Thomas Wictor

Paging Doctor Freud

Paging Doctor Freud

Just kidding. I know exactly what this dream means. Paging Doctor Freud would just annoy him, since it’s so easy to work out what’s going on.

I drove down the freeway at night, my first road trip since 2002. The car was my brown, 1980 Toyota Corolla, which had been destroyed when Persian gangbangers doing seventy miles per hour rear-ended me at a stoplight. I wore a dove-gray suit; my luggage was on the back seat. It consisted of a suitcase and a flight bag that held books, my laptop computer, and my wallet.

Though I was happy to be on the road again, I couldn’t shake a sense of foreboding. The trip was a mistake. Ahead of me orange traffic cones had been set out, along with orange-and-white sawhorses mounted with flashing yellow caution lights. The cones blocked off all the lanes of the freeway except for one. As soon as I was funneled into that lane, the car in front of me slowed almost to a stop.

It was a carjacking. The second I stopped, the driver’s accomplice would box me in from behind. I was trapped.

When the car in front of me halted, I was suddenly in a mall on foot. The car that blocked me had become a wheelchair. Its occupant was a young Latino man I knew only pretended to be disabled.

My suitcase was now a rolling upright model with an extended handle that I grasped in my left fist. The flight bag with the books, laptop, and wallet was strapped to the top. My suit was gone, replaced with shorts and a T-shirt. A fat blonde woman shoved herself up against me from behind; a redheaded boy of about ten accompanied her. They both carried single-edged razor blades, which they held to opposite sides of my neck.

The young Latino man in the wheelchair transformed into a fat, middle-aged biker who’d lost his legs to diabetes. He wore a sleeveless bluejeans jacket and a blue bandanna on his head.

“Give us your stuff, or we’ll kill you,” the woman said.

Help! Help!” I shouted, even though I wasn’t afraid. It was just a performance I put on for the benefit of the muggers. I had to convince them that they were ferociously effective. Nobody paid attention to our struggle. The woman and the boy pushed the razor blades deep into my neck.

“Okay, okay, take it!” I said.

The three hurried off with my suitcase and flight bag. I had no idea where I was, and now I had no money, no credit cards, and no identification. The only solution was to try and find the freeway and walk back to Los Angeles. I still felt nothing.

Before I started my trek, I went to a restroom. Inside, the legless biker sat in his wheelchair in front of a stall, smiling. At the sight of him, I went insane with rage. I ran over and began punching him in the face and neck, screaming, “Where’s my stuff? Where is it?

The bathroom was full, but everyone ignored us.

“Leave me alone, man!” the biker whined. “I don’t know where your stuff is. Honest!”

A large sheet of plywood leaned against the wall. I picked it up, took it over to the biker, covered him with it, climbed up on top of it, and began jumping up and down as hard as I could. The biker screamed in agony.

STOP! STOP! STOP!” he wailed.

I got off and slid down the plywood to expose the biker’s head.

“Your stuff is over in the broom closet, right over there,” he gasped, gesturing with his chin.

There was a door set into the wall next to one of the sinks. I punched the biker in the face one more time and then opened the door. Inside the closet was the redheaded boy who’d robbed me. He crouched on the floor, looking terrified. My suitcase and flight bag weren’t there. I grabbed the boy around the neck with both hands and yanked him out.

Don’t hurt me!” he yelled.

I swung him all over the bathroom, bashing him into the walls, the sinks, the floor, and the stalls, screaming, “Where’s my stuff? Where is it?

“It’s gone!” he shouted. “My mother took it!” I stopped swinging him; the impacts against the hard surfaces hadn’t hurt him at all. He didn’t have a mark on him.

“All right,” I said. “Let’s go find a cop. You’re going to jail.”

I dragged him out of the bathroom, holding him around the neck with one hand.

“Don’t send me to jail!” he said. “They’ll kill me there!”

“That’s your problem, not mine. You shouldn’t have stolen my stuff.”

We walked through the mall, the kid sniveling and promising me that he’d be good now. I saw two men buying movie tickets; they wore green jackets with the word “Sheriff” on the back in yellow. As I approached them, I realized they were frauds, civilians play-acting as cops. Both had strange, pained expressions, as if their stomachs hurt.

I dragged the boy along until I saw several genuine deputy sheriffs. They were armed and wore flak jackets, and each was over eight feet tall. I approached one who looked like Kareem Abdul Jabbar.

“This kid and his parents stole everything I own,” I told him.

He shook his head. “Nothing I can do about it,” he said. “You’re gonna have to find someone else to help you.”

That made me so angry I wanted to kill him, but I kept walking, still holding the boy around the neck. We went out the front door of the mall into the parking lot. A police van roared up and stopped beside us. The front passenger door opened, and a middle-aged female deputy with curly brown hair said to me, “It was the Lindseys. We’ve dealt with them lots of times. We’ll get your things back.”

She was lying and had no intention of helping me. Everyone thought I was a ridiculous waste of time and deserved having all my possessions stolen. The cop closed the door, and the van drove off.

The boy slid one of his hands down the front of my pants. I yanked it out and said, “You never give up, do you?”

“No,” he said pertly. He was a disgusting, feral street urchin who would never give me back my things. There was no point in holding on to him, but the thought of letting him get away with robbing me was too much. It was so unjust that I couldn’t let it happen.

“Here’s what we’re going to do,” I said. “I know you’ll never return my things, and nobody’s going to help me. But you have to pay a price. Every time you look in the mirror, you have to remember this day, what you did to me, and what it cost you. So I’m either going to put out one of your eyes or knock out your front teeth. You choose.”

He started crying and struggling, but it was phony. He didn’t think I’d really do it. Soon he’d find out how wrong he was. I bent down, picked up a sharp twig from the parking lot, and walked the boy over to a concrete planter. We sat down, and I shook him violently until he stopped struggling.

“Okay,” I said, “the eye it is.”

As I raised the twig to gouge out his right eye, the police van returned and several deputy sheriffs who looked like pirates spilled out and ran toward me. The man in the lead wore mirrored sunglasses and had a bushy blond mustache.

What’s going on here?” he shouted.

“This kid and his parents stole all my things, and none of you fuckers will help me. So I’m going to gouge out his eye.”

“Sir, you don’t have to do that!” he said with melodramatic urgency. “We know it’s the Lindseys. We’re going to go get them and recover your things. Just sit here. Deputy Carson will stay with you.”

The middle-aged female deputy who’d lied to me before sat down beside us. The police van screeched out of the lot. I cradled the redheaded boy on my lap, one arm behind his head and one behind his knees, holding him as though he were in a hammock.

“Mister,” he said, “please, please stop giving charity to people like me! All we do is sit around watching TV, and then we go out and rob people. It’s not fair! Don’t enable us anymore!”

His obsequiousness made me furious. I shook him as hard as I could and said, “Don’t worry about me ever giving charity to anyone again, you little turd.”

On my right, Deputy Carson let out a caw of laughter. I looked over and saw that she sucked on a lollipop. She winked at me.

My things wouldn’t be recovered, but there was nothing I could do. I had no money and no means of getting home, so I just sat there and held the repulsive, depraved child, trying to decide if I should gouge out his eye anyway.

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