Category Archives: short stories

A Day In Provence (French Chronicles) by Matt Carlson

Jie Jie Sola-Binna sat at her desk, in her illegally built wooden house in the countryside outside the village of Cou-Poux (neck poop) where she lived. She had had it built by her son Tony and his friends, from the left over monies of her dead husband Jackie. It was a modest house, but well put together mostly, though the tin roof made it insufferable during the summer months. She wrung her big old hands together while staring at her computer screen, the arthritis taking a toll on her hands the more she aged. She was close to 70 years old now and had on occasion thoughts of death. She knew that that day was coming and she wondered about her existence, had she lived a life worth living? Hell, no! Of course not. The fact that she hadn’t already killed herself or one of her two children when they were young had always amazed her. Now, of course, she was glad that she hadn’t, she loved her grand kids who lived next store, or at least the youngest one who still lived there. It gave her something to do, something to ease the pain of her own painful thoughts. Life had seemed like that: just a series of painful memories or realities in progress. She alone knew that she suffered from BPD (borderline personality disorder) but she had pretty much control of that today – or so she thought. Nothing was perfect or forever.

 
To her,  her whole life seemed like something that should never have been. I mean, her own Mother hadn’t even wanted her, so she grew up living with her grandmother, and a private Catholic school, always feeling a sense of being abandoned, of not being worthy of love. So she never really learned how to love, or to show it. No one had shown her! What could you expect? You can’t wring blood out of a stone, she thought. Later on, she pushed away the feelings that she had for other girls. It was considered wrong to love other girls like herself, and yet the other girls liked her for her masculine side and look. She was a bit comforting, until you got to know her. She’d always kept her hair short, never wore make up and just wasn’t like any of them. She wasn’t feminine at all. But took up the role, the only one this world had offered up to her: a woman. Then she got married to a man she didn’t love, had his children, worked as his secretary and then when he died, she was relieved. He played the guitare alright, was a good provider, drank himself to sleep every night over a bottle of wine, had an erection whenever it was necessary and then ka-poot! He died. And in any case, he hardly ever spoke, for God’s sake, so conversation sucked big time. He spent most of his energy working with his hands or on graphic projects; he’d been a graphic artist. Still today people didn’t know exactly what that meant. To Jie Jie, they had carved out a decent life together, but a modest one. She still wondered about her missed out life as a lesbian. and at least now, if there weren’t any conversations, it wasn’t due to the fact that you had nothing to share with your significant other.
 
Jie Jie wasn’t a happy woman, she never would be and had decided that she could live on, knowing that. She loved her kids now, her grandkids too, tolerated her daughter-in-law Dee-Nuh, and still managed to maintain a friend or two, or three. Her sons, Tony and Bertrand were good kids, though they too had their demons. The oldest was very technical and good with electronics, trying these days to make some extra money in landscaping , cutting trees and such. He was a bit slow in the matter of understanding relationships and so on, but so was Jie Jie, so was Bertrand. They together had no love, but they had blood. For the three of them, it was the same, they had never leanred about love, so didn’t know how to show it, to express it. All too stressful that. It was easier to talk about mundane things, or things outside of oneself, like culture, or  work, the house. Anything too personal was avoided. Love would remain an intellectual concept far from their realities.
 
The youngest was the gay of the family, artistic (well they both were) and was attempting to work as a hypnotic-therapist. Well, at least he had been. He wasn’t able to do anything anymore. She thought of Bertrand’s ex boy friend and how much she hated him. That whole relationship had been a mistake, she thought. But in reality, it was mostly because the ex in question totally had had her number and would have nothing to do with her. She hadn’t been able to manipulate him the way she had the boyfriend before. And now her poor Bertrand was still a mess (three years practically) after the break up. She remembered that day when HE (the ex boy friend) had come over to her house, without calling and run off with Fee-Fee and Fantabulous, the two Yorkshires that she’d been baby sitting together with Bertand for five months (Bertrand was recovering from his back “ ak-si-dent” she would say). True, her and Bertrand had kept them initially temporarily (the boyfriend was working in England) but then, when her Bertand had had that back “ ak-si-dent”  (again due to the ex!) well, she just didn’t want her little precious boy to suffer anymore. The dogs had to stay! That she had lied to the Gendamerie about everything didn’t faze her. That she had said he had broken into her house, while they were bother there didn’t faze her either, that she had said he had attacked her either…didn’t faze her. It was all about the result, not what you did to get what you wanted….And of course he hadn’t hit her physically, it was the emotional cost that he had put upon her that she would make him pay for! And in reality, it wasn’t about her son, it was about her ego and the abandoned feelings that he had brought back – the ex had revived all that by breaking up with her son and then the gall of running off with Fee-Fee and Fantabulous! Those dogs, yes, she had really loved them! 
 
