We only saw him once, if at all. He seemed like a normal guy at first. Smart, professional. We’d heard about this new therapy he was practicing, a combination of psychoanalysis and other things.
His name was Dr. Hans Frichtenstille, the famous psychiatrist who’d almost married Thelma Todd back in the 30’s. He was in old newsreels of the time. There were rumors that he was tied to organized crime and that he’d launched his own satellite in 1955 and used it in his work. The satel – lite was called OWEN which stood for Otherworldly Whirring Endog – enous Neurotransmitter.
OWEN transmitted things straight to the brain.
We arrived at his office on a rainy Tuesday afternoon. The receptionist looked like Margaret Dumont. She smiled at us.
“Name?” she said.
“Bobo and Iko,” we said.
“Bobo and Iko.”
“Ack, Ack, please take a seat.” She scribbled scribbles on a leaf trapped to a clipboard.
We sat down.
We thought we smelled roasting bear.
It took us nearly five minutes to ask, “Is that bear meat we smell?”
“Black bear meat.”
A nurse slid through the door holding a piece of gray parchment scrawled with hieroglyphic squiggles. She was tall, with black hair and dressed in starched whites. Her hair was curled in whorls like frozen surf and fastened with gold barrettes. She looked like a stewardess. She looked like one of those women who give away free samples at the grocery store. She looked like Snow White and we wanted to wash her. We wanted to wash her clothes. We imagined suds and they almost appeared.
“Ack, Ack?” she asked.
We stood up and crossed the room.
“Bobo and Iko,” we told her.
“Ack, Ack. Follow me.”
She led us to a small white empty room. She shut the door and faced us. She had a mole. It was peeking blindly from her front pocket. She did not speak. The mole did not squeak.
We all looked at each other, except for the mole because it was blind. Or dead. There was a lot of white glare in the room. We thought the room needed a calendar.
And passed again.
The only sound was the hum of ventilation.
The time we spent in the room was a bowl of motionless red Jell-O. It was a broken fiddle string. It was a wet chipmunk freezing to a tree. It was a bloody tooth wrapped in tissue.
We stood like that for ten long minutes, and then she glanced at her bare wrist and said, “The doctor will see you now, Ack, Ack.”
We followed her out of the room.
The hallway was paved like a sidewalk. Someone had been playing an extremely complicated game of hopscotch there.
The nurse opened a door and we entered the doctor’s office.
Soreness soaked into our bones like lard in an artery.
A slab of bear-meat turned slowly on a spit above a huge humming space-heater. We noticed several tuna steaks and flounder filets mounted on plaques on the walls. Each one was dated. The carpet was foamy, like breakwater, and seemed to swell and eddy.
Dr. Frichtenstille had been stroking the neck of a gazelle behind his desk and he stood up. The gazelle settled to the floor, making a sound like a hinge.
“Ack, Ack?” he said.
“Bobo and Iko.”
“Please, be seated,” he said in an accent thicker than mud toothpaste.
We sat down on a black leather couch. It squeaked in a way that the mole hadn’t.
“Now then,” he said. “I understand that you are abnormal.”
“Eccentric,” we said.
“Ah yes, eccentricity. The last refuge of the inventory clerk.” He reached behind his desk and pulled up two large beer steins. “Mead?”
“Don’t drink,” we told him.
A black telephone on his desk began to ring. It rang six times before he said, “Would you like to answer that?”
“No thank you.”
“It might be for you.”
He picked up the phone. “Yes?”
He hung up. “It was for you. Your mother is dead.”
The nurse entered the room carrying a pink plastic bucket filled with soapy steaming water and a scrub brush. She placed them on the floor and began to disrobe.
The doctor said, “I understand you’d like to wash Ms. Pinhole.”
We nodded, staring at her now-naked form. She winked at us and licked the corner of her mouth. Her tongue was Popsicle blue.
“But before you do that. Tell me about your dreams.”
“We don’t dream.”
“I’m sorry, We?”
“Yes, us. We don’t dream.”
The doctor furrowed his brow. “Forgive me, but just who is us?”
“Us. Bobo and Iko.”
The doctor shook his head with swift pity. “My dear boy. You are only one person.”
“What?” I said.
“I think we’ve just made a breakthrough.”