helpfully.

“NO!” he screams abandoning all pretence of self-control. “YOU dropped pins on the carpet and didn’t pick them up!”

My cell vibrates at the intensity of his rage.

“Where are you getting your information?” I ask, as if I don’t know.

“LIZZY told me!!!”

“Lizzy is 6,” I say, “who are you going to believe, a 6 year old or a grown adult?”

John cannot believe my lack of contrition and yells, “The 6-year-old!”

“Does it really matter why at this point?” I ask. “Don’t you think you should remove the foreign object from your foot before worrying about who is responsible? Also, you have to be responsible for your own feet. Surely, you can’t blame me for where YOU decide to tread!”

In frustration he hangs up.

A few days later he has stepped on another one of these pins and I receive another one of his phone calls.

It occurs three more times in the proceeding weeks. Each time I am not home and each time he phones me on my cell to freak out and demand that something be done. Short of ripping up the carpet, I don’t know what more can be done.

He doesn’t know either, but he does know that with every pin that punctures his foot, his resentment for me builds, as does his fear of entering the living room. His god, the TV, is in there, though, so I’m not too worried about it. It isn’t like he can avoid his place of worship.

A few weeks of this and he tells me he can’t take it anymore. He does not think he can survive another pinning. And even though I have not admitted (and never will) to any culpability in the matter, he is still suspicious that the scatterbrained clumsiness I am notorious for is responsible for the pins. Because of this, he thinks it’s only fair I offer up some sort of restitution. Failing that, it would give him great satisfaction to see ME step on one of these pins and collapse to the ground writhing in pain, develop an infection and possibly die.

I tell him that is a terrible thing to wish on anyone, especially his wife. And as punishment, he's left me with no choice but to put The Curse of the Pin on him.

“You already DID!!!” he sputters.

I suggest to him that if it was me who kept stepping on pins I’d start wearing slippers. I would also avoid the area where I suspected the pins were strewn.

For some weird reason, even though it fills him with dread, he cannot keep himself away from the vicinity of the pin carnage. This perverse fascination is in fact why he keeps stepping on the pins in the first place. Look and ye shall find.

Eventually he does listen to me and takes to wearing slippers. He also makes an effort to stay away from the area in question, but he simply can’t do it. Nevertheless for another week he is fine. No more pinnings. It seems he has managed to retrieve all the wayward pins with his foot.

“See?” I brighten, “something positive has come out of this. Now the kids won’t step on a pin because you’ve retrieved them all with your foot! You’re a good dad!”

My words of praise do nothing to dissolve his simmering rage, which he’s been trying to control since I put the Curse of the Pin on him. Although he openly scoffs at such things, he isn’t fooling me -- not with his “controlled” rage or his disbelief in my abilities. Secretly, he isn’t so sure my curses aren’t real. 

And sure enough, a few mornings later he wakes up with a stabbing ache in his back. This is nothing new, mind you, and as a rule I more or less ignore his physical complaints. He worries and complains about back pain incessantly because when he was 19 he got into a bad car accident and fractured his spine. His doctors at the time warned that as he got older he may start to experience chronic lumbar pain and other associated symptoms.

As a result, John is constantly on high alert to ANY discomfort in his back no matter how minor or imagined. This time, however, he says it is “different” and excruciating enough that he can’t go to work.

For the rest of the day he lay on the couch moaning about how he needs to go to the doctor and get some painkillers, but he never makes a move to actually do this.

It is not until later in the night at maybe 9 or 10 o’clock that I get another one of John’s by now customary phone calls while I’m at work. From his pressured tone and rapid breathing I know immediately this has something to do with pins.

I am correct.

It seems John had reached around to scratch where his back hurt and in doing so pricked his finger on something sharp. There was blood. He nearly fainted when he realized what it was.

It was the tip of a pin.

You have no idea how disappointed I am that he never went to see that doctor about his “ailment”.


Every time I think of this whole pin situation I am thrown into a new fit of hysterics. As a consequence, John has stopped speaking to me.  He is beside himself with  anger that I’m not taking it more seriously. He says with utter conviction that if he hadn’t felt the pin when he did, he probably would be dead right now.