She would make him pay, “Elledgmother-fucker-cock-sucker-in-hell-bastard-theive-hateful-hateful-hateful-black-hearted-son-of-a-bitch,” her rampage began and ended before she realized she was still at her desk, with her painful hands irating alone there…
“Oh, I think I’ll make some tea,” she sighed.  The BPD had roared its ugly head yet again; the sleeper has awakened.

The Father Ghost of Jane Snitly by Matt Carlson

She had never really considered it. It was something that she’d just decided to do. One day Jane Snitly bought the auburn hair coloring treatment, went home, read the instructions on the box, locked herself up in the bathroom and one hour later it was done. She’d become a redhead at twenty.

On top of it all, she looked good as a redhead. It wasn’t the flashy bright red of some, but more classy, like Katherine Hepburn in the 50’s and 60’s. And so it was, she’d chosen this look seemingly out of the blue – thinking it gave her an aura of the beautiful actress. And yet, even while she looked at herself in the mirror, she couldn’t ignore the pressing images that assaulted her there…

It was a gorgeous Buick of light blue sitting outside on the street under the front yard maple tree  – to keep under the shade. It was a hot summer day in the valley. There’d been a woman sitting in the passenger seat. She was very pretty, quite well dressed and she’d come with her Dad who was now in the house. He was having a conversation with Jane and Jenny’s Mother. The two little blond girls were 9 and 12, Jane was the youngest; Jenny the oldest. The two little girls were intrigued with the woman but didn’t dare speak to her. They’d been playing jacks in the driveway.

Blue curling up smoke from the woman’s cigarette went into the tree itself – seemingly dancing with the leaves – and Jane wondered who she was: this silent friend of her Father’s. Jenny felt it too and the girls left long lingering looks in her direction while halfheartedly spinning and catching. Voices were suddenly raised within the house and Jane and Jenny knew what that meant: another argument between their Mother and Father. They’d known something was up as their Father had ordered them to ‘stay outside and play’ upon his arrival and that he’d ‘wanted to speak to their Mother alone.’ Hearing those words had created a stir in their young bellies, but they had no clue as to why.

The wailing coming from within was low at first: a kind of moaning. Was that human? They both wondered while looking simultaneously at the house where their Father was now exiting. He didn’t say anything to them except that he loved them and would talk to them soon.

Jenny being older asked,”Daddy, where are you going? Why is Mamma crying like that?” She asked while chewing on her fingernail. Her Father stopped and seemed to reconsider something. The woman in the car was watching intently.

“Honey, Daddy is going to go and live somewhere else for a while…. but I’ll come back soon and we’ll do something fun, okay?” This was a lie, of course yet he wanted to give them a warm fuzzy of some kind. A lie was better than nothing. And perhaps he’d made himself believe that his words were true. Jenny didn’t say anything and he got into the car and started up the engine.

The wailing from within the house went up a notch and Jane suddenly found herself standing in front of the running engine, standing in front of the car where her Father sat with a strange & beautiful woman. Jane knew what it all meant. He was leaving. Leaving their Mother; leaving them. Leaving with the woman with auburn hair. Her Father stepped out of the car and asked, “What is it Janie?” But a paralysis overtook the little girl and no words would come. “Honey?… Okay, I’ve gotta go now sweetie – move out of the way.” And just like that she did what was asked of her. Her Father drove away. The woman gave her a sad smile and a slight wave of a manicured hand.

“Don’t go Daddy,” she whispered as the car drove out of sight. She’d forgotten to breath for a moment and felt slightly dizzy. Jenny had run inside to see her Mother. Janie stood there for a long time. Watching, waiting, trying to figure out what had just happened. Her tears and the low moaning were suddenly hers. Her Father had left her. Had left her Mom and sister. Only a Father Ghost would remain now….

**** Explanatory Note:

Almost sixty years later, Jane Snitly (her name has been changed to protect her identity) would die of Emphysema at the age of 68. According to a certain psychiatrist, she chose this hair color because unconsciously she chose to be the woman that her Father left with. That means she wanted to be the woman he chose to be with. (To be the woman that her Father loved). At the same time, she also chose to be the Mother that her Father left. The woman scorned and angry. Probably too,  that both of these identities  co-existed subconsciously within.

