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Image by Kyaw Tun

ON THE COUCH

September, 2014

After my lecturer’s glowing feedback for my first short story, Acceleration, I made the mistake of thinking I was a pretty good writer. This second 2000ish word story I wrote at uni for a short story subject is a bit clumsy, relying too much on crass, semi-offensive themes, and a poor attempt at trying to write like Chuck Palahniuk. I learnt from this though. It has potential, but needs work, and I’ll revisit when I do a short story collection in the future. The main thing I learnt is to not be too confident in my abilities.

On the couch: Work

He’s more erratic than I imagined he would be, she thought before realising she was never sure how ‘he’ would be.  

Tom was screwing her best friend, but God knew this, right? She never thought about Him having problems.  He was supposed to be the one to have his shit together.

Her baby kicked, and was possessed by a sudden craving for dirt.  

She felt an overwhelming need for a nice single malt, but the tiny foot kicking her belly, and her sudden craving for dirt quickly removed these thoughts.

Maybe she could get God to smite Tom down, or fake tits Brandi for that matter.  .  What kind of trailer park inbreds would call their daughter Brandi?  Arrgh! 

Her biggest fear was raising a daughter on her own.  She was going to become one of those women.  Oh, how she hated those women.  They acted like they were the result of immaculate conception, and males were just there for a good time on Saturday nights when the babysitter was around, and the batteries had run out.

How will you experience success if you don’t fail?

It’s interesting to think that eventually nothing that has occurred on our planet will matter when it gets struck by a meteor or the sun explodes.  Nothing will matter or will have mattered.

There will be darkness.  silence.  Space.  What about the entire universe? Can that be destroyed? Nothing is destroyed.

If there is an apocalypse and the internet blows up; all of the pictures of you will be lost forever.  Sure, it probably won’t happen.  Besides, killing zombies and finding a can opener will probably become your main concern.

She thought about all of the men/slugs she dealt with, clawing her way to her lofty position.  More than once she’d been offered a leg up the rung as long as she’d give the sleazeball the same.


Do you mind if I smoke?

Only if I can join you.  Ill grab an ashtray.

As she began to rise from her chair she saw one had miraculously appeared on the metal coffee table between them, along with a fresh pack of Marlboro lights.  Her favourite, she thought.  How did he know, she thought before catching herself.

God and Suzie took deep, satisfying drags of their cigarettes.

‘How is your son doing?’

  Suzie felt a pang of guilt, realising she hadn’t thought of Jason in some time.  He was long gone down to the West Coast, but not before selling her jewelleray and maxing out her credit cards to buy crack.

Her head dropped, ‘I don’t know.’

‘He’ll return soon enough, asking for forgiveness.  Don’t worry too much.’


Whenever a patient entered Dr Suzie Walker’s office for the first time, they would inevitably possess a look of astonishment and wonder as they absorbed the fabulously expensive décor and priceless artefacts hanging over the piranha tank.   This time, however, the patient’s eyes casually scan the room, and the look of amazement is plastered on Suzie’s face.  She stares slack jawed at her 2o’clock appointment lying comfortably on her Venetian leather couch.

She is lost for words, acutely aware that this session will be the most extraordinary of her illustrious career.

She swallows and forces herself out of her daze.

“I’d like to commend you on taking the first steps in seeking help for whatever problems you might be having.”

“Thank you, Doctor, Walker right?”

“Yes.  Please call me Suzie.  How would you like me to address you?”

“Call me God, everyone else does.”

“Of course. God”   

Suzie jots down the name ‘God’ several times in her notepad, not that she would forget this patient anytime soon.

“Can I get you a green tea?”

“No. Thanks.”

“Right.   God, what’s troubling you?” 

“Well, it’s several things.  In the greater scheme of everything, I’m questioning my purpose.”

God fidgets and starts biting his nails.  Suzie underlines ‘nervousness’ and ‘possible oral fixation’ in her notepad.

“Also, it’s the humans. I thought they would have learnt their lesson after The Great Flood, but I was wrong.  I can’t be bothered anymore.  I sent a meteor hurtling down because the dinosaurs were arseholes to each other; then the humans did the same thing.  I’m too old for this shit.” 

“How is your relationship with your work colleagues?”

