“Do you know why you are here?”

I thought about all of the answers I could offer, words that spoke the truth without appearing aggressive or rude, being in a somewhat conciliatory mood. After a long pause, speaking calmly, I stated, “Because I choose to be.”

“No, I...” He then stopped to find his perspective. “Perhaps, technically, but...”

“Perhaps? No, absolutely, for if I did not choose to be here I would be elsewhere. In fact, you are here for the same reason. We both choose to be here.”

“Okay, technically, but there are reasons, motivations for our actions in life. I am here to help people and thereby earn a living and provide income for my family unit while my partner pursues his phallic wood carving artistic endeavors. And like me being here for work, aren’t you here for your work? Aren’t you here because your employer asked you to come and talk about an incident you observed while on the job?”

Yes, the incident. The incident observed. I was only an observer...my failure. “I am here because I choose to be.”

“Yes, that is true, but your choice was encouraged by the consequences of not coming, was it not?”

“True,they said if I did not come I would lose my job.”

“So you are here so you don’t lose your job, correct?”

“No, I am kind of over the job. I am here because I want to be, because I choose to be.”

“So you don’t care about your job?”

“No, it is getting time to move on.”

“Did you have this feeling before the incident as well?”

“Yeah, I guess. Kind of.”

“But it has been awhile and you’re still there.”

“I like some of the people.”

“The people you work with?”

“A couple. Mainly the customers, a few of them.”

“You have a personal relationship with some of your customers?”

I know where this is headed. He tells me my working life is a substitute for substantive real life relationships. Not interested. Maybe I don’t want to be here any longer. I twist my head to deny his presumptive proposition.

The two of us stared at one another, grown men playing some type of silent mental game to claim ethereal territory. I win when he breaks away from my stare to take a note. And the prize: confirmation of action’s cues.

“Would you like to tell me what happened?”

“A man was killed because he grabbed a young girl and threatened her life.”

“Did you see this?”

“I saw it. You know that. I would rather have not, but I did.”

“Tell me what you are feeling.”

“I feel... I feel it makes no difference how I feel. It just was.”

“Then tell me what you saw.”

“Okay. This guy comes in highly emotional. Bacon was his name, the real name his parents gave him. How did they think that was going to work out?! He was complaining somewhat coherently about life. He’s a big, scary looking guy, but he’s done this kind of thing before, so none of us that worked there were worried. Some of the patrons were nervous, but we just tried to get him to talk to us, to focus on us. A couple of customers freaked out, which freaked him out, but eventually everyone began to calm down. Someone handed Bacon a drink he asked for and we were about to wrap this up. Then the police arrived.”

It should have ended. The story should have gone no further, but it did not end. Providence had different plans for what was to follow.

“It doesn’t end there, does it?” the therapist prodded. “Then what happened? What happened after the room calmed down?”

“It should have ended, but...it really should have ended.”

“But...?”

“But this little girl who had been on the opposite side of the room from her mother, hiding behind a high-back chair, came out of hiding to run to her mother. The mother screamed ‘No!’, which startled Bacon. Instinctively, he snatched up the little girl running in front of him and wrapped his massive, grimy hand around her tiny neck. He was frightened. She was frightened. Everyone seemed frightened.”
“And were you frightened?”

I could not help but look up and smile. The question was loaded, so a smile was my answer — perhaps a smirk.

“Well, were you frightened?”

“Of what?”

“Of what everyone else was frightened of, of this Bacon man?”

“Why should I be?”

“You said everyone was frightened, so why wouldn’t you be?”

“No, I said everyone seemed frightened. I do not know if they were or not. I... I was not worried because I — so, so wrongly — thought the situation would smoothly de-escalate and fizzle into a crowd of discomfort.”

Within I tell myself it did not have to end the way it did, but when I consider the hand of fate’s fickle ways I know that it could only have been how it was. And telling this man what happened...pathetic voyeur.

Another stalemate was reached. Silence enveloped the room. An air conditioner tried to start, then gave up, circulating hot air into the room. The host began to sweat.

