A Matter of Time
Holding a door open is a simple gesture. So I do it. Smiling at a stranger is a common formality. So I smile. I enter what is intended to be a “yellow” room, but it comes off as a honey mustard color. It reminds me of puke. As I enter the mustard painted room, I remind myself to do these things.
1:00 P.M. – “Welcome Bryan,” says the man whose voice makes me want to dig my nails into a wall. He’s a tiny Middle Eastern guy with a PH.D in psychology. I nod my head so he knows that I acknowledge his presence.
“How long has it been since your last incident?”
“Two weeks,” I say.
“Do you feel any urges,” he questions.
“Well, you should be proud of yourself. This disorder is a powerful thing, especially since it’s controlled by impulse.”
Does he really think it’s only an impulse? Now more than ever, I understand my addiction is a necessity. It’s my only means of relief. I’m surprised that I’ve gone two weeks without it. I don’t know if you’d consider it withdrawal, but that’s what it feels like. I know because I quit smoking before. But this is a more intense situation.
Everywhere I go, I see flames. They call to me with the seduction equal to that of a woman. The sway of each imaginary flame beckons me to come hither. So I follow. A sick desire washes over me at the thought of it. This office disintegrating into ashes, clouds of smoke rising to meet the sky, and the smell. That intoxicating smell….
The sound of a clearing throat interrupts my day dream. I glare over at the psychologist and see a stupid smirk on his face. He knows. I turn away to compose myself. I decide it’s time to have my daily dose of fun. To mess with people, I like to speak in different languages. It’s a pastime of mine. What else is there to do when you’re bored at home all day?
He asks me what it means.
I ask him what he thinks it means.
“Well, it sounds Latin and it sounds like a question. Other than that, I have no idea unless you tell me.”
“I guess you’ll have to Google it later,” I say with a smile.
“If you want to be helped, you have to cooperate.”
“It means, who does this benefit,” I tell him as if he were a child.
“Bryan, this benefits you. Don’t you see that?”
As he begins to ramble on about what therapy can do for me if I let it, I consider what he says. In reality, this only benefits him. He gets paid to hear intimate details of other people’s lives. All I get is a temporary “cure”, until I relapse and wind up back here. Then I’ll have to pay him to “cure” me once again. It’s a revolving cycle.
“Are you ready for some relaxation exercises?”
I give him a nod of approval. He heads over to his boom box. The sound of waves crashing on the shore of a beach fills the room. Occasionally, a seagull will squawk in the background. This is supposed to be a soothing sound. I find it rather annoying, but I play along anyway. I lie down on his couch and stare at the popcorn ceiling. I stare at it for so long that I begin to see red. Now that’s what I find soothing.
3:00 P.M. – I arrive at Corner Café. Give up one addiction, take up another. Coffee isn’t really what I’m there for, though. The Corner Café is a place for the clandestine. During the day, it is relatively empty and the room is kept dim. Come nighttime, it transforms into an open mic for hipsters. Every table is candlelit. Unfortunately, the candles are battery operated. A red and yellow cloth material disguises itself as a flame that sways back and forth. The illusion is quite clever. I feel a presence, but I don’t look up. I ask for a cup of black coffee. A few minutes later, a steaming hot mug is placed in front of me. When I decide to arise from my self-imposed confine, I see a woman seated at the table close by. I notice she has the type of bone structure that belongs to a runway model. Her jet black hair is pulled into a tight ponytail that further defines her face. In her hand is a maroon colored book. The title is written in a cursive script. The woman turns to me.
“You seem fixated on something.”
“I’m curious about the book you’re reading,” I respond.
“Oublies, written by my friend Simone,” she answers with arrogance.
“It means forgotten in French.” Her dark eyes skim over my body.
“Is there something wrong with your leg?”
I look down to see my leg shaking uncontrollably.
“I have Parkinson’s, but I don’t see why that should concern you,” I angrily spit back.
The beauty gives me a snotty look before turning away. I wonder if she can see the sweat pouring down my face. I put my hand into the cloth flame. Though it may not be the real thing, I find it comforting.
6:00 P.M. - I end up in West Lake Park. As the sun sets, there is a pink and blue undertone that stretches across the sky. My heart violently trashes against my ribcage. A phantom ache resides in my finger tips, so I clutch the matches in my pocket for support. I forge ahead trying to ignore the growing desire to give in.
7:30 P.M. – Nightfall descends over Seattle. I’m outside the window of the mustard-like room. Inside I can see various diplomas decorating the walls. There’s an olive oak desk and chair to match. The lights are out since the office closes at four o’clock.
I grab two bottles from my bag. I light a match. I put it in the bottle and toss it through the window. Shatter. The concoction inside comes to life with the spark of the flame. Explosion. I repeat. Another explosion. I see the yellow melting off the walls.
Diplomas mean nothing now. The thick smell of burning wood mixes with the air. I inhale deep so it hits my diaphragm. Feelings sweep through me.