If you enter onto an empty Los Angeles freeway in the middle of the day, you can be sure that there was a massive accident somewhere behind you. You were aware of the fact that as you advanced smoothly down the middle lane, separating yourself from the masses, there had to be tragedy somewhere in your wake, one that you hoped you’d never have to see. It was back there. It was someone else’s problem, and besides, you were late.
Who were you to doubt it, though? When the Universe gives you gifts like open freeways, you don’t question it. You speed down it. You pressed the pedal down and watched the the RPMs rise, your sports package handling the open road with startling agility. No one gets to do 90 on the 101 at 11:45 in the morning. This is just for you. It’s the karmic product of all your hard work, you considered. It’s charity from a loving god, you considered. It’s dumb luck, you knew. Fuck it.
You parked in the lot behind your therapist’s office and got out, with your favorite Ray Bans – the gunmetal grey ones, the ones with the polarized lenses, the ones you paid too much money for in a small sunglasses shop in the grove or in Studio City or wherever it was – covering your black and blood shot eyes.
Why you decided it was a good idea to start seeing the therapist in the office above the bar you owned, you’ll never know. It just seemed like the most logical choice after you’d woken up in last night’s clothes and tomorrow’s sadness in the back of the center VIP booth for the third night in a row. It was either that or AA… or church, God forbid. You wanted clarity. You needed reason. You needed an I.V. and a Pedialyte.
You passed the thick metal door of the bar, thankful that you didn’t have to open it, not yet, and face everything that lurked there in the darkness that was still hours away from lifting, hours away from the soft yellow glow of filament bulbs splashing off the black patent leather of a Louboutin covering the well-maintained toes and the end of a skinny, toned leg, as the bright red heel pierces the leather that you spent a month finding when you built the booth you sometimes called a bed. The natural light of day faded in a strong negative correlation to the rise of those filaments you bought at the flea market. They really brought the whole place to life. It’s like a twenty hour day, like they have in Scandanavia – not that you were ever awake for the first four. There was fresh vomit on the thick glass window, you ignored it. That’s not your job, you told yourself. Ramon will take care of that. Shit, that’s what you pay him for.
You walked to the edge of the building, where a security door guarded the stairwell to the second floor where your sanity returned once a week like a probation officer, half scolding, half impressed you’re still standing there and not sweating in the drunk tank next to some sadist who nearly beat his baby-mama half to death. You pressed the second button from the top, next to the nameplate that read “Dr. Drug Dealer” or maybe it was Smith or maybe it didn’t matter because that was the right fucking button. You lowered your dark glasses and stared into the electronic eye of a camera, at the bullseye center of a ring of dimly lit red lights, evoking alien space ships and action movies and the horror of someone knowing what you were doing when you were unaware – these things were everywhere now.
“You’re late,” said Dr. Drug Dealer, over an intercom. It was 12:02. He said he wouldn’t continue to see you if it happened again, but you knew better. Where would he find a more dependable patient than a drunk with an anxiety and depression issue stemming from something unresolved in his childhood or something else that we hadn’t pinpointed yet and “may not for quite some time” who happens to own the bar downstairs?
The door buzzed and you pulled it open. It closed hard behind you and you methodically ascended as if each stair was twice its height. It was that kind of morning. You opened the office door and grabbed the key to the men’s room. Your piss was a concerning shade of dark yellow. When did you last drink water? Good question. Back in the office you hit the plastic button that lit up here in the waiting room and there in his office so he’d know you were sitting there, waiting, or at least so he said. He just saw you on the camera. How was any of this a mystery? You asked him once and he said it was important to have routines and boundaries and that he refused to be the one waiting on you, “so when you’re good and ready you press that button and then when I’m good and ready I come get you.”
It was now 12:08 and you’d already missed at least eight out of fifty minutes of this session, costing you around thirty-two dollars. Thank goodness for that freeway accident. Good looking out, Universe. You could’ve wasted at least other eighty or so, and that would be one less sushi dinner for one less Jenny or Jessica or Stephanie or whatever. You mean, whoever.
D.D.D. finally came to get you six dollars later and he followed you into his office, as depressing looking as ever with only the flourescent tube lighting trapped behind the same thin plastic that covered the ceilings of your middle school detention room. “Sorry about the lighting,” he said. “I know how you like the filament bulbs, but what can I say? It blew.”
