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The Halloween Project Day 12: You’re Only As Sane As …

This is dedicated to every counselor, psychologist, therapist and psychiatrist I have ever met. Some are interpreters from heaven, some are the seventh level of hell.

The psychiatrist’s couch pushed into Erick’s back and ass like he was lying on a metal slab in the morgue. Not that he had ever settled down on an examining table with a coroner about to open his chest, but it just made him think of that.

“Isn’t this a little prehistoric, kind of mid-20th century?” Erick asked, hoping the humor would ease his own tension.

“What’s that Mr. Fields?” Dr. Bernstein asked with that low, slow voice you always hear psychiatrists use in the movies.

“The couch? The lying down? Kind of all Sigmund Freud, isn’t it?”

“Do you have some difficulty with Sigmund Freud?” the doctor asked.

Erick hesitated for a moment. What’s up with this guy, he thought to himself. Bernstein had been recommended by his wife, but he really didn’t expect such a stiff old fart. “No, no, I have no problem with old Siggy. Sexual problems notwithstanding, and you can call me Erick,” he replied.

“Uh-huh,” Dr. Bernstein muttered, and then added, “Erick.”

Erick turned and looked at him. This was like a cartoon. There was this pompous psychiatrist sitting in an overstuffed leather chair behind him. Legs crossed, tweedy jacket with arm patches, and a pad and pen in hand. Had he stepped into some old 1940’s psychodrama?

“That was a joke,” Erick stated.

“The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be.”

“Excuse me?” Erick asked.

“That was Emerson, Ralph Waldo Emerson,” Bernstein said.

“Okay,” Erick said, but it was long and drawn out, sounding quite a bit like “O-Kehhh.”

“So, tell me, how have you been this last week?” Dr. Bernstein asked, never looking up.

“Actually pretty fine,” Erick replied, relaxing a bit and linking his hands across his chest.

“Work?”

“Yeah, work is fine. Just landed a really solid account. If it plays out it’ll bring revenue to the company for at least three to five years, maybe more.”

“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now,“ Bernstein said.

“Umm, right, and that was?”

“A Chinese proverb,” Bernstein replied.

“Thanks for the wisdom, doc. Chinese proverb. Nice.”

“Family?”

“They’re great. Really great. Timmy is playing in the town soccer league. Emily…well she’s tremendous. She’s in third grade now. Reading scores off the wall. They’re just great.”

“Go confidently in the directions of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.”

“Doc, to be totally honest, I’m having a little trouble here. That was Thoreau, right? I recognize that one. You’re giving me platitudes. I thought you were listening to what I’m saying, but I’m not so sure.”

“Are you a little angry?” Bernstein questioned.

“No.”

“Frustrated?”

“Nooo, but would you like me to be?” Erick asked.

“I’m sensing some hostility,” Bernstein stated.

“Well, you’re a bit of an asshole, so maybe a little hostility is warranted,” Erick said.

“Remember, no one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

“And who the fuck said that, Mr. Freud?”

“Eleanor Roosevelt. And now you’re really angry.”

“I’m getting there,” Erick responded, separating his fingers, but clenching them into fists.

“Tell me about your wife,” Bernstein asked.

“She’s fine,” Erick stated flatly.

“Is she?”

“Yes, goddamn it, she’s fine!” Erick was, just now, getting pretty agitated with this condescending prick.

“No, in fact, she’s dead, Erick. Quite dead,”

“What the hell are you talking about? My wife’s not dead!” Erick snapped.

“That’s exactly what we’re talking about, Erick. That’s what we’re trying to find out,” Bernstein stated, a bit of command in his voice.

“This is bullshit!” Erick sat upright, stiff, body tense. “My wife’s not dead! Amy’s not dead!”

“I’m afraid she is, for two months now.”

Erick jumped to his feet and began to call out, “Amy! Amy!” He launched himself forward, then back again, turning to Bernstein and calling again, “Amy!!”

Bernstein pushed a small button on the underside of his desk. Within seconds, two solid and staunch guards opened the door and surveyed the room quickly.

“What the fuck!” Erick exclaimed.

“Gentlemen, would you please escort Mr. Fields back to his room?”

“My room!? What the hell is going on here? My wife asked me to come and talk to you and I did. I don’t have a room here. My wife isn’t dead. What the hell is wrong with you people?! Jesus Christ! Get your hands off me. I said get your goddamn hands off me!”

“Mr. Fields!!!!” Bernstein shouted above Erick’s cries.

“Mr. Fields!” he shouted again and the room reverted into silence. Erick, held on either side by the two burly guards, looked intently at Dr. Bernstein.

“We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.”

A moment passed.

“Plato,” Bernstein added.