An encounter with one of the Norse Gods in modern day.
Phil had heard the term 'The Devil's Portion' some time in his youth. The way it had been explained to him, was that it had something to do with cask aging whisky. There was always a very specific amount lost to the aging process. Whether it was lost to absorption by the barrels, or evaporation, or a combination of the two, the amount was always the same. Over the years, distillers had taken to calling it "The Devil's Portion", thinking that perhaps the Devil approved and was taking his share.
Phil had always had more than a bit of sympathy for the Devil, as in his Christian years when he'd read the part of the Bible dealing with 'The Garden of Eden', he'd felt that the serpent had gotten more than a bit of a raw deal. Since most felt that the serpent was supposed to be a representation of the Devil that feeling had transferred to him. After all, everything the serpent had told Eve was the truth wasn't it? Supposedly if Adam and Eve ate the fruit, they would die according to God. But the serpent had said that they wouldn't die, they would just learn the truth.
Everything that the serpent told Eve came to pass. When they ate the fruit, they didn't die, but suddenly found an understanding of life, and then when God showed up and asked if they had eaten it, he changed his stance on what he'd said and punished everyone involved. When Phil questioned the discrepancies, he was told by both his parents and his church leaders that he was misinterpreting the situation and that God meant that if they ate the fruit that Adam and Eve would "Eventually die". That only caused Phil to question the Bible even more, since if that had been what God actually meant then why didn't he just say that? (If God was omnipotent and knew everything, wouldn't he have known what would happen to begin with?)
Not to mention, what kind of a God would create innocent unknowing beings and tell them not to touch the fruit of one specific tree, why would he even put that tree there in the first place if he didn't want them to eat from it? Don't even get him started on that whole "shame and nakedness" thing. Why should Adam and Eve feel shame to find that they were naked, if God had wanted them to have clothes, wouldn't he just have given them some? Why make them naked and unknowing, and then make them feel shame over it when they realized that they were naked? It just never made any sense to Phil and he couldn't blindly follow a path that didn't make sense to him.
Combine all that with the corruption that always seemed to follow church officials, concerning greed and debauchery, and the scare tactics some churches liked to use to get more donations out of you and the whole thing seemed bogus. It made him feel that religion was just an excuse for people to be incredibly crappy to each other. Far too many people seemed to use it as a way to become rich, or to control the masses through fear. Not much different from terrorists in his book. Maybe it was simply the spirit of rebellion, or just a nod to the Devil for getting the shaft, but Phil started leaving small portions of his food and drink and considering them the "Devil's Portion".
Sometime later in his life, having had a pagan girlfriend for a while, Phil had been exposed to alternative religions and spirituality. The concept of take what worked for you and discard the rest really resonated with him and he began reading and exploring different faiths and beliefs and building what felt right to him; his personal path per se'.
At one point he'd read about the concept of 'Trickster Deities' and how nearly every religion included some kind of trickster god or spirit whose job it was to tease, torment, and ultimately teach people important life lessons. These lessons were even meant to be taught to other gods. In many of these stories and legends the tricksters either went too far, or were made the scapegoat of the other gods when the time came to be shown misdeeds that they didn't want to take responsibility for. It had reminded Phil of how the serpent had gotten the shaft in the Bible and been kind of made the scapegoat for how God had lied to Adam and Eve about dying if they ate the fruit from the tree of knowledge. In many of these stories the trickster would tell the truth and offend the Gods that had made the mistake and he would be punished for it.
Phil had been passingly aware of the Norse Gods due to some books he'd read on mythology as a child, as well as Thor and Loki being characters in a comic book that was eventually turned into an incredibly popular movie franchise. He'd easily identified Loki as the trickster god of the Norse pantheon and found many similarities between him and the Devil, as well as many of the other tricksters throughout history. So when he made the transition to a somewhat Norse leaning path, it seemed appropriate to begin referring to "The Devils Portion" as "Loki's Portion" instead.
Phil sighed to himself as he set out Loki's portion. He knew things had to change; he couldn't keep going from one therapist to another feeling like he was so broken that no one could fix him. He had an appointment with a new therapist today and he doubted that it would go any differently than all of the rest. It would probably be just another person pretending to want to help him by explaining how all of his depression and issues could be fixed simply by "finding the right drug cocktail and then he would again be a fine upstanding, useful member of society".
He wondered just how many of his "Issues" were a direct result of the drugs they all insisted on putting him on instead of actually trying to find out what was really at the heart of it all? Truthfully Phil had a pretty good idea that a lot of his problems of dealing with people came from just how many sociopaths he had to deal with for most of his life, including his own father.
