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Poet Vs Psychiatrist

by Gentle JoJo Fletcher 6 months ago in Short Story
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A Vaguely Greek Comedy About Adam and Eve

Poet Vs Psychiatrist
Photo by Hert Niks on Unsplash

Dr. Susan Sandra Poole, with many, many lives to save

Tall, and fair, and just, and right, and always very brave.

A sternly spoken and fatal diagnosis gave

'Death by Dying! Go now to your grave!'

“That's a bit much,” The lad muttered under his breath.

However, there was nothing to do but stagger out of the office with the prescription in his pocket and his true love sobbing in his head. He reached for his pen and began to write about the event, as he always did, to calm the hysterical bird woman on his shoulder.

"Does she even verily know and can she comprehend, I wonder,

Whose extraordinary spell I'm under?

And should I call out to the lords of heaven's thunder

Down on her to bring the hateful hunger?"

“I would,” His love muttered. “Who is she to say we deserve to die an ignoble death out here in space time, as if we were mooing cows or fluffy sheep, slated to become beef and mutton? We are predators. She is prey.”

"And when she starves for your exquisite company,

Will she not then turn and say to me,

'I would kiss my own worst enemy

To have one more blessed minute with the free?'"

“Sadly, she would not,” The lad sighed and kissed his sweetheart in the air. “She does not respect or understand pain, not even her own.”

“That's unfortunate that she is a doctor, then.”

“Doubtless, but saying so doesn't help me much, however true it may be.”

But his love persisted.

"We are odd, but we are gods,

Never forget that my love.

We are odd, but we are god.

Every other psychotropic fantasy is just a fad,

A sickly story, halo wrung, and weeping sad,

A darkly daydream that your revenge knife had,

When it foolishly imagined itself to be evil and bad."

“You sound like a harpy my mother would hate,” The lad cooed. “Will you go to prom with me?”

“We're only about twenty years too late for prom,” the lover snorted. “Will you go and dance with the objects of your desire, grown old and fat and turned into teachers?”

“Hey! I'm old and fat, and you still want to dance with me,” the lad protested.

“Will you go to Eden's forbidden flower bed with me?

Or must I sing tears, and groveling, crawling pressed entreat thee,

To ever other and over different be

Like we were, when we were muses and pretty?"

“Youth is rash, and beauty is deceitful,” his love smirked. “I will certainly and surely love you better without them. Your baby smooth face was hiding a devil, and I have exorcised a mighty leviathan of grief that I will never miss, no matter how many hairs grow out of your ears.”

“I groom myself!” The lad grunted, but he was secretly pleased. Not many stood by him like she did.

“Are we really dying?” The bird girl wondered.

“Not if I can help it.” The lad answered, tossing his greying, strawberry blonde curls rebelliously. “ But if we did, would you go and be owls with me in the sky above Ithaca ?

“You be Daedalus, Darling. I'll be your wings,” the lover whispered. “And we will play in the thunderstorms of the Aegean, until Dr. Poole has been forgotten by even the molecules that made her.

“Molecules have long memories,” the lad mourned.

“Not longer than an owl's. Owl's never forget.”

“Elephants never forget. Owls fly.”

“Elephants fly,” the lover giggled. “ Owls are my kin. Owls remember what I told you.”

"We are gods, my dear,

Lords of the earth and all therein.

Don't be sorrowful; it does not become you.

She is nothing. We are all. Love is true."

Exactly six weeks later:

Dearest Doctor Susan Sandra Poole

Sat upon her rolling stool,

Daring him to play the feckless fool.

Game of wits and deadly duel.

“Why is there bird poo on your shoulder?” Dr. Poole demanded in disgust.

“Oh that's my girlfriend. She's an owl.” The lad replied. “It's not bird pooh. It's blood from her last kill. She eats mice.”

“She eats them on your shoulder?” The dainty features were distorted by the revulsion they were feeling.

“Well, she doesn't sit in my lap,” The lad replied a bit confused. “Where would you keep a pet bird, if not on your shoulder?”

“I was under the impression that your “girlfriend” was an imaginary owl,” The good doctor spoke scorn. “I thought you said she speaks to you.”

“How would she speak to me if she was imaginary?” The lad wondered, eyeing the doctor warily.

“How would she speak to you in any case, if she's an owl,” Dr. Poole snapped. “Do you speak owl?”

“No, she speaks English.” The lad was a trifle offended. “Owls are very smart, you know. They're the symbols of wisdom, and she's a bird woman. She's only half owl. She also speaks Hellenistic Greek. She was a gift to me from Athena.”

“Your imaginary owl woman eats real mice on your shoulder and speaks Hellenistic Greek?” Dr. Poole was losing her patience and also her patient, for the the lad rose.

“You know, I don't like the way you're talking about my loved one,” He said firmly. “I don't think my owl lady is the problem here. She made a mess on my parka. So what? Why are you going off on me about that? I'm the one who has to wear it.”

“Please, sit down,” Dr. Poole invited and it was not a request, but rather an order. “How do you know it is Hellenistic Greek? Do you have a way to double check that?”

