Novels

Moccasins of Another (part 9)

December 14, 2016

Branch feather 1

Explain Ouch!

Sean’s harmless dreams had shifted into acute pain, very real and not imagined. Through the pain he saw Little Wolf over and over in his dream her face angelic, yet mocking him for the kind of man he was. The dread of dying passed through him; pain gnawed, burning in his chest. Teetering on the brink of mortality, Hota Win and Hopa Winyan Wakan passed through his thoughts with snippets of his friend Hehaka Najin. It made no sense except to remind him he was not alone, at least not in his dreams.

 

Friend, he thought? I’ve never really had a friend before. I never trusted anyone enough. Now he is a friend, indeed. There’s something so familiar about Hopa Winyan Wakan; it’s something from before; I know her, somehow. Hopa Winyan Wakan is more than a friend; she stood by me through all of this strange stuff in my dream. Real women always want something. She doesn’t expect a pay-off for loving me.

A wave of pain surged through his body as his thoughts wandered. I never had pain like this when I was awake, in my real time. God, I hope this ends soon. I need to wake up now.

 

Pain and people mingled, two faces stood side by side; the face of Hopa Winyan Wakan and Little Wolf blended into one. They were the same person, different in some ways but uncanny in similarities. They had the same eyes and set mouth, hair and attire different but it was the same face, the same energy he felt from them. Sean could only imagine this being a trick of his anguished mental state, a suggestion from one dream to reality he hoped would return soon.

 

Why do I hurt so much? Why can’t I wake up? I don’t care anymore where I wake up, as long as I do. I’m not sure I can stand anymore of these images in my head; I really must be crazy.

 

A slow calm blackness washed over Sean, as the visions melted away, replaced with emptiness, so complete; he thought he was dead. Death would not have been such a bad thing at this point. In death there was no pain, no tormentor to play with his mind and body. The great nothingness might not be very exciting but it was better than what he felt before.

Faint voices drifted into his consciousness; several unfamiliar and a few were voices he knew very well. He struggled to open his eyes, afraid of what he might see. Where will he be; who will he see on the other side of his eyelids? The voices grew louder with a nagging pain in his chest and shoulder elevating again. The pain was not as severe as it had been before but still very present.

 

Okay, Sean baby, he said to himself. This is no time to play possum. Let’s confront the dream Indians or real people before we checkout for good.

 

Sean’s eyes creaked open to a ceiling of off-white enameled paint with a sick tint of green in it. The shininess of the paint reflected all over the room, a sickly color, institutional.

 

Room, he thought? I’m in a room; that has to be a good sign. What I’m not crazy about is this damn pain.

 

“Hey, his eyes are opening,” whispered a familiar voice. “I think he’s coming out of it. It’s good to see you old buddy. We thought we were going to lose you for a while, there. I was even reading through a catalog of designer caskets for you, not that you deserved them. Glad I didn’t have to order one, pal.”

“Doctor Bill, is that you?” said Sean his voice hoarse and dry. “Where the hell am I?”

“Hollywood General Hospital, they brought you here after you were shot. The police found you in some alley twenty blocks or so from the club. They figured someone must have mugged you and shot you. I know the cops are pretty anxious to talk to you about it. Geez, buddy! Great to see you alive.”

“Shot? I don’t remember being shot or mugged,” protested Sean trying to sort out the real from the dream. “The last thing I remember, I was lying on the bench at the club and then fell asleep. I dreamt; but it was only a stupid dream,” amended Sean. “When did this happen? This afternoon?”

Bill laughed folding his arms across his chest.

“Try four days ago, pal. They brought you into emergency in shock and serious blood loss. Some old homeless guy called 911; let the cops know where you were. They never got his name; he just took off. He saved your life, ya know; lucky thing for you, he was around. Another hour and we’d be putting flowers on your grave. Must have been your guardian angel dressed in rags.”

“What the guy look like?” questioned Sean struggling to find a comfortable position, which was impossible.

“From what the police said, he was some dark skinned old guy,” said Bill. “He was rummaging around in the trash when he found you, nothing particularly special about him. Oh, yeah, they also said the guy had broken his nose a few times but they didn’t notice anything else. Why? Are you going to try to find him?”

“No, I mean, maybe,” replied Sean. Cautiously, he added, “After all, he did do me a favor. Maybe the cops can spot the guy again, let me thank him. I’d like to give him a few bucks or something; that’s the least I can do.”

“Sorry Sean, the guy took off as soon as the cops showed up. They haven’t seen him since. Funny that he wouldn’t stick around. Guess he didn’t like being around the police; you know how those types are, in trouble most of the time.”