“Are you trying to torture me?”

“Sorry, we’ve had a problem with the air conditioning recently. Let’s continue this another day.”

“No,” I snapped. “I want to be here now, but I do not think I’ll return.”

“That is your choice.”

“It is.”

“But it is too hot to continue.”

“Not for me. I’m going to finish my telling of events.”

He nodded in offering reluctant acceptance.

“Everyone seemed to tense up when Bacon picked up the girl. The cops came and threatened him, warned him to put the girl down. In his fear, he told them to leave or he would kill the girl, demonstrating his resolve by slowly squeezing her neck, causing her to tear up, gasping for air.

“After his threat, the demeanor of the officers changed. They became more polite to him, more focused. Before anything happened, you could tell everything had changed. While a couple of the officers took his attention, another came up from the side, put something to his head and he fell to the ground, limp instantly. The little girl ran to her mother, both crying. In joy, I presume.”

“And you?”

“Me what?”

“How did you feel?”

“Disgusted.”

“Really? At...?”

“I did not hear a gunshot. I don’t know what the cop put to his head. I saw him drop. I did not see the side of his head explode, but something came out of his head and splattered about a small area. Most of the area was over me, about my face, in my mouth.”

“So some of Bacon was in your... Oh, sorry. I’m sorry, that’s not what I...”

“But that is it. Your bad pun — unintended, you declare — will not stop going through my mind. I love bacon, but this Bacon did not taste good. All I could think was, ‘Bad Bacon!’”

The therapist was unable to quash his laughter fully. He chuckled, cowardly or politely turning away.

“You can’t help it. I can’t help it. A bad pun has been weaved into my fabric, and though I enjoy humor, this is just toxic wrongness. I can’t even eat bacon without thinking of the killing and some idiotic pun. My mind is making jokes and I can’t leave the show. The puppet master is a prick!”

“And to whom are you referring when you say ‘puppet master’?”

Now I am here and no longer wish to be. Sure, there is some sadistic pleasure in watching the therapist sweat like a stuck pig... Pig → pork → bacon → ugh. I am done. I stand and offer my hand as a gentleman.

“Then we’ll finish this later.”

“I think I am finished. Be well and take a look at that a/c, this is an uncomfortable environment for one to purge their soul.”

“We’ll call someone, again.”

“An educated man such as yourself should be able to resolve a problem such as this.”

“We all have our specialties. You make coffee, I help people, and someone knows how to fix the air conditioning unit.”

“Now I know I will not be returning. You may have to limit yourself in that fashion, but don’t project such limitations on me or the a/c guy.”

“You’re right, I don’t know how many years of advanced education you might have achieved to make coffee or the advanced degree an a/c tech might have earned to fix a stupid machine.”

“You know nothing about me but define me by my job? Why do so many people think a degree confers intelligence?”

“Not any idiot can earn an advanced degree.”

“You are correct, it takes a special kind to seek the approval of the status quo to push the status quo.”

“Says the man without a degree.”

“Why do you suppose that?”

“Well, do you?”

“Does it matter?”

“It very well may.”

“I am here because I had bad Bacon and you are here because this is the spot in the universe you have decided is your domain of comfort. Whether or not I have degrees is of interest to you because you think it infers some standing. You wish to use it to measure me...and yourself. Then you would like to discuss the type of degree, the subject matter, the school. I have met idiots with every degree imaginable and geniuses without a degree and vice versa. So, no, you don’t get to know that.”

“You sound defensive. I don’t think you are not smart because you don’t have a degree. We should talk about this sometime,” the soft of possibility asked as sweat ran uncomfortably down his face.

“Thank you, but no.”

“We’ll see.”

“Be well and endeavor to be more than the letters you managed to append to your name.”

He replied about misunderstanding or something or other, but I was no longer present. I was leaving. In my mind, the comedian commenced with bacon humor. Yes, there were many guilty laughs, but I just wanted to enjoy bacon again.

We may not be able to change the past, but maybe we can try to forget some of it... Screw it! Remember is all! Experience it all! And keep on moving...