Story Notes:Written circa 2002. Still nonsensical after all these years.
Rowen paced back and forward in anxiety, smoking a cigarette down to the butt and lighting another one in succession. Ashes littered the floor and the therapist gazed calmly at the distraught teenager.
“They keep on stressin’ me, doc. I swear da God, they do it on purpose just ta antagonize me. They all think I have no life. They think I’m antisocial an’ depressed! It’s the blood sugar, I swear it is! I can’t help it if I get tired! I sleep in on Saturdays, God fa’bid! And STUDYIN’! I’m only tryin’ ta MAKE somethin’ a’ myself, unlike them. They jest sit on their duffs and wait for the next battle — I CAN’T DO THAT!”
Rowen clutched his head and the therapist blinked.
“You seem to be retaining a lot of stress,” he said evenly.
Rowen stopped and removed the cigarette from his mouth, gazing at the therapist with a dull expression. “Doc, you ain’t gettin’ paid ta say the same things twice NOW LISTEN TA ME!”
The doctor’s eyebrows went up.
“Do ya know what it’s like ta havva 250 IQ? Oh, ‘a course not. You get paid ta listen ta people bitch your ear off. You’re prob’ly not even listenin’ ta me now!”
The therapist cocked his head to one side. Rowen boiled.
“YOU’RE NOT! I KNEW IT! NO ONE UNDERSTANDS ME! I’M JUST A NERD! STEREOTYPE ME, ALLA YA FREAKS!” He picked up a chair, raised it over his head and smashed it into the window. “I’m gettin’ outta here, away from all ya evolutionary rejects, all ya mental troglodytes! YOU’RE all nuckin’ futs! EVERY ONE ‘A YA!”
And he jumped out the window and ran off.
The therapist promptly wrote Rowen a prescription for anti-psychotic medication.
“I’m a prick,” Sage sobbed. “That’s the only way people love me; they love me ‘cos I’m such a prick. I’m a morally debased, vain, pompous, arrogant, self-indulging, paragon of absolute raunchiness. No one knows why I get dressed up on Friday nights and then don’t come home for two days. I’m selling my body because I DON’T WANT IT. I’m such a dirty sleaze-!”
He broke down and bawled for a few minutes. His therapist offered him a handkerchief and then said in a soothing voice, “Sage. Repeat after me.”
“I am not a ho.”
“But I am a ho.”
“Learn to lie to yourself. Now say it. I am not a ho.”
“I’m not a ho.”
The doctor nodded slowly. “Very good. You’ve come a long way since last week.”
“Can I have my mirror back now?”
“Can I at least have my vibrator back, then?”
Cye sat in the chair with his hands crossed in his lap, thankful that his therapist was a woman.
“Alright, Cye,” she said. “I understand you’ve been having some emotional problems lately.”
Cye nodded solemnly. “I find meself getting riled oveh the smallest things. The othehs . . . I’m like they’re mum, olways cleaning up after them and cooking . . . no one else will cook. We’d oll be dead if it weren’t for me. It’s oll very frustrating.”
“It must be.”
“And they oll think I’m a big push-oveh. On the show, you know who ‘ad the least airtime? I’ll give you a clue — you’re looking at ‘im. And everyone else in the weld just brushes me off. They coll me the weak one, but they’re so wrong about me. Sometimes when no one’s around, I get into Kento’s punk CD’s and blahst Limp Bizkit until the bloody doors are coming down. I’m kinda fond of Fred’s songs. ‘Specially that Break Stuff one. It ‘elps me deal with oll my inner anger and frustration.” He smiled. “It’s just one of those daaays . . . rally catching tune.”
She pursed her lips thoughtfully. “Hm. I see. And what about this Ryo boy? Are you still . . .” She glanced at her clipboard. “Wanking off to photos of him online?”
Cye hung his head. “Yes.”
Kento scowled and glared at his therapist, trying to coax him out into the open.
“ So,” she started, “how do you feel when they pick on you about your eating habits?”
