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WHAT AM I DOING HERE? What am I doing here ...? There's a fly upon the wall, how I wish that he would fall. A fly in Doctor's office? Never. A mote, a beam. There's a crack in the ceiling. It gets bigger and bigger every session. Twenty-one floors of psychoanalysts are going to come down on top of me. Julie à la Freud.
"What's going through your mind at this minute?"
"What do you think is going through my mind?"
"That I've got skinny legs and no breasts."
"What about no breasts?"
"But I do have breasts. When I sit up and lean over I can see them myself. I often look. Is that narcissistic?"
"What do you think?"
"I think ... yes. I'm very fond of myself or I wouldn't be here."
"So. You want to be here?"
"I want to be here because Jeff thinks I should and he pays the bill."
"If he didn't pay the bill would you want to be here?"
"What about Mother?"
"I was going to say if he didn't, Mother would, but Mother's dead and I wasn't really thinking of her. Of you, I guess."
"I'm twenty-five years old."
"I want to run away from home."
"Where do you want to go?"
"Out. On the street."
"So you want to be a streetwalker?"
"Very funny, Doctor. I want to ... What do I want to do? I want to drive a taxi. I want to write a novel or a poem or a play."
"It's very hard to drive a car and use the typewriter at the same time."
"That's my whole trouble, isn't it? I want to do everything and I don't do anything. I'm lazy. I'm just plain lazy."
"I'm spoiled and I'm lazy."
"But I'm not really. My mother used to say there wasn't a lazy bone in my body. Only in my head. You've got a good head if only you'd use it. Jeff says he married me for my brains. That's a joke. But so's our marriage. I don't feel married. Maybe that's good. But I don't feel unmarried either."
"How long has he been away?"
"Let's see. Just after Christmas—three months. I hope he isn't trying to be faithful to me. Did you see his article in Sunday's paper?"
"What about it?"
"Crazy, a man like that married to me. I mean he's brilliant, right? Brains. With my brains and his looks, disaster. I don't really want a child. I want to want one but I don't. And I don't really want to want to, that's crap. Conventional crap. I esteem Jeff. That's what it is. A steam roller. But every time I get flattened I get up and walk away. I don't even feel flattened until afterwards. I could curl up right here and go to sleep. I am lazy. I'm spoiled and lazy."
Julie looked around at Doctor Callahan.
"Why do you look at me?"
"I thought you might be yawning."
The doctor released the brake to her chair and brought it to an upright position. "You may get up now."
"Is it time?" Julie swung her legs off the couch and ran her fingers through her hair where it was pressed in at the back of her head.
"Not quite time, but I want to say something which I think you are waiting for me to say. I think we should stop these sessions for the time being, at least. Not necessarily today, but soon. Therapy is a cooperative process. It isn't an afternoon's chat. Not every doctor is right for every patient. I don't know whether I am right for you or not, but I don't think I am at present. I don't think any doctor will be right for you until you want to come to them, until you want to change badly enough to make the effort. I have been urging you—For how long? A year almost?—to get a job. It is the only real direction I have tried to give you. That is also conventional crap. But when I do something unconventional it is because I think it is the only thing that will help a patient. I have many patients I can help, patients who need me, but there are only so many hours in every day."
"You're firing me!"
"Call it a temporary layoff."
"That's great. Just great." The tears welled up in Julie's eyes. She fought them back, but they came anyway and she reached for a tissue from the box at the side of the couch. She waved it at the doctor before using it. "I might as well get my money's worth."
"I understand that you are hurt."
"You understand everything. Don't you feel anything?"
"I understand," the doctor repeated.
"Well, I don't ... Yes, I do. It's because Jeff pays you, and you're worried you're not giving him his money's worth."
"My dear, I have no idea what his money's worth would be ... to you, and it is you for whom I am concerned."
"Thanks for telling me. Oh, hell. Let me get out of here. Today for keeps. I don't know what I'm crying about. Deep down, I'm glad I'm free."
"Nobody is free, Julie. To be free is to be dead."
"Oh, boy ... Hey, you called me Julie. For all these long months I've been praying. Let her say my name. Let me hear if she knows it even."
"There is good reason."
"But you never tell me the reason."
"Finding out the reasons for yourself is part of therapy. When you decide to do something for yourself, and when you do it, if you want to see me again, call me and we will try to work out a new schedule."
"What if I find another doctor?"
The corners of the doctor's mouth twitched, the suggestion of a smile. She was a handsome woman with quick dark eyes that could sometimes be merry. More often they were the eyes of an observer, as noncommittal as the questions she asked in answer to questions. Her wit, like her wisdom, was under a tight stopper, but when she released it now and then it was to the veritable enchantment of her patients. At least, this had been the case with Julie Hayes.
