Short Stories

Profiles (story)

October 1, 2014

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Serial killers are a fascination because we wonder what causes them to do what they do. What element is in our own brain that prevents us from doing the same? Some kill because they want to rid the world of evil, though they are evil according to our society. Where do we draw the line?

Bob McMurtry



Just Right

         Feeling the weight of the object sent a thrill through his body, one that begins in your head and moves down through your big toe. The voices in his head concurred with his assessment of the object; it was good. The polished surface would have reflected his face except that it wasn’t flat enough, the curve too distorting, a hint of warped blue from his eye along with the black center staring back at him. The grip was molded, cheap plastic with Hotel Bueno etched on the handle; it fit nicely in his hand. Plastic would have to do, though another material, like wood would have felt better if they made such a thing anymore. Putting it down on the table he asked how much the seller wanted for it. She said a dollar and a half; he countered with one dollar even. Sold.

He walked away from the flea market, his new acquisition safely stuck in his overalls. He wasn’t sure exactly why he bought the ice pick or what he intended to do with it, only the voices knew and told him it was just right.



Theodore Weise

Garrett Penobscot threw his pencil on the desk, weary of what education offered on this hot Indian Summer afternoon. Laying his head on the table he tried to conjure up the answer to question number seven. College wasn’t much different from high school when it came right down to it. Study lots of information to parrot back for the test then managed to fake the areas you didn’t study.

“Something wrong Mr. Penobscot?” asked Professor Weise. “Are we keeping you up?”

Theodore Weise was the most boring, monotone instructor of ‘Psychology 1A’ that anyone could imagine. Some people are born with the talent desire to teach, whereas Weise lived to screw with his students; in some cases he did actually screwed them, at least the girls. That was one way of getting a passing grade in his class, though that wasn’t a viable alternative for the boys. He enjoyed embarrassing students with his sarcastic wit and caustic tongue, the girls not immune to his insults if he chose to pick them out. They might sleep with him but they suffered his verbal abuse like the rest of us.

“No, Mr. Weise,” Garrett answered. “Just taking a breather.”

“Breathe quickly Mr. Penobscot,” he muttered loud enough for all to hear. “You have less than five minutes finish the exam.”

Rosalie Owens sat a few seats away. Garrett was sure she didn’t need to be bedded down by Weise in order to get her grade; she was smart, memorizing information like a computer and pretty besides. Garrett hadn’t worked up the nerve to ask her out yet. He could see her checking over her exam having finished it ten minutes before. She possessed the three essential Bs for success in college Beauty, Brains and Body.

“Two minutes!” announced Professor Weise tormenting the few stragglers.

It was no secret Weise had tried to bag Rosalie from day one, suggesting an after school project for extra credit. She didn’t take the bait, pissing him off until he secured the favors of another freshman, not nearly as gorgeous as Rosalie. That girl, Hannah Lundquist only had one B, Body, which was all that Weise cared about in the end. Garrett could not understand why the college allowed this creep to continue molesting students, especially since several had complained to the faculty committee. Perhaps it was because no one wanted to teach psychology 1A.

“Oh. Miss Lundquist, I will have time for you at five,” reminded Weise. “Your tutoring? Remember?”




Javier Mendoza hummed along with the tune on his disc player as he pushed the vacuum across the floor. He was a little earlier than usual trying to get home to celebrate his daughter’s eleventh birthday. He had four businesses in four separate buildings to clean every day, planning to acquire a few more to increase his income. It wasn’t rocket science but it paid the bills. What else could he do without a high school diploma in the United States.

Javier didn’t hear George Russell when he called to him from across the office. George owned the insurance business and stayed late every so often tying up loose ends. He fired two of the girls working there the day before and was swamped with too many of those loose ends.

“Javier!” yelled George patting him on the shoulder. The janitor slipped off the earphones turning to meet George’s angry eyes.

“Didn’t you shampoo the carpet in my office last week?” he barked. “I told you I wanted it done before I have my meeting tomorrow.”

“The carpet, she is not so bad,” responded Javier. “I check it and think to leave it.”

“Think?” growled George. “I don’t pay you to think, Javier. I want that carpet done tonight and dry by the morning. You understand, you comprendo that? If you don’t, you can ‘think’ somewhere else.”

Javier wasn’t a violent man but wanted to punch George Russell in the nose for speaking so rudely, especially with incorrect Spanish. A lot of white businessmen treated Javier without respect, which he felt was unnecessary. He would do what they ask if they act reasonable; there was no need to shout or get angry. It was he who was going to miss his daughter’s birthday celebration not them; anger was not exclusive to his employers.