That being the case,  the two inner personalities or roles were at constant battle with one another; that the Mistress hated the Mother and that the Mother within hated the Mistress…The Father reassures and helps in developing a sense of identity to children in a family. When a Father abandons his children or is absent, the child will constantly search out that Father image – an image that he or she needs in order to construct their identity. The child (and later on adult) will do this subconsciously, of course and unknowingly will set up repetitive failures with people, people that the unconscious mind will perceive as a potential Father image. This is called the Father Ghost. Many of us have a Father Ghost, though we don’t realize it. He hoovers there constantly and is played out within the people around us, especially family members or other potential father-type images. Because it failed with their own father’s, and is an unconscious functioning, it will fail time and time again. No matter if you are a perfect Father figure, the scorned child will find fault with you somehow. Until the child becomes consciously aware of what is happening (and learns to make a conscious effort to change) he or she will continue to destroy potential Father figures. It is something imprinted within and a vicious circle…Some people will find other ways of creating identity with the pathology of the Father Ghost haunting them. Some will choose to work in psychology, health services and even religion…Anything that will give them a strong sense of belonging and reassurance…

*** ‘A noted sociologist, Dr. David Popenoe, is one of the pioneers of the relatively young field of research into fathers and fatherhood. “Fathers are far more than just ‘second adults’ in the home,” he says. “Involved fathers bring positive benefits to their children that no other person is as likely to bring.”  Fathers have a direct impact on the well-being of their children. It is important for professionals working with fathers— especially in the difficult, emotionally charged arena in which child protective services (CPS) caseworkers operate—to have a working understanding of the literature that addresses this impact.

Such knowledge will help make the case for why the most effective CPS case plans will involve fathers. This chapter lays out the connection between fathers and child outcomes, including cognitive ability, educational achievement, psychological well-being, and social behavior. The chapter also underscores the impact of the father and mother’s relationship on the well-being of their children….

THE IMPACT OF THE MOTHER-FATHER RELATIONSHIP ON CHILD OUTCOMES One of the most important influences a father can have on his child is indirect—fathers influence their children in large part through the quality of their relationship with the mother of their children. A father who has a good relationship with the mother of their children is more likely to be involved and to spend time with their children and to have children who are psychologically and emotionally healthier. Similarly, a mother who feels affirmed by her children’s father and who enjoys the benefits of a happy relationship is more likely to be a better mother. Indeed, the quality of the relationship affects the parenting behavior of both parents. They are more responsive, affectionate, and confident with their infants; more self-controlled in dealing with defiant toddlers; and better confidants for teenagers seeking advice and emotional support. One of the most important benefits of a positive relationship between mother and father, and a benefit directly related to the objectives of the CPS caseworker, is the behavior it models for children.

Fathers who treat the mothers of their children with respect and deal with conflict within the relationship in an adult and appropriate manner are more likely to have boys who understand how they are to treat women and who The Importance of Fathers in the Healthy Development of Children are less likely to act in an aggressive fashion toward females. Girls with involved, respectful fathers see how they should expect men to treat them and are less likely to become involved in violent or unhealthy relationships. In contrast, research has shown that husbands who display anger, show contempt for, or who stonewall their wives (i.e., “the silent treatment”) are more likely to have children who are anxious, withdrawn, or antisocial.

THE IMPACT OF FATHERS ON COGNITIVE ABILITY AND EDUCATIONAL ACHIEVEMENT Children with involved, caring fathers have better educational outcomes. A number of studies suggest that fathers who are involved, nurturing, and playful with their infants have children with higher IQ’s, as well as better linguistic and cognitive capacities.Toddlers with involved fathers go on to start school with higher levels of academic readiness. They are more patient and can handle the stresses and frustrations associated with schooling more readily than children with less involved fathers.

The influence of a father’s involvement on academic achievement extends into adolescence and young adulthood. Numerous studies find that an active and nurturing style of fathering is associated with better verbal skills, intellectual functioning, and academic achievement among adolescents. For instance, a 2001 U.S. Department of Education study found that highly involved biological fathers had children who were 43 percent more likely than other children to earn mostly As and 33 percent less likely than other children to repeat a grade.

