|Dr. Ephran, The Gnomes, and Napoleon Bonaparte
On my way to my psychiatrist and I see three bearded gnome-men reading long newspaper like strips of paper that I soon recognize as 400 stamps of sunshine acid. Next to an immigrant fruit stand with a dark brown indigenous boy yelling ‘papayas, papayas, papayas!’ the men look at me simultaneously and grin hugely like well fed crocodiles and I see that their teeth are corks of wine and I’m hugely amused and a little scared and I remembered that I have to pee.
So, slanted by warm light that soothes like orange peels, I trot along to the local CVS drugstore and easily find my way to the bathroom by following the distinct tribal smell of territorial pissings left by all the alpha dominant hairy males dressed up in Esmereldo Zegna suits tossing around documents like spears of war. Once inside, I do my business, and go to the cracked dingy sink to wash my filthied oily hands. My hands clean, I pinch my cheeks, and yawn. Oh, and what a yawn. It was a fateful yawn. For, directly center on my tongue- bright like roadsigns - is a yellow, sunshine acid stamp.
Madness and lies! There’s no way! Those gnomes are robber barons, descendents of the illustrious Greek God Hermes the Thief, the damned wayfarer! Curse their ill-fated talents. But, as things go, I was 10 minutes late to my appointment, and by my calculations, I had about 45 minutes before I could no longer distinguish hands from feet, and faces began to melt into sewer grates like quicksilver waterfalls. These are things I cannot see in public. Not in these times, not in the wasteland of hurry and frantic energy that is the Miami Metropolitan Streets. But Dr. Ephran, my calm Cuban cowboy of a shrink with his bartender trimmed moustache and casual way would know just what to do. I would be safe there.
But I had to try. And the journey was far easier than imagined. One fierce run through shopping bag clad Italian tourists, jostling their packages recklessly as they cursed me in tongues that have never been heard in the tropics and originated in the deepest jags of smelly sill-water catacombs. Originated by Patron Saints in burlap robes, with heads bowed, manically crafting the most piercing phrases ever devised in any Romantic language to cut through the dignity and souls of any man unfortunate enough to stand in their way. It was powerful magic, my left hand went numb.
Hand numb, tongue burning hot like the core of some distant sun, and feet dancing nimbly on all the sidewalk cracks I finally land, after jumping the totally unnecessary turnstile at the metro station, in a seat still sticky from what I hope is soda. Just spilled soda, I tell myself comfortingly. I’m almost there. Train stops with a screech like betrayed black cats, and the run to the office seems like a blur- edged in the peculiar formations seen in a kaleidoscope.
Rushing by, blown by a humid breath of mysterious air that desperately needs cleaning, or at the very least mints, I arrive damp to the crisp white front door of my psychiatrist’s office. I let myself in, as I always do, and there he is. Sitting, reading Dostoevsky and a well thumbed copy of Hustler peeking out from beneath the desk where the keyboard should be. Oh, Good ol’ Dr. Efran, you always know just what to say.
“Peter, my god! You have the most horrifically humid breath right now. Please, a mint.”
I knew that, but it wasn’t mine, so I said so, “Its not me. I smell like fresh petunias and babies, like usual.”
He frowned; the wrinkles on his forehead rolling like vast desert dunes, “then whose? I can’t imagine.”
I say, “ It’s the kaleidoscopes.”
And he knows not to pursue this dead-end any longer. “Doctor, I have half an hour. Then it’s all over for me.”
Doctor Ephran jumped out of his seat, his ancient armchair puffing out Grecian dust and creaking like a fantastically rusted door hinge, “ You know what I said when I first met you. Four things that I cannot keep from the proper authorities. Abuse of the elderly. Abuse of children. Homicide, and suicide. Now, you’ve brushed them all dangerously close, but this sounds like you’re crossing that border. And you know that I’m already taking considerable heat letting you snort cocaine during our sessions together.”
This was all blurted out so quickly that to the common ear it would have sounded a bit like several worn shoes clomping around on a dusty wooden stage. But I was wise to Ephran’s peculiar manner of speech, and retorted,” Freud was a cocaine fiend! The Christ of our psychology in the church of its worship, and I cannot do as our savior!”
He smirks, and flicks an eraser off his desk onto the nauseatingly green swampy rug. A perfectly good one too, fat and pink. “Besides, that’s not what I’m talking about. I will very soon descend into a state of total madness and lose every bit of sensory judgment I possess. I will see gaping bandits with fiery mouths where there only exists coffee stains, syrupy rivers where there are only striped candy mints, and all that sort of thing. You understand!”
Doctor Ephran jumps up and lands solidly on top of the classic, Freudian red velvet sofa that is usually my place. He loses his balance for a moment and grapples with the walls searching for center, and then strikes a marble pose like a Greek statue of exceptional quality, “ Keep it together boy! Speak clearly, I avail you! Avail! Avail!!!”
It was time for truth. I spoke clearly, “ I was drugged by bearded gnomes. They are children of the trickster God Hermes, relatives of Loki from the North, and they placed drugs in my mouth without my knowledge or consent.”
Doctor Ephran looked at me with intense relief, “ Now you’re talking sense. That’s strange, you’d think divinity would recognize that you never had any difficulty putting drugs into your own mouth and spared you. Targeting instead a banker. Bankers…”
His face melted like putty in the microwave and he gave off a loathsome heat. He truly hated bankers. It was a mania. But, professional integrity and ethics soon got the better of him, “So what is it, uppers, downers, adrenaline, barbiturates, DMT, nutmeg? Oh it must be ultra-concentrated cocaine tablets, you love those. I bet it is, you’re all riled up. No, no, that can’t be it. You’d be flush by now. Hash cookies? Magic mushroom pasta? Mescaline tea? Heroine, opium? Out with it man!”