Ignoring the fact he had wished figurative death on me only a few days ago, I laugh and say, “Don’t be absurd. You can’t die from being stabbed in the back with a pin. A knife, sure, but a pin? I don’t think so, there Pincushion”.

I’ve now taken to calling him Pincushion.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

The Doctor at my Window

I stand at the window and watch three overly confident male physicians strutting below. They walk like the Sultan of Brunei, ridiculous, repulsive little men with big egos and an infinite capacity for self-gratification and entitlement. 

Their confidence is derived from a boys club of debauchery, deception, exclusive opportunity, inherited privilege, an engorged sense of superiority, astounding hypocrisy and the celebrity-like worship of a misguided, misinformed populace, not to mention a seemingly endless supply of female insecurity that fuels their rutting preoccupations. Swine.

The differences between the paltry Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah and the semen-driven doctors are ones of mere degree. The Sultan is at the extreme end of wealth, indulgence, self-glorification, human exploitation, greed, lechery, indifferent cruelty, contrived intelligence and spiritual emptiness. He is purely a temporal animal who will return to dust and disappear into nothingness once he dies, which hopefully is as pleasant an affair as the deaths of those who no doubt will be lost to torture, stoning, complications of punitive amputations and brutal floggings under his rule after he helpfully introduced Sharia law to Brunei, laws which he and his equally repugnant, pedo-looking, herpetic brother are themselves guilty of breaking on a regular basis. Sadistic pigs.

As for the doctors, perhaps "sadistic pig" is a bit harsh, but "rutting swine" seems accurate enough. All three of the doctors I am currently surveying from my window are married, but none are particularly discreet about their frequent romps with infidelity or in any way ashamed of the lives their more or less open cheating has negatively impacted. 


If you're going to indiscriminately fornicate with as many women as you possibly can, like a lowly animal that gorges itself to death, at least don't be married with a quiver of kids when you do it. Don't do it when you've taken marriage vows, and don't do it when you've taken a Hippocratic oath not to abuse your position of trust and authority, preying on the vulnerable with your perversions. And if you can't manage any of that, at least be upfront with the young ladies you're using as receptacles for your seminal trash, so they know exactly what they are getting into and don't harbor any illusions of happily-ever-after with you.






In addition to devastated families, all this pathological infidelity and casually tossed aside, single-use female bodies has been responsible for at least two suicide attempts, as well as countless psychological problems and the occasional jealousy-induced criminal act. Although, I guess if you were the kind of man who stopped to consider how your actions might devastate another person's life you would not be indiscriminately fucking a bunch of people like an insentient Energizer Dildo on permanent recharge in the first place.

"It's amazing how these guys get away with what they get away with in this town, " I turn to Belinda, thoroughly disgusted at the mere sight of these men everyone else is so smitten with (other than of course the people whose lives they'e ruined, but even they seem remarkably forgiving).

Belinda happens to be one of the smitten ones, which I suppose is part of the reason I like to comment on them, just to needle her. It injects some adrenaline into an otherwise paperclip and blunt pencil kind of a day, where only casual business attire is allowed, not like a blue jeans Friday. 

It's the kind of day where the biggest catastrophe is that Lenore used water straight from the tap to fill the Keurig yet again, even though she's been told repeatedly to use the purified water from the cooler. This infuriates Belinda: "So help me, if that cute water-boy stops coming in here because of damn Lenore making management think we don't need weekly water deliveries anymore, I'll KILL HER MYSELF!"

Basically my contempt for a philandering penis with an equally ineffectual medical degree is distracting Belinda and saving Lenore's life. You're welcome Lenore. 

"Look at them preening like ugly peacocks who have no idea how hideous they are," I continue with as much disdain as I can possibly muster, "I hope one of these incessantly squawking crows dive-bombs the one in the middle, your friend, Dr. Suna". 