THE IMPACT OF FATHERS ON PSYCHOLOGICAL WELL-BEING AND SOCIAL BEHAVIOR Even from birth, children who have an involved father are more likely to be emotionally secure, be confident to explore their surroundings, and, as they grow older, have better social connections with peers. These children also are less likely to get in trouble at home, school, or in the neighborhood.13 Infants who receive high levels of affection from their fathers (e.g., babies whose fathers respond quickly to their cries and who The Link Between Marriage and Fatherhood Caring, involved fathers exist outside of marriage. They are more likely, however, to be found in the context of marriage. There are numerous reasons for this, not the least of which being the legal and social norms associated with marriage that connect a father to the family unit. That may also explain, in part, why research consistently shows that the married mother-and-father family is a better environment for raising children than the cohabitating (living together) mother-and-father family.

It is interesting to note that, contrary to stereotypes about low-income, unmarried parents, a significant majority—more than 8 in 10—of urban, low-income fathers and mothers are in a romantic relationship when their children are born.

Most of these couples expect that they will get married. One study found that more than 80 percent expected they would get married or live together. However, only 11 percent of these couples had actually married a year later.

Why they do not marry is an interesting question open to conjecture. However, as Dr. Wade Horn, Assistant Secretary for Children and Families at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has pointed out, it may be because these couples receive very little encouragement to marry from the health and social services professionals with whom they come in contact.

Fathers and Their Impact on Children’s Well-being play together) are more securely attached; that is, they can explore their environment comfortably when a parent is nearby and can readily accept comfort from their parent after a brief separation. A number of studies suggest they also are more sociable and popular with other children throughout early childhood.

The way fathers play with their children also has an important impact on a child’s emotional and social development. Fathers spend a much higher percentage of their one-on-one interaction with infants and preschoolers in stimulating, playful activity than do mothers. From these interactions, children learn how to regulate their feelings and behavior. Roughhousing with dad, for example, can teach children how to deal with aggressive impulses and physical contact without losing control of their emotions.19 Generally speaking, fathers also tend to promote independence and an orientation to the outside world. Fathers often push achievement while mothers stress nurturing, both of which are important to healthy development. As a result, children who grow up with involved fathers are more comfortable exploring the world around them and more likely to exhibit self control and pro-social behavior.

One study of school-aged children found that children with good relationships with their fathers were less likely to experience depression, to exhibit disruptive behavior, or to lie and were more likely to exhibit pro-social behavior. This same study found that boys with involved fathers had fewer school behavior problems and that girls had stronger self esteem.

In addition, numerous studies have found that children who live with their fathers are more likely to have good physical and emotional health, to achieve academically, and to avoid drugs, violence, and delinquent behavior. In short, fathers have a powerful and positive impact upon the development and health of children. A caseworker who understands the important contributions fathers make to their children’s development and how to effectively involve fathers in the case planning process will find additional and valuable allies in the mission to create a permanent and safe environment for children.’

https://www.childwelfare.gov/pubPDFs/fatherhood.pdf

Fresno Times Chronicles by matt carlson

Lily Bean – (Part 2) by matt carlson

The children had been manic that day, so had she. They’d laughed and sang : giggling like crazy! Such a fun day at the San Francisco Wharf last March. They’d eaten fried fish and chips, sodas and cotten candy. They’s walked along the water (Lily more slowly due to her increasing weight) and watched the seals play on the rocks down below. The boat trip to Alcatraz so scarey  too – and beautiful. Now it seemed  so long ago.

Patsie Bean, 14 her overweight daughter was still at home, the spitting image of a younger Amie Winehouse but without the drug problems. She was a sensitive girl, an artist. Open to the world, but only on her termes. She was reclusive in nature, an introvert most of the time and tried as best she could to deal with the world. Her new bedroom at Creek Haven in Fresno California was a protected space, her ‘away space’. she loved stealing away Snickers bars and Gummy Bears in her secret drawer of delights.

Her skinny, pot smoking  younger brother Bernie was in Juvenile Hall. He was 17 going on 30. Already a Father to two little girls who lived with their mother hidden away in Dinuba. He hadn’t met them yet, hadn’t told his own Mother about it either. He felt shame. Adding to the growing list of problems, his stay in Juvenile Hall wasn’t all wine and roses. He’d been picked up for stealing a second car and was paying the price.  Plus he had had marajuana on him when the police arrested him.