The description wasn’t much to go on but it wouldn’t surprise him if it had been the same guy who gave him the dream catcher. On the other hand, there were lots of old homeless guys out there, many with broken noses and dark skinned because of the constant sun exposure.

“Well, you’re in luck,” continued Bill. “The investigator just walked in the ward. He’s been coming every day, waiting for you to come around. You feel up to it? I can tell him to come back later.” Bill chuckled. “I am a doctor, after all.”

“Don’t push that doctor thing too hard, pal. I’m not sure tucking faces and propping up boobs qualifies you, Bill.”

Sean laughed, wincing at the pain in his shoulder.

“No, I’m fine talking to the police,” answered Sean. “I’ll talk to the guy and get rid of him; there’s really nothing to tell. These guys are more into getting their paperwork done than catching anyone. When was the last time you heard of them busting a crook in this town? Besides, the real bad guys use computers now.”

Deep down, Sean knew he couldn’t tell the police inspector how he got shot and that it was in a dream. No doubt the cop would think he was nuts; he was already seeing a psychiatrist, which was best kept quiet. News travels fast in the Hollywood circuit and people won’t trust him with their multi-million dollar movie promotions. It was like a television programs showing a wounded shark being attacked and eaten by his buddies; business was exactly like that. The weak and injured were cannibalized, a feeding-frenzy. He did not want to be that unlucky shark.

 

“Mr. Casey, my name is Inspector Lou Fossil,” said the neatly dressed middle-aged man. He didn’t miss Sean’s reaction to his name. “Yeah, yeah, the guys at the station have a lot of fun with my last name. My name had been changed many years ago, grandparents from the old country; but please call me Lou.”

The inspector pulled up a chair and took out a note pad. With portable thin computers, it surprised Sean anyone used a note pad any more.

“It sure was touch and go there for awhile,” began Lou. “Doctors thought you might not make it at one point. Lot of blood loss and they said you didn’t seem to be in your body; not sure what the hell that meant. I don’t buy into that out-of-body thing. I think its all a gimmick to sell books and make stupid movies. I understand you are in the movie business, in fact.”

“Was, would be a more accurate statement,” lamented Sean. “I’m sure you didn’t come here to chat about my sagging career. What exactly would you like to know? I don’t remember much.”

“Do you have any recollection of the events before or after the shooting? Any idea, who shot you?” probed Lou. “So far what we have is pretty sketchy, no witnesses or anything to suggest a robbery. We figured the guy must have heard something, got scared before he could lift your wallet and jewelry; you still had that fancy watch when they found you. The gold neck chain, alone, would have been a quick score for some dope-head. Doesn’t make any sense to leave it. Anyone want to kill you?”

“Sorry Lou,” responded Sean, sizing-up his interrogator. “I didn’t see anyone or even know I was shot until just now. I’m sure whoever it was, did it quickly and left. There are some people, who might enjoy seeing me roughed-up a bit; a few might even celebrate but none of them would be willing to shoot me. It was probably some crazy person picking me out of a random crowd, I’d guess, it would have to be a random thing; it happens, right?”

“Sometimes. There’s just one thing that bothers me,” said Lou, scratching his chin, his pencil rolling between his fingers. It reminded Sean a little of a bad rerun of the ancient television series, Columbo, where Peter Falk played dumb but was sharper than everyone suspected.

“I’m afraid I’m faced with a little bit of a mystery about the shooting. It had to do with the bullet and also the disposition of the wound,” continued Lou “We have pretty sophisticated ways of measuring things now, a few things not making much sense. We had our forensic people look it over and they all agree.”

“Hey, there’s no shortage of guns around. Anyone can get one, you know,” challenged Sean. “The news is full of people being shot almost everyday. What’s so unusual about a bullet and a bullet hole?”

“It’s not about your average guns and bullets on the street,” replied Lou turning his head to the side, reassessing Sean. “We ruled out suicide because you were shot from over two-hundred yards away and with a gun we think was made in the late eighteen hundreds. The slug that the doctor removed came from specific rifle and old ammunition used back then, Springfield, .54 caliber. The rifling marks are consistent with the gun that was made then, the standard US Army issue after the Civil War. The funny thing is, the slug had certain markings indicating it was made back in that time, factory seal or something like that. Nothing like that has ever been replicated since. I checked around to see who might have some of these collector type rifles and ammunition. The only ones around are owned by gun clubs and private collectors; none of the collectors had any intact ammunition dating back that far. And if they did, it probably wouldn’t fire.”

Sean squirmed a little. He could tell this investigator had more than a professional curiosity; mysteries were what these guys thrived on. Telling him the truth would only add another facet to the ongoing mystery. If the investigator thought the case was strange, he would surely think Sean’s explanation stranger, still.