I don't look at Belinda but I sense I'm getting under her skin. This particular "lady doctor" is one of her favorites. They have a good, flirty working relationship that makes me want to stab my hand with one of the plastic forks I keep on my desk any time I'm in the same room as one of their giggly interactions. 

Belinda takes a deep, steadying inspiration before addressing me.

"That's because you're a man hater. I find him amusing. He's funny and smart and knows his stuff. He goes out of his way to answer questions and makes his patients feel at ease. Who cares what he does in his personal life."

This is a refrain I've heard many times and I don't agree with any of it, which Belinda knows. I, however, decide to ignore the "what a person does in his personal life has no bearing on his professional life" non-sequitur. And I'm more or less desensitized to the bogus "man-hater" label, so I should ignore that, too. It's a bullshit label anyway, but as I've gotten older and wiser, I've taken the stance that if it keeps assholes away from me then I will no longer look this gift horse in the mouth. Serendipity.

In truth, the only thing I really hate is redundant, scripted speech that everyone mindlessly delivers like dumb-struck lines in a poorly rehearsed, ill-conceived episode of Keeping up with the Kardashians. It's only more absurdity and contrived reality, but without the Frankenstein-esque plastic enhancements and over-compensated playhouses that gobble up an unfair share of space and resources. 

The Lamar Odom sleazebags in this contrived reality are named Bill, Rick or Joe, use crystal meth cut with rat poison, a.k.a. the poor man's coke, and get their illicit sex not from fancy legal brothels in Nevada, but from strung-out single mothers with deadened souls, who have lost their kids and fill the void with IV drug use and degrading sex acts at $10 a pop, performed in darkened back alleys or bed-bug infested motels that rent by the minute

With these bitter ruminations running through my mind, I correct Belinda, saying, "I'm not a man-hater, Belinda, only a hater of despicable behavior. It's not my fault most of that despicable behavior happens to come from men. Don't blame the observer."

Belinda gives me her signature look, which says she doesn't believe or agree with a word I'm saying.

But this is how we do things so I solider on: "Also, why does Suna always have to come in here bragging about what a great life he's having with dramatic tales of his travels and conquests? Shut up. I'm already not enjoying my life over here, I don't need some pretentious douche-bag rubbing it in with one of his drive-by self-aggrandizing stories."

Then, as if by cosmic cue, Dr. Suna comes slithering into the room like the snake he is. Belinda glances at me in alarm, worried he might have heard us talking, not that she would have anything to worry about. I'm the ONLY one voicing discontent with the status quo.

Besides, he doesn't know he's Dr. Suna. Granted, my pet name for him is not very original, but it makes me laugh almost every time I use it. Sultan H-Ass-Anal, Lamar O-Dumb and Dr. Suna aren't the only ones who need their cheap thrills. My form of cheap thrill, however, doesn't cost anything and will not spread disease or further unravel the moral and intellectual fabric of civilized society.  And anyway, the name Suna is fitting. He is a backwards, lax sphincter and portal for fecal matter.

In any event, he must sense I don't care for his stench and bypasses me completely as if I don't exist, going straight for Belinda. He is all ingratiating smiles, with a "favor" to ask, but first he wants to show off pictures from his latest trip: kite-boarding with his Stepford wife, Mrs. Doctor Suna, in Venezuela. You see? I am an equal opportunity "hater". I dislike shitty men AND their consenting victims. 

Unfortunately (for Belinda, who as it turns out is a non-consenting victim), the first picture that appears is a close-up of a Pap smear in progress. Dr. Suna laughs off the mistake and jokes, "Oops, gyne-porn". He then continues to swipe through the pics as if it's no big deal that he's just traumatized Belinda's eyes for the rest of her life, or that he's violated some unnamed woman's right to privacy. 

He keeps swiping until he comes to the images of his wife risking her life surfing rough tropical waters, apparently for his viewing pleasure. As Belinda struggles to restore her composure after being eye-raped with that unexpected visual, she stammers, "That looks dangerous!"