As a beat cop Callum MacKenzie had done well enough quelling the discontent in the bad areas of town. He felt that talk, not violence, was the answers to the problems that existed in society. In the process he had been shot at several times, broke his arm and was involved in a bad auto chase, where his cruiser hit a telephone pole in order to avoid hitting other innocent people. The bad guys were caught while he spent a few months recovering from his injuries. The police department liked his incentive and promoted him to sergeant working plain clothes in vice, a step up from patrolman but a disconnect to the people he wanted to serve.

Callum enjoyed working vice even though he felt sorry for some of the girls working the streets; many did not choose this profession but were thrown in by circumstances. He was the kind of guy who cut a little slack for the girls, when another cop would lock them all up. What purpose did it serve to throw them in jail only to let them out when bail was paid? The pimps made enough money but would still beat them up for getting busted. He didn’t condone prostitution but understood the mechanism that got the girls on the street, drugs, runaways, abuse and a variety of social malignancies.

Callum’s claim to fame was his ability to arrest the pimps who controlled their girls with drugs and physical violence. His cases were always tight and sealed, the pimps finding no loopholes to duck out of the charges. In his two years in vice he got four pimps off the street, one with a life sentence and the other three with enough time to make them old men when they got out. The women involved had a chance to escape their captor or recycle back into the system with another less violent pimps, not a perfect solution.

“Hey Cal,” Chet, a fellow officer. Called out. “Captain wants to see you in his office right away, sounded pissed. You been sampling some of the girls?”

The last comment made, with his comrade making a lewd gesture with his hand and tongue in his cheek. It was true that some of the officers took advantage of their position to gain free sexual favors. Getting the charges reduced to loitering instead of soliciting made a huge difference in the fine and time in jail. Callum did not believe in these perks of the job, tolerating it only because of the code.

The code was simple; no real laws were broken but a few might be bent. To keep the internal peace everyone minded their own business, throwing a blind eye to the activities of others; the exceptions were in that gray area where legality and morality were wrestled with. A guy might take advantage of hooker in the interrogation room for a quick screw or blowjob. Taking money from them was stepping over the line.

“Chet, you have a dirty mind,” returned Callum. “You know very well I don’t do the girls. The captain probably found a form without a ‘t’ crossed or an ‘i’ dotted; you know how he is.”

The captain’s office was closed in with windows on two sides above the wanes coat. Venetian blinds were lowered and shut when he wanted privacy or was about to chew someone’s ass. Captain Alfredo Moreno came through the ranks of the police force the hard way; no one gave him his badge; he earned it, twice wounded in the line of duty and many successful arrests to his name. The Venetian blinds were not drawn, a good sign when Callum got to the office. The door open, he walked in without knocking.

“How’s Lisa?” asked Moreno not looking up from his paperwork. “You’re going to have to marry her some day, you know. Women don’t wait forever and she’s a keeper.”

“ We’ve talked about it but she’s the one who doesn’t want to rush into marriage,” replied Callum. “She’s not crazy about me working with all these hookers and claims this is not a life for a married couple. I know she really doesn’t mean it but I think it’s just an excuse she’s using. Besides her mother doesn’t like the fact that I’m not Italian or a Catholic. What is it with that?”

“Trust me, Cal. Mamma will come around in time. The old ways die hard; I should know.”

“So, what you want to talk to me about, Al? I’m sure this isn’t a social visit to discuss my love life.”

“Well, maybe it is in a way,” said Moreno looking up at Cal. “They sent me the results from the lieutenants’ exam, three passed and seven failed. The seven didn’t surprise me; they’re all idiots. You, however, were one of the three. Congratulations!”


“But there’s more good news,” continued Moreno. “I’m taking you off vice. Dick Hansen will stay in place as lieutenant of vice. He sucks as a leader but we have a more important opening in homicide. It won’t be as sweet as vice but it can be a steppingstone to a higher position in time. I know your easy handling of the hookers is a little unorthodox but you get results. Homicide is tougher and has shitty hours. So, what do you think? You in?”



Flea Market 2

He did not notice the blaring ghetto blasters at the flea market, Mexican music competing with each other, each vendor trying to drown out the other. He had been to this flea market several times before looking for just the right item. A large percentage of the stuff was junk, recycled crap that nobody wanted. Though it was outlawed some vendors sold guns under the table. The same people snatched up any guns an inexperienced vendor might want to sell before the authorities saw them.

