The Final Session
He shifted in his black Eames chair and the sound of his pants rubbing against the leather made Harold cringe. He wrote on his yellow legal pad, moving his head up and down. Harold would always stop speaking when he was writing. He didn’t want him to miss anything in his notes. In this situation, every detail was significant. Dr. Waiben finally took his ballpoint pen from the paper and once again met Harold’s eyes.
“It’s like when you wake up in the morning and for about ten seconds you feel fine and then all of a sudden you have the realization of who you are and that your life is shit. Do you know what I mean?”
“Does this happen to you often?”
“Ha! Yeah, every fucking day.”
“Well, moving away from that, what else has been bothering you since the last time we spoke?” Dr. Waiben’s eyes widened and he slowly tilted his head to the right. Harold stared at him and it seemed that he was looking at Harold’s chest and not directly at him. Harold glanced down to make sure there wasn’t a stain on his white button up shirt.
“Well actually, yes. There is something that has been bothering me lately and I keep going back to it. I think it’s pretty deeply rooted.” There was no doubt Waiben’s eyes were looking directly into Harold’s now. “This girl I have been sleeping with. Well, she snores.” He immediately looked up, expecting the unfortunate reaction from Waiben he too had had, when he discovered it.
“Snores?” the doctor looked a little bewildered and Harold decided he didn’t understand the seriousness of the situation.
“She snores and loud, like scary loud. It’s worse than my dad. She even woke up my neighbor and there are two walls between us! “
“This is your girlfriend?”
“No!” Harold was getting impatient. “I told you she’s a girl I’m sleeping with.”
“I’m sorry Harold, I am somewhat unclear on the issue. What exactly is the problem?”
Harold’s teeth gnawed against each other and his breathing became hurried. “Doctor, she snores and its so unattractive. What 25-year-old snores? She’s a good lay but this is not something I can deal with.” Waiben still looked confused and hadn’t written anything down yet. “Do I have to spell it out for you? This obviously is directly connected to my mother abandoning me. How do you not see that? You know they’re not paying you so I can tell you what’s wrong with me. That’s your job!” Harold was almost yelling now. He had unconsciously moved his way to the front of the sofa he had been comfortably lying on.
“Harold, calm down. I think I just missed the connection,” he said calmly. He picked up his pen and scribbled something down. Harold took a breath and slowly moved his back against the sofa. “Now I want you to tell me how this snoring relates to your abandonment as a child. Please be specific.”
“OK. Sorry.” Harold moved his eyes to the hanging plant to the right of the doctor. It was one of the only decorative accents in the otherwise minimal office.
“Well obviously…” Harold stopped. The studio was paying Waiben $800 an hour to get Harold’s issues worked out so he could finally dive into Marvin Jolac’s character. After three weeks of daily sessions he was still blocked. If this didn’t work, Harold knew there was still time for them to recast. He was willing to spell it out for the doctor, if that’s what it took for a breakthrough.
He began again. “When I was 15, my mother moved to Ohio. So I decided that I would go live with her instead of staying with my dad in Virginia. You following?” Harold felt a slight excitement as Waiben scribbled quickly on his pad.
“Yes. Yes. Go on please.” He looked intensely at Harold and held his pen directly above the yellow paper, waiting. Harold wanted to smile but continued his solemn look.
“She went there ahead of me and got settled. Then three months later I flew to Toledo. Back then people could wait for you right at the gate and I remember coming off the plane, expecting to see her with “Welcome Home” balloons, but she wasn’t there. I waited for three hours in that airport and she never showed. I finally used the phone at the information desk and got a hold of her. She said she thought I was coming next week.” He paused and saw the doctor was still scribbling away, as he should be, Harold thought.
Dr. Waiben looked up, but before he could speak, Harold started again. “I think I lasted there about 4 months before I went back to my dad’s. It was right around that time that I started choosing the wrong women. Always something wrong with them, and always something that effected me. You know Marie, we talked about her last week? She was hot but she worked at Gap. Can you imagine me dating someone who worked at Gap? That wouldn’t have gone down too well at the premieres.” He chuckled a little, more to himself, but Waiben didn’t even break a smile. Harold thought that therapists weren’t supposed to have a sense of humor so it only befitted him.
