Dr. Frost was sitting in a chair across from Feldon and flipping through a file. He clicked a pen and scribbled something down. He was dressed in a shirt and tie and perfectly pressed pants. His shoes shined like the gates of Heaven. He was a man in his late 40s with a neatly bearded face and a high forehead with thinning dark hair slicked back over his scalp. He wore expensive glasses over his dark eyes and constantly sipped at lemon water during the sessions.
Dr. Frost was a serious man who seemed continuously annoyed at the less intelligent world that surrounded him. The doctor carried himself with an air of self-importance; he was a product of wealth and the best schooling, but it did him no favors because he was often looked upon by his colleagues as snobbish and close-minded. He had been trying to help Feldon for months now but was dismayed and often bored by his lack of progress. In fact, he felt Feldon was getting worse each time they met. The doctor folded his hands in his lap, cleared his throat and nodded his head with a fake grin.
“Are you ready to begin?” he asked in a firm yet soft tone.
Feldon was lying on the comfortable couch and staring up at the white ceiling.
“How have things been since we last talked?”
“I got into a fight with Carl last night. I hit him.”
Dr. Frost readjusted himself in the chair and leaned in with some interest. How absolutely exciting, he thought to himself.
“Why did you hit him?”
“He was annoying me.”
“It’s just every time I try to get close to Eve, he’s always right there. He’s always getting in the way.”
The doctor clicked his pen again and jotted something down in the file.
“I seem to recall that you had talked about asking Carl to move out. Maybe it’s time to do that. It sounds like things are getting a bit out of control.”
“I can’t just throw him out into the street. He doesn’t have a job. He’d never survive,” Feldon complained.
“I think it’s admirable that you care about the wellbeing of your friend, but you also have to consider your own happiness as well, Feldon,” the doctor replied.
“Happiness? What’s that?”
“I suppose it’s something different for everyone, but for you, I believe a sense of security and having less chaos in your life would be a start.”
“Maybe I should be the one to move out,” Feldon said. “I could just go away, somewhere else, and never come back. I just long to escape.”
“But Feldon,” Dr. Frost began. “Until you give up this idea that happiness is somewhere else, you’ll never be happy where you are. So, you see, it really doesn’t work. And you know why?”
“Because you’re with yourself wherever you go. You may be able to escape from a physical place where you may feel sad and uncomfortable, but in the end, no matter where you go, there you are. Does that make any sense?”
Feldon turned his head to the side and craned his eyes to look over at the doctor.
“No,” he said. “It makes no sense at all.”
Dr. Frost reclined in his chair, adjusted his glasses, and sighed.
“All right then, I see we have work to do in that area, but tell me, what about Eve? How did she react when you hit Carl last night?”
Feldon squirmed a bit on the couch. “She didn’t say much about it.”
“Not really. I think she was a bit shocked maybe. But I also think she’s messing around with Carl when I’m not there, so, you know, she didn’t want to act like she cared too much about him. I’m not fucking stupid.”
“So, you suspect they’re having an affair behind your back?”
“Yes,” Feldon said, with little hesitation.
Dr. Frost removed his glasses and rubbed at his eyes with his thumb and a finger. “Feldon,” he began. “I feel living with these two people is causing you a lot of unnecessary anxiety and worry. It’s unhealthy. I would strongly suggest separating yourself from them.”
“You want me to kick both of them out?”
“It may seem drastic, but I feel it’s for your own good.”
“But then they’d shack up for sure, just to spite me. I’d be sick to my stomach every single night. At least if we’re all in the same place, I can keep my eye on them. What kind of advice are you trying to give me? Are you sure you’re a real psychiatrist?”
“Feldon, please! I am not the subject of this session or any of your sessions. Let’s focus on this. You think they’re messing around when you’re not there, you said it yourself. What are you going to do when it goes too far and you walk in on them going at it in your own bed? Then what?”
“Why would you say something like that?”
“I’m just trying to help you realize how unhealthy all this is. You have to choose what’s best for you, not what’s best for them.”
