Authors: Tiana Laveen
ARON, WHAT ARE
you doing here?” Dr. Owens had barely gotten his key inside the door.
Aaron jerked away from the guard, feeling light headed and brewing with anger.
“I need to talk to you.” He tossed a glance over his shoulder, a warning… one he meant to go through with if the guard didn’t stop breathing down his damn back. The two men locked eyes, the guard finally getting the hint and leaving a bit of elbowroom.
“Come on in.” Dr. Owens sighed. “Wait out here, please,” he told the guard, who appeared miffed by the announcement.
“He’s been standing out here for a few minutes,” the guard informed. “He’s in big trouble. Tore his cell up… acted crazy. We gave him a drug test; he’s clean. He demanded to see you. Huckleberry let him but after that, he’s goin’ into solitary.”
“That’s fine,” Dr. Owens stated calmly as his office door swung open, revealing a bookshelf full of thickly bound volumes and a window with the blinds half way up, exposing rays of yellow sunlight filtering floating particles of dust. “We had some missed appointments due to my vacation…looks like Aaron needed them,” he mumbled as he placed his briefcase down on a nearby chaise and moved aside to allow room for him to enter.
Aaron paused, looked the guard in the eye, and dared himself to not kick the door closed in his face. After he’d been dragged out of his cell by three men, accused of foaming at the mouth and all sorts of nonsensical allegations from the hyped up ginger who’d appointed himself as ringleader, he was poked and prodded and subsequently placed in isolation. He kept screaming for Dr. Owens…and now he’d finally get to have his say.
“Well, don’t just stand there.” Dr. Owens slowly closed his office door with a click. He did it right in the guard’s face without a simple ‘goodbye’, giving Aaron complete satisfaction—though he wished it had been the ginger, instead. “Have a seat and tell me what’s going on.”
The doctor issued a long drawn out breath, one built on the back of obvious exhaustion. Aaron looked at the chair, then glanced at the painting of the boy in the woods. On a swallow, he made his way over and took a seat. He looked about his office as if he’d forgotten something, then dug into his desk drawer and retrieved a pencil and light blue pad of paper.
“I know what you did to me.”
“What are you talking about? Did
to you?” the man inquired as he looked Aaron in the eye.
“That pen pal thing… you taught me a lesson, right? Pretty fuckin’ funny, huh? You fucked up… That was the wrong thing to do. I don’t trust you anymore, and therapy is over.”
“Aaron, what in the hell are you talking about?” Dr. Owens shouted.
He’d never heard the therapist raise his voice more than an octave or two. This was highly unusual, made him pause… He studied the man intensely, and though his emotions were still a wreck, he could see the forest for the trees.
“You’re tellin’ the truth, ain’t you? You
don’t know.” Aaron cracked a nervous grin, a sense of relief washing over him but with it also came a wave of confusion.
“No, I don’t know what you’re talking about. Aaron, I’ve only got a few minutes but can talk more in depth with you later so whatever is going on, just tell me and we can address it more perhaps tomorrow.” The guy tossed his pencil down, clearly annoyed.
“That pen pal, the girl I liked, the girl I’ve been talkin’ to…”
“The one you’ve been having phone sex with?”
“You said you weren’t listening?!”
“Well Aaron, I couldn’t very well allow you to—”
“Never mind all that!” He waved his hand frantically in the air. “The point is, she’s not who she says she is.”
“What do you mean? You think she’s a man?” His brow rose.
“No, not sayin’ that. I think she’s black and you might even know who she is… a teacher here… Her name is Mia.”
He didn’t miss the way the doctor swallowed and the color drained from his face.
“Aaron, that’s a pretty serious accusation and it would take some time to discuss it, so how about this…?” The man rose suddenly and swiftly from his seat, looked at the clock on his wall, then back down at him. “I will call you in to reconvene this conversation, but right now, I have some meetings and—”
“Fine.” Aaron abruptly got up from his seat. “That’s fine, Dr. Owens… We ain’t got to talk to about it anymore, actually. I just wanted you to be aware of what went down, then. I know it; now you know it, too.”
“You don’t know any of this for a fact though, correct?”
“Nah.” Aaron smirked and shook his head. “I don’t know any of this for a fact, but I know I’ve been lied to and played with… that much I
know. You ain’t a part of this, so…” He shrugged. “I’m back at the drawing board. Call that son of a bitch to come get me, please.”
“Aaron, we will discuss this later. Abe!” he hollered out loud for the guard. The next few moments, he was led back to his cell and ordered to finish cleaning it up. He did so, loading the garbage bags up with tattered and scented pieces of paper. He filled them with her memory; he filled them with his lust, but he couldn’t rid his spot of her scent…
That sweet, feminine smell…
And it took all of him to try and force himself to hate it, but, he simply could not because, as he learned who he was—gave himself form and new definition—that distinctive part of her had become a part of him, too. And now, they could never part…
N MY ENTIRE
career as a clinical psychiatrist and psychiatric professor, I’ve never encountered a situation such as this in my life…
I’ve used a pen pal system for a multitude of therapies: The sick and shut in, incarcerated males and female populations, children suffering illnesses and in need of a friend, and all sorts of people that benefited from such correspondence.
The pen pal treatments have been a success over all, as many have remained friends long after the disease or incarceration was over. In case they didn’t, the separation could bring about some of the worst psychological results I’ve ever witnessed!
Dr. Owens sat there looking at Ms. Mia Armstrong in complete and utter disbelief. He was surprised that he was, in fact, surprised. He surely should not have been, for his initial assessment of her appeared to be far truer than the mind could even fathom. The woman wore lamb’s clothing but was a sly wolf—with good intent of course but intentions meant nothing when one was out on a ‘bad boy’ hunt…
Though he tried to cloak his growing concern by wearing a placid expression and a tilted smile of comfort for her heavy confessions, his heart beat a mile a minute after she finished relaying the details of the dire situation. Several tissues later, the woman regained her composure, and one of the more frightening moments she was completely unaware of: She’d just missed his patient, Mr. Pike, by a mere few minutes.