“So anyway, this girl who snores. It effects my sleep patterns, my neighbors’ sleep patterns and quite frankly I think I can do better than someone with a deviated septum. But that’s the issue, you see that doctor?” He wasn’t really asking but felt he should throw a question in now and again. “After my mom screwed me over I only attract women who have something seriously wrong with them. Maybe it’s my vulnerability or they are just attracted to me because of my talent. I really don’t know, so I guess that’s your job.” Harold stopped speaking and kept his eyes to the ground. He felt like he had just finished a Shakespearean monologue and though no one was clapping, he still had a sense of fulfillment.
“Well Harold…” Dr. Weiban hesitated and looked out the large window at the cityscape.
“What, what is it?” Suddenly Harold was nervous. Maybe this guy wasn’t stupid after all. Maybe he had finally figured out what was wrong with him. As Harold realized this, he became almost giddy, as he thought about playing Marvin Jolac. His agent had told him this was the role that would change everything. He thought about walking down the red carpet, humbly telling all the reporters he was just happy to be nominated. He would wear all black; even his tie would be black. This was the moment he thought. After this, it could only get better. Harold fixed his eyes on the doctors’ face. He was ravenous for Weiban’s answer.
“Actually, can you hand me that water?” Harold processed and then reprocessed the response. First, he was confused, then beseeched with anger. As rage started to build inside him, it was quickly halted. Dr. Weiban was about to give Harold the breakthrough most patients could only dream about. Of course he needed to drink a bit of water first. Harold sighed in relief and then grabbed the tall glass of water next to the sofa. He held it out in front oh him. Him and Weiban were several feet away from each other and it was not an easy hand off. Weiban leaned forward clutching for the glass but his hand was still inches from the cup. He leaned off the leather chair and as his short fingers finally made their way around the glass, his yellow pad fell to the ground.
Harold’s eyes moved to the ground as he considered picking it up and handing it to the doctor. These thoughts soon ended as he saw what was on the paper. It could have been the picture on a Ravensburger puzzle. A jungle full of bamboo trees, waterfalls and various creatures adorned the notepad. Though the sketch had been done only in black ink, the chimpanzees, orangutan and tree frogs were still easily identifiable. Harold thought he could even see Tarzan hanging on a vine next to a Jaguar.
Dr. Weiban snatched the pad off the floor and recoiled to the back of his chair. His eyes searched the room, as if he was looking for a weapon, in case it became necessary.
“Harold.” Weiban silenced himself as he watched Harold shake his head left to right. Harold stood up and took a few steps forward. He seemed unnaturally tall to Dr. Weiban. Harold too considered the possibility of a weapon, even his fist. The room was so sparse he didn’t know what to use to hurt Dr. Weiban other than himself. However, Harold knew that wasn’t an option. His face was also his meal ticket and if the doctor hit back he would be back in that dirty apartment in Sherman Oaks waiting tables at Sushiland.
Harold surveyed the room until his eyes located his vindication. He suddenly moved forward until his large fingers were wrapped around the hanging plant. He tugged it from its high perch, then gripped the green plastic handle. Dr. Weiban didn’t move from his chair but his face was full of fear. He began to hunch over and move his hands toward his face. Harold began swinging the plant around until it made fast circles above his head and cut the air. Soil flew to all ends of the office and Dr. Weiban gasped in horror.
“Harold, stop. Stop Harold. Put the plant down.”
“You’re a worthless doctor! I’m the type of patient you could write a book about but you rather draw The Jungle Book!” The plant was whipping around faster and faster and the anger was building on Harold’s face. “Fuck you Weiban!” Harold let go of the hanger at what he thought was just the right moment. The green leafed plant hurled towards the large picture window with enough force to knock over a man. But Harold had over-calculated. The plant hit the edge of the windowsill and flew back, landing in front of Harold’s feet.
The doctor moved even further back in his char and naively put the pad in front of him, creating a thin shield. Harold looked down at the plant for some time, breathing hard. Weiban watched in dread until Harold’s foot violently kicked it forward. He turned around and looked directly at the doctor. Weiban knew he had nothing to protect himself with other than the thin notepad he clutched in his hands. Harold looked on at the doctor for a long time then swung around, flung the office door open and ran.
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Portland Fiction Project
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