In a comfortably lit office, filled with foggy glass furniture and doodads that tossed water around for aesthetic purposes, Dr. Leonard Morris swished his gold tipped fountain pen around in his mouth. He acknowledged this as a nasty habit for a psychologist since it grossed out many patients, but he couldn’t stop. Dr. Morris had once moved his red leather chair directly behind the matching patient’s couch so he could be as gross as he wanted, but his receptionist told him that looked even creepier. Dr. Morris listened to his receptionist. She was, in his professional opinion, the sanest person he knew. And so he moved the chair back.
With a gurgle and a spit take, Dr. Morris caught himself suckling and yanked the pen out of his mouth. The pen clip caught his lower lip and gave it a little tug, which the doctor tried to nurse discretely. Despite the pain, he couldn’t help but notice that this patient, Daniel “Dynamite” Kidd, paid no attention to the scene. Daniel sat perfectly still, body rigid and nearly elevated off the couch, arms folded and brow furrowed, waiting for the session to begin.
“So who brought you here today?” Dr. Morris asked, readying his clipboard and pen for their proper use.
“No one.” Daniel barked. “I came because I need some damn help.”
Dr. Morris nodded thoughtfully and airily repeated. “You came because you need some damn help…” He glossed over the first page of his clipboard, looking for the “voluntary” box to mark. It was the very first option, lodged in the left corner, but it was such a rarity for Dr. Morris that it could have been written in a foreign language. “Court Ordered” was much easier to read. Dr. Morris found the box and checked it.
“Well, Mister Kidd, besides you, what brings you here today?”
“I’ve been having problems with my anger.” Daniel said, clenching his arms tighter.
“Oh? Who told you you’ve anger problems?”
“Well, I think the first person was my first grade teacher Miss Brennan.”
“First grade? Seems too soon to label a child like that. Also I doubt this Miss Brennan is qualified to make that kind of judgment.” Dr. Morris smacked his pen against his clipboard. He felt like his toes were being stepped on.
“I didn’t either. I jumped on top of her fake wood desk, kicked around her C plus papers and kiss ass apple and socked her in the mouth.”
“She sounds awful.” Dr. Morris thought it over. “But it is somewhat precedent setting. Then again, I don’t want to hear about your childhood. Tell me about your most recent fit of rage.”
“It was last week doc, I was just sitting around minding my own business and then something a co-worker said to me just popped into my head. I had said hi to one of the higher ups down in the lobby and then this bitch waddles over, in her grey pantsuit barely holding back her sagging tits and she says ‘they don’t like to be addressed in public’. Can you believe it? And then I get the best image of running her face through a cheese grater, and I don’t come down from that thought for a good twenty minutes. When I recover, I’m in the stairwell grinding my teeth to chalk.”
“Sounds like you have trouble letting things go.”
“You don’t know the half of it; I haven’t worked at that job for three months!”
Dr. Morris scribbled down Daniel’s story, then drew a question mark by it. “What do you mean?”
“I’m retired doc! I won the lottery three months ago, thirty seven million, and quit the next day. I moved way upstate to get some quiet, but every time I think of those losers I get really worked up and pop back into that crappy building.” Daniel chewed his last words like cud. “Forty two stories of hell.”
“Ah. You’re anger has dislodged you from normal spatial restrictions.” Dr. Morris explained as he checked the appropriate box. “I’ve been seeing a lot of this lately. The human brain has gotten too powerful, and all of reality is becoming victim to mood swings.”
“Too bad this didn’t happen when I worked there, this teleporting nonsense would have really cut down my commute.”
“Unfortunately, with these occurrences being tied to your rage I don’t think they’d ever take you anywhere you wanted to go. Have you found yourself being taken anywhere else?”
Dr. Morris reached for his pen, once again lodged in his mouth, plucked it, and scribbled on his notepad. He caught Daniel peeking in curiosity, so he filled the pad over for inspection. It read “Office”.
“You have terrible handwriting.” Daniel said.
“My pen’s always slick.” The doctor said at half volume. “So even after months of being away, your old job is still what aggravates you over everything else?”
“The job was nothing.” Daniel admitted. “I could spend the whole day watching videos if I was smart about it. The people drove me crazy. I worked under a tyrant and a naked emperor. Vanessa Carlton. She supposed to be an organizational manager, assigns work and how many people do it. But she walks around with threats of firing and unpaid overtime. This would all be fine, but every other damn person there cowers to her.” Daniel’s balled fists turned white and shook. “It gets me going even now.”
“Gets you going?” Dr. Morris wanted to ask about sexual implications of the statement, but Daniel’s face encased in concrete anger dissuaded him. Instead he placed his clipboard down and leaned over. “I think we need to deal with your anger problems directly.”