"There are many doctors in New York. One of the others may suit you very well."
"Do you really believe that, Doctor?"
"I can be convinced of it when it happens."
"Me too," Julie said and blew her nose. She took another tissue from the box which she put in her skirt pocket along with the used one.
"You are recovering from the shock?"
"And was it such a shock?"
"You are right. Answers don't always tell the truth, only what seems to be so at the moment. They are not as important as the questions." The doctor put her feet on the floor, a little looseness in her hose showing at a nicely shaped ankle.
"Do you ever wear slacks, Doctor Callahan?"
"Why do you ask if I wear slacks?"
They were both amused that the reflexive process carried beyond the couch and chair.
"I do wear slacks, and when I look at myself in the mirror, I think, What can you expect, sitting on your backside all those hours every day of the week?"
"You are human," Julie said.
"My dear, if I were any more human I would be a monster. I am going to leave your next regular appointment in my book. You may change your mind, but if you don't want to come in, let me know by Thursday morning."
"Thanks. Thanks very much." The feeling of abandonment and its consequent resentment were setting in again.
"And I am here in an emergency. You have many talents, I am sure. Prove just one of them."
The doctor went to the door with her, but neither of them offered the other her hand.
Julie walked a quick and random mile from the doctor's office, her thoughts swinging from one extreme to the other: She's right; she's dead wrong. She began to think up emergencies: rape, a crippling psychological experience, sic. Divorce ... suicide. Which was so remote a possibility, it took her out of her despondency into fantasy. She had traveled from Central Park West in the Nineties almost to the Plaza, which, she thought, if she was going to commit suicide, would be a lovely place for it. She would check into a suite and say her luggage would be coming on later. "Coming on later," like from London or Istanbul. It was a phrase Jeff often used. Of himself sometimes. When he was home and they were to go to a party or a reception, even to the theater, he often sent her ahead with the assurance that he would be coming on later. At first she thought it might be a sort of training in "presence" he had laid out for her. He greatly admired "presence" in a woman (he was rather fond of absence, too). But now, on such occasions she felt like a kind of female John the Baptist sent in from the desert with news of the Big Man's coming.
Julie stopped long enough at the Plaza to use the powder room and there she remembered that she had intended to go to Bloomingdale's after her session. Her subconscious no doubt had pointed her that way from the time she left the doctor's. Damn her subconscious. It was her conscious that needed the hypo, her consciousness. What kind of a job could she get that wouldn't horrify Jeff? My wife the waitress, my wife the check-out girl at Gristede's, my wife the Revlon demonstrator ... The job is for you, not for Jeff. The job, if the truth be told, would be for Doctor Callahan.
While she waited for the light to change on Fifth Avenue she watched a man handing out flyers. He peeled off one after another with such a graceful twist of the wrist you'd have thought he was scattering rose petals. Marcel Marceau. When he came to her she said, "It's great, the way you pass those out."
"You can have two," he said and grinned. Most of his front teeth were missing. The smell of alcohol was pungent. She looked around after him to see him looking after her. "Tell Madame Eddie sent you," he called.
She looked at the flyer while she crossed the street.
Reader and advisor, psychic extraordinary
Julie stopped and read:
Are you troubled in your relationships with those you love? Do you sometimes doubt that they love you? Do you know your enemies from your friends? Do you feel spiritually impoverished? Are you ill, lonely, afraid to go home? Do you have bad luck? Do you feel that you have lost your way? Do you feel betrayed? Madame has advised kings who have lost their thrones, businessmen who have gone bankrupt, doctors who have made mistakes, artists in doubt of their talent. No problem is too great for Madame to understand, no problem too small for her consideration. Madame will not hesitate to give drastic advice if drastic action is required. She will give you the wisdom to understand and the courage to act
"Oh, boy," Julie said aloud, folded the flyer and tucked it into her pocket. Then she began to think of what Doctor would say about Madame Tozares. Nothing so agitated Doctor as instant therapy. She was a book burner when it came to how-tos of the psyche.
Julie took out the flyer again to see the address of Madame Tozares.CHAPTER 2
BLUE AND ORANGE. ROYAL, heavenly blue window drapes parted to show an elliptical sphere in one window and a Zodiac armature in the other; the front of the shop a waiting room with four orange-colored plastic chairs and paintings on the side walls which were explosions—or splatterings—of orange on chalk-white backgrounds. An electric floor heater also gave off an orange glow and heated the small store front suffocatingly.
