Fabian Black - Perceptions



Flash Fiction



PERCEPTIONS


My first psychiatrist was a lunatic. I hated him and he hated me, though of course he denied it. He said I was paranoid. Of course I denied it and accused him of following me. He thought I was mad, but I thought he was mad, and I said so. He didn’t like that. Psychiatrists are not used to mad people expressing such radical opinions. It didn’t go down well at all. He patted his imaginary dog, which I thought was strange, because I could see it. I couldn’t help but think, ‘are you supposed to be able to see other people’s imaginary pets?’   He claimed it was a real Alsatian, but I didn’t believe him. For a start, from where I was sitting, it was a Collie, so I knew he was lying. I said so, which annoyed him still further. He told me to remember that I was the patient and he was the doctor, which meant the balance of power was his.

To get my own back, I began talking to my invisible boyfriend, which irritated him even more. He was not a patient doctor. I on the other hand was a very patient patient. I had to be. I had no choice. He tried to claim my boyfriend was a figment of my imagination, but I wasn’t having any of that. “No,” I said firmly, “you are the figment of my imagination. My boyfriend said so and I believe him.”

  “There’s no one there, John,” he said firmly, “we’ve been through all this.”

  “You can’t prove it,” I said, “just as you can’t prove that your imaginary dog is an Alsatian when I know it’s an imaginary Collie. It’s a matter of perception and who’s to say your that your perceptions of reality are any more valid than mine?”

He abruptly changed the subject. “Let’s try some word association. I’ll say a word and you respond.”

  “May my boyfriend play?” I asked.

  “No,” he growled between gritted teeth. “Just you.”

  “Please yourself.” I shrugged apologetically at my boyfriend, who was very understanding, as opposed to the doctor who did not understand at all.

  “Black.”

  “What?”

  “Black.”

  “Yes it is somewhat overcast,” I agreed looking out of the window. “I think we’ll have rain later.”

  “No, no,” he yelled, “black is the word I want you to respond to.”

  “Whoa, calm down, Mr mind man, you’ll make yourself ill yelling like that. Say it again.”

  “Black.”

  “Yes, let’s see, black, well it’s a colour.”

  “No, no,” he shook his head impatiently.

  “I’m sorry, but I think you’ll find I’m right. Black is definitely a colour.” I paused for a moment, “or is it? It depends on how you define the word colour? Black and white are dark and light and colour is pink and red.”

  “God,” he leaned his head back and spoke up at the ceiling, “I give up.”

Poor man, he was losing his mind. I patted his hand and broke it to him as gently as I could,  “that isn’t God. It’s just a light fitting.”

He stared at me silently for a moment before saying, “I hate this job. I really wanted to be a dentist, but I was allergic to the impression paste.”

  “There’s not that much difference,” I told him. “You poke and dig, drilling out information, extracting thoughts instead of teeth, filling the spaces and telling us how we should think and behave in order to present an acceptable smile to the world. I say life is a waste of time, you say it isn’t. I say I’m attracted to other men and you say my mind is sick. If I can’t be whom I was born to be then my life is a waste of time.

He glanced at his watch, “I think your time is up.”

  “When was it ever anything else?”

  “Send in the next patient please,” he spoke to a box on his desk. Poor man. He was utterly delusional, talking to ceilings and now boxes.

I smiled as I left his room. The twins Mary and Bo were next. They both claimed to be lesbians who lived in nursery rhyme land.

  “Come in, Mary, mind the dog,” I heard him say.

  “It’s Bo actually, she snapped, “and that bitch Mary has pinched one of my lambs. She claims she found it.”

  “Finders keepers losers weepers,” chanted Mary in a voice that sounded uncannily like Bo’s. “What dog would that be doc?”

*

Copyright Fabian Black 2012