He did not want guns; guns were loud, crude and impersonal weapons. A five-year old could brandish one without any experience required, potentially shooting himself. He found that disturbing and disgusting. There was one vendor who sold newer items, not the old rusted things discarded by people. He leaned over the table inspecting the wares. Bright shiny metal glistened in the sun, throwing a reflection on the inside of the canopy. They were all beautiful.

Wade, the vendor wore a cowboy hat with a peacock feather stuck to the side. A rattlesnake band wrapped around the base, with a USMC pin tacked in place. The vendor was smart enough to know when someone was interested in what he had to sell. You had to let the customer look over the merchandise and decide that they absolutely had to have it. That’s when the vendor jumps in.

“These here are the finest you’ll see anywhere my friend,” announced Wade. “And you, sir look like a man who wants the best. Ya’ll can pay more at them fancy ‘D’partment stores; ain’t no better. I like to think of myself as cutting out the middle man; give a man a break.”

The customer nodded uneasy with conversation. He preferred silence, speaking only when it was necessary. Was chatter necessary now?

“Tell me about them,” he asked his voice soft.

“I knew you had an eye for quality,” barked Wade smelling a big sale. “We got the best for cooking, cutting, camping, hunting and fishing steel in the world. Most of these are made from the finest steel in Germany, Switzerland and England. Them people got a knack for it.”

The customer did not answer only starred at the display on the table.

“Let me tell ya’ll about a few of these,” Wade continued. A small crowd began to form as Wade went into his well-practiced sales pitch. “This here is a French knife for the kitchen, the same kind used by a whole lot of chefs in Europe. There ain’t a decent chef that don’t got one of these. Now here is what they call a boning knife for trimming the meat off’n the bone, you see. I got me one of these myself, a sweet, sweet knife. Each one of these kitchen knives will keep an edge for years.

“If ya’ll hunt or fish, these over here is the Rolls Royce of knives without payin’ for more than a broke down Chevy pickup, my friend. You can dress out a deer in no time and gut a fish with a flick of the wrist, simple as that. Both are sharp enough to shave with if you so desire.”

Wade held out a piece of paper drawing the knife through it with ease. He then shaved the fuzz off of a peach available for that very purpose. Next he picked up a large Bowie knife with a deer antler handle.

“I swear Smith and Wesson woulda loved havin’ this baby on their shelves,” added Wade winding down for the kill. “For personal protection this fine, fine weapon will slice and dice any prowler that breaks into your home. Hell, just the weight of this sucker will set him on his ear. The extra long blade is designed to do the maximum damage without compromisin’ the user; it’s like havin’ a bodyguard in your hand. Even the little woman of the house could protect herself with this baby.”

Wade paused to catch his breath, studying his silent customer. Most people asked questions but this man didn’t. His expression did not coincide with all of Wade’s sales pitch. He was about to close the clear plastic cover on the case when the customer pointed at one of the knives.

“Excellent choice,” said Wade holding up the knife while the onlookers stared. “German steel, highly polished and only $120. But since I like your style I’ll drop off twenty bucks.” He handed it to the customer expecting the deal to be done.

“Too much,” answered the man. “Fifty dollars.”

“Fifty? Why you couldn’t even buy one of them cheap Chinese pieces of crap for that,” bellowed Wade. “Sporting good stores sell this for twice my asking price.”

The weekend at the flea market had been slow and would close in an hour or so. Wade did not want to lose this customer.

“I’ll tell ya what,” Wade began whispering so no one else could hear. “Eighty bucks and you keep quiet about the deal ya’ll got here, my friend. If I sold everyone this knife for that price I’d be living in a cardboard box along the river.”

The customer thought for a few minutes, Wade returning the knife to the display case. The man produced his wallet carefully examining the contents. Slowly and silently he extracted several bills from the wallet handing them over to Wade. The vendor eyed the money counting only seventy dollars, nothing getting past him. The customer was either shrewd or poor. In any case, Wade took the money and stuffed the knife into a paper bag for the customer. He observed the knuckles on the man’s right hand, tattooed with something he could not make out. It was as if the tattoos had been purposely defaced to hide what they had been.




The Excelsior Hotel still maintained the art/deco façade of its time, housing tenants on a night-to-night basis, shorter times in some cases. Alexi worked the front desk at night and sometimes the day when the regular clerk was not around. During Alexi’s working hours, he tried to complete a correspondence course he got through the mail for TV and radio repairman. Computers jobs were in greater demand but that required more money and regular evening classes, which were impossible for him to do since he worked at three jobs to stay in the country.