Lily sat at her small table in the den, munching on a Gummy Bears (her favorite along with Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups) while looking out the window towards the courtyard. She scratched her left arm while watching a young mother play with her daughter. It was a special moment for them and while observing the two was thrown back again into her past, when raising her young children had been fun. It wasn’t the case anymore, aside from Patsie of course. Patsie was her rock. So solid that girl. They’d developped a close relationship, much more like  two best friends than daughter and mother.

She ran her fingers through her brown hair and remembered her very short ex-husband Bill with his wavey brown hair; he too had been a part of that little family once upon a time. They had grown apart, wanting different things. He had suffered from Borderline Personality Disorder – this had created an enormous division between them as well.  She had sincerely tried to help him up to a certain point, but to no avail. His being almost dwarf-like had pleased her, at times she could imagine he was her little boy as they walked the aisles of the grocery store. But he had been all man in bed, his endowment below the waist making up for any short stature elsewhere. ..

Besides being alone suited her best. She liked being single. She could just fart in bed when she wanted, instead of leaving the room with a pretext and having to pass gas down the hallway. That and nobody stole her candy or raided her prized refrigerator. It was a european brand called SuperCOLD 5000 and she had gone through a lot of trouble to get it here in California. That was partly thanks to her husband who still sold appliances and had contacts over there. She smiled to herself while looking dreamily at her beloved grey shiney colored refrigerator and its unusual cucumber shaped door handle…With a sigh she breifly remembered Bill’s below the waist attributes…

Suddenly, she briskly pulled a package of hair color out of her purse:  was she really gonna become a blond? Ted had often asked her to do it – now she would do it just for herself. Now that ‘Tampon Ted’ was out of her emotional picture, she could be herself again. She still missed his long blond curls; loved playing with it, brushing it. He had wanted something more from her, something that she was unable to give. Now she wanted to answer that eternal question : ‘Do blonds really have more fun?’ by herself. Patsie would of course, be her hair assistant.

“It looks great on you! I can’t believe it,” claimed her daughter. “You look soooo different!” Her eyes bugged out of her head, her mom really did look terrific.

“Really? You’re not just saying that are you?” Asked Lily. She looked in the mirror, squinted hard at her reflection in the mirror. She kind of liked it, kind of didn’t. But she was going for different and different it was! She smiled at herself, “You’re right it does look pretty good.” Now if only I could get rid of these 20 extra pounds on my ass! They laughed in unison. Mother and daughter where a bit chunky, both with consequential behinds – very popular with black men….

She stood up and looked at herself fully in the hallway dressing mirror, Patsie standing next to her, twin-like, one blond, one dark haired. They laughed together at their image. These little moments were what life was all about.

 

Diapers in The Castle by Matt Carlson

It smelled. Really bad too. Gelledge quickly opened the window as he climbed down the stairs to the first floor. Someone, or rather one of the Life Assistant replacements had once again NOT taken the used diapers down to the cave/ trash area. He reached under the stairwell and grabbed an aerosol can marked ‘BIO Air Scent Lavender’ and sprayed the offending black plastic bag which sat on the cat’s enclosed cat litter tray. Gelledge imagined correctly that Ninja, the calico cat probably didn’t care for that bag on her litter tray house anymore than he did, having to smell it. He knew that dogs had one hundred times the sense of smell more than humans, and so he wondered what the ratio was for cats.

It was one of those days to try and stay focused while hell was being raised at the Chateau  La Reine Blanche. Patches was always screaming, or refusing something or displaying her unhappiness, which was constant. It was her home, it was her disease too and she made everybody pay for it. That is to say, that her frustrations and anger were such that everything was an excuse for being mean. It made her feel better somehow.

The long line of Life Assistants: Algerian, African, Romanian, Bulgarian, as well as other 3rd world countries, succeeded one after the other. They were all incompetent of course, as none of them had any experience upon arriving at the castle with Patches They were cheap labor. They had no idea that hundreds had gone before them, all replaced or who had quit. They all hated the bitchy white woman in her wheel chair, though they did feel sorry for her sometimes. When their employer, a company called Planitnow hired them, it seemed exciting knowing that they would actually be working in a castle, in the center of Paris, near the Goblins. They told all their friends and families. But the bubble of fantasy popped fast enough as the rude, dictator of the apartment known as the ‘Galleries’ started telling them what to do on their first day. Of course, there was only one at a time and for one shift at a time too, usually for a few hours – but sometimes  for the entire day. Patches required full time help as she could only use her right hand and unfortunately, her vocal chords. So she had at least three different ‘slaves’ at her service. Mostly all paid by social security.