“I can’t help you,” Sean reiterated, shrugging his shoulders and wincing at the pain in his left one. “Some asshole shot me and I can’t figure, who or why. This guy obviously has a taste for unusual weapons. They’re all just guns to me; I can’t tell one from the other. That’s your job, right?”

“Yes, it is Mr. Casey; and we try to get as much information as we can. It worries me; I’m afraid we might have some psycho playing cowboys and Indians out there. I want to stop it before it before it becomes a real problem. There’s enough drama on the studio lots, without all of this.”

Lou set down his pencil, studying Sean closely.

“There was another odd thing about your wound, Mr. Casey. The alley is only fifty feet deep, with no windows directly across the street from it. The angle of the bullet came from above according to our forensic guys, second story window or there about. If you were shot in the alley, the farthest away the perpetrator could have been was fifty yards. Unless my boys at the lab are wrong, you were shot somewhere else and dumped there. Strange though, there was no blood anywhere, except where they found you, no trail of blood, nothing; you’re loss of blood would suggest a very messy trail. Hard to transport a body and not leave any blood. I’m a man who doesn’t like puzzles; not sure I’ll feel good until I know what happened to you.”

He handed Sean a police business card.

“Call me if you remember anything, later. Sometimes things pop into your mind afterwards, trauma does that to people. Any small detail or circumstance will help. Hope you get better; have a nice day.”

The inspector turned and walked out the door. Sean watched noticing his discount store shoes and the suit from the Men’s Bargain Outfitters Ltd., a three for one, kind of place. The clothing was serviceable for an office cop but not the sort, a guy like Sean, would be caught dead in.

Sean turned Lou Fossil’s card over in his hand, flipping it toward the nightstand. It fell to the floor, flowers preventing it from resting on the table. There were quite a few bouquets of flowers dotting the small private room; extra tables had been brought in to accommodate all of them. He wondered where they all came from. He didn’t have any friends, and figured no one gave a rat’s ass about him.

“Bill, where did these all come from,” asked Sean pointing around the room. “If they’re from you, I’m never undressing in front of you at the club again.”

Bill laughed, making a face of disapproval.

“I’m a doctor. Naked people don’t do a thing for me. Err…. well… except some women.”

Switching back to the original question. “This bunch over here came from Brenda and me,” answered Bill. “Brenda insisted. I figured if you lived, you might remember who your friends are, not that you deserve any. The rest, I don’t know. Most of these came in this morning. I guess word got out. You’ve been a little mysterious lately; we never know where you are, anymore. But that’s none of my business, I suppose. Want me to read the cards on the flowers?”

“Sure. It might help the way I’m feeling at the moment. I need to know who my real enemies are. Look for the bunch with the hidden wooden stake and mallet,” joked Sean. “That’s the ‘friend’ I need to watch out for.”

Bill fumbled over one bouquet of flowers. “This one is from Leni. He says he’s sorry about the accident; hopes you’ll be back before the screening of Tom’s new picture.”

“Old Leni,” commented Sean. “It’s about business not friendship. He wants me well so I can make more money for him.”

Bill moved around the room, checking each set of flowers. “This is from Sherri. She said she’ll do that thing you like, when she’s done with the picture. Says she would have never gotten the part without you. Who the hell is Sherri; you know a Sherri?”

“Never mind Bill. Go on.”

“Ah, this is from Tom Pillings. Says he knew someone would shoot you, someday but it wasn’t him. A bastard like you can’t walk on the street if you keep threatening to cut everyone’s balls off. He says something about teaching your friend a few new tricks; whatever that means? Here’s a bunch from your office. There’s a check attached to it, too. The little note says ‘Nice working with you. Keep in touch’. Here’s one from the car wash. They all miss you and say you’re entitled to a free wash, next time you come in. They also say some woman wants to sue you for damage to her car. What’s that all about?”

“Never mind, Bill. Please don’t read anymore cards; I’m not sure I’m strong enough to handle it. Like always, everyone wants something from me. That’s the way these people are. Give me, give me, give me!” ranted Sean. “Of course, they don’t say it outright; but that’s what it means. It’ll be a cold day in hell when Sean Michael Casey gets had, however. I get what I want first and that equates to money in the bank.”

Sean stopped, looking around. “When can I get out of here? I can’t stand the smell of sanitized sheets and the pervasive smell of hospitals. The chemicals in the cleaning solution are more likely to kill me than any germs. And my butt is killing me from lying here all day.”

“Oh, hold on, buddy,” Bill interceded, “The ‘real’ doctors say you need to stay another week, depending on the potential of infection. You’re lucky that the bullet didn’t hit anything serious. It lodged just under your shoulder blade, chipping a bone or two in the process. It missed every important artery in the area and damaged mostly muscle tissue. Why don’t you stay put for a while and behave. Besides, I think you look kinda cute in that gown that’s tied in the back.”

