Last Patient of the Day


            Him: It happened five years ago. It was a rainy autumn day. The grass in the backyard was hidden beneath fallen leaves, which my father would surely make me gather up into plastic bags. I had flopped down into the leather armchair in front of the French doors to the screened-in porch. His footsteps upstairs distracted me from concentrating on the bright colors of yearly death. From the kitchen came the scent of baked eggplant. He had told me to cook… he really loved eggplant. I had drifted off into slacking, when I was startled by the thump of something hard hitting the floor and rolling down the stairs from the upper floor. I felt too lazy to get up. But a few seconds later, the house sank into an ominous silence. I got up and dragged myself to the living room. And there I saw. My father’s body. His legs in their blue striped pajamas on the upper steps. His cock along with his balls were hanging limp from his open fly – like a gun rusting in some abandoned museum of the revolution. His bare chest squeezed by his heavy gut. The hair smeared with blood. The red trickle heading towards his neck. His bald head on the very bottom step, bent at an unnaturally sharp angle. A red pool spreading around it. Half his face covered in shaving cream. The other half clean-shaven, his left hand clutching the razor. He reeked like a filthy toilet. He had died before falling – they established that later. But I knew that he was dead the moment I saw him. I was sure. And I thought to myself: the asshole has left me all alone. Exactly those words popped into my head, as if brightly lit up: the asshole has left me all alone. What will I do without him? I was overcome with irritation. I left him lying there and went back to the armchair.