“No, not there, it goes on the left.” The tall, large, sweet spoken older woman with glasses and skin ‘black-as-night’  hesitated. Should she put the plate in the other cabinet – or just on the left in this one? Patches could not explain herself clearly about anything so following her orders was tough. One usually wanted to just do the task as quickly as possible and at one’s own volition, but Patches wouldn’t have it. “No, no, not there,” she continued in her pigeon sounding French. “It goes on the left, on the left, LEFT, LEFT!!!!Oh, fuck, fuck fuck…!” She now screamed. Her brain short circuited when she wanted to make complete sentences. Frustration leaked in like greasy car oil, dispersing itself in her cerebral pathways. The poor woman was so surprised she dropped the plate ; it crashed to the ground.

Now the real fun would begin as Patches would dictate every movement to the woman in order to clean it up:

” Take the broom and the dust pan – no the other one, it’s in the corner”, and… “don’t throw it in THAT trash, it’s the other one- under the table!” Then, “You”ll have to move that small table, then bend down – no, not like that, not there…! You have to separate the pieces from the rest..” Then, “Move me please…turn my chair so I can see better – you missed a piece…”….”I’m thirsty, wa… wa…water please!”…Thirty seconds later, “Toilet!” She would announce. “Take me to the toilet. Hurry, hurry, it’s an emergency! i can’t wait! Oh, shit, shit, SHIT!….” Anguished by the stress and the volume of the words, the assistant began rushing to get to Patches. But what was there to do? She was in a wheel chair! How was she going to get her onto the toilet? Precipitating, she bumped the wheel chair into everything, the wall, the table, a door…Patches began screaming once again, ‘Oh, fuck, fuck, fuck:”…Now Patches would begin to explain about the “People Lifter” called Tony for short. It was a strange metal device, automatic, that lifted a person up so that you could transfer them into another place, like toilet, bed, another chair and so on. But you had to belt her up, tighten it, make sure Patches feet were in a stable position and get her to hold onto the bar in front of her. Once up in a secure position thanks to Tony’s mechanical abilities, you had to wheel her over to the toilet, pull her pants down and do everything in reverse!….The long day had started. They had made it to the white throne too late – now pants, plastic covering and diapers had to be changed!

Being Patches assistant was as if you no longer had control of your own body (if you let her, that is), Patches wanted to control it (your body) for you. Her body was now useless, it peed and pooped, it consumed food… but it didn’t work properly anymore. The brain, the muscles, the nerves, the cells were degrading… Crazy with anger, she wanted to manipulate  your physical actions. It made people very mad and they simply flipped out; most of them having no idea of what her illness was… But then conversations were a two way street. Patches didn’t care about them, she only wanted what they could do for her. The assistants weren’t stupid either, they sensed the anger, the perverseness from the shriveled woman with a C formed body, in a wheelchair, her twig like arms from branches of a forgotten tree. They hung there static, waiting.

Gelledge had told her off immediately the first time when she had attempted to do dictate his body –  It’s why he no longer helped out, unless there was an emergency of some sort.

“That’s enough Patches. I am doing this – this is my body and my task. Stop telling me what to do – that’s enough. You want to do it? Then come over here and do it. If you can’t, be quiet and let me do it.  I will not tolerate being ordered around, so stop immediately.” The tone had been set. Patches knew that she would not be able to get away with anything with Gelledge.

One morning, no one came to get Patches up. She sent a text message to Gelledge asking him to help her. He went downstairs and into her bedroom. With a dry mouth and disheveled look, she got it out that she needed someone to get her up. Now Gelledge had witnessed her morning ritual more than once – knowing that never in a million years would he follow it and if he tried to, he would probably kill her in the process.

“Okay look Patches, Since you have no one this morning, I will get you up. BUT, hear this: I will do it my way and no other. I will not be rubbing your feet, getting you your meds, fixing an elaborate meal – you’ll have what I have – I’ll put you on the toilet, get you into some clean clothes too. That’s it;  take it or leave it.” Patches frantically began pushing on her telephone screen, a look of panic on her face. Gelledge giggled inside, he had her number. Still he felt sorry for her…

Paris Times (N°10) The Borderline Nest by Matthew Carlson

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Jie Jie (rymes with fly) Solla Bina and her “paralyzed” son “O”, were doing nothing in particular that day at Terre de Poux (the Land of Head Lice), the village she called home. They had eaten their BIO (health food lunch) of egg plant and tomatoes farcies (stuffed tomatoes) and fresh bread without glutten. She had made the bread herself and was pleased too of the current state of her affairs.

