I wanted to stash this here - wrote it a while back, it's not finished, because I don't finish things. It got way off track and I don't really remember what it's about now, only that I want to read it later, so I'm putting it here.
EDIT: It sucks that it ends where it does. I got caught up in it.
Ms. McDermott was in her late thirties. She'd been seeing Dr. Waxler for five years now. Dr. Waxler was happy for the business. She was a steady patient, always on time, always paid her bills. She arrived at 3:45 on Tuesday. Climbing off her bicycle just under his second floor office window. She was kind to the receptionist when Mrs. Wilson was still around, still affordable; she brought them both presents at the holidays and was always so polite about ending the world. And now that Mrs. Wilson had been let go, she would sometimes arrive early for her appointment and tidy the office while Dr. Waxler was in with another patient. Dr. Waxler insisted "Please don't clean the office, you're here for you." "There were napkins all over the floor in the kitchenette." "Please leave them be." "I brought you magazines, they're new. About the movies and famous people. I got them from the drug store."
Ms. McDermott wore shin length skirts, scarves even in warm weather, high boots and pulled her hair back. Most of her clothes were from her Mother's estate. Some from thrift stores. Covered head to toe in old fabric and old jewelery, the clasps were forever breaking and she would spend hours retracing her steps for this lost thing or that. There were little red scratches on her neck from the places where the metal had pulled and worn into finer points.
At the end of every session: "Is that our time already, Dr. Waxler? Oh my, thank you for your time, and again, I'm sorry about ending the world."
Remarking upon the photos in the waiting room, during Mrs. Wilson's tenure: "Are those your children, Mrs. Wilson? Oh. Oh my I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry. But I suppose it did have to happen some day."
And on and on. To the man at the corner store. To passers by when locking her bicycle outside of Dr. Waxlers office. Letters of apology to friends and family, to the local news, to government officials, to international heads of state, famous celebrities, prominent scientists and so on. Finely written letters in beautifuly attetive handwriting, she dutifully looped each letter onto fine stationary, spending her time alerting everyone to, and apologizing for, the end of the world that she was sure she was responsible for.
Dr. Waxler's first question: "How is it that you're going to end the world, Ms. McDermott?"
"I'm not sure just yet. I think fire is part of it. Wouldn't it have to be, though? I really can't say."
"How do you know that you're responsible?"
"I have dreams. I was in the middle of it, in white. It's all bright white. People were shouting."
"And this is a premonition? This dream, you're at the middle of the end of the world. People are shouting. And it's the future?"
"Yes. I suppose so."
"Do you know when it will be."
"I'll bet it's a Tuesday."
"But which Tuesday?"
"That I don't know. I wish I did, honest. I'm so sorry about all of this Dr. Waxler, you seem like such a nice man."
"Oh that's alright, Ms. McDermott."
Ms. McDermott deflected more personal questions about her past, her family, her personal life. She would bounce things back towards the end of the world, or something nice she'd rather talk about.
"Let's talk about your family for a moment."
"Oh my family is just fine, thank you for asking."
"I'd like to learn more about them, how many brothers and sisters, are your parents still married, that sort of thing."
"Oh that reminds me, I passed a nice wedding on my way here. I wanted to talk about that, they were all outside throwing rice. Do you know why they do that? I've never quite figured that out. I've heard it's bad for the birds though. That the birds eat it and it's poison to them. That's a shame don't you think, for the birds?"
Dr. Waxler was not regarded kindly in town. He was a small man, he walked with a limp from an old car accident. His face was wrinkled where walking made him wince. Drunk driver. It never healed properly, he was too proud for a cane. He would die falling down, he thought. Someday he would just fall down and there'd be noone around to find him and he'd die there. Maybe kicked apart by the kids. Rail thin and white haired around the peak of his bald head, his nose was unfortunately proportioned and the children in his building were afraid of him. Called him Dr. Buzzard.