Daniel unfolded his arms and stretched them, his joints cracked. He took a deep breath and loosened his body, sinking deeper into the couch. He nodded once.
“Great!” Dr. Morris clapped his hands together and sprung out of his chair. He went over to a closed wood cabinet, one of the few pieces in his office that wasn’t see through, and took out a red helmet. The helmet looked like the gag hats that dispensed beer at football games, with bulky canisters on top and colored tubes running out of it. Dr. Morris returned to his chair and handed the device over to Daniel.
“What’s this?” Daniel tossed the helmet around in his hands a few times before putting it on.
Dr. Morris fiddled with the knobs on top of the helmet. A sucking noise leaked out of the colored tubes, which the doctor then attached to his face. “This will allow me to follow you when you next pop off.” The suction slurred and stuffed Morris’ words. He tried to talk over the device. “So let’s get going! Get mad!”
With a yelp and a jump off the couch Daniel tore the helmet off his head and threw it away. The tubes suction was strong, and the throw gave Dr. Morris’ neck a good yank. The helmet dangled below his head, swinging back and forth like pendulum. “I can’t go back to the office just like that! Every time I pop over there I’ve snuck out! When I won the lottery, I left that place a saved man. Better than everyone else. I can’t go back there with a goofy party helmet and mental problems!”
Dr. Morris firmly placed the helmet back on Daniel’s head and pushed him onto the couch. “Fine. We can leave that for later. Who else makes you angry?”
Fumbling with his fingers and looking away, Daniel talked out of his mouth. “I guess that’d be mom.”
“Of course.” Dr. Morris said, utterly bored with the answer.
“All I want is to take some time off lately, and she keeps calling and nagging. I don’t even take her calls, but when I see I’ve got a new twenty minute voice mail every damn day, what else am I supposed to think?” Daniel’s voice rose, and his helmet began to flash white lights. It grew brighter as Daniels raised his voice, lighting up the dim room and creating pale prisms with all the transparent furniture. “And god forbid I eat red meat for dinner…”
The white light spit off the helmet and erased the room. Both men’s insides pulled outward and stretched along the psychic highway that connects everyone. When their eyesight returned, they stood in a small room filled with old appliances, a fuzzy forest green carpet nailed to the floor, and chipped white paint covering walls that looked to be made out of cardboard. “Where are we?” Dr. Morris asked.
“The Sunnydaze Resort for Easy Living.” Daniel said with dread and certainty. A rolling static sound reached his ears and he looked over at an old man being consumed by his patchy puke orange recliner. The old man frailly reached out to turn the dial of his radio, a grey rusted machine that looked like it had spent twenty five years at the beach. Daniel walked over and turned the machine off. The man stopped struggling, and looked to be frowning. But that could have just been the way his skin sagged.
“Little Dynamite?” A croak of disbelief, with a spit of disappointment, came from behind Daniel.
“Don’t call me that, mom.” Daniel said turning.
An old woman, grey haired and hunched over in a frayed pink sweater and floral dress covered in weeds looked from Daniel to Dr. Morris and back again. She paid special attention to the helmet connecting the two. “You don’t visit in over a year, and when you do you bring a scrawny boyfriend and a pervert helmet? This would kill most mothers dead, I should be so lucky.”
Daniel once again threw the helmet off. Dr. Morris dove to keep it from colliding with a wire frame lampstand. “I’m not gay, you old bitch.” Daniel said. “He’s my shrink.”
Daniel’s mother struggled with something largely solid in her throat. “That’s so much better.” She trotted off to an empty wicker seat and plopped onto it. The seat strained but held.
“Ffffft.” The noise of Dr. Morris prying the suction tubes off his face. He powered down the helmet and laid it down gently on a bamboo poker table. “Mrs. Kidd…”
“Call me Roberta.” Daniel’s mother said, fruitlessly shifting around on the warped cushions to try and get a better view of who was talking to her.
“Roberta, your son is try earnestly to deal with an anger problem and if successful-”
“Ha! A lost cause doctor. My little boy has been a bundle of anger since he was knee high. Ask his first grade teacher. If you want to fix something, work on his ingratitude.”
Daniel screamed and kicked over a lime green stool. It sailed across the room and collided against the wall. Two old women close to the impact got up and shuffled away. An old man, who was closest to the commotion, slept through the whole thing.
“My professional opinion is that his anger should be top priority.” Dr. Morris said, watching the women flee. “What ingratitude?”
“Look around!” Roberta said, throwing her arms in the air and spittle on the floor. “My son the millionaire, the unearned millionaire, leaving his mother in a festering bug filled tomb!”
