Dr. Samuels, in his white coat, clutching a clipboard, walked by not 20 feet in front of her without the slightest acknowledgment of her presence. As he did so, she did not breathe and after he had passed she exhaled an inordinate amount of smoke which caused her to cough until she choked. Dr. Samuels glanced back toward her, shooting looks of concern. Maria straightened herself in her chair and took a sip of water out of the glass which sat beside her, resting on an old tree stump.
Maria rescued her breath and circled her fingers ‘round and ‘round the old tree’s rings in an attempt to calm herself as the Doctor disappeared into the building and Maria failed to block the memory of their last appointment from her oft occurring memory.
M A R I A E S E T O L L A
A G E - 24
H E I G H T - 5 F E E T & 8 I N C H E S
W E I G H T - 126 P O U N D S
2nd Appointment with Dr. Vaughn Samuels 5/26/77
“Have I told you about the longing? The oppressive longing that I feel for you? It cuts off the oxygen in my throat and refuses to let it pass in and out of my lungs at times.”
“Maria, please don’t do this. It’s not healthy. You know there is nothing I can do about it.”
“Yes. There is, Dr. Samuels. You know, in fact, that there is.”
Maria stood up and unbuttoned her top. She was not wearing a bra. She approached Dr. Samuels with a molasses-like slowness, sexy and somehow child-like; her eyes innocent and possessing.
Dr. Samuels coughed.
“Maria, please. Put your shirt on.”
Maria reached him, grabbed his hand. His hand, with hairs, a gold ring on his marriage finger. His nails, groomed, his fingers only slightly calloused. She placed his hand upon her breast and began a stroking movement.
“This movement is how the world goes round, Doc. You know that, don’t you? Why people go crazy, why people stay sane; it’s all in this motion, ‘round and ‘round and ‘round we go. Up and down, up and…”
Maria straddled Dr. Samuels on top of his professional swivel chair; they swerved away from his cherry oak desk and slammed into the wall. Dr. Samuel’s framed degrees shook and almost freed themselves from off their hooks. Maria freed the hook on the back of her beige, knee-length shorts; she slid them down, dismounting him and fell to her knees to unhinge the doctors pants and fulfill her longing needs.
Dr. Samuel stood abruptly, “Maria! Get a hold of yourself, will you? You are not a child any more. You must exercise some self-control.”
Maria sat on the floor, starring up at him, anger growing from within and the oxygen getting all choked up in her throat, her suffocating lungs shriveling like discarded raisins.
“Maria, get up.”
Maria stayed down.
“Maria! I said, get up.”
Maria, instead, laid her whole body down on the floor.
“Maria, defiance does not suit you! Up! Up! Up! Will you, please, GET UP?!”
Maria closed her eyes and slid her hand down under her panties. She began stroking herself inside while moaning.
“Dear god…” The Doctor looked away, “…dear god, girl.”
Dr. Samuel walked to the window and lit a cigarette.
Maria finished and starred at him from her position on the floor.
The Doctor looked back at her, “Look what you’ve become.”
Maria’s eyes filled with tears that she was determined to ignore. “No. I think you mean, look at what you’ve made me.”
She stood and dressed, leaving while in the midst of becoming decently covered, though not quite there. She did not care. She pulled at her hair while she ran, afraid of her own state of mind, the strength of her longing, and her inability to fill the growing void before it swallowed her entirely.
She reached her room and shortly after, two workers in white came in and restrained her, shot her up with creamy liquid injections, made her sleep until she woke up alone in a padded cell. A nurse came and got her in the morning and led her to breakfast like a pig to the trough. She refused to eat, so she sat there for 3 hours under strict supervision until she managed down a couple bites of cold oatmeal. The rest of the day was spent in group therapy, and then reading by a rainy window waiting for dinner and sleep again. She would not be seeing the Doctor in private sessions any more, they said. She was told she would be seeing Dr Piravovich instead, a woman who would, they said, also be able to help her with her sexual perversions, among other things.
Now Maria sat in the yard, in the white lawn chair, contemplating how and why she’d gotten to this place; how, and when, and if she could leave, should she so choose. Another patient, a new one, came and sat down next to her on the tree stump. His name was redundantly Steve Steve. She moved her glass to make room for him.
“Hi, I’m Steve Steve.”
“You are Maria.”
“I know that, too.”
“Oh. What else do you know?” Steve stared at her while she contemplated it, then cut off her train of thought, “I know why the sky is blue. I know why your eyes are green. I know why the birds sing. I know where your kidneys are. I can grow a bean. Can you teach me how to sing? I want to sing Happy Birthday for my Mother on the 12th of July because that is her 85th birthday and I want to sing for her on her birthday, doesn’t that sound like a nice idea? Tell me what YOU know now.”
