A wide window on one wall of the office overlooked a narrow strip of neatly mown grass and the border of a thickly tangled urban wilderness, soft and hard maples elders some black oaks and hickories and Dunston’s roaming eyes settled on them, stared hard as the observant counselor penned notes with her Bic, his head began a slow nodding dance, his lips tightened his brow gathered into a knot then a burl of hardened pathways, Dr. Maycroft the counselor said in a discrete undertone, Dr. Maycroft? but he barely heard he was making a list, names and titles and whole categories rang and then echoed as though in a riflebarrel, Tara who threw him out of what became her bed alone once his blathering puns had irrevocably degenerated to complete unintelligibility, Mona the old bitch who demanded he search for B9, B9 B9 B9 for brightsake — oh no he thought it’s happening in my thoughts now it’s happening in my head — Ted the forking presdator of the college, the textors the catfighters the alumni and big donors who pimped little boys the mayor the legislators barons who knew and kept quiet, his mind was swirling now, and then there’s the religious right crowd always monitoring courses and growling at him, all of these and more, they all let him down they all operated in chaos, they smothered his world like a fetid blanket, the trolls, the trolls on the surfaces of plumblen, trolls looking thataway and disk, stay tuned for trolls on the smokeways of blimbo, trolls touring the backways of fat, beware of mary of blackface, bejeweled mary cruller of cud jesus of furane and all the blingers and winged trolls with chubby cheeks and scares — into all that nonsense Dunston settled now, accepted the disarray now not only of his speech but of his mind. He looked at his counselor and finally answered her question with a shrug and a nod. When she asked who may have betrayed him he simply stretched out his arms, his whole demeanor sort of whispering Who hasn’t.
I see the counselor said, she crossed her legs tilted her head smiled, wrote the last words of her notes, you’ve carried a lot of expectations around with you she said. Would you like to write anything down on your pad? He shook his head gently, looked at the yellowlined paper, shook more vigorously. All right then she said, I’d like to now ask you if you have feelings of confusion.
His head snapped up his eyes sprang wide open he froze for a moment before rising abruptly and rushing to her in three quick paces, he stood before her with outstretched arms again, she regained her composure after a slight recoil gazed up at him: he looked like a muted caged dog awaiting admittance to the death chamber of a local pound, mouth gaping, forcing out silent blasts of terror. What the fuck, do you even need to ask that question the mask on his face seemed to bellow, I can’t talk I got fired, my wife evicted me my boy’s ashamed of me you should see him sshrink away whenever I get anywhere near him, I can’t rely on anything or anybody everything’s screwed everybody’s fucked up I can’t even call Bingo anymore any moron can call Bingo but I can’t so what does that make me, what does that make this whole fucking country this whole fucking world?
Would you like to take a moment to collect yourself Dr. Maycroft the counselor said, her slender legs still crossed a smile creasing her rock of a jaw as she lowered her eyes to jot down some notes. He slumped, turned and shuffled to the comfort of his leather seat, crossed his legs and worked on composing himself, the Dr. Dunston Maycroft who not long ago had been DeanofStudents at Templeton College — THE Templeton College — polished, affable, capable, somewhat scholarly, thoroughly professional, at home a smooth and innovative lover and mindfully engaged father who now . . .
Dr. Maycroft said the counselor, now that we’re all settled again would you be able to tell me the extent of your confusion on a scale of one to ten?
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