I look abashed at my louder than life shoes. They live in a glass box inside of my closet, and the story of their acquisition is wrapped up in so much legal wrongdoing it would be best not to mention it. But, in way of description, they look like a disco disaster- in which a peacock, rigged with dynamite, was accidentally manufactured inside of a disco ball and spontaneously exploded and showered bits and parts festively all over Billy the Kid’s boots. Something like that. I loved those shoes; I think everyone else did too.
“It’s the acid sir. But it weren’t me, promise!” I said, intimating my most sincere and heartfelt Oliver Twist impersonation.
He laughed, can you believe it? Consumed in laughter as though it were the funniest thing he had ever heard! The outrage, the complete disgrace! If Freud were there he would surely have been so offended, he would have had no other recourse but to whisper secrets of Ephran’s unconscious to him that would effectively render him an invalid, drooling from the mouth and ears. Singing at 6:52 PM every evening the Tale of Gilgamesh in its original Sumerian Cuneiform to amazed Japanese tourists with Mickey Mouse fanny packs and red aluminum cameras clicking away hectically. That is what I wished on him, and I think, somehow, he realized it. Because he instantly recovered his composure the moment my mind turned to witchcraft. He was, and is, a firm believer in voodoo, and I am a blood relative of a proficient in the Dominican Republic who lives in a dusty, chicken feather laden hut decorated with casual shards of bone and shell and is known to have been the primary reason George W. Bush entered the White House; torturing the Supreme Court Justices with images of John Kerry in women’s underwear piercing his nipples with barbs of snake fang.
“ Peter, calm down. This is an opportunity if nothing else! We must capitalize on your heaven-sent good fortune. I will masterfully probe you, handle your fragile little birds mind, and I will convince you, YES, convince you! That you are anything, absolutely anything, you want to be. That is the flexibility, the cosmic pliability with which we are now presented.”
I knew viscerally from the head of my fondest organ, all the way up to my highest, of out place hair on my head what I wanted to be. It was fateful.
“Make me, Monsieur Ephran, Napoleon Bonaparte! But endow me, if you please, the wisdom to leave Russia alone- instead I should like to exile them to live with themselves. Forever alone with their bleak weather and bleak literature!”
Ephran nodded solemnly. “ It will be done. Now just lay down, and listen closely to the ticking of my watch.”
His little golden watch, an Italian trinket of infinite value and mystery, ticked away and I soon lost myself in the wheels and whirs of its charms.
I cannot say much about what happened next. I lay inert and lifeless on a wine red velvet sofa, whistling through my nose as my mind became one with whatever the madman beside me willed. I can imagine him though, pacing about like a clever sorcerer. Tossing about verbal magic powders into my eyes, all colors of energies dipped into my minds eyes and lips. Madness that I do not care to continue pondering. Things that are better left to chance and void. For, you see, though Ephran seems harmless and kind enough, as I’ve described him so far, he is more dangerous than forest leopards. But, that is just the sort of man to trust, I say, and so I have.
I wake up after 14 long hours of hallucinogenic tremors and wastes. My mind feels as though lubricated with strawberry jelly, and its not working very well due to the inevitable stickiness as it dries in the heat. All tired, weighed and confused. Nothing really worth describing in detail. Simply the after-effects of an accidental rendezvous between my nervous system and The Creator.
My feet, however, are strangely cold. Peculiarly so. I look down, and see only my bare feet, framed by that lurid reptile green rug. My shoes have been stolen! It is unforgivable. How could Ephran be so irresponsible as to allow my shoes to be stolen! Outraged, I yell, “Ephran, your mother had sex with Hades and birthed Dick Cheney!”
Usually one would have been prompt and devastating. Nothing could be stranger. I realize however, a thought quick as lightning and originating from an unknown perch of mind, that I don’t care about my shoes any longer. In fact I’m glad they’re gone, briefly imagining them flying away on tiny white wings made of fiberglass, glinting in the sun, and me, happy to see them finally flying, waving tearfully at them on the red horizon.
I know now, what treachery this is. Ephran, that scoundrel, stole my shoes. But, using some sort of trickery learned in the hottest bowels of psychiatry school- deep in the center of the earth where the bearded god lives, devouring complexes and manias like toads and salamanders for dinner- he has made me forgive him. Not just that, but he also made me feel slightly sexually attracted to him. That bastard. Oh, that sexy bastard.
I walk out of the hospital, spitting on the walls cratered with holes from skinless fists and nauseously waving away the stench emanating from little piles of poop in the corners left by the resident nurses, who happen to be exceptionally cordial and well-trained ferrets, and I feel defeated. I know now how Napoleon felt, I suppose, walking away from defeat at Waterloo. Ashamed, pride stung by a thousand poison darts made from the tears of the bitterest of women concentrated and militarized, and with very, very, cold feet I make my way to the main entrance.
The sidewalk greets me kindly though, as I enter the busy street, and I relish the smell of hotdogs in the fresh afternoon. I walk confidently; a little proud that no one out here knows what had taken place inside; and a little prouder that I had had the foresight to dip those shoes in a little known Mayan recipe that would ensure their safety from theft. And, very, very soon, I knew, Ephran would come looking to me for answers.