Dr. Suna jokes again that this latest wife might be quiet but she's a daredevil; willing to try anything, that one. "She'd surprise you", he says with a salacious grin. Anyway, if she did die in some freak kiting accident, not a problem, he goes on. He likes to "trade in for a new one every 7 or 8 years" anyhow, so bonus! Saves him messy divorce proceedings. Suna appears quite pleased with how funny he thinks he's being, oblivious to how uncomfortable he is making Belinda, who laughs politely but who I can see is mildly horrified by this entire situation. 

I imagine she is reconsidering right about now that I may not be off the mark regarding Dr. Suna after all. Pustule.

As for me, in addition to being happy Suna himself continues to prove my low opinion of him is correct, I'm also happy my unfriendly "hater" persona pays off once again. Of the two of us, Belinda is the only one with the closeup of some stranger's prolapsed cervix forever burned in her mind. Not a pleasant thing to be carrying around in your head. My own conscience is clear.

Dr. Suna mercifully finishes up his slide show, asks for the favor he could have done himself, and  turns to leave when Lenore's best friend, Henrietta, comes bustling in.

She blocks the doorway so Suna can't easily leave and asks him if he is interested in sponsoring her for the women's shelter fundraiser she is helping organize. She understandably assumes he is a perfect fit for such a fundraiser since women's issues are his speciality, not to mention the thing that has provided him with wealth, prestige and privilege. Even more to the point, it's the thing that's given him a sultan-like status in this community, reminiscent of his anal-twin-flame there, Sultan H-Ass-Anal Bolkiah, and a free pass to fuck around without consequence as much as his Viagra-controlled erection allows. As such, you'd think he'd want to give back somehow.

You'd think that, but you'd be wrong. I man like this does not humble himself. It has to be done for him, either through divine intervention or by another more advanced animal on a stronger branch of the evolutionary tree. Now, if Henrietta, Belinda and everyone else around here looked beyond superficial nonsense, they would know this intuitively and NOT AT ALL assume Suna, being the piece of shit doctor that he is, would humble himself. 

Sure enough, much to my smug satisfaction, he answers Henrietta with, "Women's shelter? What about men? Is there a shelter for men who get beat up by women?"

He makes this asshole statement in the context of a recent murder/suicide of a domestically abused mother at the end of her rope, who had just left her violent husband with their severely autistic son in tow, no support, no money, no job, and nowhere to go other than a shelter she couldn't get into because it was full. This woman may have even been his patient.

In light of the above, Henrietta is shocked into silence at Suna's response, an unusual situation for her, normally a total blabbermouth. 

With Henrietta's uncharacteristic silence, Suna realizes he might have taken what he later explains is another one of his hilarious "jokes" too far. He shrugs and throws a crumpled $20 bill at Henrietta, which as far as I'm concerned is no more charitable than had he flung a nail clipping at her head. His 20 bucks is that inconsequential to him. If anything, when this asshole "gives" any amount of money away he's doing something for HIMSELF, not any one else, certainly not any one in need. It causes him NO hardship whatsoever.

Suna trounces off without a care after this, shoving past Henrietta, who looks a little lost now. After he's gone, she sheepishly admits she had expected him to give her at least $100, was counting on it.

In renewed disgust, I dig through my Old Mother Hubbard purse, and to my surprise manage to scrape together $36.85 to give to Henrietta. At the same time, Belinda digs through her slightly fiscally healthier purse and between us, and with Suna's pathetic $20, Henrietta leaves with more than the $100 she had come for. 

I look at Belinda expectantly.

"Okay, okay," she says in partial surrender, "you win. He's an anus...but I still like him".

Without another word I return to my desk, to the fork, and stab myself. The fork bends against the back of my hand and a couple of the tines fling off, hitting me painlessly in the face before falling dramatically to the floor.

Unmoved, Belinda watches my sorry display of political protest and dryly asks, "Feel better?"

I don't look at her as I reach down to pick up the broken-off fork bits and say, "I think I've made my point."

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Deafening Silence

There were 12 children in total, some step-siblings, some half and some full — all mashed together like misfit puzzle pieces forced into a distorted family portrait.

