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"For some reason she thought I was a nutjob. Doc would say just about anything to get down his receptionist’s pants....."

sanbaisanshrsan
fiction by john gorman


Doc told me flat out that I was suffering from Loopy Loop. Could’ve fooled me. You’d never guess that it infected millions of people, but Doc said mine was a case study. Make that a basket case study.

My disorder involved the merciless name repetition. Take Robespierre, for instance, continuously popping up in my mind, occasionally followed by a comma and a Maximilien. To clear my head I telepathically lure him to the guillotine.

I’ve also been haunted by Rasputin, Yao Ming, and even by Nebuchadnezzar. You can pull a Lizzie Borden on Rasputin, but no matter how many times you stab him he never dies. I fart and poof he disappears. Go figure.

Carravaggio gave me a nasty brain-scrub the other day forcing me to bust out the art pad to mess around with finger paint. He hurled when the splatter on the kitchen linoleum showed greater artistic merit than the pad.

When Sanbaisanshrsan [333 in Mandarin] kept echoing in my head I freaked out. Numbers were Greek to me. You couldn’t smell them or pick your ear with them. OK so maybe you could with the help of a #2 pencil.

A few weeks later, when I was still having sleepless nights repeating Sanbaisanshrsan I broke down and told Doc. He said that my fixation on Sanbaisanshrsan was none other than my childhood obsession with the elite baseball batting average .333, that only the chosen sluggers have earned.

He deduced this since I had a tendency to shuffle through baseball cards while sprawled out on his couch. Another patient used to do the same thing with football cards. Wise enough to know that baseball and football were two completely different sports he gobbled up Little Leaguers For Idiots till he graduated to Bob Ueker’s autobiography. Doc came to the undeniable conclusion that it was indeed a major accomplishment to hit a round ball with a round bat square.

Shattering Doc’s display case was an accident. He assured me that I’d eventually connect on the change-up. But we spent entire sessions playing homerun derby.

I was running out of dough and was only getting worse. But Doc was convinced he could iron the hitch out of my swing.

My biggest mistake was leaving behind that Ted Williams card. He petted it, befuddled that worthless cardboard pictures needed plastic cases for protection. After I told him that the Ted Williams was worth a few hundred bucks, he phoned his accountant. While they blabbed I snuck into the hall and paid Rosie, his receptionist, a visit.

Rosie knew Doc as well I knew a marzipan’s innards. She scheduled his patients, his astrologer visits, massages, trips to his critically acclaimed Pilates guru, Tirimisiu Goldberg. Rosie filed her jade-tipped nails, ignoring the ringing phone, when I crept up on her.

She demanded a lowfat yogurt with granola sprinkles. When she glanced up and saw it was me and not Doc she slunk back into her seat, so that only her forehead was visible from my angle. For some reason she thought I was a nutjob. Doc would say just about anything to get down his receptionist’s pants.

She offered to buy me a yogurt. Maybe the scar across my forehead frightened her. I grinned.

When she left I noticed a book, "Party Topics For Dirty Minded Shrinks," buried underneath some stationery. I opened it up. It was chock full of South Park meets Frazier humor. One had Babar, Richard Gere and some gerbils nuzzled in a canoe. As I skimmed through the goofy pictures I kept repeating gear to myself. Which was odd since I squashed that driving fear years ago. The more I repeated gear the more Richard Gere’s gerbil-happy smirk flashed before me.

The names kept coming but at least the numbers stopped. Temporarily at least. So it seemed I only needed to imagine shooting along the open road, preferably with a six pack under the seat, when I wanted to switch gears from numbers to names and back.

Then I stumbled upon a joke about the Loopy Loop disorder. I nearly ripped the page, barging into Doc’s office, his propped foot atop his swivel chair like he was George Washington Carver sailing across the Delaware.

"Remember you’re doing old Mrs. Baker a favor taking them off her hands," Doc said. "Then comb the flea markets. Forget the card shops."

"We need to talk," I said as his alarm chirped.

"Sorry. We’ll pick up next time."

"What’s this bull about ‘Party Topics For Dirty Minded Shrinks’?"

"Huh?"

"Cut the shit. I’m on to you."

"Next week same time."

I went to the wall and pulled the plug.

"Let’s be rational," Doc said coaxing me toward the couch.

Sure, I could’ve let it slide, but it was much more fun watching him squirm. More so than the silent staccato of names buzzing in my brain.

I grabbed the bat loafing atop his desk and cocked it behind my ears. Doc cowered behind his desk, so I crowded him.

Till Doc cracked open his top drawer and scrawled something with a black marker. It might’ve been in Chinese. He waved the paper at me.

"What the hell do I want to do with this?"

***

Lately I’ve been getting more clients than Doc. True he’s been spending more time at the pitch and putt, but you’d think that his regulars would stay in his counseling groups.

Rosie’s been a real plus for me, weeding through the poor saps, hooking me up with gift-giving patients.

This Psycho-Bullshit is no cakewalk. I hate to admit it but it’s a real crapshoot guessing what these crackpots have. Sometimes I feel guilty diagnosing them with conditions I too have lifted from "Party Topics For Dirty Minded Shrinks."

I smirk at that photocopied Shrink Certificate with Doc’s chicken scratch signature hanging on the wall and put my hands behind my head and spread my dogs out on the desk. Now I can afford real therapy.

(illustration: troy dockins)


John Gorman's work has appeared in Thunder Sandwich, Hackwriters, Glendale Register, The Radiant Press, Thirteen, Nth Position and Sigla. He has a large collection of the original Garbage Pail kids that he's trying to unload.


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©2005 John Gorman • Smokebox
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