“You sure you want to be a shrink?” I asked La Flor*.
“My dream job,” said La Flor.
“Sure, you sit in a circle and ask people to talk. How hard is that?” said La Flor.
“I think there’s more to it,” I said.
“Come on, Ray. My assistant already prepared questions for me. I’m good to go,” said La Flor.
“You have an assistant?” I asked not remembering if I wrote this into the script.
She pointed to her left at Little Carmen with earphones in his ears, his head bopping to the music or something. She said, “Besides writing questions for me to ask, if anybody gives me trouble, LC will take them to time out.”
“Timeout in a support group?” I asked.
“That’s only for misdemeanors.”
“Misdemeanors? You have levels of bad behavior?” I asked.
“LC’s idea. Hold on a sec,” La Flor said then walked over to Little Carmen, pulled out his earplugs. “Come with me, LC.”
“Do I gotta?”
La Flor turned toward Little Carmen, looked up at him, “Do you want to go down this road again? No bedtime story. No Pizza Battles Reality Show.”
Little Carmen shook his head and dutifully followed La Flor until they both stood in front of me.
“LC tell Ray your great idea for the group.”
Little Carmen looked puzzled, no that’s not accurate, bewildered. No, that’s not accurate. Confused. No, that’s not accurate, either. He didn’t know what the hell was going on. That’s accurate.
“What ideas?” said Little Carmen jumping first to one foot, then the other.
“Do you have to go to the bathroom?” I asked.
“Geez, how’d you know?”
“Oh go,” said La Flor. Little Carmen headed toward the bathroom. La Flor turned to me, “I’m so happy he’s housebroken. LC could only get five alt egos from alt ego singles bar but I wanted six so he asked Big Carmen to join.”
“Big Carmen is in your group?”
“What I just say?”
“What’s the group’s theme. Every group has a theme,” I said.
“I was thinking of colors that don’t clash with what I’m wearing. Shoes have to be stylish. Hair has to be with it.”
“That’s your theme?”
“Yes, do you want to be part of the group? I’ll make an exception and make it seven people. It will be a lot of work,” said La Flor.
“No. But, I will observe, if you don’t mind,” I answered.
“As long as you don’t interrupt, butt in, correct me, raise your hand, give disgusted looks, roll your eyes, or act bored. I know it’s a tall order, Ray. I don’t need you interfering.”
“I will sit and watch the beautiful, tough, and edgy shrink at work.”
“Don’t forget the assistant shrink, two (remember, Little Carmen’s influence on La Flor, she now uses two for too).
Two hours later.
I’m seated in a circle of six people, three women, three men. One of the men is Big Carmen. This I don’t understand. La Flor is playing with her iPhone. Little Carmen is listening to a playlist. Five of the people are staring at La Flor and Little Carmen. The sixth, Big Carmen, is working on picking winners of baseball games, horse races, and deciding what the pizza special will be tonight.
I check my iPhone. We’ve been sitting in a circle for nearly twenty minutes. La Flor is still playing with her iPhone. Little Carmen fell asleep. Big Carmen is scratching his head, his pencil behind his ear.
La Flor finally puts her iPhone into her hand bag and said, “I’m the beautiful, tough, and edgy shrink. This is my first question written by my assistant, “Why are you here? Now I know why Big Carmen is here, he doesn’t have Wi-Fi and he’s using Ray’s Wi-Fi do online gambling.”
A woman, about thirty-seven, who had work done, if you know what I mean, raises her arm and starts waving it.
La Flor looks at her and said, “Yes?” The yes was coated in ice. And, even though it’s 1020 not a drop of ice melts from the yes.
“Some blog writer wrote us into the script. I had better things to do than waste an hour here.”
This was a bad move on a couple of levels. On one level, I’m the guy who wrote these alt egos into the script even though I don’t remember doing it. I wonder if La Flor is messing with my laptop when I’m asleep. I made a mental note to change the password. On a deeper level, La Flor gives her a look only La Flor can give and it’s going to get worse.
“You know what? You ought to sue your plastic surgeon, bad job,” said La Flor.
“Thank you. You are so wise. I told my boyfriend it was a terrible job, but you know men.”
“Only two well (La Flor picked up on Little Carmen’s habit of using two instead of too). I could tell you stories about that species,” said La Flor glancing at Little Carmen off in La La Land.
A short, paunchy, balding man with suspenders to hold up his pants, said, “I think it’s unfair picking on my species.”
La Flor looked at him, she stifled a gag response when she saw he violated all of her sartorial codes. She said, “Suspenders? A paunch? Pants with an elastic waist band? Is that a piece? What is your name?” said La Flor.
“Don’t tell me to chill. LC will take you level one, time out.”
“What did I do?”
La Flor shook Little Carmen. Little Carmen woke up with a start, “Huh?”
“LC, glare at him,” said La Flor point at Bill.
Little Carmen shot a glare at Bill that would cause a two-year-old to crawl back into the womb.
“Good boy, here’s your Snicker’s bar.”
“Wait too or six moments, beautiful, tough and edgy shrink,” said Little Carmen again confusing two and too.
“What’s wrong, LC?”
“How woods (that’s how he said would) likes it if I treated use like a German Schlepski?”
“I don’t like Schlepskis of any kind,” said La Flor.
“Use gets what I means?” said Little Carmen.
I thought the big, tough, muscle lug was going to cry.
“I didn’t means two (there she goes again sounding like Little Carmen). Can I give you a hugs and a Snicker’s Bar?”
“Of course, use may, my beautiful, tough, and edgy, I don’t likes dis stinkin shrinking business.”
“What are these people doing here? How long have we been going, I’m exhausted,” said La Flor.
I interrupted, “Actual time, seven minutes. Real time, twenty-five minutes.”
“You broke the contract, Ray. You can’t come back next week.”
“Okay,” I said.
“I was only kidding. You can run the group next week, they bore me.”
“I don’t want to run the group.”
“Neither do I, what are we going to do with them.”
Big Carmen looked up, “I has a great idea. Little Filly just won in the seventh at Aqueduct. I won five hundred bucks. Pizza for everybody at Carmen’s Pizzeria tonight.
All the alt ego’s start applauding.
La Flor gave gaga eyes to Little Carmen, “You big lug, I need a margarita after all the stress Ray put me through.”
I pointed to my chest, “Me? I’m an innocent bystander.”
Little Carmen turned toward me, he said, “Don’t thinks nothing to it, Ray-mo. Use was just cholesterol damage.”
I wanted to correct him and say collateral, but to what end.
Little Carmen gave his main squeeze a hug and said, “I knows just the place, it’s called Margarita de Ville. It’s three-thirty somewhere (I didn’t have to heart to ruin Jimmy Buffet’s song).
* La Flor is a fictional character and acts as my alt ego. Her character has evolved over the blog posts. She began with a single letter as her name. Her name gradually grew to two letters, then three before she settled on La Flor. She liked the name because it fit her idea of a beautiful, tough, and edgy feminine PI. It is my interaction with her persona that serves as the source of these blog posts. I have no notion how La Flor will continue to evolve. It is an adventure for me as well as the reader.