Good Luck: Episode Fifty-One
My psychiatrist was dressed as a sad clown.
Rainbow wig. Greasepaint.
Bells on his shoes. He answered the door and asked me what I was supposed to be. “Stanley Kowalski. But I don’t have my costume on.” I told him my real name, I wasn’t a trick ‘r treater.
He removed his silk glove. I shook his hand. The appointment had not been written in the log. His office was full of green fog.
A record was spinning, Now That’s What I Call Halloween Vol. 666. He lifted the needle. The moaning and chain rattle calmed.
The couch was covered in artificial cobwebs. He motioned to it.
I could see out the window: werewolf children walked by, witch children, Star Wars children, grim reaper children, a laughing mother dressed as a mother, a father with a flashlight.
It was just after dusk. I sat down.
“How are you feeling?”
I looked at his red rubber nose. Behind him I could see his certificate on the wall. He’d graduated from Johns Hopkins University.
“I’m not feeling good,” I said.
“I can’t remember.”
He told me to lie down, make myself comfortable.
So I lay down.
Someone knocked on the door. He got up and gave them fun size Butterfingers. I couldn’t see what they were dressed as.
Their voices squeaked.
When he came back, he had taken the rainbow wig off, and I saw his bald head. He looked much older. Suddenly stoic.
“Tell me about your problems.”
I told the doctor that I needed to get my memories in order. My memories had turned against me.
He said memories didn’t work like that.
There was another knock on the door. He walked through the fog. This time I saw it was a little girl dressed as a dragon. Another little girl was there too, holding the dragon’s hand. A knight in shining armor. He gave them their candy and then left the bowl out in the hallway.
My phone buzzed. Rae texting, a bunch of ghost emojis.
I said, “Can’t talk, I’m getting my head examined.”
When the psychiatrist returned, he had wiped the greasepaint from his face, except for a blotch he missed in the cleft of his chin. His bells jangled as he sat down.
“Why do you feel your memories have turned against you?”
“I don’t feel it. It happened. They started a riot at the place where they live in my mind. Even though I threw them a party.”
“Tell me more about this party.”
“It cost me $32,000. I hired jugglers, and a petting zoo, and there was a bounce castle, and a full bar, and–”
“It was a great party. Catered. Piñatas. But some of my memories have it in for me. They lit the bounce castle on fire. They killed the petting zoo.”
“That’s terrible. You said some of your memories have it in for you. What does that mean?”
“It means they threw the sheet cakes in the river and smashed up the spin art station with sledgehammers.”
“Please calm down.”
I had a coughing fit. The psychiatrist shut off the smoke machine.
“Is that better.”
“Yes. Thank you.” I looked into his eyes. He looked away.
“I don’t understand. Where was this party? I’m not following.”
“My memories live in a big white farmhouse in my mind. Each year the house gets bigger. Some of my memories have really gotten rotten. One of them murdered memories of my wife and I on our wedding day. But it’s okay, I went there and fixed things. Temporarily.”
“Have you ever been institutionalized?”
“No. Is there some kind of medicine you could prescribe me to make my memories chill the fuck out?”
“No. It doesn’t work like that.”
“Well, then how does it work?”
“You’ve got to let these bad feelings go.”
“How do I do that?” I asked.
“It’ll take time. Sessions. Many sessions. You need to make peace with them.”
“They lit the bounce castle on fire, didn’t you hear that? We are beyond peace.”
He squeezed a flower and water sprayed out, but missed me. “My apologies. That was an accident.”
On the way home, I stopped at the grocery store and bought a rotisserie chicken, ginger dressing, tomatoes, romaine, and green peppers. I also bought some butternut soup, paper towels, and a mousetrap. The cashier was dressed as a cashier. I bagged my own.
I made Rae a salad. She was dressed as a cactus. I had put on a plain white t-shirt. I was Marlon Brando from A Streetcar Named Desire. I was really sweaty and mad. I said, “Stella, how do you like you salad?” Halloween salad. The costume had come with prop plates. I cleaned up the plates, flung them around like an ape. They shattered. Very cathartic. “Stella!”
There was a knock on the door. It was the super of our building. He wasn’t in costume. He was with his kid. His kid shouted, “You are not the father!” The kid was dressed up as Maury Povich. We didn’t have any candy. I asked the child if it wanted a salad. It did not.
In the pink room, I sat with Rae and told her the bad news. The doctor said I needed to come twice a week for a month and talk about my feelings. Talking about my feelings would bankrupt us. Rae said she was sorry, but I should be lucky it wasn’t 1950 because they would have just given me a lobotomy. Or electric shock. Or both.
“I’m supposed to let go of my bad memories.”
“That’s maybe a good idea.”
“You think so?”
“I do. Yeah. Start fresh. I’ll help. I have an idea.”
Rae went and got the typewriter.
She spoke. I typed.
artwork by Michael Seymour Blake and Chelsey Culmann