Papa Phil did not father all twelve, but they all had at some point been under his care. The women who gave birth to these children, two of whom were once Papa Phil's wives, had all been lost to one of booze, madness or death.

Papa Phil knew he could not raise a pile of motherless kids by himself, so he took yet another wife, Muriel, when the youngest of the dozen was still in diapers. Muriel herself could not get pregnant, but desperately yearned for a baby and was thus immediately smitten with the youngest of the children.

The older kids, none of them Papa Phil's biological offspring, were more or less ignored by Muriel and terrorized by Phil. But it was a silent terror. Silence like this is loud and oppressive — it defies logic and the laws of nature. The unsaid things are the scariest things — the things no one wants to acknowledge.

The silence was therefore free to slip in between the ketchup sandwiches made with stale bread, through the soiled sheets, and around the creaking floorboards late at night when children should be soundly sleeping. They should not be wide awake concentrating with every cell of their being on some bedroom wall shadow until the silent thing is done.

Silence becomes an odd comfort when it accompanies everything one does. It is like a prison guard the prisoner comes to rely on, even after the bars have been left unlocked and the guard eliminated.

Maryanne, a middle-aged adult now, resented the guarded silence. Her siblings, by comparison, went on seemingly unscathed with a regimented existence. Maryanne could not understand their refusal to talk about what had happened to them because it consumed her. She could barely handle it, the thought of Papa Phil having gotten away with his crimes, aided and abetted by muteness. 

There did, however, come a day when she could no longer tolerate the dead air and spoke up. The power of confession, what really should have only been the therapeutic passing of an honest moment, created a dystopia Maryanne could not have anticipated. Who would have thought that with the mere utterance of a few words that so much human misery would scream forth from the silence like a million unleashed demons.

There would be suicide, addiction and homicidal rage. There would be financial ruin, prison, insanity, agony and death. All their carefully patched together lies, their precariously assembled lives, decimated by truth.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Mormons are in the Building

Belinda calls me over to the window. She looks concerned as she watches a Mormon twosome approaching the building. They always march in pairs.

"Why would the Mormons be here?" she says in a near whisper.

She sounds scared.

"Well, there are numerous reasons why they could be here, Belinda. It's not like there's a law forbidding them from entering the building." I laugh. "Why? Do you think they're coming for you?"

It turns out the thought has crossed her mind. 

They seem to seek her out where ever she goes, especially at her home where they come knocking on a regular basis, which is partly her own fault. If you feed a stray it will invariably come back. Sometimes, if you don't set up firm boundaries from the outset, the stray will go further and muscle his way right into your house. Make himself at home. 

But make no mistake. 

He is not interested in having you domesticate him. He is using you and will come and go as he pleases. But you're an innocent and will think with self-satisfaction that he's grown to love and respect you. He has not. He mocks you when you aren't looking. 

The Mormons kind of work like that, although I imagine they are for the most part unaware that they are mocking anyone. They believe they are the righteous ones and that it is the rest of us who are confused, not them. Also, they have a manual of strategy and are prepared with circular reasoning to confound you even more.

If you're not careful, eventually, if the Mormons are successful with their door-to-door, boots on the ground strategies, planting seeds of cognitive dissonance and confusion, they will lead you right from your home into theirs, which is more of a lair than a "home". You won't know what hit you and they will have a new brick for their wall. 

I don't know how effective their approach is, and I would be interested to know their success rate, but you see Mormon and not to mention Jehovah Witness pairs everywhere so they must be catching at least some of their prey. But they are nice enough people, so if you are going to be drawn into a cult-like scenario anyway, you could do worse.

Belinda, however, is too much of a contrarian to ever be lured into a cult or be persuaded by fundamentalism of any kind. She will never be one of their caught prey, but it doesn't stop them from trying. They mistake her natural curiosity, compassion and willingness to listen and engage with them for weakness they can exploit. But Belinda is no saint and as it turns out she's the one exploiting them, even though exploitation was never her intention and she feels bad about it. 