Aaron had exited like a damn hurricane and before the dust even cleared, she’d tapped on his door. What horrific showdown would have transpired if they’d run into each other? He may have exploded, went completely berserk. Or, he may have stood there with a smile on his face, behaved as if he were not moved in the least. Aaron’s struggle for identity left this sort of thing up in the air. He was far from predictable when it pertained to affairs of the heart. Regardless, the truth was clear…
Mia had done the unthinkable, and she continued her charade until… well, until it was no longer a charade at all.
As he looked at the lovely woman, sitting there in a pair of smoky gray yoga pants, white and gold Reebok shoes, and a V-neck gray and white striped shirt, it was clear that no matter what she wore, make-up or not, she was still unbelievably stunning. Her dark hair was pulled back in a slack ponytail, and her eyes were the color of pink flamingos, watery with grief.
“Mia, it is more than apparent that you feel remorse for being untruthful with Aaron. That’s important because if you did not have much cause for concern, you wouldn’t even be here and I’d have an even worse situation on my hands. We can’t negate the facts, however. You essentially were a catfish. Are you familiar with the term?”
She nodded in understanding as she placed a balled up tissue under her nose once more and took a delicate sniff.
He crossed his legs and clasped his hands together, running through a gamut of ideas on how to address the matter not only with her, but in its entirety.
“Mia, as I do with
of my clients and patients, I offer veracity. I am telling you the following information strictly off the books, because you will need it in order for us to proceed. What I am about to do is unethical, I will be the first to admit this; but, sometimes, when it comes to cases like this, people like me have to take a chance. At this point, it could be a matter of life or death.”
The woman cocked her head and gave him a curious look.
“It is unethical because I am about to divulge some private details to you about Aaron but, as stated, you must know these things going forward, so that we can resolve this issue.”
“Yes, I understand, Dr. Owens, and you have my word I won’t repeat any of it.”
“Good. Only honesty can be used when dealing with people that are suffering from delusions of any sort and many times, my patients in fact do live in an unrealistic world that they’ve created, with impractical expectations. This is more times than not done to protect them from harm. Aaron is one of the few patients I have that truly sees things as they are more times than not. Unfortunately, his realistic nature is a double-edged sword. He tends to cling to negative facts and reality, and dismiss the positive. This is in part due to his high intelligence. Men and women who are extremely clever and bright, such as Mr. Pike, are typically very sensitive to their environments. Whatever is going on when they are children is what will oftentimes become a preoccupation in adulthood.”
“Yes, I understand that. I work with children, as you know, Dr. Owens. The children who have parents that read to them and help with their homework tend to do better in my class. The children that are ignored or yelled at don’t do as well, but the ones that aren’t doing well sometimes are not less intelligent.” She balled her tissue a bit tighter in her palm. “Sometimes they are actually more intelligent; it’s just that no one is helping them, no one is encouraging them.”
“Precisely. Aaron’s environment was not set up to foster creativity and celebration of his more than apparent intelligence and, dare I say, resourcefulness. It was ignored and at times made fun of, actually. Thus, Aaron cannot afford the luxury of living in a land of pretend since individuals like him deal with facts and records to figure out things in a timely fashion and strategize. Now, the issue with Aaron is that occasionally, for whatever reason, and it still remains a mystery as to the true motivation, he simply chooses to operate differently, regardless of facts at certain times. He makes a concerted effort to not follow his own script for specific situations.
“This doesn’t match his profile, and it is intriguing to say the least. I have my theories, but they are not important at present. Now, I do not have enough time to psychoanalyze you, Ms. Armstrong, nor did you ask for such a service, but I
tell you this… you’ve possibly done great harm to Mr. Pike in ways that you are completely unable to understand.”
“No, I’m sure that—”
He put his hand up and shook his head.
“No, Ms. Armstrong, with all due respect, you have
idea. You do have a genuine desire to help others, to teach, but you are the one in need of teaching right now.”
She swallowed and looked away.
“Ms. Armstrong, Aaron is—”
“Please call me Mia…”
“Okay, Mia. Aaron is a person who came to me in a very damaged state. I’ve made so much progress with him that I was astounded, quite frankly. I cannot give myself all the credit, however, for he did most of the work; but, the fact of the matter is, he needed direction and for additional doors to be opened. By you suggesting for instance that he speak to a black inmate was also a sense of therapy for him and luckily, the results were not catastrophic, yet, they could have been. You put him in a dangerous situation by doing that.”
“For starters, if he had approached an inmate that had something to prove, he may have engaged in a physical fight with Aaron for doing such a thing—and Aaron knew this. He took the risk anyway. Aaron being spotted speaking to a black person, unless it is a guard, therapist, or other personnel here at the prison, could have him tagged as a traitor and cause him to become not only injured, but killed. He had to be very careful about who he selected and when and where he did it. Aaron is considered a leader in his gang. I call it gang because that’s what it is to me,” he said, pointing to himself. “It is a gang with a cult like mentality and conduct and he helps promote it.
“The problem is that Aaron, in these last few months, has been trying to dissect this conduct and mentality and how he fits into it, if at all. This leaves him vulnerable at the hands of others. He is questioning
he is and
he is doing what he is doing, when previously, he had all of the answers and it was clear to him how he should handle himself and what he should believe. Structure makes Aaron feel safe, Ms. Armstrong. He had none growing up, and he needs and craves it. It was also part of the reason he was attracted to the Socialist Movement.