Bill had great fun jabbing a little humor at Sean. He wasn’t a bad guy and might even be considered a friend, though it was really Brenda who kept up the relationship in hopes to marry Sean off to her many girlfriends.

“That bullet was impressive,” added Bill. “I saw the wad they dug out of your chest. The bullet was huge with a tiny piece of leather or something in there too. Not sure where the leather came from; the infection almost killed you. Sort of reminds me of the old days before the invention of antibiotics. Did you know that most men died of infection before World War II? A simple scratch could send you to the bone yard.”

“Spare me the history lesson,” groaned Sean. “Bone yard? Is that something your father told you or do all the plastic surgeons use that expression; where did you get that one? Sometimes, I wonder about you, Bill.”

Sean stopped and stared at the ceiling.

“A week in this bed?” muttered Sean. “I’m not sure I can do that. I don’t know where I’ll be when I wake up.”

“What was that?” queried Bill.

“Never mind. It’s a long story and I’m not sure, if it has a happy ending. I’m not sure it has an ending at all,” Sean garbled, his throat too dry to talk easily.

“Oh, yeah, there is something else that’s not great news, Sean. I wasn’t gonna tell you but you’ll find out soon enough. Your health insurance informed you they won’t cover you and are dropping your policy. They claim suicide is not covered in the policy. Their initial inquiries made them suspect that you were trying to blow your brains out. Obviously, they have some difficulty understanding where the brain is located. They said they were sorry but company policy is company policy. But don’t worry; the hospital will accept credit cards or your house as collateral. When the insurance gets a more detailed report from the police they will be glad to cover the accident. So, things will still work out.”

Sean groaned and covered his head with a pillow, not wishing to hear any more news. Before he covered his head he noticed a tiny bunch of hand picked flowers in the corner of his room. They weren’t fancy and didn’t sport the usual ribbons and glitz of a florist. He had to ask who sent those.

Bill read the small card. “Someone called Little Wolf? Honestly, Sean, I don’t where you find these people; is this some actress? That’s the sort of name leftover from the sixties and seventies? Half the kids in my pre-med were named Rainbow, Tree, Sunflower, Cloud, Ocean, Starbright, stupid things like.”

“Does she say anything else?”

“No, not really. She says she’s expecting you, though. Doesn’t say anything else. Sounds like you latched on to a weird one, buddy.”

 

Life Almost Normal

Whether it was the drugs or painkillers, Sean managed to stay in the correct century for the next few days. He still had dreams but they were less intense than before, clouded by his medication. It was more like watching things from the Grand Tier at the opera house, where the players appeared like ants on the stage. In his dreams he heard lots of singing and drumming, the wailing making him shiver. He had a sense of smell, like smoke and cooking meat; all these things happened without him actually being a part of it. Was it possible he no longer was an active participant in his dreams, now only an observer? Maybe he was killed in his dreams and now he’s back in the real world for good, the cycle finally broken. How long would it be before his mind flipped out, again? Was he wrong to assume it was all done and over with?

Against the advice of his doctor and the hospital, he discharged himself a couple days later. The only palatable food was the jello with artificial sweetener; hardly enough to sustain a person, let alone build their strength. When asked if he felt nausea, he answered only during meals. A hospital was no place to rest or get well; every hour someone was trying to take your temperature, feel your pulse or determine whether you have had a sufficient bowel movement and urine flow. Pissing into a jar with measured lines on it got to be very old. It is unnatural and stupid to wake a person up to give them a sleeping tablet, likewise when the doctor jams his finger into the bullet hole wound and asks if you have any pain. Perhaps, that’s why they call it a medical practice; Sean was tired of being practiced on.

Sean’s insurance company did finally agree to pay the doctor and hospital bills but informed him that reinstatement into the plan would be impossible. Having been shot made him a bad risk for the company; they were not in the business of taking risks. However they did suggest their sister company which charged a much higher premium.

A note had been left for Sean in his room before leaving. ‘Big Guy’ said he would be happy to write a good reference for Sean, inferring that Sean no longer worked there. Brandi, now Sherri, continued to make promises of a sexual nature, reasonably sure Sean was unable to take her up on it. Little Wolf also left a note at the hospital where she could be reach via cell phone. The good news, Doctor Bill offered to minimize the scar on Sean’s chest for thirty per cent off his usual fee. What are friends for?