He had missed out on free education in Russia after the Soviet Union broke apart, his aptitude tests not allowing him to go beyond basic education, the cream of the crop sent to higher learning. He was able to stay here only because he had married a woman in the United States, a woman who demanded a lot of money to do so. It wasn’t a marriage in any sense of the word except on paper, which was enough to keep him here. His wife-on-paper was a drug addict and prostitute, whom he had never met, the arrangement also made by a third party he paid a healthy sum to.

He often wondered if any of the hookers using the hotel was his wife. They never used their real names only nicknames making it impossible find out which of these women might be connected to him. In his native country prostitution was becoming very common, many women with degrees finding poor wages or no jobs. The pretty ones made more money in one night than they could make in a week in a regular job. It was against the law in Russia but the women were willing to take the risks, diseases a part of that risk.

Alexi’s job was simple, take money from those wishing a room for the night in advance. No cash, no key. The girls using the hotel for business were checked off on a list kept under the front counter, their pimps paying the bill once a week without failure; it would be poor business to stiff the hotel. Freelance hookers bringing in their tricks had to pay up front like the bums, who crashed the place for the night, a very unsavory job not requiring a master’s degree.

“Fuck you!” said one of the girls to a man in a cheap suit walking towards Alexi.

“Hey there Russian boy,” greeted Chet. “Anything for me tonight?”

“I know nothing,” responded Alexi pushing his check off list further under the counter. “They pay and sign. This is all.”

“Well let’s see who’s here tonight,” replied Chet swiveling the register around. “Ah, I see we have a family gathering of Smiths and Jones. No John or Jane Does’? You really should check their ID. They could be lying about the names.”

“I take money,” offered Alexi in his broken English. “Manager say nothing else. I do what told or lose job.”

“Big fucking loss, Russian boy.”

Chet wanted to bust someone but didn’t want to have to do the paperwork. By the time he was done the girls had made bail and were back on the street.

“You see Crazy May tonight?” Chet asked. “She owes me.”

Alexi shrugged honestly unaware of May’s location. She had not been in yet not always making it due to a slow night or too many cops. Sometimes she’d score an all-nighter at some guy’s pad or be recovering from being beaten up by her pimp. May was one of the better looking hookers black or white and tried to skim off a few extra dollars when her pimp wasn’t looking.

“Ah screw it!” grunted Chet. “I’m to tired to hassle the broads tonight. Tell Crazy May I’m looking for her.”




“How clever!” said Weise. “Taking the name of the month you were born. I hope you’re clever enough to take care of me.”

“Yeah, yeah,” responded May waiting for her trick to cough-up some money before they did business. “Hundred bucks fo a quickie, honey. I got customers waitin’ on me.”

“Indeed,” replied Weise scanning her body top to bottom. Her mixture of African and Hispanic genes gave her the most striking appearance a woman could have. Slender and tall with curves a man could get lost in. “What would it cost for a night?”

“Depends,” she answered. “Until morning or just later in the night? The bars close at three, nothing but drunks; they be easy with their money. After four, business slows down ‘til graveyard shift gets off at the factory. I got regulars, ya know.”

“You didn’t answer my question,” replied Weise becoming irritated with her stall tactic.

“One thousand cash for this fine black ass. I don’t be takin’ no credit cards, neither,” she answered pointing to her butt.

“Ridiculous!” shouted Weise. “That much in cash? I can get it for nothing from one of my students. No arguments either.”

“Honey, you ain’t gonna get nothin’ better than me fo free. Them bitches do you, then you go talk at them. I got no time fo your shit. They ain’t got no fine black pussy like me.”

“You think highly of yourself,” lectured Weise. “You’re just another misfit of society, a maladjusted black whore. What makes you think you’re any better than any other slut?”

“I ain’t the one buyin’, teacher,” she replied. “No money no booty, asshole.”

Weise stepped forward angrily grabbing her by the shoulders preparing to slap her when he felt the tip a small blade at his throat. May’s expression was flat, emotionless. He had no doubt she would just as soon jab the knife as say another word. Carefully he removed his hands and backed away slowly, May extended her arm to maintain blade contact with his throat all the while softly laughing to herself. Her dark brown eyes were hard as she began to grin, the smell of his fear strong in her nostrils.

