This is a section of chapter 13 of my novel "Our Fathers' Ashes. After Jakob's incident at school, the school board dictates that he is required to attend sessions to work on his "issues." He finds himself in the office of a new psychiatrist.
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I'm sitting in the waiting room of my new shrink for another excruciating round of "therapy." It's the end of July, several months after the meeting at my school. The contract I signed with the school made it compulsory that I attend counselling sessions to "work out my issues." The waiting room is empty and so is the receptionist's desk. I glance at the cracked and aging clock on the opposite wall, it's second hand arm ticking away in the room's silence--it displays12:35 pm. My appointment according to the crumpled paper in my back pocket is for one o'clock, which makes me really early--untypical in light of my reputation for tardiness. The room is spartanly furnished--you'd think that the big time coin made by these quacks would afford them the means to at least make a modest attempt at aesthetic design, especially considering their patients' fragile mental condition.
The chairs are the ugly mass produced industrial kind: light coloured wooden arms, skinny chrome legs, and dark greyish-green upholstery, the colour of a stormy sea. Two triangular piss coloured tables are symmetrically occupying the middle of the room, as if to show some lame attempt at decorum. The usual boring magazines are spread out haphazardly over the tables: "Reader's Digest," "Time," "National Geographic," "Life," and of course the always present "Family Circle." Uncle Mickey told me that Reader's Digest was a lazy man's rag, published mainly for half wits and illiterates. I sure wish medical offices would carry my favourite reads like "Mad" and "Crazy." But of course when I think about it, with names like that, the shrinks would surely worry about insulting their patients!
At 12:45 the receptionist comes barreling in like a goddamn house on fire, carrying a white bag and bottle of Pepsi. The bag is emblazoned in bright red lettering: "Coleman's Deli." She looks a hundred years old with white hair tied back into an old ladies bun and a pair of those annoying thick bat wing glasses dangling from a dorky chain that you see geezers wearing everywhere. Trailing her steps, I catch a strange whiff of smoked meat and mothballs. Once behind her desk, the old gal starts wolfing down the sandwich like she hasn't eaten for a week. I swear, I can actually hear her false teeth clacking. She swallows and gives me the eye, and then lifts the chain holding her glasses up to her face and reads from an appointment book and then looks up sheepishly at me.
"Am I looking at Jakob Okker?" I feel like saying "No, it's Ish Kabibble!",
which was uncle Mickey's favourite comeback when he dealt with morons who asked stupid questions. Instead, I slowly nod my head. "The doctor will see you in fifteen minutes so please be patient young man." I grab a Time Magazine. The cover shows an animated collage of a burning building and what appears to be a looter, firefighters, and a helmeted National Guardsman holding a rifle. It's titled: "Twelfth Street Detroit." I put the magazine down--I'm bummed out enough without reading about the American race riots.
A moment later the front door opens. In walks a chick with this far out Jimy Hendrix afro and tinted granny glasses. Coincidentally, she's wearing an army surplus jacket with a Dutch flag patch which quickly reminds me of my Dutch heritage. Underneath is a fluorescent red T-shirt emblazoned with black letters: "EXPO 67 MONTREAL" with that stupid circular logo looking like pairs of intertwined peace signs. A pair of denim bell-bottom jeans with fake leather fringes near the ankles completes her get up. She sits directly opposite me, the backdrop a puke yellow-brownish coloured wall. The museum piece behind the desk is now loudly scarfing down a handful of fries, a stalactite of ketchup hanging down by the side of her withered mouth.
"ABIGAIL!! What time was your appointment with Dr. Shore, dear?" The girl takes a few seconds to lift her head in response. "I.....think.......it........was........like......one o'clock.....somethin'.....like.....that. "Did your worker write the time down Abigail?" The girl swallows loudly and takes off her shades and then starts fumbling in her back pocket. Shit almighty, either she's fuck'n retarded or she's tripping on some kind of legal medication or illegal dope. The receptionist is smart enough to realize it's a lost cause. "It's okay dear, your appointment was for 2:00 pm so you'll have to be patient." What's with this shit telling patients to be patient? The girl swallows several times and puts her head down again. I notice that her face is twitching.
Abigail takes off her army jacket. I glance over and see what looks like lines of red welts covering her left wrist. It brought to mind a student I first met at Northwood. Her name was Cody Ambrose. I first met her at lunch period sitting alone at the bottom bench of the wooden football stands, crisscrossing what looked like a pen knife across her wrist. I realized that she was one of those fucked up cutters--you know, kids who draw blood on purpose. Uncle Mickey told me that a lot of kids self harm because they're into some kind of deep emotional pain. They feel numb and detached from everything, so as weird as it sounds, cutting actually makes them feel more alive.