 

A checkered cab pulled up to the hospital, scanning for his fare. Sean felt ridiculous waiting in a wheelchair, totally capable of standing and walking. The weather was warm and dry, as usual. He wore a T-shirt, shorts, and a pair of plastic hospital slippers; Bill had brought him clothes to wear but had forgotten socks and shoes. Sean was not the epitome of high style dressed as such, but comfortable, which was more important. Except for some weight loss and a very sore shoulder, Sean felt reasonably good. It would feel better once he could get to his own house, his own familiar surroundings, no nurses or doctors pestering him. He looked forward to the Peach Butter paint in his room, compared with the pale green depressing color of the hospital walls.

The cab catapulted from the pickup area, jarring Sean unnecessarily. Sean slid his hand over the seat. The seat had something sticky on it. He did not even want to guess what it might be. The interior reeked of rotting things, vegetables and exhaust fumes. Sean tried to open the windows but the handles were all missing. The floor was equally disgusting. The dark rubber mats were crusted with crunchy things and a semi-liquid substance, which smelled like the result of a drunk having lost his lunch. This was one of many reasons Sean never took cabs.

“Hey, driver,” yelled Sean. “I think someone puked in the back. Can you pull over and clean it or something?”

“Listen, pal,” returned the driver. “I been working for sixteen hours straight; I’m lucky I can stay awake after the party last night. Besides it ain’t my cab. It ain’t gonna hurt you ta sit for twenty minutes. If ya wanted a clean cab, ya shoulda hired a limo; by the looks of you, I doubt you can afford one, so clam it up, mister.”

Then he mumbled under his breath, “Cheap bastard will probably stiff me for a tip.” The driver mumbled other things, which Sean could not make out.

The cab driver was about Sean’s age, lower middle class and acutely insensitive to the needs of his patrons. Sean thought about arguing with this low-life driver but decided a battle of wits with the witless a waste of time.

The cabby had realized his terrible mistake, when he arrived at Sean’s address.                          “Sixty bucks oughta do it, pal,” declared the driver. “You want a hand gettin’ out?”

Sean rarely dickered. “It says $39.75 on the meter.”

“The sixty, includes the tip, pal.”

“Here’s forty and keep the change,” responded Sean with an evil grin. Few things in life gave a person joy like poetic justice. This was one of those times.

 

Sean stood at the front door of his house with a new appreciation for what he had. He knew where everything was and didn’t have to walk a quarter mile to pee; his room at the hospital had a shared toilet down the hall. His bathroom was clean, possessed plenty of toilet paper and most of all; he didn’t have to share it with five other people. He entered, looking right and left to be sure no one was lurking, not that there should be.

He walked to the refrigerator, extracted a beer, one of three and sat on his leather chair, staring out the huge picture window. The view had never crossed his mind. It was an impressive view of the valley, smog and all. You paid for it whether you wanted it or not. It was a matter of buying into the right neighborhood and getting your monies worth. Usually he didn’t look at anything; nothing fazed him until now.

 

This place is such a cesspool, he thought. You can’t breathe the air, drink the water or deal with people. It is a jungle of concrete laced with selfish screwed-up humans. What am I doing here?

 

Loneliness seeped into his body as he peered at the valley below, people sharing things, life. He shared nothing except a percentage of business, the women in his life temporary amusements. The house seemed empty and larger to him, no girlfriend, dog, canary or cat in the house. It never struck him before how un-alive his place was until now. It had not always been that way when he lived at home. His parents had dogs and cats along with the string of homeless people living in the house; it was the one reason he wanted to get away from there. In his dreams too he had been surrounded by animals and people, comforted in some strange way; Hopa Winyan Wankan and Hehaka Najin were there to help him when things got rough. He admonished himself for these thoughts, which had set him aside from the rest of the human rabble.

His answering machine blinking like a lighthouse was the only contact with the world outside.

“I should check my messages or maybe call someone. Yeah, messages first, I think. Eighty-seven messages?”

 

“Beep! Congratulations Mr. Sean Casey. You have just won a trip for two to Las Vegas, Lake Tahoe, Orlando Florida, or Paris France. The choice is yours, to be awarded as a promotion for the time-sharing opportunity of a lifetime. Imagine basking in the sun of the Hawaiian Islands for a fraction of the cost. This opportunity is limited and you must call this eight-hundred number today. Click!”

 

He deleted the remainder of that message, moving on to the next.

 

“Beep! Hi this is Sherri. You know Sherri with an ‘I’. It’s only me silly (she giggled). I think I like the new name. But I’m not sure about Tom anymore. He keeps gawking at the catering girls on the set, making icky comments and exposing himself to them. Do you suppose he wants to have sex with all of them? Maybe he’s just being nice; you know, like a famous star paying attention to them. Anyway, I love you. And remember what I promised I’d do. Bye! Beep!”

 

“Beep! This is James Harwell, the insurance fraud investigator for Almost Life HMO. Certain things don’t add up in your claim. We know there is something fishy, going on and intend to uncover the truth. Just because your claim has been settled doesn’t mean you cannot be prosecuted for fraud. Keep that in mind when you cash the settlement check. Beep!