He was not a kind man. He did not enjoy his profession, it was tedious and dull and it deprived him of time outdoors. Occasionally he would insist on meeting a patient at a coffee shop or a park bench on particularly nice days. Mrs. Wilson's salary was eventually consumed by his constant vacationing. She was expendable, it was not difficult to fill an appointment book and most days he sat in his office and waited for someone to arrive. It didnt matter who. This was a small town, the problems were simple. Overeating. Family councilling. Alcoholism. Mostly he was fed by the small, inferior court system. Petty criminals and morons. It was an easy business. He had a boy come in on Mondays to fill his office with snacks and enough fresh coffee to last the week, and then he would sit and wait to hear the door while he poured over crosswords or detective novels and toe tapped to easy jazz.
Dr. Waxler at least enjoyed his time with Amanda. She was interesting and youthful. Her nerosis was interesting, he'd not heard of this condition before. He recorded all their sessions and planned to write a series of articles regarding the condition. It was a fine layering of Megalomania, depression, repression, self-hatred and delusion. Delightfuly interesting and all in such a lovely young woman, just a peach of a lady he thought. A shame, really.
Eventually, in Ms. McDermott's letter writing campaign, she wrote to Judge Harold Feinman. Harold was the Judge Presiding over Bridgewater County.
The letters were brief; uncomplicated but elegant. They were written on very fine stationary with a very fine pen filled with very fine ink. The paper had a watermark, the pen had heft and the ink a pleasant aroma. The World Wide Paper Company's watermark was a globe, the pen was marble, the ink was red. Her writing desk was meticulously organized from left to right, envelopes, paper and stamps. Above the paper, an address book open to that day's recipients. Each of them, with luck, would receive a personalized letter of apology.
Dear Mr. and Mrs. Leonard,
I hope this letter finds you well. I am writing to send my most sincere apologies for my part in the coming unpleasantnesses that I'm sure you've heard about by now. Everyone in town seems to know, which is nice. I thought it was best to let everyone know. Doesn't hardly seem like the kind of thing you should keep to yourself. I'm sorry I can't say I know when it will happen, or why, or how. I don't want you to think I'm the type to keep secrets. I've recently done some reading on the subject and boiling seems to be a likely occurrence but I really couldn't say for certain.
I just wanted to let you know, before it's all over, that I quite enjoyed your bakery. Mrs. Leonard, your cinamon buns have been a weekly indulgence for me, they are truly delightful. I've enjoyed my time in your store and all of your wonderful goodies. Please convey my apologies to your two young sons, unless you feel it's best that they do not know.
Judge Feynman recieved a similar letter. It was a bit more vague. She'd never met the man, but asked that he use his political ties to spread the word about the end of the world. To apologize to as many people as he could. "Tell them I don't want it to happen either" she said "I don't know what I did." Judge Feynman had, of course, heard of this woman. She was a local oddity, but harmless. She even seemed pleasant from all accounts, but crazy as a loon. Mrs. Feynman , however, did not know this woman until she'd recieved Mrs. McDermott's letter in the mail and it rattled her constitution. Mrs. Feynman was a religious woman, she enjoyed the supernatural, believed in signs, drank tea for it's portents and held hands with the spinsters to summon the spirits. Judge Feynman indulged her in her hobbies, but asked her to keep it out of the local paper, the society section and the like. He'd built a seance room in the northernmost section of the house so she had someplace to enjoy her peculiarities, far away from his study where he'd smoke cigars with local luminaries. The luminaries were sparse, it was a small town, but luminaries loomed larger in small towns. It was easier to be known by everyone, easier to promote your importance.
Mrs. Feynman's startle at the news that the world was ending was an irritant for the Judge. She'd locked herself away in the back room and it turned Miss McDermott from a person of mild irritation to a person of serious interest. He responded to her letter in this way:
Dear Miss McDermott,
I have read, and been disturbed by, your letter. I thank you for calling this to my attention, I would like to request that you visit me in my office on Wednesday at 8 AM. I would like very much for you to bring any ideas you have to the meeting so we can set to fixing whatever problems you see.
In Kindest Regard,
Two days later, she rode her bike to Judge Feynman's office.
"Miss McDermott, have a seat". And so they talked.
"You're scaring people, Miss McDermott."
"I'm sorry about that. I'm sorry about everything."
