Guy S. Ricketts
My name is Gunnar Sibley. I used to work in retail, suffering through that insane hell for 15 years. I currently reside in an institution, while an assigned psychiatrist determines my mental state.
The psychiatrist visiting today is named Dr. Michael Kurtz. This is his second time visiting me here, and at the end of the day it will be his analysis that determines my future.
I care, but I don't care, y'know what I mean?
Dr. Kurtz's eyes lock and stay on me as he sits down in the wooden folding chair across from my cot. He asks me to hand him my note pad, so he can read about my experiences working at the Zeerz Outlet store. I happily comply. Perhaps too happily, as a trace of a frown escapes his face he opens the pad up on his lap.
He begins reading what I have just written, his lips moving as he absorbs the sentences on the pad. My eyes take in his immaculate brown suit, his soft yellow tie, white shirt and cuffs, and caramel brown shoes, which tap on the floor every now and then as he reads. Do I smell cigar smoke coming from him? I almost laugh. When he puts down the pad, he looks over at me with a very faint smirk. Now it's my turn to question the look
on his face.
"This is all you've done so far?" he asks.
Is he kidding? Doesn't he realize how difficult it can be to drudge up these horrible memories?
"I was just getting to the good part when you arrived," I reply.
He frowns, and then apparently decides to treat my sarcastic retort as a serious statement.
"Okay, continue with your story and get to the 'good part' ", he suggests.
"You want me to write it down on the pad now?"
"No," he replies. "Just talk to me about it, like you are dictating the story to me." At that his face lights up as one end of his mouth curls up slightly. "In fact, that is what I shall do. You talk, and I will write down your words. How does that sound to you?"
"Like maybe you belong here in this room with me, doc." His expression does not change at all. I raise my hands up in defeat.
"Okay, why not?"
Dr. Kurtz swirls the pen in the air a couple times, rests the note pad on his crossed thigh, and shoots a satisfied look over at me. "Ready when you are, Gunnar."
I decide to take this seriously. I casually lean back on my cot, crossing both hands behind my head as I lay onto my pillow. Soon, my mind wanders back to those dark days from fifteen years ago...
I had been at the Zeerz Outlet for roughly four months now. The Fourth of July had just passed, and the cardboard American flag decorations still hung on the walls of the store. Besides dent and scratch appliances, the store also sold used furniture. I was one of those people hired to sell the less-than stellar furniture, and on this day in particular, I was all over the entire store with bargain-hunting customers.
I ultimately wound up in the back of the store with a young couple and their baby, which the woman cradled in her arms. They were interested in getting a sofa, and I answered all their questions as best I could.
"What does 'used' mean?" the man asked. I bit my tongue a lot on that one.
"Someone used it," I replied.
I was still new at the store, but I was already tired of being asked what 'used' meant. What the hell did he think it meant?
"Someone actually used it?" he asked incredulously, with a shocked expression on his face, as though I had just told him the couch was going to mutilate his wife and baby. It was that moment I took note of the baby his wife was holding in her folded arms. The baby seemed quite scrawny, wearing a pink flowered dress and diapers. I noted then the baby had furry legs, and it wouldn't be long before I would learn why. The woman set the baby on the floor, letting her stand. It was then I noticed she was on a leash.
What the hell?!
The man must have noticed my puzzled expression, because he gave a slight chuckle and informed me, "Her name is Katie. She's a rhesus monkey we purchased from a breeding farm in Oklahoma, and she did not come cheap." He smiled down at his Katie, then at his wife, and they shared a smile normally reserved for proud parents. I'm not quite sure what expression was on my face, but I'm certain this couple wouldn't have liked it had they seen it, or knew what I was thinking at that moment.
I quickly arrange my expression into an understanding, approving smile and look at the man. My God! I almost think there was a slight tear of pride in his eye!
The woman breaks their warm and fuzzy moment and points to where her husband and I are standing. "Go to daddy, Katie," she gently orders, her fingers softly pushing her our way.
Katie had been standing on the floor in front of her seated "mother", but she was becoming restless. When the woman told her to go to her "daddy", she started stepping toward me, her arms stretched out as if asking for some kind of hug.
I pointed to the man. "That's daddy," I tried correcting Katie. The monkey, on a leash, wearing her pink flowered dress and diapers, seemed puzzled for a moment, pausing in her tracks. She stared at me, glanced in puzzlement at the man and returned her adoring eyes back on me, making us all wonder what could be going on with her. She quickly answered our puzzlement with action. She made a leap at me, grabbing hold of my thigh as she landed on it, making me lift it up in shock and fear! My startled reaction in turn alarmed Katie, who apparently didn't know me from her own "daddy".
Her reaction to my sudden movement was to clamp her tiny but strong hands tightly around my leg, and sink her fangs into my thigh. I screamed, mostly in shock, but also in pain! My mind needed another moment to process what had just happened to me.
