Some people have a voice trapped inside their heads, and it doesn’t sound the way it’s supposed to when it comes out. We are echo chambers of who we could be, haunted by our potential that shouts, but nobody hears us. We stop listening to ourselves, because the expression is jumbled, like word salad nobody wants to eat, and the words that do come out are like croutons. We dress in clothes that look the same—we might say “yes” or “no” when the world demands so much more. Poetry is the language of the gods, and there are thousands of poets, but only a few good poems. -Intellectual Shaman
Our story begins with a young man who has socially suffered.
“I would like a V-v-venti coffee,” Alex said.
The barista smiled at him. She could trap him with her mouth. It was a naked feeling to be V-v-vulnerable. Why did he stutter in his mind? It was getting so bad that he thought of a word to say and then he heard that word before it came out; so, he had to switch to a different word, and that never sounded right. The self-censorship was worse than Hollywood. It was several mistakes away from the truth of what he wanted to say. And the barista worshiped the helpless expression on his face.
“W-w-would you like flavoring in your drink?” She asked.
“N-n,” Alex gave up and shook his head. Being dominated by someone who hadn’t suffered was like being a heavy-weight fighter cornered in the ring by a lightweight. He was attracted to her, and repelled at the same time. It was the way of the world. You can’t wear the same clothes every day without people thinking you have a plain personality. And you can’t say “yes” or “no” for too long, or people think you don’t have anything to say.
Job interviews are out, and asking women on dates is impossible.
Stress only magnified his stutter. When he went to get help, therapists never understood. And when he went to see a pathologist who did stutter, therapy took too long, and they always billed by the hour. Stuttering was costing Alex more than he cared to admit. He had to find someone who could cure the neurological disorder. Maybe electric shock therapy? Alex had given up hope when he noticed an ad on the library wall. How to turn a bumbling buffoon into a ballsy salesman. Call this number. He dialed. The voice on the other end was strange. It spoke to him, and then it spoke to him in a different way. It was silky and smooth, intoxicating.
“May I make an appointment?” Alex asked. He didn’t stutter. It was like the voice put his voice at ease.
The speech office was a hole in the wall next to a Chinese restaurant. Right before he walked in, an Asian gentleman walked out. The man got into his yellow Ferrari, and looked happier than the sun. Then, he picked up his vibrating cell phone, and screamed at it in Japanese. Alex walked in. There were pictures of little fat men on the walls and bamboo shafts growing out of flour pots.
“Take a seat, and the Master will be right with you,” a petite secretary said. Her voice was business-like, not unlike her shoulder-length black hair, and straight suit. Alex sat on a yoga mat, relaxing. Then a voice called his name—it reminded him of the doctor’s office. Sure enough… there was an Asian practitioner wearing a white lab coat. He was carrying a clipboard.
“Where does your voice stop inside your throat?” He asked.
“How did you know?”
“Many years of practice. My name is Doctor Chew.” He walked into his office. In an adjoining room, a woman was screaming, but it wasn’t in terror; it sounded more like laughter. If it wasn’t a speech office, Alex would’ve thought it was a mental institution.
“Now, cough,” Doctor Chew commanded.
Alex protected his manhood, and coughed.
“Don’t worry; we work with the mouth here, but I will give you the tools to speak from your balls. Now, recite these Japanese words…”
Alex did, and Doctor Chew put-on his plastic gloves, shoving his fingers down his throat.
Alex tried to, but the words wouldn’t come out.
“You are blocked. Now stand straight and tall.”
“You are a giant. Hughhhhh.” Doctor Chew punched Alex in the chest, and Alex blacked out. When he woke up, he was lying on an outtake bed. It felt like when he had his wisdom teeth out, but there was pain in his chest, instead of his mouth. Plus, is brain felt funny, like the doctor had messed around up there.
“Take a prize from the box,” the efficient secretary said, and Alex did as he was told. He got into his Prius, and did not feel like the happy Japanese man getting into a Ferrari. He was just unlucky, that was all. As soon as he thought it, he noticed lights in his rearview. Talking to the police was not something he was good at. Once, an officer actually thought he was mentally insane and called psych.
“I’ll need to see your license and registration.”
“What’s the problem officer?”
“Your tabs are overdue and you have a taillight out.”
“But officer, I paid my tabs and the light works—at least it did this morning.”
The bull with a beard looked skeptical under his round hat, and then smiled. “Get them fixed. No ticket today.”
Alex breathed. He didn’t stutter. He had never talked himself out of a ticket. Then he thought about an espresso, and the smiling barista. It wasn’t the usual one who teased him about his speech. This one had blonde hair, and was more attractive.
“Can I helf you?” She spoke with a lisp.
“Sure, you can; I’d like a Venti coffee with extra foam and some chocolate sprinkles.”
“Oh, good choiff.”
“You know what? Today is your lucky day. I know someone you should call. You might feel some pain in your chest, but the after-effects are worth it.”