Afeared, he woke in a blaze of glory and almost lived his life just the same. Glorified, he went to sleep in a puddle of yearning that is always stirred by the ghosts he made. Where this should end, were the last words he said to his good-wife that night before the morning that would be his end. And she turned to him and looked him in the eye and then eventually placed that compulsive kiss on his lips. It’s the moment between sleep and wake, he thought. It’s the moment between man and wife–where nothing seems to matter as the lifeless body drifts ashore, and he repeats to himself, forgetting his wife: I am a soldier ashore. And as the ensuing dream becomes reality in the middle of his night, the mares of his youth scramble across bed-fields of Texarkana where he seeks a few hours worth living until the rigamarole begins again. Oh yea, before he forgets: he forgets to visit his therapist again.
Enter every troubled man’s other woman, Ms. Rorschach.
Yes Sir is all he ever answered but only when Ms. Rorschach asked a yes question. Did you sleep well, she asked. Yes Sir, he said. Did you go to the VA hospital and visit your comrades, she asked. Yes Sir, he said. How is your wife doing, she asked. There was a long pause. It wasn’t a Yes Sir question. I’m having trouble sleeping, he eventually said. Sleep is the closest we get to death in the humdrum of this life, she said. It is a way to see through it all and begin to recognise those images, do you understand Mr Kyle? Will you help me get to those images? Pause. Another wrong question. She continues. Shall we talk again about your glory? He perked up.
Mr. Kyle thought: what a cute therapist with legs up to the heavens. How could someone like she address this krapp day in and day out? Where’s my truck?
Mr. Kyle, now that your glory is behind us and you continue down the American path of financial success, we need to address the three meanings that are part of that glory. Mr. Kyle turned to look at himself in the mirror that had been assigned by government sanction and mandate to follow him everywhere. He saw the three meanings that had been engraved in that mirror since youth. They were thus:
Grievance. Sentiment. Belonging. (Aside: what you’ve been baited and sold–hook, line and sinker.)
Once Mr. Kyle tried to talk about the three meanings to Ms. Rorschach but he didn’t get very far. The three meanings would be at the top of every note Ms. Rorschach made. Once she even asked him: To what avail should we use this new religion and its three kings? Kings, he asked in a rare response. There was a pause that she had to fill. In the morning the same kiss comes again, is your answer, she said. It’s a compulsion that is a bit more refreshed, don’t you know, she continued. But isn’t that a good thing, the therapist asks, crossing her legs a third time.
This new attempt at gathering information had only occupied twenty minutes of their session. She wanted this part to last at least forty minutes. She wanted to save the part that he liked best, the black & white images, for last few minutes because she felt that she already had enough data from them.He began to reveal inner workings of his mind at the third picture she showed him. She was now up to picture number thirty-three. But between his assigned mirror that reflected his ingrained soul and the feeling that he was being forced to see her, there was little else to be done. She had to take what she could get. If one doesn’t want therapy, like most males, there was little to be done. Her consolation was the fact that at least he liked her pictures. And then she asked: Would Mr. Eastwood employ those inner workings in his film? Pause.
Why would you bring him in to this, Mr. Kyle asked.
I’m curious, was her response.
I don’t know anything about Hollywood, he said. They have their own way of doing things.
But aren’t your worried that Mr. Eastwood might take your story in the wrong direction?
Mr. Eastwood? He’s a red-blooded American, just like me and my kind. Now if you asked me if Woody Allen would take my story in the wrong direction, now there you might be on to something.
Ok. Mr. Kyle. Let’s move on. What do you see when you look at this picture?
Ms. Rorschach held up the black and white picture. She could tell that it was the only moment during their sessions that he put down his mirror. And before long he answered as to what he saw.
As my good-wife leaves for her duty, all that’s left is me and the children. And so, I sit for an hour or three and drink my energy drinks. Mountain Dew. Monster. Coke when I’m in a somber mood. But sometimes I over do it with Red Bull blends. Oh, how I miss those days (and mornings) in Texas. When I worked for the man, you know, things were easy. I had my tools and my orders. My orders were me. There was always something to do, always someone to protect, it was as though they too were my orders. That’s what I thought I’d be doing when I spoke to Eddie Ray’s mother. He was way down on that PTSD thing. And I thought I could help him. When I spoke to his mother on the phone she said that he was a good guy but gone down the wrong path. And I knew that by joining the marines there was no wrong path–even though some can steer in the wrong direction. And that’s why I’m here now. I’m gonna help him. Civilian life ain’t like it used to be. I know that too. But… You want to know what I see in that picture you’re holding up, Ms. Rorschach? Well I’ll tell you what I’m seeing. I’m seeing…
After the pause he didn’t want to talk anymore and he didn’t want to look at another picture. He only wanted to help Eddie Ray and Eddie Ray’s mother. He wanted to help our country’s returned civilians, the ones who just got home from hell and demons and sand and orders. He was gonna get a friend this time, too. Another comrade. All three would go to The Resort. Enjoy themselves. Shoot some guns. And perhaps share a thought or three about the three kings, the three meanings that make up such a huge part of America. They would join as men among the smells of burning sulphur and the shine of freshly fired shell casings. Little did Mr. Kyle know that this would be his last meeting with Ms. Rorschach. From now on he would have to see the ink blots elsewhere. Like so many others.
Oh, and before I forget, dear worst-reader. The image Mr. Kyle saw in this last ink-blot and Mr. Eastwood forgot to include in his sentimental journey towards another Oscar win, was the innards of a dog’s paw.
With that in mind, let’s look at how others perceive things like the sentimental. Not sure if it’s worth ever trying to add something about grievance and belonging. With that in mind, here’s to Hollywood, fiction and the America way.
“Sentimentality, the ostentatious parading of excessive and spurious emotion, is the mark of dishonesty, the inability to feel. The wet eyes of the sentimentalist betray his aversion to experience, his fear of life, his arid heart; and it is always, therefore, the signal of secret and violent inhumanity, the mask of cruelty.” -James Baldwin
Good luck. Rant on.
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