"She bit me!" was my next reaction. "Katie bit me!"
The woman quickly pried Katie's incredibly strong fingers from my leg, and pulled her up protectively into her chest, as if it were I who was attacking her baby, rather than the other way around!
"She just pinched you," was the woman's reaction.
"No," I disagreed, no longer trying to hide my opinion that these two people were the biggest nuts in the world for carrying a monkey in a dress and diaper around a store. I looked the woman in the face and reiterated, "She bit me."
By this time, the lunatic woman was bouncing the monkey on her leg, apparently trying to calm Katie down. She gave a somewhat stern look into Katie's distracted eyes and said, "Apologize to the man, Katie."
As if she understood, Katie turned her dark, furry head to me and let out a Skreeeeeeeeeee! as if she were indeed apologizing.
After that, I ran to our employee's restroom, and checked the damage to my violated thigh. Sure enough, there were two tiny pink bite marks surrounded by murky clouds of black and blue on my leg. That crazy monkey had indeed bit me through my slacks!
Dr. Kurtz waved the pen at me in an accusing manner. "Do you take me for some fool? You are making this stuff up. You're toying with me, Mr. Sibley. There was no monkey in the store. Certainly not one wearing a diaper and dress!"
His amused expression changed to a sad, concerned expression. He then seemed to consider the possibility I was being truthful after all. "Was there?"
I quickly sat up in my bed. "I am not making anything up! I'm telling you exactly what happened to me in that retail hell-hole," I assured him. "Keep writing, doc, I have plenty more where that came from."
Dr. Kurtz glanced out the window past me and rubbed his beard slightly, apparently trying to absorb the true tale of terror I just told him. Soon, he wore a look of amazement.
"Can you imagine how many people have hiked through the jungles, full of wild
animals ... " he pauses as he looks me in the eyes, " ... never getting bit once, and here you are, in a store, selling sofas and recliners, getting bit by a monkey. What are the odds?"
I would almost swear he gave me a look of admiration, which is kinda weird, right?
I quickly recover from the expression on his face and attempt to lighten the mood. "And people really asked me what 'used' means, too!" My words break his stare at me, but he is far less impressed with those, and he simply nods politely.
My attention drifts to the view outside my window. He clears his throat, and my eyes are back on him and his quizzical gaze. I know there is some kind of question coming from him. "What?" I ask, hoping to expedite whatever question he was apparently formulating in his mind to ask.
"Gunnar," he finally begins, "weren't you concerned about rabies? I mean, did Katie have her rabies shots?"
Oh, was that all?
"Well," I reply, "I never did go to the clinic, which, I agree, sounds rather foolish of me. I'm not sure why I didn't get myself checked out. Perhaps I was worried I might be told I had to get rabies shots, I don't really recall."
"Obviously, after this many years, you didn't get rabies from Katie," Dr. Kurtz observed. "Which is very good."
"Oh, the couple returned to the store a week later," I explained. "I saw them on the main sales floor. The woman still cradled Katie like a baby. I asked her if Katie had been given her rabies shots."
I had the doc on the edge of his seat now. "What was her answer?" he asked.
I rolled my eyes. "You would have thought I had asked her if she had murdered a village of people and swore complete allegiance to Satan," I answered. "She actually yelled at the top of her lungs at me, telling me - and a crowd of frightened customers, I might add - that she and Katie bathe together all the time. And Katie bites her all the time. And if Katie had rabies she would not be alive today!"
Dr. Kurtz's eyes widened and his mouth dropped open briefly, but he said nothing.
"So I guess she was ultimately telling the truth," I finished. "As you said it's quite
obvious now, after all these years, that Katie didn't have rabies." I wipe my brow of imaginary sweat.
Dr. Kurtz stands up and sets the pad down onto the chair, then walks past me to the window. He looks up to the clouds, then back down to the street below, and then turns around to face me again.
"Gunnar, this has to be a short visit this time. But I am absorbing all you have shared with me so far. We will make a breakthrough soon."
"Sounds good, doc," I reply.
After he leaves, I grab my pen and pad and prepare to write about the next ridiculous incident at the store. There are so many stories still to recall for Dr. Kurtz, I just might be in here for a very, very long time indeed!
Guy Ricketts was born in, and lives in the surrounding areas of Detroit, Michigan, in the United States of America. He enjoys photography, writing and art, enjoying writing stories ranging from humor to the horrifyingly bizarre. This also applies to his art. He has had stories published in Speculative 66, 101 Words, and Twisted Sister Literary Mag. His art was featured on the cover of Schlock! Webzine. He is currently working on a full-length novel, while also writing down into prose all the stories of intriguing people, events and creatures he encounters inside his mind.