The lad remained standing. “I'm the one who has to wear my own clothes, Dr. Poole,” He pressed the issue. “And my owl friend doesn't talk to you; she talks to me. So the language she uses is none of your business. But for your information, I researched it on Google. It's Hellenistic Greek. And she really does come from Athena. Why does that make you angry?”

“For pity's sake, Adam, sit down.” Dr. Poole snarled. “Did you or did you not put mouse entrails on your clothing in order to prove to me that your imaginary owl is real?”

“Why would I do that?” Adam gulped in bewilderment.

“So that I would not prescribe you such a heavy dose of tranquilizers.”

“You can prescribe me anything you want,” Adam whispered in confusion. “Is that what the pills are for, for the owl? What has she ever done to you?”

“It's what she's doing to you, Adam,” Dr. Poole explained in frustration “She's keeping you in psychosis.”

“No, she isn't,” Adam argued. “I'm in psychosis because my mind was messed up in the accident. The owl is keeping me company. She's keeping me alive. Do you want me to die? Why can I not have an owl for a friend? Nobody else wants to be around me.”

“That might be because you have mouse guts on your coat,” Dr. Poole sneered.

“It's peanut butter and jam,” Adam grunted and sat back down. “My jacket was on the chair this morning, and I was rushing for the bus and dropped my toast on my coat, upside down. I had no time to wash it off, because you won't let me be late for appointments. What was I supposed to do?”

“Then why would you tell me it was leftover mouse?!?” Dr. Poole had reached her rope's end.

“You said it was bird poo. I thought you wanted to talk about Penelope. Why don't you ever say what you mean?” Adam was very nearly in tears now.

“Penelope is the name of the owl?” Dr. Poole began to recover her composure.

“Yeah. Cause Penelope was famous for her loyalty and faithfulness, and that's what my owl is, loyal and faithful.” Adam whimpered. “You've actually been trying to take my owl away from me? What kind of monster are you? Penelope is the only friend I have.”

“I'm not a monster,” Dr. Poole huffed. “You may have your imaginary friend, as long as you know that I know that she is imaginary, and you don't try to prove to me that she is real and that she speaks Greek.”

“Hellenistic Greek.” Adam bleated pedantically. “Modern Greek is a totally different language.”

“Any kind of Greek.” Dr. Poole stated severely.

Adam stood up again. He was shaking, but he was determined to have his say. “I don't need your permission to have friends, Dr. Poole,” He declared. “Penelope is not a bargaining chip. She is my girlfriend. If you don't want to talk about the most important relationship in my life with any kind of respect, than we have nothing more to say to each other.”

“Are you leaving for good? Or should I book you another appointment in six weeks?” Dr. Poole inquired, without visibly reacting.

“That depends.” Adam wavered, encouraged by his success in setting boundaries, but not yet fully convinced that he was safe. “Can I expect you to understand that I am not trying to get better? I can't get better. My brain is damaged. I will live with my mental illness for the rest of my life. Penelope is harmless, and she is keeping me afloat, when all I want is to go to sleep and never wake up. I am shocked and horrified that you would try to take a seriously ill patient's only reason to live away from him. If you can't accept that I have fixed delusions that will never go away, maybe you should refer me to another doctor who can.”

“I can accept that, Adam.” Dr. Poole replied coldly. “But can you?”

“Yes, I can. Because I don't see it as a tragedy, like you do. To Penelope, I'm not disabled; I'm just a poet. And I bet there are other real people who would like to read what she and I write together. You're the one who is married to reality, Dr. Poole. I'm just trying to have a life, and my delusions are not a barrier to my doing that. Sanity is not sobriety. I'm not in a twelve step program. I've never threatened anyone, and I've never molested any children. You don't have any right to come at me slinging shame, because I have really creative thoughts that don't align with your admittedly primitive science.”

“You just have so much potential,” Dr. Poole countered. “I hate to see it go to waste. You've very intelligent. You could do so much with your mind.”

“But would I be happy doing it?” Adam questioned her. “And who says that what I'm already doing has no value? You don't care for surrealist poetry, but other people might. I don't know what you think I should be doing that is more important than making art. Isn't art worthwhile?”

“If you see yourself as an artist, I can't argue with your identity.” Dr. Poole admitted. “And there is certainly plenty of precedent for famous writers and artists to have unusual minds and very peculiar beliefs.”

“You know there are people on You Tube who got famous from doing stupid stuff like counting to one hundred thousand and jumping off of tall buildings.” Adam growled. “And do you know how many channels there are just about girls shampooing and styling their hair? These people are making a living filming themselves with Q-tips and crayons on their heads, and you say I'm wasting my potential? I don't think you can rightfully call my poetry a waste of time. So I have a owl woman for a girlfriend, and I like Greek mythology? Is it crime to read Homer now?”

“Well, if you like Greek mythology, you could go to university and become a classicist,” Dr. Poole suggested.

