Chapter 7: Lower The Drawbridge

See previous posts for Chapters 1-6 of my first (serial) novel, "Bluer Than Blue."

The house of Vince’s therapist was pastel yellow. “Holiday House.” Mark had never bothered to re-paint it. He never bothered with a lot of things, such as trimming his beard. On top of that, an unruly moat of vegetation surrounded the house, left untamed by Mark. And in the summertime it was a wondrous breeding ground for mosquitoes. He did, however, have a knack for higher education and accumulating degrees, such as those that led him to practice from his pastel yellow house.

Vince’s dark brown leather business shoes squashed into the gravel of the drive. He rubbed at his bald head with his hand. He was perspiring in the chill air and sunlight. After all, he didn’t know Mark. And those weeds were a little out of control. He left his gray sedan behind in the gray gravel, crunching with every step. Gravel in a city neighborhood? Oh well. And how overgrown it was. Vince tried to push his urban sensibilities aside for the time. He needed to talk to someone.

He noticed, because he almost tripped over it, a clay tortoise. Then, when he pushed the doorbell it played the first few bars of “Claire de Lune.” Hm, he thought. A nice touch. His hands were kind of fidgety.

A woman named Chow Wen answered the door.

“Hello, good afternoon. Please come in. Mark will be with you in a moment.”

She was so pleasant and consistent that Vince didn’t say a word. He smiled and sat down just inside the door in the row of chairs that constituted the waiting area. He picked up an anger management magazine and began skimming it. Hm, he thought. Breathe. 1,2,3. Breathe. There was something about adamancy about breathing that made him anxious and feel even a tad rebellious as if he would just hold it in. But, that never works out very well.

Vince took in his surroundings cautiously. Directly across the room from him there was a large tropical fish tank that burbled and he waited to see if one of the fish would blink, then went back to the magazine for a moment. Let it all melt away. The negative energy of the day melts away. To be honest, Vince didn’t entirely get what the article meant by “negative energy” but he was pretty sure that the fish weren’t carrying much. They flitted about around and through the exotic coral. They poked around in the fish gravel for tidbits and tasty scum. That seemed straightforward enough.

To the right was Chow Wen’s desk and she was typing while on the phone, scheduling an appointment. Vince felt the need to talk, but he wouldn’t engage. He just wanted Chow Wen to say something to him. Anyway, he went back to the magazine. Negative energy carries the force of resistance. Let go and follow your own way. Hm, he thought. It was starting to make sense. He was starting to feel relaxed. Had he taken the Relaxium? No he hadn’t, but it was in the car. Oh well. Maybe I’m fine, he thought. I could just walk out of here, never see them again. “Not so fast though!” The clay tortoise would say if it could talk. That’s what Vince imagined, so he stayed put. He put his hand to his mouth in agitated thought, then rubbed his eyes, exhaled, and crossed his legs. Chow Wen hung up the phone.

“Sorry about the wait. I’m sure he’ll just be a few minutes longer.”

“Oh, it’s okay. I have this magazine on anger management that I’m looking at.”

Shit! That was the wrong thing to say, Vince chided himself. But what was the right thing to say? Is there a right or wrong thing to say? God. I must be crazy, he thought. Shit! That’s it. Negative energy. He suddenly realized that he had plenty of it and that there were plenty of hurdles to cross, such as talking to Mark.

The door on the far wall next to the fish tank abutment opened and a tall lanky guy with a light blue polo shirt and saggy jeans stepped through. His beard was not unlike the untamed wild outside. He had a mad biologist look to him, but mad as in zany, not as in over the edge and amoral. So it was okay, possibly.

Occasionally Mark would braid his beard, but not that day. Thank goodness. That would’ve been far too off-putting for Vince. This was Sunday, after the incident at the library in which Vince found himself surreptitiously reading about recurring dreams while, to those hooligans at the adjacent table, it looked like he was intensely studying the benign faces of 17th Century Flemish paintings. Vince had just studied Mark and thought: This is not fucking helping. But he went along anyway because he needed to talk to someone and let’s face it, he was intrigued.

“Hello Vince, it’s good to meet you. Let’s go back to my office.”

(The previous client had chosen to use the backdoor exit so as not to be seen by the next client.)

In the long yellow hallway of Holiday House there were drawings of angels and buddhas and there was a whiteboard with Mark’s Sunday schedule written out in curly writing. 2:00 PM – Vince.

Mark pushed open the ajar door with the dream catcher hanging on it, and they stepped inside.

This guy’s some kind of hoodoo intellectual, Vince thought as he observed the degrees and certificates on the wall. The winter sunlight shone in from the far window. Mark gestured to a poofy quilted armchair and Vince took a seat. Mark sat down in a swivel chair opposite his rolltop desk.

“So Vince, what brings you here?”

Jeeeesus, this guy cuts to the chase. Come on, no small talk? I just want to talk. What is this, some kind of ambush?


“It’s okay, this is important.”

Okay, okay. All right.

“Well, I keep having these dreams, recurring dreams.”

“About what?”

Come on. Does this guy expect me to do all the work here?

Vince inhaled. Boy this guy is uptight, thought Mark.



“Vince, you’ve got to lower the drawbridge here – let me in. That’s what I’m here for.”

Lower the drawbridge?? What kind of lame-o analogy –

That particular phrasing left a bad taste in Vincent’s mouth, though he hadn’t said it.

Lower the drawbridge? Yeah, you need one to lower over those weeds outside. Yeah, you first, Mark.

Vincent smirked.

Shit! Negative energy. He was full of it.

“I’m a vampire!” Vince exclaimed.