What else do I remember? Indifference towards death… uh, towards my father’s death. Relief, that he was finally gone. He wouldn’t be around to torment me. I constantly felt guilty that I didn’t rush over to hug him. I didn’t move him out of the agonizing position he’d fallen into. I didn’t cry. He didn’t cry, either, when mom went back to Bulgaria to die. And he outlived her by a whole seventeen years. Should I lie down on the couch? OK, OK, I’m lying down, see? You want me to close my eyes? OK, I’m closing them. A sunset yellow as a squash. That was on the day I saw her off. By myself. To spite him. When he found out I’d been at the airport, he threatened me with his gun, tied me up in the garage and beat me. That same day he got a package and I had to take it to the warehouse, where the mules  poured out the hash into little plastic bags. I had ruined a whole twenty-four hours’ worth of profits! From that moment on, Pedro stuck by my side, as if we were handcuffed together. Pedro was a fag. A black fag. The deal was that I would keep my eyes shut when he fucked my father, and he would keep his mouth shut about Suzanna. Suzanna was my first girlfriend. And my last. There is no better name for an American blonde than Suzanna. But my Suzanna had hair as shiny as anthracite and skin the color of bourbon. When she came, she would purr softly like a cat. This always happened in my bed, on top of a blanket that had been brought all the way from Bulgaria. By my mom. Suzanna was from Atlantic City, a dealer had brought her to Chicago and she’d stayed. Your average, ordinary whore, I thought to myself at first. And almost a whole year passed. Until word came from Bulgaria about my mom’s death.  One night my father was drinking upstairs with his bodyguards, the phone rang around one o’clock in the morning. It rang shrilly, like a train passing through Arizona. And I knew. My father answered – I wasn’t allowed to answer the phone when he was home. Then somebody came down the stairs. The door to my room opened and one of his goons stood in the doorway and barked: your father said that your cunt of a mother has gotten what she deserved. She’s gone to the other side now. I soaked my pillow with tears the whole night. Quietly, so the asshole wouldn’t laugh at me. In the morning my father left on a long trip. In the evening I went to find Suzanna on the street, she was in her work clothes, cut-off shorts, her thighs were like loaves of bread just taken out of the oven, in high heels, a queen! When someone dies and people bury them, they look to gorge themselves on food. I didn’t know whether mom had already been buried, but I suddenly and unbearably felt like gorging myself on Suzanna. I was a virgin. I hadn’t eaten anything the whole day. I could only think about… It was like somebody had pulled out all the stops for me that night. From then on, for a whole year, every night, every night. Every night, as long as my dad wasn’t home. Suzanna clung to me, too. We started hatching plans of running away from him. On my twentieth birthday, after cake-fueled sex and champagne… up until then, I had steered clear of drugs, and she had stopped using since falling in love … we had fallen asleep on top of the blanket, it was red and yellow plaid…. (a long silence) Am I afraid of my memories? I’m not sure. I’m afraid, because I don’t know exactly what I’m going to remember. The pain from the slap that knocked me clear off the bed.  The dark violet window, like the ink of a squid.  A hand smelling of cigars grabs me by the throat and pulls me to my feet. There’s a knife in my father’s hand, or maybe it’s a machete. Naked, I’m shaking like a ceramic pitcher during an earthquake, ready to fall off the table and shatter on the floor at any moment. The night light illuminates Suzanna: curled up in a ball on top of the blankets,  hands over her breasts. One of the goons gives my father a coin and he says: heads I cut off your dick, tails you watch while I fuck this filthy whore here. I’m still shaking, my cock has shriveled up like that of a fisherman pulling in his nets at dawn. He tosses the quarter into the air and calls tails. They all watch the coin rolling around until it finally drops onto one side. Tails. Suzanna darts towards the living room, for a split-second I see her as the naked girl trying to escape rape in “Clockwork Orange,” but one of them trips her and she plunges through the door. The blanket is spread on the floor. The victim is on all fours, my father is behind her. How could anyone get it up while surrounded by gangsters?… Even if they are American gangsters…  The woman was flailing around like a fish on dry land. My father rocked back and forth behind Suzanna for a long time, his ass was pumping up and down two feet in front of my face, but at one point, he got up without coming, turned to me and said: even if I had cut off your dick, you still would’ve had to watch the same show. I’ll kill him, I said to myself. But this wasn’t that enraged gesture on the part of the conscious mind, which mobilizes your whole body and hatches plans about where and how. It was only a thought, the inevitable thought of the helpless son. When we were left alone, I felt like I was in one of those near-death experiences I had read about: I was floating above myself and saw my body curled up behind Suzanna on the autumnal blanket. Two fetuses that should never have been born, because they were good and helpless in the bloody struggle for power. But once born, they were doomed to inflame the evil that always welled up in the bodies of those poor in spirit. Suzanna got up, put on her clothes without caressing me, and disappeared from my life forever. Since then, for a whole twenty years, it’s like I’ve been lying on that blanket stinking of human secretions, curled up like a fetus. I couldn’t get it up anymore. I tossed the blanket out of the house, but I couldn’t wipe it out of my memory. I would try to masturbate, but it rarely worked. I quickly got sick of it. I tried suicide. A couple times. But that didn’t work out, either. In the morning I felt numb, every action seemed to me not only impossible, but pointless. I gradually turned into my father’s servant. I didn’t feel like doing anything and forced myself to do only that which he made me do. I didn’t dare go near a woman. But I remember something of every woman I eyed. My brain turned into a warehouse of unused women. When you sleep with a woman, you learn what her secret is. The ones you can’t sleep with keep you intrigued, like an unanswered question. They irritate and arouse you at the same time. How can you explain the fact that my desire never disappeared, despite my impotence?

Ah yes, death! You’re asking me what I think about death? My own father’s death. What can I say? It was no less deserved than my own. I should have (sobs) died a long time ago. But I don’t have the strength to do it. I can’t even get it together to kill myself. They had to force me to come here to you.

What else do I remember?… Before I could snap out of my stupor, Tony had already arrived from Bulgaria. He arranged for the cremation. He assisted with the investigation. In a house across the street they found a sniper’s shell casing. They concluded that he had been killed by dealers in a turf war. My brother was a partner of his, a drug distributor for Bulgaria and Serbia. The whole time, he never took off the desert camos he had landed at O’Hare in. He chased off the goons. He settled up our father’s debts. He left me money in a nice fat bank account. Before slamming shut the door of the yellow cab for the airport, he said the only words that hinted that we were related. You live off drug money, he said, so that’s why I don’t want you to set foot on mom’s grave; I paid for it with clean money that she had set aside for when she died. It’s enough that I go and light candles for her every week. Both you and I are taken care of for life. The taxi sped off. For five years now I haven’t seen or heard anything from my brother.