You didn’t believe him. You were angry, being manipulated by your shrink, but then considered that maybe that was his job. Fuck with your head until it worked right. Like a seventy year old mechanic who used to fix cars when there were only, like, 14 different car parts fucking around with your pal Omar’s yellow Ferrari, only the Ferrari was you and D.D.D. was more like forty-eight. That’s okay, you thought. Another hundred and sixty-two dollars worth of “therapy” and the good mechanic could pull the only two tools from his toolbox that anyone here ever needed- that silver ballpoint and that crisp little pad that lay spread out on his messy desktop like a Hollywood bimbo taking pictures down the length of her legs as she sunned herself next to the Roosevelt pool to even out her spray tan. It was taunting you. It laid there, telling you to talk – give up the goods or no fucky.
You stared at Dr. Drug Dealer, thinking he probably smells terrible in the morning. His white shirt had lost its dry-clean crisp days ago and the top edge of the collar had begun to turn slightly yellow. You wanted to ask him what the fuck his deal was. “What’s your fuckin’ deal, you high and mighty hack?” you wanted to yell. It wasn’t fair. In your mind you were both the same. Fuck that. You were better. You might be a fuckup, but at least you don’t wear the shirt three times in a row – not intentionally, at least. Just because that pad has his name on it he thinks he’s better than you? You’d had enough. The muscles in your legs tightened, ready to rise and walk out. Give him two fat middle fingers, you thought. Just like high school. They can all kiss your ass. They don’t know shit. Pussies, all. Small brains, small lives. And problems just as big.
“Is something the matter?” said the sniveling prick. These were the first words of our session, forty-seven dollars in. He returned to staring at you with his beady yellow eyes through his horn rimmed glasses that would’ve seemed uber fashionable if they were Oliver Peoples and he wasn’t such a conniving little twat.
Two can play this game, you thought. You stared back. It was a conceptual tug of war over a crocodile infested moat and you were losing. You always lost. You were croc-lunch. Or dinner. Over angel hair. You’re a fuckin lobster. You’re a fucking halibut. You’re a bottom feeder in a dirty office on what may or may not have been a gorgeous day. You couldn’t remember if you looked at the weather. Sometimes the big details appear beyond your awareness. They don’t need to be noticed. They just are.
“We don’t have to talk today,” he whined. “We can just sit here. Of course, if that’s all we do, I can’t very well prescribe anything for silence, now, can I? And really, we’re both adults here. We don’t have to pretend you’re here for growth or healing or personal betterment, do we? God forbid you make any real effort to improve your circumstances.”
Why was he so mean? Why was he berating you? This is tough love, minus the love. You’re an ant and he’s pulling off your legs. If you’re still standing two hundred dollars in, you get your drugs and you get to go home. You’re only here out of routine at this point. Maybe today is your last day. Maybe you don’t need the Valium and maybe the Ambien is what’s causing those dreams that remind you to drink away at least six to eight hours of every day. A full time job. Personal responsibility. It’s all very Republican.
“You want me to open up?” you said, finally. Fine, you said. Here it is, you said. You didn’t know quite how to vocalize it but you felt like lately you’d been seeing yourself from the outside, operating in a distinct mind-body dualism where you were equally aware of both senses of self and unable to reconcile the two, you said. You felt like all your maxims were in order but that your brain chemistry was ‘off’ and it was making it so your body just simply didn’t desire to do anything worthwhile, even though your brain was totally on board with the program, the enlightenment, the new you. A ressurection, you spoke of. A “renaissance of character and action,” you believed. You’ve got this shit on lockdown, you reassured.
Dickhead Dr. Asshole chuckled.
“Of course you don’t get it, you philistine fucknut,” you screamed in a lonely silence in the mind-only segment of your too-tired being. Has he even read Descartes, you inquired.
“Have you read, ‘The Power of Now’?” the twat spurted. “Eckhart Tolle?”
“The homeless man that sounds like the automated Apple Talk voice?” you responded. “Yes, I have.”
“Did you try to apply the principles?” he shat.
What does that even mean, you said. You felt present. You felt there. You always felt there, wherever you were. The liquor only put you more there. That’s why you liked it so much. Also for its taste and the social aspects and the way it makes you feel and the mystique and also because everyone else has a good time and laughs and carries on and fucks and then relives it all the next day over mimosas on rooftops and Bloodies in brunch spots.
You’re present. You don’t look back. If you look back you’ll know why everything is so clear on the freeway right now and all that can do is teach you things you should never know, show you things you didn’t need showing. You didn’t watch them hang Saddam Hussein for a reason.
Because when you see these things, they don’t leave you, and when they
don’t leave you, the only option left is for you to leave you. To hover over yourself in a detached way, remote viewing your ghosts using yourself as the medium, gliding around between the hands, hoping for the looking glass on a dirty old Ouija board in the house where this all started.