Dr. Nina McGowin of St. Vincent Hospital’s outpatient psychiatric center offered one last bit of professional advice before I resigned from her care—
“Pay attention to your sleeping habits. If you are unable to sleep or find yourself awake for several days and you feel like you still don’t need any sleep, come back to us. This is a sign that indicates your schizophrenia is returning.”
A decade has passed since I last looked Dr. McGowin in her deadpan face. “I quit taking these pills more than three months ago,” I explained as I returned a prescription for lithium to her cold hand. “I haven’t even taken the anti-anxiety pills you gave me three months ago. I stopped taking those delicious pills because you threatened not to renew a prescription for them, insisting you were holding out for my own good. I stopped everything, three months ago today. I tried to tell you what I experienced was a Spiritual Crisis. Look up that diagnosis. It’s in your DSMV-IV manual.” I stood up, bowed to her in respect, and turned to walk out of her office with my head held high. I didn’t shut the door, which was my custom when leaving her ten- minute sessions. I simply lifted my feet, one and a time, and shook off the dust as a testimony against her.
I sleep like an angel now. Sometimes, like last night, when the temperature outside is cool, causing me to wrap-up in a blanket, I can sleep for almost twelve hours straight. I long for this type of sleep. I have the best dreams during these long hibernations. I remember being awake for more than a week in 2002, and how desperately I wanted to fall into slumber, but simply couldn’t. That’s how I ended up in a psychiatric ward for nearly a month. It took me that long to come out of that waking dream.
Sometime between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. this morning, I dreamed of my co-worker, Viki Rosman again. I find it odd that I have had several dreams of the redhead therapist since leaving my job as office manager of the Youth Counseling League three years ago. Viki was not my favorite co-worker from the job, in fact, I hardly knew her. Never have I had any dreams about my best friends there—Lauren Agazarian, Francis Pacheco, Wendy Stern or Joan Daily. The Jewess with pretty freckles and the most beautiful teeth of anyone at the League rarely came into my office overlooking Park Avenue to chat, as did most of the other females who worked there. Besides the fat gay shrink, I was the only man there. In my dream, Viki invited me to a party at her sister-in-law’s in New Jersey.
I arrived early at the party, walking all the way from Brooklyn somehow, stopping at a supermarket so that I would not arrive empty handed. I purchased ten pounds of jumbo shrimp and two area rugs because the supermarket did not sell vodka.
I was the first to arrive at the party. No other guests were there. Viki’s sister-in-law, a stunning brunette with a ponytail answered a door downstairs of the sprawling mansion where she lived. At first, I thought Viki’s sister-in-law operated a beauty parlor in her basement, like so many of the women do in the little town in Pennsylvania where I come from. There was a sign on the door announcing the place was open, so I walked right in. Viki’s husband answered the door and immediately grabbed the area rugs from my hand and tossed one around his neck like a scarf. “This is fierce,” he said. “Veronica will be right with you.”
Veronica appeared and asked if my tooth was hurting me. I ran my tongue across my teeth and noticed one was cracked. I then realized that Veronica was running a dental clinic in her basement. “I have a cracked tooth,” I explained.
“Let me see,” she insisted.
“I don’t want you looking inside my mouth,” I insisted. “I came here for a party. Do I have the correct address?”
Veronica’s cell phone rang. It was Viki. Although I could not hear the conversation, I knew, because it was my dream, what they were talking about. Viki explained to her sister that although she invited me to the party, she neglected to call to inform me of the cancellation.
“What are we to do with so much shrimp?” I asked after Veronica ended her call.
“Oh, dear. These are lovely,” Veronica said, dumping the jumbo shrimp into a pink sink in her dental office. I noticed the sink was the type used inside beauty parlors because it was designed with an indentation where women placed their necks when having their hair washed.
Veronica giggled. “Oh, dear, look at this!” She removed a huge oyster shell from the pile of shrimp.
“No wonder they were so expensive,” I shared. “That fucking thing must be heavy. Give it to me. Viki must be suffering from acute forgetfulness,” I shared. “She was never the same since that incident that happened on the job.”
“What incident was that?” Veronica asked.
“She didn’t tell you about the boy with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder?”
“No, do tell. Would you like a glass of wine?” She asked.
“I cannot drink wine with this tooth, nor can I tell you what happened to Viki at the League. It breaks patient confidentiality rules.”
“Well change the child’s name and tell me, for God’s sake,” Veronica insisted, drinking heavily from a fancy wine glass with at least a twelve inch stem.
“I don’t have to give you a name at all, in that case,” I explained “some teenage boy flashed his dick at Viki one day while they were in session. As was usual at the Youth Counseling League on Friday, the place was dead. Most therapists were out on three- hour lunch breaks and the psychiatrist, Dr. Udarbe, was busy meeting with representatives from the drug company in his office. Viki rushed into my office, and was crying. “What’s wrong?” I asked.
“He just showed me his dick, Charles.”
“One of my clients?”
“Oh dear. Are you alright?” I asked.
“I don’t know. I think so. I’ve studied this in school, but never have I witnessed it first hand. It’s called transference in our profession.”
“He’s just a teenage boy. Don’t take it personal.” I replied.
“I asked him how he was coping and all he said while talking it out was ‘What the fuck am I supposed to do with this?’”
Veronica giggled and escorted me to her door, pleased it seemed to learn of what was causing her sister to act like a blonde. “Can I give you some Vicodin for that tooth?”
“No thanks,” I said. “I sleep very good now. No need for anything to relax me.”
I awoke to a room filled with sunlight and quickly rubbed my tongue across my teeth.