I’ve been scared ever since Tony left. I don’t think about anything. I dream about Suzanna, her sweet ass… She looked cross-eyed, her left eyelid drooping. She stares at me with her huge right eye and just when I’m right about to come, she jumps back and flicks on the light. I wake up bathed in sweat, with my cock hard as a rock. Oh, I just remembered something. Our bathroom with tiles the color of a young iguana. I’m around fifteen years old, I’ve just learned how to jerk off. I’m furiously choking the chicken in the semi-darkness.  The lamp comes on like a searchlight. My father! He comes in, flips up the lid of the toilet and starts pissing. Without glancing at me. I run away, hard-on and all. For a whole hour after that I can’t get any relief. I remember terrible pain.


Psychoanalyst: Wednesday, October 26, 5 p.m. A.G. The last patient of the day. An exogenous suicidal complex. Homework: to try to remember something nice about his father and to report it at our next session on Wednesday. Impotence is not a diagnosis in his case. The problem is the father: the rivalry he has caused. His impotence is a symptom of the fact that over the years the father had violated the two women he loved before his eyes – his mother and Suzanna – and he felt beaten. Whether the father enjoyed this victory is a question of secondary importance. Subconscious conflict: the father never really meant to kill him, but merely threatened him, whereas he had been wanting his father’s death the whole time, more strongly than he desired his own. Question for next time: hasn’t the relief he felt after his father’s death transformed into a desire to do something: to bury him, to go visit his mother’s grave in Bulgaria, to forget the past, to have children? It’s possible that the brother has some guilt to atone for in the mother’s eyes. A. was her favorite child, the brother hated him, and also hated their mother because of it. A. needs to figure out what his father felt towards him. He took A. here with him, but left his brother there. It isn’t clear whether he did this because of the mother, or because he himself wanted to be around the boy constantly. He left Tony to run the daily risk of being shot, but protected A. by keeping the boy with him. That’s all!


            Excerpt from the testimony of the expert witness, Dr. Lisa Schneider, psychotherapist, office address 535 North Michigan Avenue, as part of the investigation into the death of a forty-year-old Caucasian male, pulled naked from the water by the locks on the Chicago River on October 28, 2011:  … I suspect that the drowning victim had written my telephone number on his palm so as to call me from a payphone. He had wanted to hide his identity. During the night before his body was found, only two days after our first session, Andrew Gavriloff had left the following message on my answering machine: “Dr. Schneider, I’ve decided to tell you something that… You challenged me to say something about dad. But I couldn’t find the courage then. And I lied. In part. When I found him lying on the stairs, I jumped over the body and went up to his bedroom. His billfold was on the nightstand, next to his gun. In one of its folds I found three pictures of me. In one, I was five years old on the beach in Varna. In the other, I was at O’Hare Airport, when we arrived in Chicago. I’m seven there. In the third, I’m at an Italian pizzeria, at a table covered in a red-and-white checkered tablecloth.  He had taken me there to celebrate my thirty-third birthday. The photos were tucked inside a folded Xerox copy of an essay of mine written as a freshman at Harvard. In a shaking hand, he had written on the margin “From ‘The Harvard Crimson,’ February 17, 1993.” In his billfold and among his personal belongings, which I carefully dug through, there was not a single picture of either my brother or my mother. When I had finished, I sat down on the bed and for a long time saw the white tunnel that would lead me out of this world. Blood-red splotches, like in a dive with whores, hid it from my view. Some force made me get up. I went down the stairs and lay down next to my father’s body. I turned his head towards me and hugged him. That’s how my brother found me. He had come from the house across the street to see the results. The bullet that had pierced my father’s heart had been fired by his sniper. He had come from Bulgaria to settle the score with him. I had known that he would come. But I didn’t say anything to dad. I’m counting on your oath to respect patient-doctor confidentiality. Everything else I told you about my brother is true. Everything I told you about the feelings I had towards my father after his death was true, too. But I stored them up over the years. I didn’t tell my brother anything about them. Or about my guilt! I kept thinking that it would fade over time, that I would find peace. But I haven’t! Thank you for listening to me. You are the only person who made an attempt to understand my human condition. I’m leaving now.”… The number Gavriloff had given me was out-of-service. I went to look for him at home. He had given me a nonexistent home address.


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