“I don’t know how to sing.”
“Oh, yeah? Me neither. Hmm.” Steve Steve looked down at his shoe and began rubbing it with his index finger, then he licked his finger and rubbed it some more.
Maria sat in silence.
Steve Steve broke the silence, “I like to eat popsicles and Nurse Dayila says there aren’t any popsicles here.”
Steve looked to be in his 40’s and his polo was striped with reds and browns, his glasses where thick and always sliding down his nose. His hair was cut very short, almost military. He seemed like a child stuck in a man‘s body.
Maria sat quiet, attempting a perfect silence.
Steve Steve tried to sing out, but his voice broke and shivered like a frog trying to talk, or die, “OH! OH! When the SAINTS! GO! GO! Marching IN! IN! Oh! Oh! When the SAINTS GO! GO! When the SAINTS! GO! GO!”
Steve Steve stood and began a march, fists pounding up in the air, knees high and then low, high and low.
“Steve Steve, STOP!” Maria shouted over top of him.
He stopped at once, as if in trouble.
“Stop.” She repeated.
Steve Steve sat back down and pulled a tiny book out of his back pocket. He began to read to himself, quietly but with lips mouthing every word.
Maria lit another cigarette and rested her head in her hands as her thoughts drifted once more to a not so distant memory…
“I’m 23 and the years are passing faster every year. I’m- don’t laugh! I’m not crazy! They are passing faster every single year and I’m not getting- I’m not GETTING anything done. Don’t you understand that?” She shouted.
“What are you talking about? You have a job, you have friends, and you have a good family. What is it you want?” Dr. Samuels tried to reason, to calm, to extinguish and move on, but the fire only grew within her.
“What do I want? What do I WANT? What the hell do I know what I want? What do you want? Do you want your life? Are you happy, Vaughn? Are you satisfied in your prestigious life? Your soon to be profession and your wife, you’re unborn son coming in JUNE! You’re life, Doctor Samuels. You’re life! Is it what YOU want?”
“I love my life, Maria. Yes, my life is what I want.”
Maria took a long drag and starred at him with daggers.
“So, tell me then, why you are here with me, instead of off living your perfect life- this life you always wanted- at the fucking park with your perfect fucking family?”
“Because Maria…” He took a long pause, “… that‘s not all I want. I want… I want… I want…“ The doctor slid back under the covers and began to perform cunallingus on her as her cigarette fell to the floor.
She rested well that night in his arms, but woke up all alone.
DR. V A U G H N S A M U E L S
A G E - 39
H E I G H T - 5 F E E T & 10 I N C H E S
W E I G H T - 169
Initial Hiring Interview for the Oak Lawn Mental Health Facility with Dr. Leo Fields 4/22/77
“Thank you for taking the time to meet with me today.” Dr. Leo Fields, the health director overseeing new-hires and patient intake said as he leaned back in his chair. “Why don’t you start by telling me a little about your education and experience and… we’ll go from there. Alright?”
“Sounds good.” Vaughn was nervous. It had been a nerve filled day and he had nearly missed his appointment entirely, caught in an argument with his mistress. As the thought of the tuff passed, he found his hand subconsciously rubbing the scratches on his neck and stopped himself to focus on giving an intelligent answer. He needed this job all the more so now, with a kid on the way.
“Well, Mr. Fields, as you know I studied at Brown University and graduated with high honors. I then spent several years under the tutelage of Dr. Rutger, whom I believe you know personally?”
“Oh, yes! Mike Rutger!” Dr. Field laughed, “The filthy-” then stopped himself, “Well, yes. We go back a ways. I forgot that you studied with him.”
“Yes, Dr. Rutger was a huge influence on me and I owe most of what I know to him. He afforded me many opportunities to learn and take on my own cases-”
“I’m sorry to cut you off, Vaughn, but I don’t think we need to continue any further. I have a racquet ball game to get to and you training with Rutger pretty much seals it for me…. Do you want the job?”
“Do you mean it?”
Dr. Field laughed, “Of course, I never joke about a man’s livelihood.”
Dr. Field stood and grabbed his exercise bag and racquet, “So? Is that a yes, Doctor?”
“Yes. Yes! Of course. It would be my honor.”
Dr. Field offered his hand and Vaughn shook it enthusiastically, it seemed his day was turning around.