Her son had moved back home to Terre de Poux and that was a good thing. Now she had both of her grown sons with her and even her grand sons all living in the same place. With her eldest son and his (ughh!) English wife Deena (she looked like a blond Sarah Palin and wasn’t much brighter) Famous for her comment of : “I can see Russia from my back yard!” wouldn’t have made Deena laugh. She was an English woman who had a complex about being English, and had moved to France to be different in the eyes of all who knew her. Jie Jie detested her but had daily contact with her;  it couldn’t be helped. Her son needed pussy and he got it from her. Too bad kids were the final outcome, she could have really done without being called Grandma.

Though Jie Jie didn’t realize it she suffered from Borderline Personality Disorder. She like her son, whom she had passed it on to thanks to her constant non validation of his emotional and early psychosexual development, were now using their twisted vision of the world to thwart “O”‘s ex.

They had no empathy towards anyone, had no idea what that meant. It was all about filling that forever empty void inside themselves. The word “integrity” had no meaning either as integrity was a by product of healthy emotional and psychosexual development. Since neither had ever experienced that development, the word integrity meant nothing.

They were very much alike in their respective personalites and in their profound dislike of one another, there was still some kind of connection and a great deal of complicity as they shared a similar vision of the world. Years ago, Jie Jie had tried to will away the newly attached fetus from her insides to no avail. The damn thing had to be born…It had happened so soon after the early (happy loss) of a second son, but when she fell pregnant again there was nothing else to do. She gave in to having O; she had had no choice.

Adding to the complexity of the situation  was in her own unresolved past childhood where her Mother hardly raised her, had never truly loved her. Lacking any mothering tendencies, her own Mother, a bitchy self loathing bitter woman,  had always managed (with very little money) ways of keeping young Jie Jie in all girl schools away from home. Her Father was an alcoholic, a depressed man, capable of violence without any apparent cause. He would at times just stare at her like some kind of strange household object that someone had dropped off by mistake.

Jie Jie felt abandoned her entire life and needed incessant validation from anyone who could give it to her. The constant invalidating of her own emotions, forced her to alter those emotions, forced her brain to take charge of them. She became an experienced manipulator, a kind of copycat of anything that might bring her more self esteem. A mask of what she was not. Inside it was like a devouring monster, constantly needing to be fed. No matter the consequences for others’, as long as she got what she wanted. But her appetite was never ending. It grew as she got older.

O was in his forties, a good twenty years younger than Jie Jie. The difference from her was that he knew he suffered from Borderline Personality Disorder. At least three psychiatrists had diagnosed him. He had,  like so many other people with BPD followed therapy, but in his need to conquer and manipulate his therapists, well, it never worked out. In the beginnig it would usually be “Wow, such a terrific therapist” but when (or IF that happened – not all therapists understood the manipulative power of people with BPD) it would become the devaluating of him of that therapist: “She’s so stupid and never says much… or if she does it’s just like two words. I’m smarter than she is…”

O was at THE major crossroads in his life. But unfortunately didn’t really completely get that. Even now as he suffered due to terrible back surgery following the diagnosis of The Horse Tail’s Syndrome. All of his nerves from the belt below were being pressed upon by discs in his back that had slide down. They pushed onto this zone where so many internal messages are sent. For months, he felt little downstairs and had learned what it was like to wear diapers as an adult. Hard on’s were something of the past.

The usual stress and unbearable panic related to his recent break up with Gelledge, had already and for years been going directly to his back. Think a thought, get some stress, it would sink down there to his back. Nothing would come out of his mouth, he could’n’t get the damn words out. Those months of talking about non-violent communication and even doing work shops, had been no good to him. He could imitate the information like a parrot (his Mother was exactly the same) but could in no way apply it. Tools of emotional stability were necessary, tools that are developed through healthy emotional development, cognitive differentiation. You cannot build something on air.

O had assumed that changing jobs from being a graphic designer to a hynotherapist was the answer to his inner demons. It had helped him in many ways, but like his Mother he had no self love. You couldn’t find, learn to give and recieve love through a hypnotic tape. He didn’t know what love was. And he hated his Mother for that on some level, though he couldn’t remember all of the emotional stunting that she had done to him.