"My wife, she's locked herself in her room, Miss McDermott."
"Well that certainly won't do any good."
"No?" Judge Feinman pinched the bridge of his nose and shut his eyes.
"No. It's enormous."
"Are you ok, Miss McDermott?"
"Just worried, is all."
"You should speak to a friend of mine, Dr. Waxler. Whenever I'm worried I go an speak with him."
"Mr Waxler, on Dewberry Street?"
"Yes, that's him. I'll call him today and you can go see him tomorrow morning, how does that sound?"
"That sounds nice. I'll save myself a stamp."
They talked for an hour. Judge Feynman decided that she was a nuisance, but harmless. A soft spoken kook. Later, on the golf course, he would tell his cronies that she was a psychopath, a real looney, that he took pity on her and sent her over to that pansy quack Waxler. She was lucky she was pretty, he said, why if she were a man, Judge Feynman would have driven her there himself. She was a little bedraggled, clearly a bit disurbed, but she seemed to genuinely feel sorry about it. Pretty, even. Maybe that quack could set her right. Be a shame to lock her up. His friends agreed, and then said lewd things. And then they laughed and told lewd stories and golfed. Life was back to Plane Jane Normal.
Miss McDermott did not get the impression that this was a mandatory meeting, but was charmed to meet Dr. Waxler just the same.
Judge Feynman had called Dr. Waxler and explained the situation to him over the phone in less careful and polite tones as he did Miss McDermott.
Waxler? Feynman. Look, I'm sending a crazy your way. I don't know, Miss McDermot. Says she's going to end the world. No no, she seems fine, she's nice. Just crazy. I'm going to send her your way, you need to make her stop writing the letters. Nevermind, ask HER about the letters. I can't talk I have to try to get my wife out of the back room. No, no seance this afternoon. What? I don't think -- No -- no you can't see her, you stay out of my business Quackzler and do what I say. Get Miss McDermott to stop with her craziness or I'm sending her upstate. Click.
Upstate was where they kept the looney bin. A big white, welcoming building surrounded with green grass and treetops. It hardly looked like a prison at all.
Waxler wasn't sure of the threat. He didn't know this woman, he didn't particularly care if she went upstate or not. It was very possible she needed to go upstate, but Feynman had gotten to his position by making threats and it had warped his personailty to the extent that he was now threatening people for everything. No matter. Waxler looked forward to the work. Being a therapist in a small, religious town was difficult work. There were stigma's attached to seeing a therapist. People in these parts still thought it was just for crazies. In the first few months, the people seemed to think it was very cosmopolitan, a taste of the big city, a psychiatrist in our own town. But then Mrs. Jenkins saw Mrs. Peatie in the waiting room and Mrs. Jenkins told her hairdresser and it spread as these things do. Quickly Mrs. Peatie stopped coming by, and then how did Mrs. Jenkins know Mrs. Peatie was there? Hm? Interesting. And so Mrs. Jenkins stopped coming by as well. There were more instances and slowly things started crumbling. Waxler hoped this was not a sign of things to come, he didn't want all the town misfits. The rich ladies paid better.
Amanda arrived as she would for the next few years, ten minutes early, enough time to lock her bike to the post out front, come inside, exchange plesantries with the receptionist and come in and get settled on the sedan. The first meeting was always about establishing trust. Or, establishing the intention to establish trust. Sometimes it would be years before trust. Amanda, though, seemed to trust everyone. It's why she found it so difficult to understand why nobody believed her, but also why she always saw the best in people.
Why don't you have a seat over here, Miss McDermott.
"Oh, thank you." She was chatty from the start. "Judge Feynman sent me over here, he said that we should speak. I guess you are friends?"
"Did you go to school together, well no I suppose not, he's much too old. But did you know him from town or are your wives friends --"
"Just from the town, you know how it is."
"Oh of course, everyone seems to know everyone so well here. I think I've met just about everyone. Everyone seems to know everyone, and what they're doing and when somebody new comes to town. It's nice to live in such a nice place, have people looking out for you."
"Yes, I suppose so. I like it here" He didn't, but he was trying to be comforting and easy going. This was years ago. He had more effort then.