“The other gods? Talk about egos.  I create fire; I create lighting.  I don’t even enter into the discussion.  I’m the original Alpha and Omega male.  Narcissus has started to lose his looks but won’t admit it.  He’s jealous of James Dean.  Mars is always frantic.  He says he feels like Mickey Mouse in ‘The Sorcerer’s Apprentice’ after the mops start multiplying.  Min, the god of fertility and reproduction is upset because she also got lumped with being the god of lettuce.  Couples are coming to her for advice, walking home smiling and holding hands with a humungous lettuce under their arm.  I could go on.”

Suzie’s hands tremble with excitement as she pulls the Rorschach cards from her desk.  This is why I became a psychiatrist; she thinks.

“I’m going to show you some inkblots, and I’d like you to say the first thing that comes to mind.  Ready?”

Suzie produces the first one.

“Tits, big juicy tits.”

She shuffles.

“This one?”

“Two clowns high fiving each other.”

“Here?”

“The devil.  He is eating souls.”

“We’ll return to these soon enough.  Now, the devil, I only know from what I’ve read of course, but how is your relationship with him?”

God relaxes and locks his fingers behind his head.

“L-Dogg? Great! He comes around on Thursdays with a USB stick full of bad movies.  We kick back on the cloud couches, laughing our arses off.  We patched up our differences a while ago.  He’s vindictive but lazy, and he can’t keep up the same rate of construction in Hell.  Jesus and his team of builders are expanding Heaven at an exponential rate.  That boy of mine still has a hard time due to cries of nepotism.  I mean, come on, what are they going to do?”

 “How is your relationship with your son?”

“Forgiveness is J.C’s thang, but I don’t think that he ever forgave me for sending him down to Earth like a lamb to the slaughter.  Ironic huh? He pined for Mary more than anything else. Both Marys.  A bit Oedipal if you ask me.  Speaking of Oedipus, that dude is pretty pissed that he is only remembered for killing his dad and doing his mum.  He has excellent penmanship and is a kickarse harpist too.  Am I drifting off topic?”

“That’s fine.  I find that stream of conscious thought is quite beneficial anyway.  Let’s look at some more inkblots.”

“An alien probing a fat guy.”


“Here?”

“A huge dildo exploding into a mushroom cloud, right?”

“That’s fine.  There are no incorrect answers.”

Susie discreetly pinches her arm to make sure this isn’t a psychotic dream.

“How much sleep do you get on average?”

“Sleep is for the weak.  I came up with that concept.  I needed a break once in a while. Of course with mass migration and time zones, keeping track is infinitely more difficult than it once was.”

“What bothers you?”

“Hmm.  Racism.   It’s ignorance, but stereotypes are learned behaviours.  No one is better or worse than anyone else.  The richest man who ever lived dies just like the most malnourished baby.  Death is the great equaliser.  Still, you should try to contribute something to the zeitgeist, your little etching on history.  On average, you get 80 years, meaning you should be able to contribute something that benefits others.  Not just procreation.  Anyone can reproduce, and for any barren individuals out there, I am truly sorry.  Having a child is paradoxically the most significant and least significant act you’ll perform.  Billions of people have done what you’ve done.  It’s not remarkable in itself.  What’s remarkable is you can encourage this child to be the greatest contributor to the human race.  Or, they could work at a petrol station, drinking beer and smoking weed with their football watching dead shit friends.  It’s a big responsibility but also a huge opportunity.  Life should be about an individual or collective contribution to the betterment of humankind.  Your opinion is always right, to you.  To forgive is divine, but I can be as petty as any mortal.  It wasn’t just human physicality  I created in my image.”

How are your time management skills? (put this somewhere else, make sure the story flows.)

“I created the entire universe in 7 days, what do you think?  Honestly?  Over analysis and misconception of time is a big deal to me.  Time is not a straight line.  The concept doesn’t matter; it just is, regardless of labels and textbook dissection.  Unlearning is perhaps the greatest knowledge of all.  I do get sick and tired of manning the station the whole time.  I’d like to release the controls. I think I worked too hard for too long; I was too controlling and quick to anger.  But, if you do something for long enough that you initially find unpleasant, you’re bound to start enjoying it sooner or later.  Look at beer, cigarettes and anal sex.  I’m yet to meet an individual that enjoyed those activities from the get go.” 

 Susie chokes on her green tea. 