“Ah ha!” Daniel shouted as he stormed over, stomping his feet as he went. He grabbed Roberta by the shoulders and stuck his face into hers. “Let’s talk about earning things, huh mom? Who told me, at every chance she could, that I was throwing money away with every lottery ticket? Well, I didn’t spent thirty seven million dollars on lottery tickets, so I think I did alright! But let’s talk about your investments. How did spending every dollar on Jim Beam work out for you?”
“I should have left you in a ditch!” Roberta rose out of her chair, meeting her son.
“I can say, as someone who is leaving you in the closest thing to a ditch that I could find, that it feels pretty damn great!”
Two portly men, dressed in what once were pleasant baby blue uniforms that had been brought down to the homes standards with coffee and food stains, rushed into the sitting room. Both men looked like they once had real muscle, but that too had softened, fattened, and decayed to match the surrounding dinge. “What’s going on here?” The man to the left, bald and red-faced, barked.
Dr. Morris sprang out of observation and approached the two men, displaying his credentials. “Gentleman, I am a board and government certified mental health professional. I must ask you to give these two time and space, they are working through complex emotions here.” In his identification picture Dr. Morris smiled a shape usually only crafted by sadistic dentists. He also had a patchy beard that at the time he was sure would grow full. Knowing better, he was now clean shaven and waiting for the day he could renew the picture. The only thing that convinced the two guards was precedent, people often teleported to Sunnydaze and yelled at their parents.
“People aren’t supposed to come here and hassle our guests.” The guard to the right said as he pushed back Dr. Morris papers.
“No,” Daniel shouted out, taking a break from bickering with his mother. “I pay you to hassle her. But you’re doing a lousy job of even that, so I have to do it personally!”
“That’s right, pick a fight with people bigger than you. It always works out so well. Don’t expect me to bail you out.”
“You’ve never bailed me out in my life.” Daniel said, returning to his mother and ignoring the growingly aggravated guards.
“And now I won’t have to, will I? I’m sure you have a band of your own guards to do all you’re lifting and fighting, eh? You don’t have to lift a finger now.” The sharpened glue on nails of Roberta’s voice dug into Daniel’s back.
“I don’t have guards!”
“Well what do you spend your vast fortune on? Cheap women? Drugs? Booze?”
“I don’t spend it on anything!” Daniel screamed at the top of his lungs. Although the room was filled with enough cushions to absorb the sound of a bomb going off, his words echoed to everyone. Dr. Morris excused himself from the guards and went to observe the scene more closely.
“You don’t spend it?” Roberta asked. “What have you been doing for all these months?”
“Nothing! I haven’t done anything!” Daniel yelled, a man defending himself against the unknown. He looked away from his mother’s face, but she sidled along with him and kept eye contact.
“You really haven’t.” She said. Daniel shook his head. Roberta sighed and shuffled back to her chair. She sunk in slowly. “You can’t even be a spoiled good for nothing right. Go. And don’t let all that cash go to waste. God knows you’re never having kids, you can’t give it all back to the government.”
“Fine.” Daniel said as he began to leave, grabbing Dr. Morris by his suit jacket and shoving past the two guards. “I paid for three more months of rent here, so don’t die before then.” Roberta hissed after him.
Quicker and quicker Daniel moved through the chipped eggshell white halls of Sunnydaze, breathing heavier with every step and sucking in the stench of cheap cleaning fluid. He hit the grey metal and glass double doors leading to the outside like a linebacker, tumbled forth off the one step porch and landed on the front lawn. The grass was thick and tall, warm from the midday sun. Secluded and serene, it was the perfect location to have a panic attack.
Daniel clutched his chest and sucked air through his teeth, waiting for the world to stop swirling the drain. Dr. Morris approached, but stopped short of the lawn. He gingerly took off his custom ordered brown leather gold buckled dress shoes and his black silk socks, placing both pairs right beside the lawn. He tip toed through the dew drop ridden grass, finding the experience relatable to a spa treatment. He nearly almost sat down beside the gasping Daniel, but remembering his fitted grey dress pants, decided to stand. He waited for Daniel to talk.
When Daniel finally broke the silence he spoke slowly and with many pauses, like an out of shape marathon runner starting to move again after collapsing just beyond the finish line. “I make it a point, a testament and structure of my life, not to come here. My subconscious can go to hell for betraying me.”
“I’m not sure that was deep enough to qualify as subconscious. You’re pretty actively ignoring this whole location and all who inhabit it.” Dr. Morris looked back, and a loose hanging faded purple shutter caught his attention. “Then again, who wouldn’t?” He cleared his throat. Dr. Morris deduced that Daniel was being cooked on a frying pan of his own mental making, and decided that he should flip the suffering patient to another equally hot pan just for the cooling instant of being in midair. “Why haven’t you spent any of your lottery money?”