He ground his teeth together. “I wanna kill ‘em. Kill ‘em all. I mean, when I look at them all I can see is blood and gore and guts and veins in my teeth and burnt, dead bodies . . . I wanna kill. They think I’m nothing but a big, stupid clod who does nothing but eat all day, when REALLY I’m the one who’s doin’ all the ass-whoopin’ in battle. Some gratitude I get for haulin’ more than my share of the weight. I’m like their fuckin’ scapegoat. The chips go missing? Blame Kento. Big mess in the kitchen? Blame Kento. Cye’s the only one who’s sympathetic toward me, but even he can be a knee in the nuts sometimes. But Sage . . .” He cracked his knuckles. “ I’d like to kill that mother fu-”
“Sorry. I’d like to kill that dude. He thinks he’s SO freakin’ special. God’s gift to the world. I’d like to SHOVE my fist through his chest and RIP HIS HEART OUT with my bare hands-” He indicated his actions with a clenched fist. “ -and then CRAM HIS HEART DOWN HIS THROAT! Then I’ll sew his mouth shut so I won’t have to hear to his self-obsessed shit!”
A maniacal gleam came into his eyes as the therapist ran to the bathroom to go pay homage to the porcelain god.
“Yeaaah, THAT’S what I’ll do. I’ll sew his mouth shut . . . maybe staple it . . .”
Ryo rambled on nonchalantly as the therapist took notes hastily. “-and so Rowen’s the smart guy, so I say to him, YOU figure a way outta this thing-”
Ten minutes later.
Ryo sobbed uncontrollably and took the third box of Kleenex the therapist offered him. “-they were all crying for -thanks- me and I just didn’t wanna kill them-”
Five minutes later.
Ryo was literally champing at the bit in his frustration. “-so I was, like, what the hell?! We go through ALL that trouble and then WHAMMO! He’s back like that! Man, I was wiggin’ I was so ticked-”
Ten minutes later.
Ryo was calm and docile, laid back in his chair and staring into space with a smile. “-but ever since then we’ve been so close. Y’know, if I wasn’t so intimidated by the British I’d ask him out on a date-”
An hour later.
“Thank you, Mr. Sanada. That will be all for today.”
As he got up to leave, she wrote in her notes: PARANOID BIPOLAR. AND GAY.
Part II: Group Therapy
All five of the Ronin Warriors sat in the metal folding chairs silently. They were arranged in a loose circle, and the female therapist walked out and sat in the only empty chair in the ring.
“Okay,” she began soothingly. “First of all, I am Dr. Karen Bare. You may call me Karen or Dr. Bare, whichever you prefer-”
“Care bear.” Kento coughed into his fist and pretended nothing had happened. Bare heard him, but ignored it. She looked at the clipboard in her hand and crossed her legs.
“Now, I understand you’ve all been having some problems with communication-” She stopped abruptly and glanced up. Sage’s eyes (or eye) were avidly fixated on her in a disturbing stare. “Can I help you, Mr. Date?”
“I don’t think so,” he responded. “You wanna go out with me after this?”
“Prick,” Rowen muttered under his breath.
Bare smiled. “Thanks, but it’s my policy to not date my patients.”
“I’m not your patience,” Sage insisted. “I’m not even mental.”
“Wanna bet?” Kento huffed quietly.
Dr. Karen decided to continue. “Okay, first we’ll start with Mr. Mouri.”
Cye looked up. “Whot?”
“You’re up first. Explain to the others how you feel about them. Don’t be afraid.”
Cye blushed. “Is there a set time?”
“No, you can be as brief or as thorough as you want.”
“Olroight.” Cye looked at Kento. “Kento, you’re an obstinate, ignorant jackass an’ I’m sick of cooking six times a day just to feed your face. Rowen, you’re the most brilliant mind I’ve ‘ad the pleasure of meeting an’ the laziest, good for nothing sloth I’ve eveh laid eyes on. Sage, you’re a vain, contemptible slime boll an’ no creature — male, female, animal, or othehwise — is safe from your relentless sex drive. And Ryo, I love you. There. I’m done.”
Cye took a breath and crossed his arms as everyone in the room nearly staggered from their chairs in shock. Timid Cye — cute little innocent Cye — was really a ticking time bomb of emotional instability. Who’d have known?
“Um . . . well, thank you, Cye, for that eloquent thought. Would anybody like to add anything else?”
