The sunset was like a forest fire, shooting through the trees—black points, growing to a red sky. I was driving through it—so close, and yet, so far from me. I just wanted to drive, and keep driving, like if I didn’t stop, I might arrive. Doctor Graves referred me to Doctor Fear. I know what you’re thinking, how could anyone have those names, but you can look ’em up in the yellow pages. The valley was commercialized. I’ve been told that accountants design buildings today—they are tacked up with efficiency of cost. That’s why there’s no taste. Nature, or the wide-open places are more beautiful than man will ever create, but I don’t worry about that.

I worry about darn near everything else. Dr. Fear is a psychiatrist, specializing in unique cases, like, the guy who never leaves his house, or the woman who never goes back home—she shops until sunrise. I can’t judge her though—I have my own addictions. You just want to give yourself to them, and bask in the glorious absurdity of life. If I’m walking straight and true, it feels like I’m walking somebody else’s line. It’s the worst kind of hypocrisy.

Fear’s office was sterilized, and air-conditioned. It smelled like, how filtered water, tastes.

His secretary was plump, with big bosoms. She reminded me of a nurse I never met, because she practiced 70 years ago.

“What’s your name, sir?” She asked.


“And what year were you born?”


“Oh—there’s 10 years difference between our ages.”

I looked at her. She didn’t look older than me. “You’re younger, right?”

“I’m 24. Doctor Fear will see you now, and don’t worry—he’s not really a scarry man.”

I went into the office, and hung a right. I heard crying coming from Doctor Sorry’s room. I did find it easier to cry in the presence of a woman doctor. If it was a man, I felt like he might say, “Toughen up, you god damn coward!” but he never did. He listened and took notes on his yellow steno notepad.

When I asked him if I could see what he wrote, he told me, “It goes into your file. They are my own personal notes. Sorry.” His name was Doctor Lame. Okay, fine—I made that one up. I knocked.

“Come in.”

He looked how I imagined any psychiatrist should look, but this is extremely explainable. Young men grow up watching TV. They get it in their head, that a psychiatrist has a beard, and acts old, even if he’s young. Professionals study all manners of dress, until they put-on a costume based on their favorite TV characters. He was a cross between Hannibal Lecter and Sigmund Freud, although—he didn’t have a pipe.

I expected him to say, “Tell me about your mother,” or “nice suit.” I dressed for the occasion, but he said something more shocking, “You are afraid of moving on with your life, even though you realize your life will move on without you. You have Type A control issues, and you are stuck in vice.”

“Yes, your honor,” I said. “Oh—I mean, doctor.”

“Don’t worry, I won’t judge you. That was a Freudian slip. But I will listen to anything you want to tell me.”

“How did you read my mind?” I asked.

“Oh—that’s easy. You wrote it on your medical intake form.”

To be continued…

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