Haplessly Ever After

Fun with Ned and Sabrina

Willie Loomis was very quiet in the days following as they progressed into weeks. He kept his head down and did not interrupt in sessions, nor did he volunteer to share. He did not respond to Steve's goading or accidental inappropriate touches. The patient consoled himself with his comfortable old jeans and T-shirts and wore his robe on top like a terrycloth lab coat.

"Today we're going to discuss something new," Dr. Ned announced to the group, which sat in folding chairs in a little circle, as he held the ventriloquist dummy on his lap. "If anybody has trouble talking about it, Sabrina will help them." Moira nodded with approval. "How many of us here suffer from PTSD?" All the patients, save Willie, raised their hands. "Who knows what PTSD means?" All the hands lowered. "Can anyone take a guess?"

"Perverse Temple of Satanic Demons."

"Parallel Time Sensor Device."

"Pastrami Tomato Sandwich Deluxe."

"Penis Torpedo Snatch Detector."

"Pretty Dolly Solves Depression."

"Dolly doesn't start with T, you human brain fart!" Bug Eyes snapped at Moira, whose face screwed up in silent agony just before the waterfall began.

"Now, those were all good tries—very imaginative—but…" Dr. Ned looked around in mock surprise. "Why, Willie, no scholarly hypothesis from you?"

"It stands for Post Trau-ma-tic Stress Disorder." The therapist cocked his brow. "I, uh, looked it up once."

"And, pray tell, what does that mean?"

"It's when shit happens to you and afterwards ya freak out about it."

"Yes, well, that's not exactly the textbook definition." At this point the therapist recited from his notes. "It is an anxiety that may develop after a person is exposed to one or more traumatic events, such as sexual assault, serious injury, or the threat of death. Symptoms include disturbing flashbacks or nightmares, avoidance or numbing of memories of the event, and episodes of hyperarousal occurs months or even years later. Understand?" The group nodded with vaguely confused expressions. "Who would like to share?

"I have episodes of hyperarousal," Angela volunteered.

"How about you, Willie?" The young patient shook his head.

"Ooh, me." Stanley waved his arm in the air. "It happened when I was twenty-seven. I was reading and eating a Three Musketeers bar when my father came in and demanded I go outside with him and help to shovel the snow. I said no, I was tired, why couldn't we hire someone to shovel our driveway? It hadn't even stopped snowing yet. So, we had a big fight, and Dad went out alone to shovel the front of our house. I was angry at him for making me feel bad, so I made cocoa and returned to my book. Next thing I knew, it was three hours later and Dad hadn't come in. I looked out the window but couldn't see anything. Finally, I went outside. My father had a heart attack and was lying dead covered in a snow drift."

The group was silent.

"Stanley, how does that experience make you feel now?"

"I hate snow. I get very nervous when it snows, especially if I'm outside or driving. I'm afraid it's going to bury me.

"So you live in Maine. Good thinking," Angela interrupted. "Why don't you just move to Florida or something?"

"Oh no, we can't, Aunt Erma is afraid of spiders and alligators—"

"Thank you for sharing, Stanley. That was very good, although technically not an experience of personal trauma." The therapist put a star on the young man's chart. "Willie, you're next."

"For what?"

"I want you to tell the group what happened to you as a child."


"Denial!" Bug Eyes crowed and made a note of the fact on his pad.

"How c-could it?" Willie stammered. "I never even had a dad."

"My father slept with me," Angela volunteered.

"Not now," Ned held up his hand. "It's still Willie's turn." He returned to his reluctant patient. "You told Dr. Julia about your relationship with a priest at school and later an assault by a police officer. Now you need to share your feelings with the group. That's how you get better."

Willie looked askance, shaking his head. "I d-don't remember none a' that." He shrugged. "I think Julia made a mistake."

"Or the shock therapy fried your brains out," Angela offered.

Willie nervously shifted in his chair, becoming increasingly anxious and defensive toward these accusations. It suddenly felt as if this entire session had been orchestrated to target him.

"This is what we do in group therapy. I don't know why you think the rules apply to everyone except you." The doctor held up his wooden companion. "If you're afraid, maybe Sabrina could tell us for you," Ned suggested. "Would you like that?"

