Theme Parks and Obstacle Courses – A Novel

man-hairy-back

42

“Patrick. Good afternoon.” Pat’s psychiatrist stood in the doorway wearing a white shirt, a black skirt and black, patent-leather pumps. The doorknob she rested her hand on was the same colour as the gold bracelet on her wrist. “Would you like to come through?”

Pat entered the consultation room and sat in the armchair. He hunkered down in his jacket, turning one booted foot on its side and stood the other on top of it.

“Would you like me to take your jacket?” she asked, pushing the big white door shut behind her.

“No thanks,” he said, crossing his arms.

“You seem a little bit defensive today,” said Dr Helen as she sat down.

“Do I?”

“A bit,” she said, measuring the quantity between thumb and forefinger. About an inches’ worth.

“I’m feeling a bit weird.”

“Oh yes,” she said, folding her hands on her knee. “How so?”

“I really have to start talking to you, don’t I?” said Pat.

“It helps.”

“I’ve got a lot of problems,” he said. “I hardly know where to start.”

“Try the most recent one and we’ll work back,” said she.

“We’ll be here for decades.”

“I find that if you keep chipping away, they all tend to boil down to a couple of things,” said Helen reassuringly.

“There’s this girl at the hostel,” he began.

“What’s her name?” asked Dr Helen, flipping open her note pad.

“Do I have to give names?”

“It helps, especially if there’s more than one. If you don’t give me names it makes it very hard to review my notes.”

“I don’t like giving them names. If I give names, it brings them into the room.” Dr Helen raised her eyebrows as she scribbled. Her pen was a flashy ball-point; black and gold. The pen soon stopped moving and Pat felt the weight of expectation. “Her name is Sally.”

“How old is she?”

“Mid-twenties, something like that. She’s English.”

“Have you been seeing her? Going out on dates?”

“No – God, no. I don’t know her.”

“It’s from afar.”

“Not even that. Actually, it’s much worse than that. The other night, she caught me masturbating.”

“Really?” asked Dr Helen, cracking a smile. “What was her reaction?”

“Not sure. I wasn’t looking at her at the time. I was concentrating on something else.”

“Of course. Have you seen her around the hostel since? Is she a guest?”

“Kind of. Long-term guest. She’s got a job working in the bar. I see her every Friday and Saturday night. She kind of torments me.”

“She’s attractive?”

“What’s that got to do with it?” Pat uncrossed his arms and stood up to take off his coat. “The other day, yesterday, she came into the shower as I was leaving and she winked at me and waved her toothbrush.”

“You feel embarrassed.”

“And humiliated.”

“How do you know she isn’t interested in you?”

“Christ, I’m fat, and I’m hairy.”

“Hairy?”

“Back, neck, shoulders – the works. Even up the sides of my neck! One more hair and I’d be swinging from a tree.”

“You could get it waxed, or lasered.”

“They’d be hacking through the undergrowth for a month, and that’s just the start of it. For Christ’s sake, Doctor, I’m an alcoholic.”

“Lots of people are alcoholics. Many more than have the courage to own up to it and change.”

“I don’t have any courage, Doc; that’s bullshit. I just happened to get washed up this side of death. I feel like I’m still standing on the beach; I’m wet and I’m shivering and trying to get warm is about all I can do.”

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