Ryo timidly raised his hand.
“Yes?” Bare asked.
“Can I faint, please?”
“But I really gotta.”
“It can wait. Just hold it.” She returned her attention to the group. “Alright. Let’s try a different approach, shall we?”
They all grumbled their replies.
“Agreed. Mr. Hashish, why don’t you-”
“It’s Hashiba,” Rowen glowered. “Do I look like sumthin’ ya’d roll up n’ smoke?”
“Sorry. My mistake. Please tell us about yourself,” Bare said, and Rowen crossed his arms.
“Seventeen, five ten, hunnad n’ forty six pounds. Born Octoba tenth, Libra, AB blood type.”
He stopped and the room was silent.
“Um . . . can you be a little more specific?”
Rowen glared. “I have a birthmark shaped like Nova Scotia on my-”
“Not so personal.”
“I’m not a nerd.”
“Okay. Go on.”
“I’m not a geek. I’m not a whiz. I’m not a brainiac. I’m not a walkin’ encyclopedia. I don’t read the dictionary for fun, I don’t know everythin’ despite popula belief. I DO know how ta cook, I sleep a lot becuzza hereditary low blood sugar, I DON’T eat candy 24/7 an’ when I do, it hardly gives me a sugar buzz, an’ lastly, I can be a worsah prick than Sage.”
Eyes went wide, and Sage turned to Rowen.
“You’d sell yourself?” he asked.
“No. I said I CAN be, not I AM. You’re not the only one bubblin’ ovah with testosterone, Sage.”
Sage sniffed. “Nobody knows the fucking HALF of what it’s like to be me. Imagine being so pretty that girls everywhere would die to have you, but not to love you. Imagine being so pretty that you even have straight, married guys making passes at you at the bar. Imagine-”
“ -there’s no heaven,” Kento sang absently. Sage shot him a vile glare and he stopped.
“Imagine being a person too proud to ask for anyone’s help, but at the same time internally screaming for someone to just love you for who you are on the inside, not by your good looks. Imagine that no one listens to you or takes you seriously, just because they think you’re too much of a prick to understand. Imagine being so corrupted and dirtied by the world around you that the only thing you can think of is yourself, and trying to fix the broken shreds of humanity that you once dared to call your life, and THAT . . . is what it’s like to be me, gentlemen.”
All were silent.
“That wos nice,” Cye commented. “You should become a poet, Sage.”
The blond threw his hands heavenward and slumped down in his chair. Dr. Karen Bare finished taking down notes.
“I hope you were all listening. Sage demonstrated exactly what you should all be doing. Lets move on to the next person now. “
“Kento,” Bare said.
“Don’t be rude. Have you got anything on your mind?”
“Georgia.” He made a sarcastic face. “I’m kidding.” He turned to look at them all. “I’m sick and tired of being everybody’s punching bag of responsibility. I AM NOT A PIG. I DO NOT EAT EVERYTHING IN SIGHT. I AM NOT ALWAYS HUNGRY. If you would all just give me a fucking break, you’d be surprised at how-”
Ryo suddenly interrupted with an earth shattering scream. He screamed until he ran out of air, and then stopped. All were staring at him with wide eyes.
“Ryo, did you want to say something?” Bare snapped, getting irritated.
Ryo nodded. “A thought came to me. I tried to say it all at once, but it just came out as a scream instead.” His eyes bulged. “Oh God. Here comes another one.”
Ryo screamed at the top of his lungs. Kento, sick of being interrupted once time too many, got out of his seat, grabbed the metal chair, folded it, and began to smash Ryo with it as hard as he could, giving pride to any fan of pro wrestling. Cye bolted out of his chair and leapt on Kento’s back, alternating between putting teeth marks on his neck and shoulders and digging jagged rips into Kento’s flesh with his nails. Rowen was there in a blue flash, trying to pry Cye off of the now screeching and bloody Kento. Ryo sat up off the floor and wondered if he could sue the Pacific Railway for letting a locomotive smash into him like that.
Dr. Bare stood up on her chair and yelled, “GET A HOLD OF YOURSELVES!”