 

“Beep! Hey, Mr. Purple Heart. Your buddy Tom Pillings here. I just wanted to know if you could get this bitch Brandi, Sherri, whatever, outta here; she’s driving me nuts. Talks about working together with me onscreen and about having kids and crap like that. I want the bitch outta here, now. You tell Leni I need a little fresh talent, if ya wanna keep me on ice. And make it some chick that doesn’t want to start ordering wedding invitations. Dig? Beep!”

 

“Beep! Hi there. This is Sheila, again. Did you get my flowers? I hope you are okay. Maybe when you get out of the hospital we can help you get your strength back, if you know what I mean. I hear you’re hot stuff and I’d hate to see you waste it on some woman, who doesn’t appreciate it. I’ve been fantasizing about you ever since I met you. How about making some of those fantasies come true. Call me, bye. Beep!”

 

“Beep! Don’t forget to vote November third. Wilbur Carbuncle has served as county supervisor for the last four years, faithfully and needs your vote to continue his fine work. A vote for Carbuncle is a vote for prosperity and progress. Don’t let some Johnnie Come Lately fool you. Vote experience, vote confidence, vote Wilbur Carbuncle for supervisor. Thank you and have a nice day. Beep!”

 

“Beep! Mr. Casey, this is the Hollywood Gazette. We would like to resume newspaper delivery again. It has also been brought to our attention that you have not paid your bill for the last three months. A check would be appreciated. Please call and let us know when you would like to restart it. Beep!”

 

“Beep! Heecha Sapa, I think we need to talk. Beep!”

 

Sean almost went to the next message, quickly stopping to play back the last message.

“Beep! Sean, I think we need to talk. Beep!”

 

He played the last message over and over until he knew it would not say, what he thought it had. The voice was Little Wolf, no doubt. He swore he had heard his other name, Heecha Sapa. Quickly, he scanned the remaining messages and deleted them all. Several bill collectors were added to the mix of usual users. The bills weren’t a problem; a few calls and credit card information would take care of that. What he needed was something to secure him to this place and time, traveling in his dreams was getting too dangerous.

Before he did another thing, he had to get back to Doctor Smith’s with or without an appointment. Assuming the psychiatrist can get past all the crap about sex with his mom and young boys, Sean might work on a cure.

 

Sanity of Pizza

“Hi Sean. Good to see you again,” greeted Sharon, checking over her list of appointments. “You are in luck. Normally, a certain, famous tennis star comes in and rarely cancels but she had to fly to England at the last minute. I’m happy to say her issues, with her mother are starting to resolve, a surprise to both doctor and me.”

The receptionist scanned Sean’s chart adding, “I hear you were shot. Have they caught the person? That kind of thing hampers therapy, you know.”

“No, we don’t really know who did it,” voiced Sean. “At least, I doubt he’s alive anymore.”

“I beg your pardon, not alive? Did he die or someone kill him? How can you know that if you don’t know who he is?”

“Oh, never mind,” grumbled Sean becoming impatient. “It’s too involved, even for me.”

Sean carried his cappuccino and French pastry into Hiram’s office, the first real food since his hospital stay. Hospital Danish pastry was gluten and taste free, a trend that did not encourage consumption. Hiram sat behind the desk wearing a tux jacket with a formal white bow tie. Below the waist he had Bermuda shorts and tennis shoes on, the laces a bright pink in contrast to the shoes. Sean wasn’t going to say anything but couldn’t resist.

“Wait!” insisted Sean. “ Don’t turn the glass over yet. I have to ask you about your outfit. Isn’t it a little formal and informal at the same time?”

Hiram smiled. “Ah, yes, it is a little crazy, I suppose. Whoops! Sorry. Not supposed to say crazy in the office. I was just accommodating my last patient who feels better, if I appear formal during her sessions. She doesn’t care for my casual clothes, you see. Says she feels like she’s getting her monies worth when I’m dressed properly. It’s part of her problem, a hopeless Virgo, I’m afraid.”

“She pays for her sessions on time and it’s a small concession to make,” he continued. “Who am I to argue? She’s a nutcase and I’m her confidant. She claims her father, the lawyer always dressed for dinner and being a professional, I should too.”

Sean pointed to the shorts and shoes.

“My patient allows that. I have to work in some degree of comfort,” said Hiram, a grin forming in the corners of his mouth. “Formality or not, I had to reassert my position and authority as her shrink; can’t let my patients dictate everything to me.”

“Uh, the pink laces?” added Sean.