"Hard to imagine why being used and manipulated by people throughout my formative years would have a detrimental effect on my psyche", he thought sarcastically. Well, this would be it, the last one. If this one was just like all the others then maybe it was time to just give up and accept that he was broken and would never get any better, or try to find a way to fix himself.
"Time to don the armor and head out into the world once more" he said to his reflection in the mirror by the door. Then he grabbed his coat and carefully schooled his expression to be somewhere between pleasant and non-threatening, and bored and not looking to engage in conversation. Most days it seemed to work to keep folks from trying to talk to him on the bus.
"Got any gum?"
At first Phil didn't realize the question was directed at him, not until he felt the nudge against his leg and the question was repeated.
"Hey, you got any gum?" came a pleasant female voice. "I had a hell of a night last night and woke up with a bit of a head if you catch my drift. My mouth tastes like ass and I figured my breath probably smells about as good" the voice finished.
Phil had been staring out the window doing his best to ignore the world and apparently hadn't noticed the woman moving to the seat across from him and sitting down. So when she had leaned across and touched his knee in an effort to get his attention, he was more than a little bit startled. Turning his head to look at her and say "No" in just the right tone to convey an air of non-hostile disinterest, Phil found himself stammering out the very intelligent sounding "Bwa...?" as he stared into a pair of piercing green eyes that seemed to look into his soul and read all of his deepest secrets. Blinking and blushing a bit, Phil looked confused and said, "I'm sorry, what?"
The eyes belonged to a pretty young woman with long red hair who was grinning at him at the moment. She leaned near again and said with a wink,
"My breath smells like a horse's ass and I was wondering if you had any gum I could have? I have an important appointment today and I don't want to make a bad impression."
Completely thrown out of kilter by this odd comment coming from such a pretty lady, Phil found himself patting his pockets in search of a spare pack of gum or some tic-tac's.
"Um... no, I don't think so. Sorry" he replied.
"Well, that's okay" she smiled, "maybe it's not too bad."
She grinned at him again just before leaning in his direction, pursing her lips and blowing right into his face.
"What do you think?"
Phil leaned back into his seat with an exclamation of "Ugh..." until it registered that her breath didn't actually smell bad.
"Oh, sorry" she said leaning back, "Was it really bad?"
Phil couldn't help but feel she was messing with him just a bit since she was still smiling, or maybe it was just an attention thing. He'd known folks who would do odd things just so others would notice them and give them attention.
"No" he said, "I just wasn't expecting you to breath in my face like that."
"Yeah, that was probably pretty rude of me, but I like to mix things up and keep people on their toes. Besides, you looked like you could use a laugh."
Phil was about to say something about not needing a laugh when he was interrupted by her glancing forward and exclaiming as she pulled the bell to signal the bus, "Oops, almost missed my stop".
She grinned mischievously as she got up and headed for the front. Waving happily at him she said "Talk to you later" and hopped off the bus. Phil was so thrown by the weird exchange that the bus was nearly half a block away when he realized that he'd needed to get off at the same place. Jumping up and yanking the bell pull, he stammered an apology to the driver as he explained that he wasn't paying enough attention and really needed to get off the bus right there. The driver sighed with annoyance but let him off as he'd missed the light and was stopped at the corner anyway.
As he looked around trying to get his bearings, Phil noticed the woman he'd been talking with heading into an office building. Well at least it didn't look like she'd noticed him getting off the bus or she may have thought he was some kind of creeper following her, especially when he realized that the building he was looking for was in the same direction she'd gone. Regaining his composure he set off examining the address numbers on the buildings until he got to the one "Red" had gone into. Glancing in through the door at the lobby, he saw her again just as the elevator doors were closing. He shook his head and casually glanced at the building number in preparation of heading on his own way. He had to check the address twice..., it was the same building. Phil looked around half expecting someone to jump out with a camera while explaining he was the butt of some kind of reality show joke or something.
When nothing happened he chalked it up to chance and strange coincidences; did his best to calm his nerves a bit and headed in as if nothing were out of the ordinary. There were a lot of different business offices in the building, what were the odds of the two of them actually heading to the same place after all? Phil headed over to the information directory and began looking to see which floor the doctor's office was on. Dr. S. Loke, Third floor. He briefly wondered what floor "she" had gotten off at, and then shook his head at his own curiosity. Phil headed to the elevator and the third floor.