“You best change your drawers, honey,” she muttered stepping away form Weise. “You done pissed yo’self, sucka.”



Lisa and Callum 

It was a small celebration, dinner out and a good bottle of wine at home, Lisa looking at her man, Callum with pride and affection. They had met at a street fair, he in uniform keeping the peace and she the organizer of children’s games. A scuffle with two seven-year old boys was quelled when Callum threatened to have them thrown in jail. They took him serious and she was seriously charmed by his clever way of dealing with it. They spoke, exchanged phone numbers and were living together a month later.

Lisa wanted children of her own some day, a boy and girl would be nice, though any combination would be just as welcome. Her mother had a goat when she found out about the non-Italian, Callum. Lisa had balked every time her mother tried to play matchmaker with her throwing Italian men at her feet as if they were the only men she could date. It felt like she went through the phone book picking out every Italian name. Tradition ran deep in her mother, Lisa the first of the family to look outside of her own kind. Lisa didn’t think Italian men were unacceptable; given a choice she didn’t want to not limit herself to them including a few second cousins her mother had suggested. In the end her mother will have to accept Callum, especially now. At least he’s not German, her mother conceded.

After the meal and wine Callum and Lisa retired for the evening, the night still young, leaving plenty of time to talk and make love. He adored her as any man should adore a woman. Making love require each to become vulnerable, giving their all, protecting one another from the sad things which happened in life.

Callum touched her olive skin, smooth and silky, deliciously firm. He did not know what a perfect woman should look like but in his mind; it had to be Lisa. Satisfied after a long session they laid side by side his hand still touching her thigh.

“Lisa it is like the first time every time,” he whispered. “I’m not sure I could live without you. Promise not to leave me.”

“Mmmm!” she responded pleased to hear those words.

“Do you ever want to get married, to me, I mean? Your mother shoots these little darts at me from her eyes; I can feel it. She says we are living in sin but it doesn’t feel sinful to me.”

“Oh that’s my mother living in the old world,” answered Lisa. “You think everyone in Italy is virtuous? I’ll bet the priest gets an earful in the confessional every Sunday.”

“Yeah, I suppose,” replied Callum chuckling.

“I do think it’s time we get married, though,” she added peacefully stretching. “Maybe soon.”

“Really?” he said sitting up in bed. “What changed your mind? Your mother?”

“This changed my mind,” she answered patting her stomach. “A little of both of us is growing inside of me, a baby.”


Garrett, Rosalie and Weise

The college campus was spread all over hell and creation. The founding fathers may have seen this as an attempt at aesthetics, imparting nature to the bricks and stone of this place of learning. Garrett found it a pain in the butt when he had to zip from the opposite end of campus in less than three minutes for his next class. Though the instructors were aware of this difficulty, few showed compassion for latecomers in the class, especially Professor Weise.

The college counselor could not find a suitable option for Garrett’s dilemma, freshman courses limited to a handful. Requirements had to be done first, the only courses available to freshmen, the upper class students having first choice of the curriculum. No one would choose psychology 1A on purpose, except Rosalie Owens a second year student.

Rosalie breezed through the class in spite of the boring lectures and inane quizzes. Garrett watched Weise watching her, the professor hoping for an opportunity to offer her special tutoring, as he offered several of the young women with failing grades. Garret found it disgusting that a girl would submit sexually to this old, geeky geezer in order to secure a grade. It bothered him enough to file a complaint to the dean of the college. In return he received form letter from the dean’s office stating nothing except the matter would be looked into.

There would be no action against Weise unless one of the women involved complained, unlikely since their grade hinged on their silence. It would seem his complaint affected his interaction in Weise’s class, the confidential complaint not as confidential as it should be. He was never called upon when Weise asked a question to the class. His essays were graded lower and Weise found ways to humiliate him by openly diminishing his efforts.

“Dear Mr. Penobscott,” Weise said with poison in his voice. “If you can’t do the assignment properly, I suggest you start looking for employment not requiring a great deal of intelligence. Your dissertation on sibling rivalry lacked substantiation as well as being the worse attempt I’ve witnessed in my career as an educator. Higher education may not be your forte, a carwash, perhaps? Wax on, wax off; repeat. I believe you might be able to handle that.”

The class laughed at Garrett’s expense unable to see Weise’s singling out of a student for his sadistic entertainment. Even the lovely Rosalie giggled, her hand covering her smile. Weise was pleased with himself eyeing Rosalie again. She sat back in her seat composed, defiantly making him look away.