“Oh yes, those,” he answered. “They glow in the dark and are a homing device for patients with dementia; can find them where ever they go. Really helps families keep track of grandpa and grandma who’ve gone around the bend. I actually sell them and own the majority of stock in the company that makes them.”

Hiram became serious, flipping over the hourglass over. “So, you’ve been shot and you still think you’re an Indian? We are really going to have to work on this one, poor boy. How did you feel about that?”

“It hurt.”

“No, I mean what was going on in your mind, when you got shot, Sean? Mother, father, siblings, job, didn’t get that get the red bicycle as a child?”

“I was pissed off at the captain for not listening to me. But he wasn’t the one who shot me.”

“Captain? Hmm!” echoed Hiram. “You argued with the captain but he didn’t shoot you. Do you have a problem with authority? It sounds like the captain represents a controlling individual to you. Do you harbor hostility towards all authority?”

“No, not really doctor; authority doesn’t bother me. I’m not crazy about cops but most people aren’t. Pretty normal, I’d say. It was the stupid captain that infuriated me.”

“So, this captain, the cop, why did he shoot you? Were you speeding or something?”

“He wasn’t a cop and it wasn’t the captain who shot me, like I said. It was one of his soldiers, I believe. He was a soldier in the 1870’s I would guess, 1876 to be exact. I asked him the date. All this happened to me in the dream, remember?”

“Wow 1876! Such a specific date,” said Hiram gazing at the ceiling in deep thought. “You know, I once dreamt I was a ballet dancer. I was light as a feather and dazzled my appreciative audience. I just knew I was born to dance. Funny, when I woke up, couldn’t dance a step. Broke a toes trying to leap through my living room,” he droned on. “Was embarrassing. Put me off of dancing altogether for quite some time. But my point, sometimes dreams can appear real, though they are really nothing more than an overactive imagination. They are often the only way to deal with the stress and latent anger. We manifest these in bizarre dreams, and sometimes irrational actions.”

“Doctor Smith, isn’t that an over simplification, kind of a snap diagnosis?” grumbled Sean. “Aren’t you supposed to listen instead of speculating on what might be happening? I think you need to formulate a better plan of treatment.”

“Sorry but it’s a method I learned in a seminar, last fall,” announced Hiram. “Really enjoyed that seminar too, good food and lots of free booze, though they had cheap scotch; I prefer a good single malt. The speaker reinforced the belief that the first thing that comes to mind is usually correct. Haven’t you heard that before? I know it got me through medical school. I hated tests; was never good at them. My first guess was usually right. I tried the study thing but that was too time consuming. I think my parents expected too much of me. It’s probably why I have the need to be the tops at everything. What do you think?”

“I think my dreams are real and I think we are spending too much time listening to your problems,” answered Sean irritated by Hiram’s self-analysis. “I think my dreams really happen.”

“I think there is relevance in what I’ve said. My parents, my problem, your parents, your problem, see the connection?”

“Uh, I don’t think we’re here to talk about your parents,” insisted Sean. “Let’s get back to my dreams or I’ll flip the hour glass on its side again.”

“Oh, your not allowed to touch the hourglass,” reported Hiram. “Only I can do that. But I suppose you’re right, of course. Sorry, continue with your dream.”

Telling his story to Hiram was going to be an act of pure faith. The man was a professional and probably heard crazier things in his career. Sean decided to wade in and see what Hiram had to say.

“Well, I was trying to negotiate a peaceful solution with this army captain, who wasn’t the brightest man in the world. They wanted to move all these Indians to some reservation, where they are going to starve them. You’ve read about it in history, I’m sure. I couldn’t let that happen because I thought they deserved better treatment; it was their land after all. They’re good people, you know. And it’s a little different when you’re an Indian instead of a white man. Since I knew what happened in history, I wanted to warn the captain about the Custer thing, the ‘Last Stand’ and all. He mentioned Custer so I knew that event hadn’t taken place yet. I couldn’t allow soldiers or Indians getting killed for no good reason other than to satisfy some egomaniac. The captain wouldn’t listen to me; kept referring to me as a savage and not taking anything I said seriously; he was extremely rude.”

“So, let me get this straight,” probed Hiram leaning forward. “You went by yourself to talk to this army captain before he shot you?”

“No,” snapped Sean. “He didn’t shoot me; it was one of the other soldiers. I had a bunch of warriors with me, ready to kick butt, if necessary. A war chief was with the warriors. The chief didn’t say much, mostly listened to the captain, with me interpreting and talking about options. Of course, the captain was pigheaded and refused to budge, old nineteenth century mentality. I can’t believe how stupid white people were in those days. It’s amazing we got this far. Makes you wonder.”

“I see,” commented Hiram interlocking his fingers. “So, do you hate being white, hate all white people or just the ones in authority? And please clarify what you mean by the Custer thing again?”