Exiting the elevator, he found the door to the office he needed and entered an empty waiting room. Moving to the reception window to check in, Phil was working on getting out his new patient paper work when he realized that there wasn't anyone at the window. Looking around in confusion, he saw a small sticky note stuck to the window that read, "On break. If the waiting room is empty, knock on the doctor's door and wait for response."
"Strange" he thought as he looked for the doctor's door. He'd never had a situation like this before with a therapist's office. Phil really didn't know what to expect from the doctor if this was how the office was run. "Well, maybe he's just short staffed, receptionists needed breaks too" he said to himself as he knocked on the door. He was surprised at the thickness of the door as he knocked on it. It was actually solid wood and not just a standard door like he'd expected. Phil heard a muffled "come in" so he opened the door and headed through.
"Come in and shut the door behind you" a familiar voice said as he looked across the room and into the same set of piercing green eyes that had so rattled him earlier. She smiled and said, "Told you I'd talk to you later." Once again Phil said,
She stood up and extended her hand to him while introducing herself as Dr. Susan Loke. Phil's head was spinning in confusion.
"But... you... how..., expecting me?" he stammered looking perplexed. Dr. Loke just laughed and pointed to a manila folder on her desk.
"Your previous therapist sent over his notes and a description of you when I inherited his cases."
"Oh..." Phil said then looked a bit angry, "Why didn't you say something on the bus if you knew it was me that you were going to meet, why all the weirdness?"
"Well truthfully I didn't know for sure if it was you, and I didn't want to take the chance of embarrassing you by saying something like 'Hey, aren't you my new mental patient? Hi, I'm your therapist' or just being completely wrong about who you were."
"Ah..." Phil said intelligently.
Doctor Loke moved around the desk and patted him on the arm, "Why don't we get out of here, you hungry? This building has a nice little cafe that I occasionally go to with my patients. I find the setting a bit more relaxing for some than this stuffy old office." She moved with purpose heading out door and across the waiting room towards the exit, leaving Phil to either stand there like an idiot or follow in her wake. Heading out into the hall, Phil said "What about your receptionist?"
"Don't worry about her, I do this all of the time and Sig has her own key." She said as she locked the outer door.
"Besides, you're my only appointment today."
Once again, Phil could only think to say "oh".
Dr. Loke took him to the promised cafe and Phil had to admit that she was right, it was oddly more comfortable, and he was actually kind of hungry. She waited till he'd ordered before asking him to tell her what was going on in his life. Phil started out with his standard spiel, he'd said it so often to every doctor he'd seen; that he had it memorized. She let him talk until his food arrived and once the waitress left, she looked him strait in the eye and said, "Bullshit."
Once again Phil said, "Bwa...?" Only this time he had a half chewed bite of sandwich in his mouth.
"That's starting to become a habit with you" she said at his utterance. "I said bullshit because I don't want to hear the story you tell everyone else. I want to hear what's actually going on in your life and in your mind."
Phil became aware that he still had his half full mouth open and closed it. Looking down at his plate as he finished his bite he thought, "Well, this is different. Yeah, like this whole day hasn't been different."
Dr. Loke let him find his way and start again. He found himself actually telling her what was going on, including his frustrations with his previous therapists, his family, his personal thoughts on spirituality versus religion, everything. As he finished talking, he realized that for the first time in his life, he honestly felt like someone was actually listening to him and gave a damn about what he really thought. He put the last bite of his sandwich on the plate and moved it to the side with the last of his drink.
Phil looked at Dr. Loke somewhat nervously waiting to hear what she had to say about everything. She was quiet long enough for him to begin worrying that she was going to tell him the same thing that everyone else did and start changing or adding to his medications. Instead she said,
"First off, I think we're going to get along fine. Next we need to begin weaning you off of that nasty drug cocktail; you don't need it. What you do need is some truth, and a little serious direction in your life, and maybe just a little bit of fun."
Phil felt an amazing amount of relief as he heard her words. Feeling much more relaxed and hopeful than he had in a very long time, he smiled. That is until she grabbed the last bite off of his plate and finished it off followed by the last swallow of his drink.
"Hey!" Phil sat up angrily and said, "That's Loki's Portion!"
Dr. Loke just grinned wickedly at him and said, "Yeah, so what's the problem?"
Once again Phil could only think to say, "Bwa...?" as her last name finally sank in.
She just smirked at him, "We really need to break you of that habit."
Phil just stared at her dumbfounded.
"Don't worry; you're going to be okay. Let's get out of here and find something fun to do." She said as she got up and headed for the door, once again leaving Phil to sit there looking like an idiot, or get up and follow in her wake.