All the commotion ceased and silence resumed. Cye, huffing, puffing, red-faced and still held in a death grip by Rowen, scowled.“But ‘e ‘it Ryo for no reason.”
Kento turned around and glared at him. “No one interrupts me.”
Cye then said a very nasty British idiom, and Rowen had to toss himself between them lest Cye be eaten alive.
“CUT THAT SHIT OUT!” Bare ranted. “YOU.” She pointed to Kento. “Get your chair and SIDDOWN. Hash Boy and Ringo, sit away from Fatass-”
“HEY!” Kento shouted, but the therapist gave him a look that would have killed him had daggers been able to come from human eyeballs. Cye interrupted.
“I want to sit next to Ryo.”
Ryo, both eyes black and his shirt in ribbons, looked up and went white. Dr. Bare was merciless. “YOU WILL SIT WHERE I TELL YOU TO SIT.”
Cye let out a meep. “Yes m’um.”
Bare let out a sigh and collapsed into her chair, completely at a loss. Sage pulled out a pack of cigarettes and tapped one into his hand.
“Anybody care if I smoke?” he asked.
Bare replied, “Honey, I don’t care if you burst into flames.” She turned her attention to Ryo. “Is your brain still functional after getting whaled like that?”
“Good. Now if everyone shuts their faces, we can continue with today’s-”
“But I never got to finish,” Kento sputtered.
“No one cares about you. You’re the fat one. And now, I DON’T WANT TO HEAR A PEEP OUT OF ANY OF YOU.”
Rowen couldn’t resist. “Peep.”
Dr. Bare came flying at Rowen like greased lightning, clipboard drawn and ready to give them all some burying to do. Rowen managed to duck at the last second and save his face from getting ripped quite off. Then commenced a rapid chase around the room.
The row created was unimaginable; Rowen was wailing for assistance, Bare was roaring like a . . . bear, Cye was cursing all over Hell’s bloody half acre, Sage dove into a corner and curled up into a ball, rocking himself back and forth with large eyes and chanting, “Nobody loves me nobody loves me.” Ryo sat in his chair and bawled in complete misery.
About the fourth time around the room Rowen was becoming winded and decided to do his worst.
“AMMAH ‘A STRATA! DAO INO — OWCH!
Bare caught up and was slamming him in the head with her clipboard, screaming, “YOU LIKE THAT!? YOU’RE ALL INSANE! YOU’RE NUTS! YOU’RE OUTTA YOUR FUCKING MINDS AND NO ONE ON EARTH CAN HELP YOU! NO ONE!”
Rowen covered his skull with his arms, shouting back, “IF WE’RE ALL INSANE, DEN WHAT IN DA HELL’S DAT MAKE YOU!?”
Sage began to sing Bohemian Rhapsody in a forlorn voice. “I’m just a poor boy, nobody loves me-”
Cye, ever unable to resist the power of Queen, joined in, “E’s just a poor boy from a poor fam-i-ly!”
Kento added, “Spare him his life from his monstrosity!”
Sage sang, “Easy come, easy go. Will you let me go?”
“BISMULLA!” Kento boomed.
“NOOOO! WE WILL NOT LET YOU GO!” they all chorused.
“Let me gooooooo!”
“NOOOO! WE WILL NOT LET HIM GO!”
“Let me go!”
“WE’LL NOT LET YOU GO!”
“Let me go!”
“WE’LL NOT LET YOU GO! WE’LL NOT LET YOU-”
“SHUT! UP!” Rowen pleaded.
Cye was skipping around the room singing, “Look ‘a me! I’m a bloody fairy! Tra la la!”
Five minutes later security burst into the room, tried to spot the loony, and hauled Dr. Bare away in a straight jacket. After the doors had closed, Ryo climbed down off the curtains, Sage got out of the corner, and order was returned. They stood for a while, looking around at the devastated room.
Sage took a drag on his cigarette and shoved his hands into his pockets. “Well, guys, congratulations. We made our therapist lose her mind.”
“Guess you’re shot for a date, den,” Rowen grouched. Sage shrugged it off.
“Nah. She’s not my type.” He stared at Rowen. “Besides. Who needs a bitch when I’ve got you?”