Garrett hated the injustice of the college. The dean was obviously allowing Weise to get away with molesting the students and manipulating grades. He was becoming a target for Weise, which meant that his own grade would be suffering, needing to pass the course in order to keep his grade point average acceptable.

The cheap electric clock on the wall above the lectern clicked indicating the end of class accompanied by a flick of the hand dismissal from Weise. Dispirited, Garrett walked quickly out of class to intercept Rosalie. She seemed to be the only one not affected by Weise’s constant intimidation. She was not heading the same direction as his next class, which meant he was going to be late again. He didn’t care, the issues with Weise paramount. He needed an ally, who did not have a personal interest or too afraid to confront Weise’s behavior.

“Rosalie, wait up!” he called. She stopped and turned.

“You don’t have a class in East Wing do you?” she asked, wondering why he was chasing after her.

“No, I wanted to talk to you,” he replied huffing and puffing as he stood next to her. “Something has to be done about Weise. He treats all of us like scum. I especially hate it when he leers at you.”

“Weise? Yeah, he’s a putz,” she returned calmly. “I ignore him. My work is good and my grades don’t give him any leverage. He had the gall to tell me he was a good lover, imagine that? Said he would spoil me for any other man.”

“So, would you file a complaint?” urged Garrett. “That’s sexual harassment. I think they round-filed mine, I’m just a guy. Probably thought I was trying to milk a better grade out of it; I’m not.”

“I’m not Joan of Arch, Garrett. Find some other crusader to battle Theodore. I’ve got my scholarship and savings invested in this school. I can’t afford to blow it because some pervert has a taste for young women. As long as he leaves me alone, he can show up in lecture hall in the buff for all I care.”

“I hate the man,” shouted Garrett. “Sometimes I wish I could kill him. How can they let a deviate like him teach psychology?”

“He’s not the worst, Garrett,” she added. “Men in this college aren’t any better; every guy that wears pants thinks they can score with us. Consider yourself lucky to be a guy.”

He hated that he allowed himself to become so vulnerable in front of Rosalie. Was there a chance to redeem himself and ask her out? Bad timing. He will have to wait for another opportunity, once Theodore Weise gets what’s coming to him. He thanked Rosalie for listening and began running to the other side of campus, his failure with Weise resting heavily on his shoulders.

The true pain came from a different place in Garrett’s life. From the time he was five years old his stepfather belittled him, bullying him constantly, finding fault with everything he did. Weise was the same kind of bully, rude and vicious.



“Ted, you got to cut this shit out,” barked Dean Williamson. “I got this damn kid Penobscot making waves and about ready to take drastic measures outside of the college. What if this gets in the newspapers? My reputation and the school’s will suffer beyond belief. You know how those bloodsucking reporters are, take the facts and amplify them.”

“Don’t worry Dean,” Weise replied. “None of my students will say a word, I promise you that. And what’s so bad about skimming a little love off the top? The girls are willing, consenting adults when it comes down to it. Hell they sleep half the boys on campus during beer busts.”

“You’d better watch your step with that attitude, Ted. Some of those girls skipped a grade, graduating early from high school and are not legal. You’ll end in jail and their parents will sue the college and me.”

Williamson was not about to let this situation blow up in his face. His contract was good for another three years and then retirement to Florida where he’ll walk on the beaches, drink margaritas in the afternoon and gawk at the pretty girls strutting around in bikinis. That was the plan, a good plan. Weise was not going to fuck it up.




“Tell me what you mean by rude,” said Ernest the psychoanalyst. “What does that mean to you, in an everyday situation?”

“Just rude,” he answered thinking of the shiny knife he had just bought at the flea market. That vendor had been rude. He wanted to tell the vendor but there were too many people around.

“You need to be more specific if you want to make any real progress,” said Ernest. “Your feelings need to come out or they will stockpile and continue to bother you.”

“I don’t sleep,” he said. “I don’t like my dreams; they scare me. They are rude too, just like the people around me.”

“Do you think I’m rude?” asked Ernest.

“Maybe. I don’t know,” he snapped.

“I don’t wish to rude,” replied Ernest. “I am your friend, here to listen to your pain. I don’t believe that is a rude thing to do.”

“I want all rude people to go away forever,” he said carefully picking at his cuticles. “Then only nice people will be near me.”

Ernest was not making progress with his patient. The sessions had been once a week for nine months, never any change. Ernest felt it would be good to forward the patient on to another professional, who might have a different approach. It was for the patient’s benefit.

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