“so what do you see?” asked marie.
they had been in the art gallery for about an hour at that point. marie had dragged jason to see the latest painting she had fallen in love with, and, to be honest, he didn’t really think much of this latest passion of hers. “i don’t know,” he answered. “impressionism never really made much of an impression on me.”
jason’s attempt at humor was rewarded with a swift punch to the arm. “jason, these paintings are so highly priced for a reason. the artist is renowned for his ability to capture human emotions precisely. i’m sure you see something.”
“i’m sorry,” i replied. “i’m trying really hard, but i can’t really see anything. why don’t you tell me what you see, and i’ll try and figure if i see the same?”
“well, i see a vast loneliness, a desire to be free of this loneliness, and an anger at the emptiness. note the bold brush strokes,” marie concluded.
“uh huh,” jason concurred, “i do see that.” it was a lie. he stole a glance at the brochure that he had picked up on the way in, and saw that the painting was named happiness. so much for marie being an art critic.
“so, honey,” asked jason. “how much does it cost?”
“so what do you see?” asked dr. williams, holding up the ink blot.
“hmm. that’s an interesting one.” replied carl. “i see an egg smashed against the ground, with the yolk running out all over.”
“and now?” dr williams changed to a different picture.
“well, on that one i see the splatter of a bug against the windshield.” he interrupted the doctor as he was about to change the slide. “honestly, doc, how long do we have to keep this up?”
“well, carl, you came to see me because you had been repressing issues for a long time, and you felt that you were on the verge of exploding. i’m trying to get an idea of what form this explosion might take.”
“you’ve shown me about a thousand ink blots in the past forty minutes, doc. you must have some idea by now,” pleaded carl.
“you’re right, carl,” said dr. williams, putting down the ink blots. “and to be honest, i’m trying to be completely sure, because the picture i’m getting is not a merry one, to say the least.” he took off his glasses. “now let’s go over some history. you’re parents got a divorce when you were 12, correct?” carl nodded. “and, as you told me earlier, you never forgave your father for having an affair and breaking up your family. and then your mother married a man who used to abuse you physically. and ever since then, you’ve been stressed out most of the time, correct?”
“yeah, doc. you know all this, and you also know that i’ve never really opened up to anyone about any of this – before you, that is.”
“i understand. unfortunately, while your coming to see me was a good idea, it may have come a little late. you should have come to see me sooner.”
“why, doc? what’s wrong,” asked carl, concerned.
“well, i see vestiges of aggression hidden inside you. there’s an anger in you, an anger born of all this repression, and while it hasn’t manifested itself yet, i don’t know how much longer that will be the case.”
carl was resigned. he had been feeling this anger boiling inside himself for a while. “so what now?” he asked.
“we continue our sessions. as i said, this anger is born of repression, so the best thing for you would be to open up as completely as possible to me. we need to work through all the issues and pain you’ve been repressing. i’m afraid that’s the only way to deal with this. of course, you understand that there is no simple and quick solution to this.”
“yeah, i understand,” said carl, rising from the chair. “same time next week, then?”
“see you then,” said dr. williams as carl walked out of the office.
“so what do you see?” asked the voice on the radio.
“i see the fulfillment of all my desires, all my needs, and the only path to my happiness,” replied another voice.
richard’s one secret was his love for soap operas. when he was home, he watched them all afternoon on tv, and when he was out driving his cab, he loved to listen to the radio versions as well. for good measure, he had several CDs filled with audio of soap operas lying on the seat next to him all the time, in case the choices offered on the air waves were limited or not to his liking. he generally did not care what his passengers thought about his sole obsession. it helped him focus on his driving, and it helped him keep his indifferent cool most of the time.
this afternoon, however, he was slowly losing his cool, and the soap operas were not helping. he had been on the beat since eight in the morning, but since the inauguration of the subway, he had been having trouble finding passengers. today had been tremendously bad. he had only had two passengers since the morning, and both of them had only needed short rides. he was due back at the garage in just under four hours, and he hadn’t made enough to pay off his daily rent. on top of that, he had been stuck in dense traffic for almost an hour, managing only to move a couple of inches.
“22,” squawked the walkie talkie lying next to him. “come in 22.”
richard turned down the volume on the soap opera, annoyed at the interruption. however, the dispatcher would only call him in an emergency, or if she had a fare for him. “go ahead, dispatch,” he replied.
“are you still in the downtown area, 22?” came the answer.
“that’s an affirmative.” richard liked using police lingo over the radio, because it made him feel like he was doing something significantly more important than driving a cab.
“head to 22nd and 8th,” came the reply. “fare’s waiting for a ride to cranton.”
richard did a quick mental calculation. cranton was about 40 miles out, a suburb lying on the edge of the city. with this traffic, it would take about an hour or, if he was lucky, an hour and a half. that would more than make up for his daily rent for the cab, and he would have enough left over for dinner and beers at the bar that he frequented. then he cursed to himself. getting to 22nd and 8th meant taking a right turn at the next light, but he was in the left lane. but he could do it. in ten years of driving cabs, he had learned a trick or two. luckily, he was at the front of his lane.
when the light turned green, he was ready, speeding out of his lane and making a quick right, ahead of honking cars that were in the correct lane. he was going too fast to see the man attempting to cross the street. by the time richard managed to stop, a crowd had already gathered, and a policeman was hurrying towards his stationary cab with a determined look on his face.
“so what do you see?” asked carl.
they were at his favorite spot in the universe. he had discovered it on one of his long drives, and since dr. williams’ diagnosis, he had been coming here more and more often, because of the beautiful view, and because it helped him relax.
they were parked on top of a cliff, with the sea stretching out in every direction below them. they sat in his car, watching the sun set on the horizon. the sea gulls were in a flurry of last minute activity, cawing at each other futilely. more importantly, the entire scene was devoid of any other human existence – no traffic, no noise, and no pollution.
“i see eternity,” replied marie. “i see a vast sadness, yet i also see a semblance of hope, as if the sun will rise again, and everything will be all right.”
“so what next?” asked carl. “you’ve won five million dollars in damages from the cab driver for causing your boyfriend’s death.”
“i wouldn’t have won it without you. you were brilliant, especially in your closing arguments to the jury.” she looked at him, and he thought he saw something in her eyes that he had never seen before. he looked away, embarassed.
“well, you know, that is my job,” he admitted. “so are you going to leave the city now?”
“no,” she replied. “i still work here, and i can’t afford to leave.” there was a long pause. “so, what do you think?” she finally asked.
“about what?” he asked, confused.
“when the sun rises tomorrow, is there hope for you and me?” she asked, looking into his eyes again. he was sure now – in the past ten months that he had represented her, beginning with the criminal case and through the entire civil trial, he had sensed something blossoming inside her, something more than just professional respect.
“that may not be such a good idea,” he replied.
“why not?” her eyes were pleading now, and he thought he could see a hint of tears.
“don’t get me wrong, marie. i would jump at the chance to be with you, because i’ve slowly fallen under your spell the past few months. but it wouldn’t be fair to you. i have problems – i can’t really explain, but they need to be solved.”
she reached out and took his hand in hers. “what ever it is, i’m sure we can work through it together.” she leaned over and kissed him. he kissed her back, eagerly, and pulled her close to him. neither of them wanted to be the first to let go.
they pulled apart after a while, reluctantly.
“so,” said marie, snuggling up to him, “what do you see?”
author’s note: i’m pretty sure that sucked ass. oh well. had to get something out of my system to make sure i didn’t have only three stories in me for the rest of my life. the next ones will be better, i promise. leave your thoughts.