After Belinda's initial introduction to the Mormons, which amounted to several hours-long conversations standing in her doorway, she wanted them to leave her alone. She had no plan to use them for her own means. She isn't that kind of a girl. Belinda is a giver by nature, a leaver, not a taker and definitely not a receiver. 

Basically, the Mormons charitable ways are changing Belinda, corrupting her.

And it wasn't that she didn't enjoy those early marathon conversations with them, helped by the fact they were mostly young, attractive, affable males in handsome suits who darkened her doorway. But it was getting to be too much. There are some repetitions in life that are pleasurable every time you experience them like laughing at a Seinfeld repeat, but the same conversation with a self-assured religious weirdo intent on converting you is not one of life's pleasures -- at least not as far as Belinda is concerned. 

Personally, I enjoy the weirdos. 

But you have to have boundaries. Even Patience has a right to die, especially after a long life of self-control. She gets tired. Give her a break. 

In other words, if you are going to have weirdos, especially religious ones, in your life, be kind, be amused, be willing to accept they might have some insight to share, but do not be a doormat. Or as I like to call a female trapped in the role of lipsticked-android, one programmed to obey and conditioned to accept abuse: a Dormata.

To avoid becoming a Dormata yourself, you unfortunately have to at some juncture allow your patience to run out and override your programming. You must have it within you to slam a door in someone's smug face, hang up a phone mid-sentence when you realize the superiority of the prick on the other end is beyond reason, and scream at a person whose willful stupidity has reached a level of absurdity that no longer amuses you and now pisses you off. 

And if all that fails, you're sick of taking the highroad alone, and you don't have the brain or inclination to think up some Machiavellian scheme that will ruin the person's life and have him end up in a mental institution or destitute and living in a rodent-infested hovel, shove that asshole down a flight of stairs, along with all his belongings and a few of your own you no longer want. Kill two birds with one stone that way.

You will also help out the oxymoronic men's rights movement by justifying their insipid arguments and otherwise "hilarious" jabs that, for instance, there is a critical need for transition house funding to shelter an epidemic of raped and domestically abused men. Keep them safe from all those scary women wielding a broom with one arm and doing biceps curls with the weight of a nursing baby in the other.

But don't actually kill a bird or a person and there is no epidemic problem of women raping and assaulting men. People are way too literal.

Belinda is too decent of a person, however, to even be rude to a Mormon never mind physically hurt one. Her favorite tactic when dealing with potentially awkward social interactions is avoidance, which I support. Despite the bravado above, in reality I'm more a neurotic Dormata like Belinda than a trigger happy black mamba snake, although if I'm pushed hard enough things can get ugly. There is a lot of suppressed rage swept under my doormat patiently waiting for an opportunity to express itself.

With regards to Belinda, a woman who is neither abuser nor victim, when avoidance is impossible because the Mormons, for example, see her peeking out her curtains, she reluctantly answers her door. But she likes to steer their conversations away from dogmatic themes to secular ones. Up until recently, this worked well and the Mormons would follow her lead. 

They would spend most of their early conversations discussing topics such as the weather, geography, tourist attractions, local wildlife, the state of the public school system and "children these days".

At some level Belinda knew their willingness to skirt the real reason they were talking to her was because they were first establishing a good rapport ( an essential ingredient in any relationship where one side has an agenda that doesn't include brute force) before going in for the final kill. 

So she was not necessarily surprised when they started slipping in their true agenda between commenting on the rain with interjections about "God's plan", suggestions that her "good feelings" were a direct result of the Holy Ghost working on her at that very moment, and testimony of the divine authority of one Joseph Smith. Most alarming to Belinda was their mention of the second coming, which they seemed to imply could happen at any moment. Did she have her spiritual house in order?

To help with that spiritual order, they invited her to pray with them and Belinda, feeling like a deer caught in headlights because she isn't the praying type, apologized, saying she couldn't pray right now because she had groceries in the trunk of her car that she had to bring inside. Her ice cream was melting. 

