Monday, March 14, 2011

The Ballad Of Tom N' Jim (VII)

Conversations About…


“Squirrel nuts.”


“Barnacle chili.”

“What’re you talking about? Jim asked, interrupting the random words being tossed back and forth like a ping pong ball.

“What we wish they served for breakfast instead of that slop oatmeal,” Tom said, looking up to his towering friend. He glanced back over at his verbal partner who was rocking back and forth as he muttering random word pairs under his breath. “Or at least that’s what I was talking about.”

“Well, ya got some more talking to do-psych wants to see you,” Jim, giving him a hard pat on the back.

“Psych?” Tom asked, looking up at him again.

“Yeah, the doctor,” Jim said with a raised brow.

“Oh, shit- really?” Tom asked, jumping up nervously. “Well, what- what do I say?”

“Just don’t say nothing about the broccoli,” Jim said.

“Right, right- no broccoli. Ok… uh, wish me luck, I guess?”

“Good luck,” Jim said, waving a hand after him as he walked through the doors to the hallway.

Tom walked slowly, ringing his hands and then wiping the sweat on his pants. Why the hell was he so nervous? It was just a doctor. They’d listen to him and know he wasn’t crazy, right? Cause he wasn’t. He didn’t belong with these people, he knew that. The doctor had to know it, too.

He walked to the open door of the office and peered inside. All the usual paraphernalia was there- diplomas on the walls, a large couch, to huge overbearing desk that a small woman with mousy hair and glasses sat behind. He knocked on the door and she looked up from the paper work at him, peering over the tops of her glasses.

“Hi, I’m uh… you wanted to see me?” he asked, stepping in hesitantly.

“yes, yes- come in. Mr…” she said, scanning the papers on her desk, “Combers? Thomas Combers?”

“Yeah, that’s me,” he said, smiling in the most relaxed manner he could manage.

“Come on in, have a seat,” she said, waving him towards he couch.

He sat, crossing his legs then thought twice and uncrossed them. He fiddled with his hands, first folding them, then placing them on the couch to either side, then settling for wiping his palms on his pants again and leaving them there.

“Calm the hell down,” he said to himself.

“So, Mr. Combers, how are you feeling today?” the woman asked, removing her glasses which he now realized were for reading and looking at him.

“Good, good, “ he said. “I mean I’m-uh, I’d like to know when I can get out of here, but otherwise good.”

“Well let’s start by talking about what got you in here before we move to you getting out of here, ok?” she asked, smiling at him. He didn’t trust the smile and some internal mechanism kicked on in him, ready to defend. “Let’s see, now. It says here that you were found in the back of a car which had been observed crashing into an armored truck. You were arrested and when the police questioned you about it you claimed that you’d been at home the whole time.”

“I can explain that,” he said. “I’m not crazy.”

“No one said you were crazy, Mr. Combers,” she said in a tone that made him think she thought he was.

“It’s just that- I was really high and I was so out of it that I really thought I had been at home. I mean- that doesn’t sound right. Let me back up,” he said, stopping to force himself to slow down his speech. He could rationalize this, he just had to think. “I wasn’t sleeping.”

“You just said you thought you were,” she said.

“Well, no- I mean earlier. I hadn’t been sleeping right for a long, long time and I had this courier job so I couldn’t be asleep all day, just wouldn’t work. So I started taking stuff to stay awake. Just over the counter stuff at first, you know?”

“Why couldn’t you sleep?” she asked, interrupting his train of thought.

“Huh?” he looked up at her, confused.
“Why couldn’t you sleep?” she asked again, looking straight at him.

"It’s uh,” he tried to organize his thoughts. It’s just I had so many ideas but I couldn’t do anything about them, you know? Like every night there were more stories I couldn't write, more songs I couldn't compose, more ideas that revolutionize some industry that I couldn't do a thing with."

"You mean dreams?" she asked. Her voice sounded strangely certain.

"Maybe, that's what you call 'em," he said, feeling stupid for thinking it was anything different. “It just… it seemed like more than that. And I couldn’t sleep but I still had to drive so I started taking stuff and… it just sort of went from there.”

“So you decided to drive your car into an armored truck because…?” she asked.

“It seemed like the most logical decision at the time. I mean, I was coked out of my mind.”

“It isn’t the drugs that concern me, it’s the violence of the action. I mean, you very nearly died.”

“I wouldn’t have cared , I think.”

"So you were trying to kill yourself."

"No, I didn't say that. I just said it seemed like the most logical solution at the time."

"Uh-huh. And you’re saying that the cocaine and oxycodone they found in your system led to that conclusion? With no other factors?"

“I wasn’t suicidal, if that’s what you’re thinking.”

“No one said anything about you being suicidal.”

"You're not big an definitions, are you?"

"I'm not big on agreeing with other people's definitions, no.”

“You know, maybe that's what all this is about. The guys that sent me got this definition of crazy I don't agree with."

"I don't think you're crazy, Mr. Combers."

"Really, that your professional opinion?"

"Um, yes, I suppose it is."

"That mean I can get out of here?"

"Soon enough,” she smiled at him.

He was smiling, too. It was the first time he felt like someone had listened to him since he got there.

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