Mark Tanenworth woke late that morning. He was having some trouble setting the alarm on his new phone. He was always messing up the AM and PM so he switched it to 24 hour time, however this led to him spending 10 minutes every night working out that 2000 means 8 but it still wouldn’t go off and “It’s pointless to worry about what happened because it is already 10 o’clock,” he said as he rolled out of bed. “Oops,” he said aloud, “caught myself talking again.” He stopped and inhaled and exhaled slowly, wandering if his psychologist would be proud of his diligence – even if it was proving increasingly ineffective. He supposed that he could raise the issue this day as he was about to talk with his psychologist very soon – he had a meeting at...21:30 that very morning, which he was now rushing down the rickety fire escape to get to. He exited Citadel Towers a few minutes later and hopped in the backseat of a black sedan.
“Late again, Mr T. You owe me twenty.” The driver, James Bexton, a handsome and unkempt man in his early twenties was looking back over his shoulder.
“I don’t get it,” Mark said reaching into his wallet, “I put it on for 2000 – 8 o’clock – and nothing,”
“Got me beat,” James replied as he took the note. “Got any plans next week? I’ll give ya double or nothing.”
“Yeah I was gonna go to the cemetery, spend some time with mum. Make it 9 o’clock again.”
James looked into the rear view with a grin, “You’re on Mr T.”
“Mark shook his head, stifling his own grin, “If I’m not careful I’ll be driving you around to cemeteries and doctors offices one day.”
“Jeez, sounds like you gonna have me poisoned and killed. You can have your 20 back if it’s that important.”
The two of them rattled off a few more jokes as they passed through the light traffic. Mark enjoyed James’ company and if nothing else he knew James was at least paid enough to enjoy his. After around ten minutes they pulled up at a small building of flats just outside the city centre. Mark got out, giving James permission to cruise around at leisure as long as he was back in an hour. “I’ll be back in two and you still won’t be here.”
The building was bland and aging rapidly. Mark knew he could afford a much pricier doctor, but he enjoyed the company more than anything (especially since the treatment was nothing more than a series of ineffective breathing exercises). “Mark. Hi.” A short statured man, who looked as though he had lived through plenty despite owing to no more than 35 years of age, greeted Mark as he entered the third floor apartment. “How have you been?” His courtesy was naturally blunt but genuine.
“Yeah, good, Stevie. How bout yourself?” Mark had always enjoyed Stevie’s company and knew it was reciprocated. Like that of James it was paid for but the two were in fact quite good friends “Sorry I’m late by the way; this damn alarm. I’ll get it right one day – or at least that’s what I keep telling myself.”
“Not out loud, I hope,” Stevie said, his lip curling a little.
“You know I really don’t think I’m doing much better with the whole talking to myself deal.” Mark said matter-of-factly. “I think I do it even more now.”
“No that’s OK. It’s not so much about trying to stem the frequency of it as it is to just have a reminder, a constant vigil over the whirlpool of your thoughts. Take a seat.” Mark sat and they discussed the constant chatter in his head. Stevie tried to explain that it was normal in any person; that it sounded as though for Mark it was a little heightened and his outlets were limited and therefore he was resorting to frequent verbalisation.
“Have you been trying to get out a little bit more, try meet some people?” Stevie asked.
“Well I went for pizza last night but it was late and the crowd wasn’t exactly the friendly type. My problem is that I am always working. Not easy what I do.”
Stevie straightened up a little and his pen started to jot what may have been the first notes of the session, “And why...is that?” Mark only answered vaguely, more out of embarrassment for his indecisiveness at work than any intention to disguise his operations. Stevie probed a little more on the subject but it led down different courses.
They finished with some more breathing exercises. Mark suggested a more prescribed technique, highlighting the ample scripts of Xanax and Valium that are lying around his brother’s place. Stevie perked up for the second time at the mention of Simon and again a few notes later the subject was changed.
“Well I think that’s about it, Mark.” Stevie said conclusively, “Just keep up the good work, you’re doing fine. You seem more attentive.”
“So that’s the end of the psycho babble for now? How bout a drink? Old time’s sake?
“You know I quit that stuff. But if you want we can head out to a bar and I’ll order a jug of water.”
“Sounds good, mate. Long as it’s not still on the clock.”
On the way home Mark spoke a little with James, tipping him a second twenty as he hopped out of the car at the foot of Citadel Towers. He spent some time in the lobby, sparking some sweet but brief conversations with random lobby folkbefore heading back to his home and office in case of any business. He held a few more conversations (this time just by himself) and the only time his phone went off was while he was eating dinner, but it wasn’t a call – just that cheeky alarm playing tricks on him again.
Notes to the text