“Alright. See you Monday at 8 am? You know your first shift is going to be a doozy, right? We’d like to keep you on until about 10pm and then later in the week get you in for a night shift, just so you get accustomed to our system of operations and then we’ll get you into more normal hours and set up appointments with your new patients. Most of them will be transferring over from Dr. Dabbith who had to leave us rather… abruptly, and this has caused several of our patients to experience some relapses in their recoveries. So, you can understand us wanting to get you assimilated as quickly as possible. I’m sure you’ll work wonders for us, wont you?”
“I‘ll do my best and only that. Thank you again, Dr. Field-”
“Oh, call me Leo. Please.”
“Leo.” He smiled.
They walked out together, Leo briskly walking to his car and Vaughn slowly taking in his new place of employment. His career was officially starting and he was sure Dr. Rutgers would be proud of him, he would have to call as soon as he got home, after he told Sarah that is.
He climbed into his car and began to put it in reverse when suddenly the passenger door was pulled open and Maria was climbing in. She wasn’t even wearing make-up, nor had she appeared to have even showered since there previous encounter the evening prior.
“Ma- Maria. What are you doing here?” He looked around to make sure no one was watching. He’d be damned if she got him in trouble before he even started.
“You love me, right?”
“Of course. In my way.” She looked at him like she was trying to sift through a lie, but her need to believe it was stronger than her ability to decode it, so he added, “and you love me, too, right?” to distract her. Then, he saw Leo in the rearview mirror stop in his tracks and turn back in his direction.
“I love you, Sam. I love you and you alone. In fact, there isn‘t anybody in the world that I love at all besides you, not even my mother.”
Vaughn stared at the mirror in a panic, then, suddenly Leo bent down, picked something up off the ground, turned around and got in his car. Vaughn sighed in relief. He looked back at Maria. “Why’d you call me Sam?”
“You’re more a Sam than you are a Vaughn.” She coddled his head in her hand lovingly.
“Saying things that don’t make sense wont get you anywhere in life, Maria.”
“They make sense to me. What doesn’t make sense about saying you look like a Sam more than a Vaughn? Hey- do I look like a Maria? Huh? How about it?” She made a little fish face and crossed her eyes, framed her head with her hands and then laughed.
He didn’t want to, but he couldn’t help but crack a smile. She was a kid, she was a doll, she wasn’t real- not a real woman yet. No responsibility. Not enough crushed dreams yet. No real maternal desires to mature her. She was silly- a joke- and she made him laugh, but it couldn’t go on like this. He’d gotten the job. He could no longer be just a stupid boy any longer. He was about to have a boy of his own after all. He was a man, with responsibility, a job and a family.
“Hey! I said, how ‘bout it? Am I a Maria or what? I’ve always felt more like a Persiphanies. I know that’s not a real common name yet, but I feel it best describes me- you know I’m not a real common bird, either. I think I’d like to-”
“Maria. I’m going to take you home now.”
“You are? And then what’ll you do to me?” She giggled.
He didn’t answer and Maria started to get the gist of what was behind all the words he wasn’t saying. She pouted; shaking, crying, staring out the window the whole drive back to her home. He stayed stoic, being the sensible one, if only in his head. He parked outside her apartment and still he said nothing. She wouldn’t move. They sat in silence until he’d had enough and knew that if he didn’t make the first move, she’d sit there forever just to never be left by him. He got out of the car and went around to her side. He opened her door, she looked the opposite direction.
“Come on, Maria. I don’t want to have to drag you. Let’s not make a scene here.”
“Just tell me why.”
“Do you really have to ask?”
“Last night you said you wanted me- said you needed more than your stupid family. What, now you got a job and so that replaces me? ‘Cause I can promise you, you wont get from your nut house job the kind of pleasures I give you.”
“What? So, I’m the crazy one because I wont let you leave me without a good reason? A person should have a damn good reason. You said you loved me only minutes ago, remember? So what are you? A liar or a coward?”
“Both. Neither. It doesn’t matter. It’s over and that’s that, now get out of my car before I call the police.”
Maria laughed, “Right! I’d like to see you explain this one to the police- to your wife! To you new employer over at the nut house! Listen, my lover on the side just wouldn’t get out of my car! What was I s’posed to do?”
Vaughn reached in and unbuckled her seatbelt and scooped her up in his strong arms as she flailed and kicked and yelled, “Rape! Rape! Rape!”
Vaughn dropped her on the sidewalk, slid in the passenger seat and locked the door. Then he slid over to the drivers seat and squealed off down the tree lined road.
The next time he saw her was one week later during his over night round. He passed by room 126 and there she lay, sleeping.