Tuesday, October 20, 2009


I can’t take it anymore. I really can’t.
Maybe I’m losing my mind. Not the straight-jacket, quarantine-me-or-I’ll-turn-into-a-serial-killer kind. In fact, it’s not even me. It’s everybody around me that’s going insane.
I should say everywoman.
“I’m fine, really Doc.”
Who I am kidding? How would anybody react, in a situation like mine? I was reading about the Dodo bird the other day. Flightless pigeons weren’t exactly a wonder of the animal kingdom, yet they went extinct. They weren’t highly valued for their plumage, their meat was tough and stringy; not particular useful in any way, really. Pretty harmless. Extinction didn’t come from humans. The source? Dogs and pigs. Pigs like the one sitting before me now.
“Stuart, talk to me for a minute about the reoccurring dream you have. About the tree?”
Little piggy face with those atrocious checkered Gucci specs perched on the end of her pig snout, magnified beady black eyes. Thick, chunky pig fingers grip a silver ballpoint poised over a yellow notepad. Jowls quivering, healthy, pink, fat flesh. Stick an apple in her mouth and have a luau…
“Have you had it in a while? Stuart? You have to talk to me. That’s the only way I can help you.”
Help? Absolutely. Can’t argue with that. I just need a different type of intervention than what is being offered at the present. Like a miracle. Or drugs. “It’s the same as always. I’m in the forest, at night. I come across a little clearing, and there’s this big old tree in the middle, silhouetted by the moon. It seems like the tree stretches up into the sky forever, but the roots are all dead. Almost the entire tree is dead. Just the top, that I can barely see, is green. I can see acorns falling from the top branches, but they burn up before reaching me on the ground. So I start to climb. But the further I get the farther it seems. I’m pretty high up in the tree, and the moon is so bright, I can barely see. I can’t climb any further, I can’t get to the top, my strength is exhausted. But I don’t fall. I just hang on to the side of the tree, clutching at the branches. Finally, the tree starts to fall, and all I can do is hold on. Right before I hit the ground, I wake up.”
Dr. Piggie, head nodding, made notes on her yellow pad with that pen hidden beneath her little sausage fingers like she knew what the hell I was talking about.
“Mmm-hmm, mmm-hmm. I see.” Mumbling about psychoanalytical-unconcious-something or other; didn’t listen too intently.
She was on my mind again.
There was something unique, singular about her. Sister Mary Elizabeth Catherine McCartney. Maybe her parents went a little overboard on the name, but what Irish Catholic’s didn’t? Blacker-than-sin hair. Light blue eyes. Soft, creamy white skin. Not that I had ever seen more of it than her face and hands, not that I had ever touched it, though it seemed so inviting.
Yet there was an intangibility about it. When the light shone through the stain-glass of Jesus on the cross onto her face, it lit up her coif so it looked like a halo. An angel in a church.
What the hell am I talking about?
“Now this tree, talk to me about this tree for a moment. How tall is it? How old is it? What kind of tree?”
“Uh, well it’s the oldest tree you’ve ever seen. It’s got acorns. So maybe an oak. You want more specific?”
“No that’s perfect, mmm-hmm, an oak, yes, continue.” She wrote something on that yellow pad again. Smug look on her face.
“Well I don’t know how long oak trees live. I guess it’s sorta young, like 50 years old? But it’s tall enough where I can’t see the top from the base. Like 150, 200 feet?” What else do you want from me? It has approximately 379 limbs and weighs 700 tons? Oh, and it’s covered in bacon. Sorry to offend your family.
She wrote furiously. “Fascinating. Stuart, I find this dream extremely significant if we place it in context with your condition. From other dreams and memories we’ve discussed it seems as though there is a veritable goldmine in your unconscious, currently being repressed. If we can just release that, release those desires and impulses, I think we can get you on the road to recovery.”
Road? I always imagined it more as a bed, but…
“Isn’t that exciting?”
“Yeah, that’s great Doc.”