“I could, if I was willing to take on that much debt, and maybe I will. There's no earthly reason why I couldn't take my owl with me.”

“But you might meet a real woman, and then what are you going to tell the owl?” Dr. Poole asked pointedly.

“Why is a real woman better than an owl?” Adam insisted. “Give me one reason. You can't. It's like asking 'Why is a raven like a writing desk?' It's a riddle with no answer.”

“So you consider yourself to be in company with Lewis Carroll?” Dr. Poole simpered.

“Why not?”

“Why not, indeed? I guess as long as you don't need me to explain to you why it's problematic for you to be permanently Alice in Wonderland, I have no more to add. I'll see you in six weeks.” Dr. Poole folded up her notebook and opened the door for Adam to exit.

The heroes who were there that day

All bow their heads and softly pray

That death will find them in this way

Sweet victory is as bitter as whey.

“And Humpty Dumpty's still a fried egg.” Adam complained to his shoes as he made his way out.

The winter sunshine was low and thin, as Adam emerged from the clinic. The bus stop was a hundred meters away up the street, but Adam was pulled in the opposite direction by the sight of a small crowd of people, all talking excitedly and pointing their phones at a power line over their heads.

Adam ran up closer. He could just make out the features of a huge barn owl sitting directly in the glare of the faded, noonday sun. He couldn't get a better angle to view her, without stepping off the sidewalk and into the street and traffic. However, as he stood there, hoping he wouldn't miss his bus but knowing that he couldn't pass up this opportunity to see Penelope in person, the bird swooped down over the heads of the spectators, smacking Adam's face with one wing as she went by. She perched on the roll bar of a truck parked right in front of where Adam stood.

The bird was not summer sleek. She was fluffed out in thick, textured feathers for the January cold. She regarded Adam with a mesmerizing stare. Phones clicked all around him, but he couldn't bring himself to photograph her. The last thing he needed was another reason to fight with Dr. Poole about how real his owl was.

“Would you look a that!” A man in a leather coat gushed. “And right in broad daylight, too. We never see wildlife downtown like this, unless it's bloody ravens.”

“That's a big owl,” Adam stated the obvious.

“She almost got your toque,” the fellow laughed. “Good thing she wasn't going for your eyes. Look at those talons!”

“I'm not going away until you take the blasted picture,” the bird seemed to say. Adam reluctantly got out his phone and snapped some pics of her contrasted nicely against the black paint of the vehicle on which she sat.

Adam noticed that one of the women in the cluster of gawkers was Dr. Poole's receptionist, who was just leaving for lunch. So Dr. Poole would hear about it, most likely.

Adam forsook the plan to take the bus. He would get the next one, even if he had to wait an hour for it. The bird did not seem at all afraid of the attention she was getting. The wide eyed head rotated right and left and swept the onlookers with a fierce gaze.

“Brazen hussy,” Adam muttered. “You just don't care do you?”

The owl stayed on the truck for so long that most of the crowd dispersed. A woman in a wool dress, and tights, and fancy shoes, wearing only a sweater to keep her warm, approached the owl and held out her hand. The bird flexed her wings and looked away in disdain, but remained on her chosen perch. The lady shivered and turned to Adam.

“I work at Aurora Insurance,” she indicated the main suite of the building that housed the clinic. “What do you do?”

Adam opened his mouth to say that he was disabled, and, instead, found himself blurting out “I am a poet. I write surrealism, and comedy and a bit of horror.”

"Oh cool! What's your poetry about? I mean besides the genre?”

The owl spread her wings and stretched and then settled back down on the roll bar.

“It's about owls, actually,” Adam laughed. “My muse is an owl woman from ancient Greece.”

“Oh! And here she is! She came to visit you in real life,” the woman gasped. “You must be so stoked, right now!”

“Yeah, I am,” Adam grinned.

“I'm Eve,” the woman persisted. “Do you want my number? I'm sorry to be pushy, but I don't meet poets with their own owls every day.”

“Sure,” Adam gulped. “I have a blog, and You Tube Channel. You can check them out if you want to, to see if I'm sketchy.”

The pair exchanged contact information, and Eve went back to her office. Still the owl sat and regarded Adam with a frank stare.

“That woman thinks I'm a wealthy man with nothing to do all day but pen doggerel,” Adam muttered, waving his hands at the bird. “What did you do to me? She's already planning our wedding; I can see it in her face. What's she gonna say when she finds out I'm a psycho with a bad brain injury?”

The owl did not reply. She just bobbed her head.

“Well, come on, then. I can't take you on the bus. Let's walk home.” Adam took off up the street and the owl followed him as if she was a flying dog.

But Adam had the sweeter apple ate,

And for his cause it was too late.

Knowledge of reality was now his fate,

For Eve would soon befuddle his pate

And Penelope laughed as she waited for Odysseus to fly in from the moon.

“We are gods,” she hooted and the valley rang with guffaws. Athena stretched out a lily white hand and took back her familiar.

“Peace.” And the goddess of war and wisdom knew it.

Short Story

About the author

Gentle JoJo Fletcher

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