They offered to bring the groceries inside for her and that was how it started. From then on, any time the topic got a little too "religiousy" Belinda would say she had to go. They would respond by offering to do something for her, she would reconsider that she really "had" to go just yet and would relent, allowing the Mormons to do chores for her, which they did with a smile. How could she resist such cheerful, free labour? She couldn't, especially since her house was looking pretty spiffy as a direct result of their volunteer work.

Nevertheless, there came a day when she had had enough of the Mormons. Belinda had no more errands for them and she was worried if she continued to let them come around she'd end up at their church because she had no more excuses left and didn't want to hurt their feelings. She felt she was at risk of becoming an accidental Mormon.

As a consequence, the last time they asked if there was anything they could do for her, which by this time she felt guilty if she didn't come up with some chore for them, instead of drumming up business in her own house, she blurted out that her brother, Jimmy, had recently bought a house across town and needed help with renovations.

Fast forward to several hours later and Jimmy is furiously trying to get a hold of Belinda. It is an angry text, phone call and email Belinda has been expecting. She doesn't answer any of this and ever since has been in self-isolation-lock-down mode. Nothing will make her open her door now. Nothing. 

She knows she no longer has to feel guilty because the Mormons are occupied with Jimmy now -- Jimmy, who like Belinda, having been raised in the same household by the same parents, finds it hard to be mean to nice people, no matter what their cult-agenda. At least she thought the Mormons were busy with Jimmy until seeing them outside our window.

"You really thought all their time and energy was being spent on one potential convert, Belinda?" I look at her doubtfully.

"Yes, I did. His house needs tons of work." 

She seems to be hyperventilating and goes mute, her mind slammed shut by sheer panic. 

I reassure her that we are behind three password-protected, security doors. The Mormons aren't getting in without permission and there is no conceivable reason to give them permission. She is safe.

Then the phone rings. Belinda screams.

Damn Mormons.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

The Frozen Watch

Theresa's watch is frozen at 6 o'clock. It has been stubbornly keeping the same hour for 40 years. When asked why she holds onto the timepiece, Theresa says, "Why, it's a good watch! It still keeps the time."

Then she smiles and starts humming. No one is sure of the tune. Her eyes glaze over and just like that Theresa is gone, lost in the ancient maze of her disconnected memory.

The Meadows staff and occasional visitor do not pay Theresa much heed. She is a harmless, crazy old woman now, her mind scrambled after years of powerful psychotropic drugs coursing through her veins and electroshock therapy zip-zapping through her brain. Being tied to a bed against her will one too many times, and being forced into straight jackets when a kind but firm hand would have done, in addition to numerous stints in isolation, further contributed to the loss of her sanity.

"Be careful about spending too much time with those head doctors," she likes to whisper during rare lucid moments. "They're looking for crazy and they ALWAYS find crazy."  She sputters and laughs until the light of cognition goes out and drool escapes from the corner of her mouth.

Time froze for Theresa with the ring of a doorbell. It was her neighbor at the front entrance of her house. He was cradling in his arms what seemed to be a limp, bloody animal – road kill, maybe a dog. Theresa could not tell. There was so much blood.

She does not know what happened after that. It is as if someone came along and hit the eject button right before the climactic scene of a suspenseful movie. The psychiatrists call it "psychogenic amnesia", but Theresa doesn't understand their psychobabble. She pretends to listen intently, if her sedatives don't make it too difficult to concentrate, but in truth she is wondering about her son, Billy.

She furtively glances at her watch: Oh dear, it's dinnertime. Billy is officially late. He should have been home at least 15 minutes ago, so he'd have time to wash up before supper. Billy's father will not be pleased.

Theresa looks up at Dr. Olson, "I'm terribly sorry sir, but I must go. My son is waiting for me, and I still have to get the pot roast out of the oven.”

She attempts to get up to leave, but in her chemical restraints she finds her legs don't work like they once did . She doesn’t struggle or fight to stand. Her spirit was effectively dulled long ago. Instead, she relaxes back into her chair and calmly folds her hands into her lap, but not before checking her watch again. 

She sighs, "What could be keeping Billy?"