A woman who looked to be in the final stages of respectability came out from behind the heavy blue curtain that hung over the door to the rear of the shop. Whatever Julie had expected, it was not a woman who could have been headmistress at Miss Page's School. She looked like money didn't matter to her, like the quick buck was anathema. She wore a smock over a lace blouse, the high collar of which was fastened with a cameo.
"What do you want, child?"
"Eddie sent me. Or do I have the wrong address?"
"I am Madame Tozares."
"Are you?" Julie said.
"Won't you sit down?"
Madame angled her own chair to avoid a direct view from the street.
"Do you wish to make an inquiry?"
"Well, yes, if that's what it's called."
"Are you in trouble?'
"That's what I was hoping you'd tell me," Julie said.
"Shall we have a throw of the cards, or shall I read your palm? Or I can read your mind, if you wish, and reveal your own character to you."
"I don't think I want that one ..." She had almost added "Doctor."
"You prefer something more abstract, more symbolic?"
"I'd like to understand it," Julie said.
"That is why I am here. The Tarot is significant only if you understand and accept that in nature there is no accident, not even your coming here. Every event in the universe is caused by preestablished laws."
"I charge ten dollars for a reading."
"I guess I can afford it."
"You know you can afford it. Or else you can't afford it."
"If I charged less it would be worth less."
"I understand." Oh boy, do I understand.
Madame rose and held the curtain for Julie to precede her into the back room, at the side of which was a partitioned area the size of a closet, bare walls, a small knee-high table, and two chairs. Madame indicated where she wanted Julie to sit and settled herself in the other chair.
She took the cards from a blue silk cloth and set them before Julie, a stack face down. She let her fingers rest on the deck. A fresh manicure. The long oval nails made her fingers look grotesquely long. "You will shuffle the cards by spreading them out and mixing them thoroughly. Use your right hand. Go from right to left in a circular motion." Only then did she remove her fingers, trailing them across the table as though there remained some invisible connection between them and the cards.
Julie shuffled as directed. The backs of the cards looked like the linoleum on a kitchen floor.
"Draw one card with your right hand and place it, face upward, on your left."
Julie chose and turned up the Star. Her next draw, under Madame's direction, was the Chariot, upside down. She was about to turn it right side up when Madame stopped her; Julie completed the five-card draw to shape a cross with Judgment on top and Temperance, inverted, below. That certainly seemed to tell her something just on the surface. Temperance was not her thing.
Madame took up the remaining cards, calculated the numbers of those open on the table, and hunted for number thirteen in the deck. She turned up Death and placed it in the middle.
Julie gave a little exclamatory moan, more than half in earnest.
Madame put the remainder of the deck back in the silk cloth. She folded her hands, rested them on the table, and observed the cards in a moment's silence.
She looked up at Julie with dark, brooding eyes. "You are very generous and you love many people, but you cannot love one person. Am I right? You have great gifts but you don't use them. Soon there is change coming. You are going to do something meaningful to you and you will be very happy for the time being. But there is weakness. You are restless. It is such a shame this fault in you, I could cry. You live with beauty. But there is something rotten, decadent. Somebody spoils everything for you and you have not the strength to overcome. You are married, am I right? To an older man, yes?" This time she waited for Julie's answer.
"You're doing fine."
"I am aware of that. He is successful, an artist or writer ... something ... is different every time he does it. He has a deep mind, a mind full of wisdom and advice on what everyone should do. He is not the great lover. You are his child. You don't have children. Am I right? He does not want children, you are ... mixed about it. You are very lonely. So many people and yet you are lonely. Something has hurt you recently. Somebody has disappointed you, Not your husband, but somebody close. Your own family maybe. Your mother or father? There is something between that person and your husband. They are jealous of you maybe? They pull you between them like a tug-of-war. They are strong people. If only you were not so weak. But let us see ..."
Julie knew she was looking at Temperance upside down. No good was going to come of that.
"Nothing works for you. You put the wrong things together. Is your husband going away? It will be better to let him go. There is separation. It does not have to be permanent, but it is very important what you do to change your life while he is away. You are going to do something which involves many people. They have great faith in you. A teacher, perhaps. Are you a teacher?"
Julie shook her head.
"I did not think so. I like people who are something. I like to interpret for someone who can go from here to there. You go everywhere and nowhere."
"How do you know that?" Julie demanded.
"I only tell you what I see. And I don't tell lies. I never saw such a mishmash." She threw up her hands in despair. Mishmash: that knocked out her Miss Page credentials.
Excerpted from A Death in The Life by Dorothy Salisbury Davis. Copyright © 1976 Dorothy Salisbury Davis. Excerpted by permission of OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA.
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