I’m a man living in a woman’s world.
No, Literally.
Another day wet with rain, thick with estrogen. Already broke up a fight next to the Holy Mary Mother of God statue, cleaned up the little bit of blood and a chunk of long dark hair that was on her sandal. Sophomores are vicious.
It’s not my condition that’s making me crazy. It’s my environment.
Thunder is crashing outside, like a metal saw being flexed, sound smashing against the bricks entombing St. Ursula. I’m too used to these Midwest thunderstorms, like I’m too used to these females surrounding me. Too much similarity. Women and rainstorms, I mean. Both can be life-giving, nurturing, terribly destructive. Wash away all the flowers, burn up the trees you planted last spring.
It’s part of their beauty and power, part of how they suck unsuspecting victims in.
“Mr. Potis, please report to the 3rd floor bathroom in the west wing.” Damn that loudspeaker. Like a giant shackle clamped onto my leg. There was a toilet overflowing in the west wing 3rd floor bathroom that made me curse every female on my way upstairs. No doubt some girl jammed tampons down the toilet as a practical joke. Get Mr. Potis to clean it up. Clever.
The viciousness is inbred in their sex, like a defect that only develops with a double X-chromosome. Funny how at an all-girls school that leads to cannibalistic tendencies – the weak get devoured by the gossip, the back-stabbing, the general (female dog)iness. It prepares them for the real world, where the strong use their weapons sharpened on the victims of prep school to become the 21st-century woman: alluring, cunning, deadly as the Venus fly trap. And the victims turn into pigs.
I stick my mop in the bucket of dirty water and head for the stairs, where I’m accosted by Sister Bordeaux.
“Mr. Potis, I’m wondering if you might aid ‘ze good Sistairs of ‘zis school by not making a mess all over ‘ze floor?”
Pencil-thin eyebrows raise my direction in disdain. Matches her long, thin face, slits for eyes. Like a serpent; but I think I prefer vampirical suggestions from students. I can’t decide. It’s like she hasn’t seen the sun in thirty years.
“Sorry Sister Bordeaux, I’ll clean that up.”
Sorry for all souls you will suck all the joy out of in your lifetime. Bordeaux gives me the creeps, gliding like a wraith all over the school. I think Father Morley is secretly terrified of her. I would be too if I had to hear her confessions.
“The Lord tells us in Ezekiel that we must be clean from all our filthiness, Mr. Potis. Physically, morally…”
Believe me lady, if I could be morally decadent, I would, and this would be a perfect place for it. Just thank your God you have me to clean up around here, otherwise the halls would be as filthy physically as all these “pious” Sisters and students are morally. I’m the last person who needs a lecture.
Turns out it was the tampon prank again. I really need to start gambling more.
Later on I’m in the cathedral, washing the pews. Between sitting on hard wooden benches and kneeling on stone floors, I thank the heathen gods I wasn’t born Catholic.
I feel a soft hand on my back. “Mr. Potis, how are you today?”
Damn halo again. Seems like it’s permanent. Maybe I was right with the whole angel thing; that smooth skin, unblemished, like a porcelain mask behind a display case. Look, don’t touch.
“I can’t complain. Girls keeping you busy?”
She smiles; look at those white teeth, those full, red lips.
“Of course, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I have been fortunate enough to teach some of the brightest students. The Lord has indeed blessed me.”
And me. Hands clasped in front of her, black habit stretched tight across her chest.
Is she the root of the craziness?
No. She might be the solution.
Carnal, base, degenerate lusts come even in the sanctuary of God, and yet…nothing.
Seriously? This is ridiculous. I’m probably doubly cursed for coveting a nun in a church, but still. Maybe triple.
This isn’t psychological, Dr. Piggy.
She turns, accentuating more curves. They really need to find her a larger tunic.
“Father Morley, good afternoon.”
Celibacy is an admirable thing to some. I often wonder what goes on in the mind of a man who somehow hears the voice of a Supreme Being and denies himself a life of perfectly reasonable pleasure. Not even using the functional tools that Being has given him.
I call it lunacy.
My lunacy is a forced priesthood, a product of fate; theirs is voluntary.

Jowls trembling.
Pen poised over a yellow pad.
“You say the dream has changed?”
“Yeah, it’s different. There’s a woman in it now.”
I guess the dreams kept me guessing for a while; it seemed like if the dreams could change, I could change, I could improve. Get fixed.
“Ahhh, yes, wonderful. Tell me the new details. What happens with the woman?”
“Same clearing in the woods. Except now the tree is completely withered. It’s dead. No more acorns falling. I walk up to the trunk, feel the cold bark, but don’t climb. I just stand there and wait. Then I see Sister McCartney, a nun I know. She smiles and walks up to the tree. She has an axe, and begins to chop at the base of the tree, tearing chunks out of the oak. I tell her to stop, to put down the axe, but she just smiles at me and continues chopping away until the tree falls to the ground with a crash. Then everything is silent, Sister McCartney just standing there, smiling at me. Then I wake up.”
“Hmmmmmm. That isn’t what I was expecting.”
Damned by an angel, of all things.
She continued for a while, but I only caught the end: “We can continue our sessions, but sometimes our minds simply cannot overcome a physical problem. “
A psychological solution was my last hope. I’d tried everything else medically that I could.
No power. No way to continue. A dying breed, doomed to extinction.
Cursed to roam in search of some “higher” purpose.
You and me both, Father.


  1. NICE Ky. Totally wasn't what I was expecting. But seriously good.

  2. This is seriously disturbed but seriously GOOD. A short piece you have to read multiple times just to try and decipher what the author is unveiling and then wait, there's something else that begins to bother the mind with this. Deep, baby!

    Those older married mature female types in class must be reaching new heights... trust me, they are not all like that... there are true gems. Think of your Mom and sistahs, brother K.

    One minor concern and maybe it's nothing, any correlation in this and what you are looking for? Speaking spousally of course. Thought not, but still had to ask.

    Seriously, Brilliant.

  3. You're disturbed! And quit the cussing...and YES...it's cussing!

  4. OK, I have to say this for the others, despite myself... why is he, the main character, in counseling? Kyle had to spell it out for me. Once you get that, go back and re-read this and I think you will be quite amazed at how Ky has tied this all together. It's like a giant riddle and when you get it, you first go "ah-ha" and then you say to yourself, that was masterfully done.

    I was looking too deep, when in reality it seems so simple now. I'm only disappointed that I didnt' figure it out on my own! That's why I was an Accounting major... I can do a mean spreadsheet though! Really, Kyle, you are gifted.

  5. ok ky... you win. i obviously don't get it after reading the comments. i'm like, "ok cool, what is there to get?" uh-oh, i need help. very well written.