“What if I asked her to marry me?”
“I would put that notion on the back shelf, Feldon,” the doctor strongly advised.
“Why? Do you think I wouldn’t be a good husband to her?”
“It has nothing to do with that. You have far too many immediate issues to deal with. Marrying her would be a complete disaster for you.”
Feldon closed his eyes. His stomach hurt. “I’d like to talk about something else now.”
Dr. Frost sipped at his lemon-tainted water. “What would you like to talk about?”
“I had a job interview.”
Hmm, this should be interesting, the doctor thought to himself. “Well, that’s a positive step. What kind of job?”
“Working at a doll salon.”
“A doll salon.”
“I don’t understand.”
“It’s a place where people can bring their dolls for a makeover and what not. A salon… For dolls.”
“Are you making this up, Feldon?”
“No. It’s a real thing.”
Dr. Frost clicked his pen once again and wrote something down.
“What’s the matter?” Feldon asked.
“I’m simply taking notes. But why would you want to do that? Why would a grown man want to play with dolls for a living?”
“Are you questioning my sanity?”
“That’s my job, Feldon. But please, I want you to explain to me why you would want to play with dolls all day.”
“It’s not playing with dolls! It takes real creativity and skill to make a doll look beautiful and perfect. There’s hair and makeup to consider, the right dress, and accessories, too. Yes, you must know about accessories. These people pay good money for this type of thing, and besides that, I prefer human interaction with non-humans.”
Dr. Frost paused. He tapped his finger against his face and sighed with concern. “Do you realize how very odd that sounds?”
Feldon grew more defensive and sat up on the edge of the couch. “It’s not odd at all. There’s a real need for it for some people. It’s a service I’d like to provide, and I think I’d be good at it. I see nothing wrong with it. I thought you’d be pleased that I’m trying to put myself out there. Why are you trying to sabotage my progress!?”
“Just calm down, Feldon. There’s no need to get upset. I’m not trying to sabotage you at all. Please, lie back down.”
“I don’t want to. I want some chicken and coffee.”
“You want to leave?”
“Yes. I don’t think you are any help to me at all.”
“Have you been taking the ‘don’t be sad’ pills I’ve prescribed.”
“No. I’m making Carl eat them. I think that’s why he’s constantly grinning.”
“You shouldn’t do that. That medication is specifically prescribed for you. You could be causing harm to your friend, and yourself.”
“There’s trapezoids in my empty mind, doc. My empty mind.”
“Feldon, I want to see you more than once a week now.”
“I’m gravely concerned for your mental health.”
“Concerned? You mean you want more money, right?”
“That’s not it at all.”
“These are my last days, doc. My last days.”
“Are you feeling suicidal, Feldon?”
Feldon wanted to scream “YES!” at the top of his lungs, but he knew that such a response would surely be a death sentence anyway — a lie would spare him further agony and torture. “Of course I’m not,” he answered. “Don’t be silly.”
“Are you sure?” the doctor pried.
“Yes, I’m positive. It’s just that, well, sometimes life feels like a broken fucking record. Is that so immoral and worthy of persecution? Surely you feel the same way at times. You’re human, right?”
“I am,” he answered, and then the doctor leaned back in his chair and wrote some more notes. “I want you to come back on Wednesday, at 4.” He tore a piece of paper from a pad and reached out to hand it to Feldon. “And I’m prescribing you some more anti-anxiety medication. It’s for you, not Carl, okay?”
Feldon took the piece of paper and looked at it. The writing was indecipherable to him.
“I want you to take 8 pills a day, four at breakfast and four at dinnertime. Understand?”
“Okay. I get it. I’ll see you on Wednesday.”
Dr. Frost watched as Feldon depressingly dragged himself out of the office, and he noticed he was mumbling something to himself. Then the doctor looked down at the file, clicked his pen, and wrote the words: TERMINAL MADNESS in big, bold letters.
TO BE CONTINUED