The constant lying and manipulation had started so young, too the regular trips to the public restrooms where he got off on old men sucking him off. It was a sexual release but also an emotional one. A narcissistic one. A kind of emotion validating of his immense and ever growing narcissisme. No one else mattered as long as his beast inside could be fed too.

The sequestering of his and Gelledge’s two black & brown York Shire’s Fing and Fong had seemed right somehow. After all, Gelledge had brought them over to the front gates of  Tete de Poux at his Mother’s, given to O, the day before his accident. Returning after the hospital, though O had hardly seen them much for months, but was elated to see them. They were a bit reticent however, their first person or caretaker was Gelledge, not O. The transition was not a smooth one.

O had once again manipulated slowly so as things were not obvious. But from day one, he had decided (with lots of perverted discussions with his Mother and brother) that he would somehow take everything away from Gelledge. The dogs, the house, everything that mattered to Gelledge. O’s jealousy too had finally begun expressing itself. Gelledge had everything that he did not, was everything that he was not.

Gelledge had left for the summer to work in Italy. It was for this reason he had left the dogs with O. But then Gelledge had stolen money from O! Well, it wasn’t really a theft mind you, he had only transferred money from one account to another in order to pay bills. Bills that were in O’s name – though shared all of their bills together. And true part of the money really did belong to Gelledge as he had been paying too for that Life Insurance Policy where he was the beneficiary. But still, it felt like a robbery to O! Being Borderline, nothing could be in the middle – it had to be black or white! He lamented loudly and regularly to anyone who would listen to his story, to his lies. He had to somehow destroy Gelledge. After all he had abandonned O; he knew too much about how he fonctioned inside; was too much in his head; somehow he had to kill the thing that walked around now in his head.

Lying there on the bed, he heard a rucous and something fall. Jumping up and there was Gelledge running off with Fing and Fong in his arms! His Mother was sprawled out on the wooden porch.

She screamed for her other son Eddie who’s house was on the hill above her own, “Eddie! He’s stolen my dogs!”

O ran pretty fast for someone who was supposed to be paralysed. His canes, throwing them aside with intense anger. “You bastard” he screamed in French. “You stole my money, now you’re stealing my dogs!”

Gelledge sped quickly through the immense field before him, Fing and Fong in his arms. They were actually quite heavy. When O had stopped pursuing them, he knew it was not over. He placed Fing and fong on the ground hoping that the five month forced seperation of his beloved dogs had not broken their connection together and that they would run like the wind and follow him.

“Come on you guys, let’s go!” They understood instantly and ran as fast as Jack Russel’s; they got it that their Gelledge had come to rescue them! They ran and they ran as fast as they could. their persuers not far behind. His car wisely parked on the department road on the bottom of the vast field, so when they reached the edge, Gelledge picked them up in his arms and looked off to the right. Eddie’s old white van was bearing down towards them loudly. The pedal pushed to the floorboards. The two brothers intently watching Gelledge’s movement as he got to the edge of the field and began crossing the road. They breaked suddenly only feet away and O jumped out like a mad man yelling at the top of his voice. There were no signs of any disability as he ran towards Gelledge and the dogs. Gelledge was prepared with his key and in a flash had opened the car door and thrown them inside to safety. He too jumped in & slammed the door closed while locking it. O furiously arriving  just as the door slammed in his face.

O screamed and kicked the door and the window non-stop as Gelledge calmly and with purpose started the car. Gelledge thought the window would break as the force of O’s uncontrollable feet and hands crashed repeatedly against the side of the car. It was crazy – like a scene out of a movie. How could this be O?

“Fuck you Oliver”,  said Gelledge with force. He never once saw the madman’s face, never even bothered to look. It wasn’t about him anyway. Pulling the car out quickly he breathed a sigh of release. The van did not follow them. He looked at the dogs and gave them a reassuring hand. Would they try and locate him through twitter or google? In any case he had already shut off location services. He had come to rescue his dogs from the Borderline Nest at the Tete de Poux,  where they had been kept against their will. Kept away from seeing him. They hadn’t understood as to why they had been kept at Jie Jie’s with O.

Why had Gelledge been gone for so long? The dogs had had no clue. But now, it didn’t matter they were safe once again and in Gelledge’s arms…Lots of kisses and play time to be had together. It was as it should be.