“Time is certainly a complex concept.  Occasionally we feel like we live to work, and don’t take the time to reflect.”

“Exactly.  There’s more.  Everyone believes that their opinion is ‘right’, and that’s part of being human I suppose.  I understand it’s difficult to admit you are wrong.  If someone said to you that they knew a dude who is so wise that they are never wrong 100% of the time, would you believe them? Fuck no, you wouldn’t.  Look, I’m not saying that I’m always right, but there’s a massive contingent of people out there believing that they are.  Good and bad are not equally divided, there’s a gargantuan ocean of grey and it is unforgiving and rough as hell.  Another thing, that person chose to be gay like another individual chose to be an ignorant, close-minded fuck.  It’s not your fault; your parents were probably idiots too.”

“How are your relationships with women?”

“Last week I went on a date with Medusa.  She’s cool and all, but I confess that I have an immortal mistrust of snakes.  Look what that one snake did to Adam and Eve for Christ’s sake.  You’re probably wondering how I’ve managed to stay single this whole time.  I'm not elitist, but for eons I was always used to my company and apart from creating, I’m not a fan of change.  I’m too potent.  I got an Earth woman pregnant from Heaven without so much as looking down from above.  I’m used to a certain amount of loneliness.  I was an old man before I created the Earth, I spent my teenage years and young adulthood planning and tinkering with the idea of creating a universe and placing life in it.  My work is my life; a wife could never understand.  Besides, I don’t get lonely, I don’t get jealous, and when I created something in my image, I amped up the feelings.  If I felt too much, I would be liable to get upset more often and destroy the universe more frequently like a bad sport losing at Monopoly.”

 “What do you think of when I use the words ‘beginning’ and ‘end’?”

“Beginning is a concept that even I find difficult to comprehend.  In the beginning, there was no one else around but me, and time is as elusive to me now as it was then.  See, the universe is like a giant rubber band, and it’s due to snap back anytime soon.  “And then what?” you may ask, well, I admit that I don’t know, but there will be immense pressure and we’ll all disappear into a black hole.  Let there be dark!  Humanity will destroy themselves soon enough, and I’m too ancient to start over.   God damned arthritis, ya know.”


“You feel resentment towards humankind.  Why?”

“It gets harder to care about a mortal’s perception of you when they are inherently selfish.  They’re so preoccupied with destroying each other; we’ve even got a syndicate running.  In my infinite wisdom, I give them another 100 years max, before I have to create a world all over again. I wish they wouldn’t kill in my name.  It’s not right and never justifiable.  If only they’d realise that they are all both equally right and equally wrong at the same time.  I didn’t even want to get on my high horse and give them ‘10 commandments’ because it all seemed like common sense to me.  However, there were people getting about stealing, killing and coveting neighbours’ wives without a care in the world.  Stab stab, sleep, choke choke, eat, covet covet, work. ”

 “I’m dying to ask.  What’s heaven like?”

“Like Earth, beards are fashionable.  It’s pretty nice, lots of buffets, lots of cloud space to relax and chill out, plenty of famous people too, not the wankers though.  John Lennon was right when he said that The Beatles were bigger than Jesus.  They’re more popular in heaven too, which is hard to admit, J.C being my son.   I created Beatles, so apples and oranges really.”

The clocked chimes on the half hour.

“I’m afraid our time is up, but I’d like to see you again next week if you can squeeze it into your schedule.”

“Thanks, Doc.  I have to admit; I feel a lot better already.  It’s been forever since I’ve let those thoughts out.”

God majestically leaves the couch and shakes Suzie’s hand before exiting the office gracefully.

Suzie walks to the window, still processing what had just transpired in her office.  

The billowing white robe catches her eye as her patient slips behind the wheel of a Dodge Charger.  Just like Dukes of Hazard, she thinks.  She hears the engine come to life and continues to watch as it shoots away, eventually disappearing into the horizon.  

The buzz of the intercom breaks her daze, and she turns back towards her desk.

“Doctor Walker?”

“Yes, Carol.”

“Your 2:30 is here.”

Susie realises she is exhausted.

“Thank you, Carol, send them in.”

“Oh, Doctor Walker, one more thing.”

“What, what is it?”

“He’s a few weeks early for Halloween and he is dressed like the Devil.” 







On the couch

Troy Henderson

On the couch: Text
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