Dr Dobrowolski's Gargoyles (Guest story by Zen Insult)
10.28.2003 by , every Tuesday.
Thanks to Zen Insult for this very bedtime-story-ish tale.
As always, I need guest stories. Email me.
Dr Dobrowolski's Gargoyles OR The Psychologist's Chairs
I opened my notebook, pulled out a pen and sat back in the chair. I allowed myself a moment of pleasure at the sensation of the soft leather and the smell that was infused into it.
I have always considered it necessary to provide a professional and comfortable environment for my patients, and I was more than a bit proud of this new furniture set. It was tasteful, attractive and lent an air of prosperity to the office. I was doing well for myself, and I like to think it showed. Working for the province was fairly lucrative, and challenging as well.
I motioned for the patient to sit.
'Good morning, Mr...um..'
'Right, Mr Gargoyle. What exactly did you want to talk about today?'
The gargoyle sighed. The worn points of his limestone talons traced idle patterns around the ebony buttons (hand-sewn) into the arm rests.
'I dunno, doctor. I'm not really sure what to say. I'm just having trouble with a lot of things right now. Um.. do you mind if I smoke?'
I asked him not to, explaining that my other other patients must have a smoke free environment. This despite their being made of stone and thus immune to asthma and allergies, I thought to myself, but besides, the smell of the smoke would get into the leather and I'd never be rid of it. And the ashes..
' I am sorry. But please, go on.'
I began to doodle on my notebook. This was the challenging part of my work- maintaining the impression of interest, and not falling asleep. You see, I am glad to be a gargoyle specialist, but in my day to day practice, I am faced with a constant barrage of repetitive and uninteresting professional problems, onoriginal self doubt and dull, dull midlife crises.
A picture of a skyscraper took shape in the notebook.
'... and you know- no one ever looks up. Like, ever. I'm there all day and no one looks up. Sometimes a busload of Japanese tourists shows up and takes pictures, but they're taking pictures of the building, not me. It's like I...'
I nodded and leaned forward, adopting a look of interest and understanding as the supple leather contoured to my new position.
'... and it's lonely too- there's just no one to talk to. I mean, you're one of the few people I've ever met who even speaks gargoyle.'
It was true- my mastery of the rarely used gargoyle tongue was the main reason I had been appointed to this position. It sometimes irked me that I hadn't been chosen because of my analytical skills or creative methods, but I considered myself blesed to be as successful as I was, given the very competitive nature of the field of psychology. I was at the top of my field, after all. And all the prestige and material benefits the position brought with it allowed me a rather pleasant lifestyle, both at work and on my own time. I had a tasteful and well furnished home, and a nice office with all the essential tools of the trade, such as a chocolate-brown Cordovian leather chaise-lounge.
' For example, I was talking to the griffin from the West tower, and he told me that he just leaves sometimes, and pretty often he's gone for a few days. He's been doing this for years, and no one has ever noticed. I mean, I don't think that it's right or anything, leaving like that, but when you hear about something like that, you can hardly feel like what you're doing is worth doing.'
I nodded sympathetically as I drew a tiny gargoyle on the side of the tower with a speech bubble which read 'bla bla bla'. A moment later it was joined by a tiny stick version of myself jumping from the building with his own speech bubble which said 'Aaah! Shut up!'. I chuckled, then looked up guiltily. I tried to turn the page, but too late. He had seen! I pushed the notebook into the deep suede-lined pocket on the side of the chair.
'What's that, doctor?' He challenged, his grey eyes narrowed. He looked angry, and he was gripping the armrest tight enough for his stone claws to scratch the finish of the leather. I decided to head things off before they got worse.
'Just notes, but I want you to know, Gargoyle, that I myself consider your profession to be a very noble and essential one- much like that of a musician or an artist. But that aside, I think that, given the uniqueness of your case, we may have to be a bit unconventional in treating your unhappiness. I don't think we're quite ready to tackle the issue of your self-worth, but I do think that it would be a step in the right direction for you took take some time off.'
I could tell that he had been hoping that I would suggest this, and he was excited at the idea. But his face fell.
' I dunno, doc- I'd like to go see my Mom out in Kingston, but I can't just abandon my post.'
' Surely someone could take your place for a bit.'
He squinted thoughtfully, and began to fidget in frustration. I winced as his scaled legs scuffed the fold out footrest.
'Maybe the satyr from the 22nd floor...' He slouched to one side, his tail scraping the seat. I urgently nodded my agreement. 'Yes, yes, he'll do.'
'No, I forgot- he broke in half last winter. Too bad, really. Cool guy. Threw some good parties. Maybe my cousin, the eagle from the bank downtown.'
'Well he certainly would know what he's doing, wouldn't he?'
'But I don't think he can do that kind of thing. I think he's on contract or something.
He shook his head forlornly, his horns and stony tufts of hair digging divots out of the oiled black headrest. My throat was dry as I jumped up and almost shouted, 'God, man- this is very important! There must be someone who will do it!'
His crumbling sandstone eyes showed surprise for a moment, then he smiled.
* * *
'Hi, Sheila? Yes, it's Doctor Dobrowolski. I'm going to ask you to cancel my appointments for the rest of the week. I'm doing some.. field research.'
The wind drowned out her response.
'And also, could you come bring a blanket to the Pacific Insurance building. It's getting fairly cold out. And maybe something to read. The new Bombay Company catalogue is on my desk. Thank you very much, Sheila.'
A pigeon stared at me, head cocked, looking confused.
The city lay sprawled below, grey and long-shadowed as the sun went down.