Dr. Richard Weller’s office was the last place Jim wanted to be. He sat there pretending to read an outdated copy of Richmond Magazine, waiting to be escorted into the voodoo chamber. Against an opposite wall, a receptionist sat behind a polished walnut counter shaped in a half circle. Behind her, Weller and Associates, Professional Counseling Services, was proudly displayed with brushed brass letters; their logo, a flat metal sculpture of a dove in flight. Catching the occasional glance from the receptionist, Jim could feel the self-conscious burn in his cheeks. She thinks I’m nuts. He pretended not to notice. After several uncomfortable cycles of leg crossing, his name was finally called. Jim slowly rose to his feet, as if being summoned to the gas chamber, and shuffled toward Dr.Weller’s office. He could feel sweat beading on his forehead and the ghostly chafing of leg irons around his ankles. Images of his past rushed toward him in waves, crashing against him with each tentative step. Now a free man, he fought the urge to turn and run. The conditions of parole were all too clear however. He kept moving forward.
At the office door, Jim was greeted by a man appearing to be roughly his own age and height, dressed in jeans, a salmon colored button down oxford shirt, and Topsider shoes. Jim quickly sized the man up as a typical West End suburban preppie and tried his best to suppress a sneer as he extended his hand in greeting. Richard Weller greeted him warmly, motioning Jim inside. He spoke in an even tone that was at once, both pleasant and firm.
“Have a seat on the sofa Jim.”
While Jim complied, Weller slid an armchair over, positioning it strategically across from him. Obligatory small talk ensued, giving Jim the opportunity to size his opponent up. In agreement over the weather in Richmond and the need for rain, it’s was Jim that finally fired the first volley of the battle.
“Doc…uh, Richard, I hope you realize I don’t want to be here. You seem like an OK guy, so please don’t take this personally… but, you see, I think this whole therapy thing’s kind of a waste of time. I’ve got friends to talk to if I have problems and frankly, it’s my cross to bear. Whatever issues I may have, they’re mine to deal with.”
“Well Jim, I hear what you’re saying”, Weller replied softly, pausing for emphasis. “In my experience however, most of the people I see feel the exact same way when they begin a process like this. It’s not usually a natural thing to share one’s feelings and experiences with a stranger. But, as we get to know one another, it’s my hope and goal you will begin to realize a real benefit from the therapeutic dyad. I just ask that you bear with the process and don’t pass judgment too quickly.”
Fuckin’ guru. Jim checked himself with a humorless grin, “So we’re going to have us a therapeutic dyad huh? Sounds like a helluva lot of fun.”
Weller, ignoring the sarcasm, “Tell me Jim, why do you think your P.O. referred you to counseling? Be honest.”
“Well Doctor, to be honest, my probation officer feels I haven’t properly dealt with the grief over my wife’s murder or the heinous and violent crime I committed in response to her murder. I think that about sums it up.”
“And how do you feel about that?”
“Well Doc, I don’t know how I feel about that. It’s been a long time since I felt anything. About five years I guess. Ever since some sick asshole took the one thing from me that I truly cared about. And how did I feel about that? I’ll tell you how I felt. I felt pain like I’ve never experienced before. I felt pain that I tried to numb with liquor and pills but that didn’t work. That just made me a mean sonofabitch. Mean enough to bury a knife in the guy’s chest and not give two shits. I don’t feel pain much anymore. You know why? Because I’ve learned how to not feel anything. So, to answer your question sir, I don’t give a fuck. I’ll do my time here just like I did in the joint…quietly with head down and eyes straight ahead.”
Weller remained silent for a long moment before speaking. “Well Jim, I think you’ve shared a lot about your true feelings whether you realize it or not. I can hear the pain in your voice. I also see a man that does, in fact, give a fuck. I think we’ve got some work to do. So my friend, let’s do this, shall we?”
With the ice broken, Jim plunged head first into the icy waters of his past. Haltingly at first, gaining steady momentum, he began to face the ghosts that haunted him. He faced the ghost of his wife, Annie, whose absence left him hollow. He summoned the ghost of the man he brutally murdered, offering a glimmer of the regret he truly felt in his heart. He spoke of his father whose emotional detachment scarred him. He spoke of his mother whose untimely death left him alone and afraid at a tender age. These ghosts would be constant companions on the long journey to come. He resigned himself to their company. The hour passed quickly leaving Jim with a slight glimmer of hope.
Jim’s steps were light as he made his way through the parking lot to his pick-up truck. A hint of a smile hung on his lips as he reflected on his experience.
Maybe this won’t be so bad after all. Time will tell. Time will tell.
Daily Post Keyword:Ghost