“Franklyn. Listen. It’s not personal.”
“You’re referring me? I can’t believe this? You’re actually referring me?”
Dr Carruthers pinches the bridge of his nose and pushes his glasses up his face a little. Well, he’d known this wouldn’t go so well. Franklyn is.. Franklyn in a blessed mixture of neuroses and worries and concerns that make him any psychiatrist or therapist’s dream. However he is also easily influenced and becomes fixated. And has a terrible case of hero worship for practically anyone who shows him both a little compassion or what he sees as authority and a modicum of control over their own lives.
“I am. We’ve been over this. I’m not helping and you’re hurting. That’s not going to end well.”
“But that’s because you’re ending it? its been going fine!”
“That you think it’s been going fine is partly why it isn’t going fine.”
“I don’t understand this. It’s like I can’t win. You’re twisting my words.”
“I’m trying to reflect your words back to you, to show you how you think it is.”
“But how do you think it is?”
“I think it’s not fine.”
Franklyn heaves a great sigh, honestly, these psychiatrists get so tied in knots. And why can’t they just have a decent conversation. He’s a good conversationalist. Really. He’s an interesting guy. With a lot to say. And he’s a good listener too. Truly. He’s a great guy to be around. Even if he is a little neurotic.
“So you’re referring me?”
“Yes. I’m sorry. But yes.”
“You were a referral.”
“I know that. I’m sorry. I’d like to think we’ve made some progress but we’re beginning to circle back and that’s not good. For either of us actually.”
“So you need to feel you’re helping me?”
Dr Carruthers tries not to frown,
“Franklyn, honestly? You’re not my therapist. That’s not your concern.”
“But why can’t I be concerned? I’m a concerned kind of guy. I’m worried for you.”
“When you come in the door of my office you don’t need to worry about me. That’s not what you’re here for.”
“You’re saying I’m not focussed on my therapy?”
“Not enough. Look. I have a few people I could recommend to you, to whom I could pass on a referral. Would it help if I told you a little about each of them? See if there’s someone who I think would make a good fit that you don’t immediately dislike the sound of?”
Franklyn shrugs looking just a little downcast, honestly Dr Carruthers thinks it’s a small triumph that he’s not actually crying.
Well. Not yet at least.
“I’ve four names for you. Though one I think isn’t in practice just currently.”
“Not a woman.”
Carruthers looks up at him sharply,
“Really? You’ve had two female therapists before.”
“I know. I kept thinking they were judging me, as a man.”
Slowly Carruthers replies,
“They almost certainly weren’t, in fact, I’d say that for sure, but if that’s how you feel before even meeting them...”
“And I’d be worried about maybe wanting to date them.”
“It can be hard to manage those boundaries but there are strict guidelines Franklyn. No one I recommend you to would even think about dating a patient. Even if you thought about dating them. And I hadn’t realised from our sessions you were necessarily interested in pursuing a heterosexual relationship.”
Franklyn stares at him,
“Why do people always assume I’m gay! I have female friends. I’ve dated. Why? Did I say something? What did I say?”
“You didn’t. It just hasn’t come up before. I hadn’t made any assumptions either way.”
Franklyn rolls his eyes, honestly what is it? He tries to dress nicely, he tries to be a nice man, he tries to be friendly and polite. And that makes him gay? For fucks sake. Everyone should behave like that. Male female non-binary, everyone. People.
“I’m not not gay. I’m just, well, I’m more interested in being friends than anything else.”
“You feel an absence of friendship.”
“It’s hard to make friends when you’re an adult.”
“Some might say it’s hard when you’re a child too.”
Franklyn frowns, actually it had been ok as a kid. He’d liked school, he’d done well enough to not be in trouble in class and not so well he stuck out. He had a little gang of friends, not jocks, but that didn’t matter so much in the liberal arts place his parents put him in in Manhattan.
“If I’d stayed in New York it would be different. I had lots of friends there.”
“So why move?”
“My therapist said I was stuck in my comfort zone, I needed to branch out a little, grow wings. He might as well have said grow a pair.”
“So moving to Baltimore was manning up?”
“It was implied.”
“And you don’t like it here.”
“It’s fine. Just. I grew up in New York and it’s different here. Tell me about the referrals.”
Dr Carruthers takes him through the two remaining options if Franklyn is going to insist on it not being a woman. After ten minutes of discussion he makes some notes,
“Honestly? I think Dr Lecter will be helpful. And his background is a good match for you.”
Franklyn rolls his eyes,
“That’s what the last guy said about you.”
“Well I appreciate that.”
“How long will I have to wait?”
“I’d guess about four weeks. And we can fit another session in before then? How would that be.”
They shake on it and Franklyn pulls his coat on a little more snugly as he leaves, he glances up at the sky. Maybe rain later. He walks across the square opposite the doctor’s office and heads for the coffee shop where he often grabs something to go after a session.
He waits in the line wondering if he might try a little something new, maybe the seasonal thing, when someone bumps into him, their drink sloshing out of the stay-in cup they’re carrying and into his sleeve, he glances across, and the man looks so apologetic any comment he might have made fades,
“I am so sorry. I apologise. I wasn’t paying attention. Let me get your drink for you.”
“It’s ok. People often don’t see me. I mean. It’s alright. It’s no biggie.”
“No, not at all. Let me. It’s the least I can do. I hope it won’t stain.”
“I’ve got a great dry cleaner. It’ll be fine.”
“You must send me the bill. Here. You order.”
Franklyn places an order and the man pays and then steers them towards a table in the window,
“So, I’m sorry about that. Let me give you a card. I mean it about the dry cleaning.”
He lays a small business card on the table “Tobias Budge. Chordophone Strings”. Franklyn looks up at him and smiles. He likes music. He’s a big fan. He can talk about music all day and every day, if he gets the chance.
The day just got a little better.