A long pause, but the look on Daniel’s face showed he knew exactly what he wanted to say. “Do you think thirty seven million dollars is a lot of money?” He whispered the question so that Dr. Morris had to bend at the waist to hear it.
Once again, a long pause with a ready answer. Dr. Morris waited like a man who knew where he wanted to go but wasn’t positive someone didn’t plant a landmine underneath the obvious path. “It’s not a small amount.” Dr. Morris said, taking a light step.
“Yeah it sounds like it is, doesn’t it?” Daniel said, half in the conversation and half with the clouds passing overhead. “But what if I lived the rich life? I’d go get a bunch of cars, fast expensive ones. Then I’d need a place to put them, I’d have to get a big garage. And they don’t sell big garages with tiny apartments, so I’d have to get a big place too. And a big place needs a big tv with a big fancy leather couch in front of it. See this stuff all piles on each other, and you get addicted to it. I had surf and turf the other day just to try it, and now it’s all I want. And If I went and got all this stuff, everything I wanted, I’d be broke. And then I’d have to go back to my job, back to the demands and the nagging and my supervisor’s stupid grinding voice and all my rich people toys wouldn’t do a thing to make me happy at the end of the day.”
“Are you happy now?”
“For one thing, people keep asking me why I don’t spend any money and giving me dirty looks when I answer.”
Dr. Morris nodded, and stood beside the sprawled out patient for some time. Eventually, Daniel stirred. “How do we get back to your office?”
“That can be tricky. Unless we want to wait for a cab, we need to get you back on the helmet. That’s part of the treatment, harnessing your anger for your own benefit.” A half concealed thought dangled just above Dr. Morris, and he stared off into space trying to recognize it. “Speaking of which, I forgot the helmet back inside.”
Dr. Morris turned and headed back towards Sunnydaze but stopped well short of the door, not making it to his shoes. The aluminum looking door of Sunnydaze swung open, and a one man cavalry huffed and puffed out of them, holding Dr. Morris’ treatment helmet. The man was at least a decade too young to be a resident of Sunnydaze, but he already dressed for the future. He wore worn down brown moccasins, stiff and stained khakis, and a knit crimson sweater over a pale yellow dress shirt. He violently shook a dark wooden cane in the air as he hollered obscenities at Daniel and the doctor. From the way he stomped and stormed, Dr. Morris surmised that threatening and shaking was the cane’s main purpose.
“You’re not getting this back! You’re not getting this back!” The man screamed in unison with his cane’s motion, a conductor of a one man orchestra. “You’re not!”
“Thanks for bringing my helmet, can I have it back.” Dr. Morris deadpanned. Daniel laughed from his spot on the lawn, the most cynical and loathing laughing Dr. Morris had ever heard.
“No you can’t!” The enraged man said unaware he was being laughed at. “You have destroyed our reading room, disrupted the order and decoration, how are you going to make up for that?”
In his head Dr. Morris debated the ethics of just snatching the helmet from the man and leaving him to his destroyed reading room. But snatching something from a soon to be feeble old man seemed too barbaric. Also he wasn’t sure he could dodge between the cane.
“You tipped over stools and chipped vases, who is going to recompense for the damages?” The man’s bellow lost its air and ended up a whine.
Daniel sat up, pushed himself off the grass with a deep breath, and walked over. “And how much do these damages come to?” He asked.
“Eight dollars!” The man exclaimed.
His checkbook already prepped in his hand, Daniel had to reshuffle his belongings with a sigh and fish out his wallet. He handed over a ten dollar bill. The complaining proprietor of Sunnydaze snatched the bill and shoved the colored helmet into Dr. Morris’ chest. He turned back to the entrance but didn’t take a full step before Daniel grabbed the man’s cane, still swinging in the air. Daniel twisted the man around and lowered his own face to be level with the complainer. “I wasn’t leaving a tip.” Daniel said through his teeth.
The man swallowed hard and wiggled his nose. He handed two dollars over to Daniel, who let go of the cane and gave the man a little push in the right direction. Daniel watched the man until he was out of sight.
“There. I spent some money, Are you happy?”
“The question,” Dr. Morris corrected with his finger to the sky, “Is ‘are you happy’?”
“I am not.”
Dr. Morris masked his disappointment. He had hoped for an easy win. “Then we have more work to do.” He rebounded with excitement and presented the helmet with pomp and circumstance. Daniel took the machine and with a grimace reattached it to his head.“So, where to now?”