"Christ, no. I think your fuckin' doll is creepy. What's more creepy is the way you sit there, strokin' that thing's hair. What kind of a weirdo are you anyway?"

"Wrong response. You have just lost a star from your chart."

"You can stick that chart up your ass 'cause it's a load of crap, and so are you. You're not even a real doctor."

The group stared at Ned.

"Well, it's more of an honorary title."

"Who the hell honored you with it, besides you?" Willie continued. "Nobody else calls themselves doctor if they ain't, not Gene or Betty Jo…"

The therapist handed the doll to Moira and stood, his hands balling into fists. "Where exactly did you get this information?"

"From Julia, 'cause she's a real doctor, and knows everythin'. She told me you're the biggest bullshit artist in this joint."

Ned stomped over to his contentious patient and stared him in the face. "And when did this alleged conversation take place? She hasn't been here in over two years."

Willie stared right back. "She sent me a telegram. I gave it to Bug Eyes and he ate it."

Bug Eyes smiled and nodded, corroborating the story.

Dr. Ned looked like he wanted to punch his patient. "That's enough of your ridiculous lies," he spat, returning to his seat. "You may go to the Common Room and sit in the corner."

"No! Not again, NO!" Willie jumped up and threw his chair to the floor. "I can't do that again!"

"You should have thought of that before you disrupted my session!" Ned bellowed, then spoke into his shoulder walker. "This is Dr. Ned. I need an aide to escort Mr. Loomis to a corner with a one-on-one monitor—for the rest of the day."

Willie was determined not to cry in front of his peers, but before leaving the room he turned to the group leader and remarked, "You appear no other thing to me than a foul and pestilent congregation of vapors."

"Nice one," Bug Eyes noted that on his pad. "Can I quote you on that?

When sorrows come, they come not as single spies, but in battalions.

Willie leaned his head against the wall and sniffed while his guard dog sat in front of him, chuckling at a magazine article. The detainee's friends offered what comfort they could. Bug Eyes crouched behind the sofa and popped up every few minutes like a Jack in the Box, then disappeared again. Angela walked by and flashed her boobs in his direction.

The young patient was going to go crazy if he stayed in that corner one more minute. Well, more crazy. Point of no return crazy. Barnabas would have never put up with this shit. If Willie were still a vampire, this would not be happening. He was foolish to have given that up for Maggie.

"Tis now the very witching time of night, when churchyards yawn and hell itself breathes out contagion to this world. Now could I drink hot blood, and do such bitter business, as the day would quake to look on."

"Shut up, it's not the witching hour, it's not even dinner time," the aide responded. "And you know what? Every time you act up, one of us is stuck sitting here along with you, so don't whine to me."

"Can I have somethin' to read too?"

"Nope. You're processing, my friend. You need to think about what you said and how you can do better."

Willie could have done better had he grabbed the devil doll and cracked it over Ned's dead head. He began to rock back and forth, babbling in Mandarin Chinese. He ordered dinner and asked where to find the prettiest whores.

"I can't stand you anymore. Don't go anywhere till I get back." The orderly rolled up his magazine and took off, speaking into his shoulder walkie. "Mitch taking a restroom break. Keep a visual on Psycho in CR."

Why didn't Jason appear to him anymore? True, Willie told him to fuck off when he did show up, but that never stopped him before. And where was little Sarah? She had always been there to rescue him in the past. They had both saved his life, more than once. But Dr. Ned wrote in his chart that the two were figments of his imagination, voices in his head. Maybe that was true. The young man didn't know what was real anymore.

But if they didn't exist, that meant he had no one, not one friend in the world, living or dead. No, that wasn't true. There was Stan. Fat Boy liked him and had cared for his roommate faithfully when he was a zombie. All he asked in return was to hold his hand. Willie resolved to treat his best friend with more kindness and give him all the cake and condoms he wanted.

But these human guards must not be allowed to wield this kind of power. Willie would have to become a vampire again. Then he would bite them all, and they would be his slaves. He would bite the nurses too, especially Nurse Jessie. The vampire would return and rule them all.

"Willie, guess what!" Stanley waddled up to his pal, brimming with excitement. "I've been released! I'm going home!"

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