by Michael Lawrence
"Let's talk about our fathers today. What they were like, the impacts they had on our lives, whether you thought they were a good father or bad father and why. Consider this your special time to just let it all off your chest," psychologist Harold Jameson said in a mellow, soothing manner to his group of three patients. He crossed his legs. "Who wants to start?"
This only the second weekly meeting for Dr. Jameson's patients (Carl, Frank, and Leonard), and for the most part they were still uncomfortable with each other. They said nothing and Carl and Leonard stared bashfully toward the ground. Frank scanned the ceiling.
"Come on, don't be shy," Dr. Jameson said. "Remember, we trust each other." This failed to stir up the patients. Thus, Dr. Jameson had to choose a speaker.
"Carl, would you tell us about your father, please?" Dr. Jameson said. Carl groaned and fidgeted in his seat.
"My father was okay, I guess" Carl said sniffing and staring at his feet.
"Um, could you maybe enunciate?" Dr. Jameson said. "What exactly about him made him ... 'okay'?" Carl slid a shy grin on his face.
"Well, my father and I - you know - we had a special kind of relationship," Carl said.
"Good, good," Dr. Jameson interrupted. He scratched something in his yellow legal pad.
"Yeah," Carl continued. "We meant the world to each other ... and then he put me up for adoption." Frank, who sat right next to Carl, exploded in hysterical laughter.
"Oh dear...," Dr. Jameson said to himself, scribbling something else down. "And Frank, I don't think it's nice to laugh at one of your friends."
"Put a sock in it, doc," Frank jokingly retorted. He tried to catch his breath.
"Okay, Frank," Dr. Jameson said showing repressed signs of agitation, "Why don't you tell us about your father?" Frank grinned impudently.
"I don't have a father," Frank said. He looked as though he were about to burst out laughing again.
"You mean you didn't know your father?" Dr. Jameson asked.
"No, I mean I never had a father," Frank said, sniggering a bit.
"Did he abandon your family?" the doctor said now peering into Frank's eye sympathetically.
"No, you ain't listening to me, doc," Frank said finding it very difficult to suppress his restrained laughter. "I never had a father. I'm a friggin' robot! Hah hah!" Frank's suppressed hysteria was apparently bottled up for so long that his face turned red at the intensity of its release. Carl and Leonard snickered at the ridiculousness, but still avoided eye contact with anyone. This carried on for a full minute.
"That's very nice, Frank," Dr. Jameson said when Frank settled down a bit. "We will ask you again when you are ready to be serious."
"Righty-o, doc," Frank said with a wink and snigger.
"Leonard?" Dr. Jameson asked. "Would you like to share?"
"Uh no, not really," Leonard said with his eyes darting around the room.
"Come on, Leonard," Dr. Jameson said in a mellow and reassuring voice. He sat bent over in his chair. "We're all friends here. You can share it with us."
"No, I really don't want to talk about it," Leonard said in almost a whisper.
"Not just an itsy bitsy little detail?" Dr. Jameson asked pleadingly.
"Look!" Frank yelled. "The man doesn't want to tell you anything, alright?" The psychologist sighed and repositioned himself in that chair.
"Well, I think it is important for everyone to share," the doctor said. "And you still haven't told us anything serious yourself, Frank." Frank started sniggering again.
"Right, doc," Frank said amongst chuckles. "I was born an orphan, but I did eventually meet my father. You see: I met the man when I was on a mission to save the galaxy from bad guys and stuff. Well, when I was fighting the arch nemesis with my Lightsaver, he out of the blue said to me: 'Frank! I'm your father!' And I knew he was telling me the truth because we both have asthma problems-"
"That's enough Frank," Dr. Jameson said. Frank laughed hysterically. The psychiatrist angrily scribbled a couple more sentences on his notepad.
"Whatcha writin?" Frank asked. "A suicide note?"
"I'm faking one for you," the doctor said.
"Ho ho," Frank responded.