“No, I’m okay with being white,” Sean fired back. “I love being white. I’ve always been white, until I started having dreams. It just isn’t fair the way white people treat us Indians. And that idiot George Custer is going to get himself killed or by now, he has been killed. I had to say something to someone.”

“Did you actually see Custer?” asked Hiram. “Do you think Custer might be you, in your mind? You’re trying to save yourself in a way. If you like being white, the Indians might represent the dangers that will harm you. You are saving Custer, another white man, in effect to save Sean Casey.”

“No, that’s not it.”

Sean held his palms against the sides of his head in frustration. “It’s so hard to explain and still sound sane. I get confused about where I am and what I am a lot of the time. I’m not on anyone’s side; it’s still me, the white guy, inside the host of an Indian.”

“So you really feel like you’re this Indian? For real, that is,” ventured Hiram. “You ever feel like a black man, Asian or another race? Sometimes we manifest sexual fantasies about being a different color to hide own insecurities or small penises; though none of that stuff about different races is true, anyhow.”

“What’s not true?”

“They’re not all endowed with big, well, you know what I mean. That is just an old wives tale. Are you circumcised?”

“Yes, but that has nothing to do with this,” returned Sean.

“Have you ever held your penis, I mean, the Indian one?”

“Hold it! I’m not sure we’re getting anywhere,” complained Sean. “I don’t have a problem with sex; I don’t have racial issues, stop bringing it up. I’m just afraid to go to sleep; God knows where I’ll be when I wake up. My life is turning into a mess over this dream stuff. I lost my job, creditors are not getting paid and I’m not even sure of my love life. The last time I had sex was weeks ago with my first wife.”

“The young one? Hmmm! She must be something from what you described.”

“Yes. Although, I know sex wasn’t very good for her that last time. I treated her just like all the other women I’ve bedded. Normally, that wouldn’t bother me but now I feel guilty about not pleasing her.”

Sean’s expression changed as he reminisced.

“It was really something, the first time I made love, as an Indian,” replied Sean. “I really felt she cared for me. It was an intense connected experience and inclusive for the both of us. But then I wasn’t Sean Michael Casey, the influential guy, who could make or break a movie star’s career. I was some Indian called Heecha Sapa. Now, she’s afraid of me. Worst of all, I think she looks a little like another Indian woman I know, a woman in this time.”

“Ah, now we’re getting somewhere,” proclaimed Hiram. “Have you had sex with this other Indian woman? The real one, that is.”

“No, I don’t even think she likes me,” returned Sean. “She wants help from me but won’t capitulate. I can’t score with her because she won’t play my game. The funny thing about her, she doesn’t want anything for herself; her need is a totally unselfish thing.”

Sean shook his head from side to side trying to make sense of Little Wolf.

“I’m not used working that way; I do things my way, my rules. She’s straightforward with no line of bullshit or sexual favors. Thank god, she’s not one of my competitors in the business.”

“And this wife you have a thing for?” probed Hiram. “What about her?”

“My Indian wife has a soft loving side to her,” continued Sean. “She’ll do anything I ask because she loves me. That’s not something I’m familiar with. I’ve wondered if Little Wolf is like that beneath that uncompromising exterior. I’d like her to be.”

“Hmm! Yes, that is interesting,” droned Hiram, scribbling notes on a pad. “This is an interesting case. I would be happier if we could find your gunman. It might bring you back to reality. That soldier story is all hogwash, of course. Somebody in this town shot you; that’s a given. The motive is unimportant; it happens all the time. But we can work on that in another session.”

The sands of time, the fifty-minute hourglass had not run out; but Hiram did not want to continue. A lot of time had been wasted with Hiram jabbering about his own problems instead of the patient’s. He looked up at Sean and then at his notes. He quickly wrote a few more notes before returning to Sean.

“You know, Sean, I was just thinking about getting some pizza. I haven’t had much to eat today and I’m starved. Sharon can order some for us both, if you like. There’s a sweet little place around the corner that makes a great New York Style pizza; I highly recommend it. They make a terrific pesto pizza without all the oily crust. The chef is one of my patients; I know him well. We almost have him cured of his cross-dressing disorder. It wasn’t the dress up that was bad, but his poor taste in attire; the man has no sense of color. But I really shouldn’t be talking about it, confidential you know.”

“What about the rest of the session?” suggested Sean. “There’s still money…er sand in the top. Don’t I get the full amount?”

“Okay, the pizza is my treat then,” offered Hiram. “Besides I need to look into a few things and confer with some colleagues; this is a very unusual case. I don’t think I’ve ever had anyone almost killed in a dream or even in another century, for that matter. This is new territory; I see a potential medical paper in this, a case study.”

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