19. Patty’s

I walked into Patty’s Pub. That was a shitty session with my shrink, so I needed to soak my temper in wine.

I asked the waitress to bring me a glass of their house red. Then I felt someone standing beside me. “Please bring the bottle, and two glasses.”

Jeff sat down. “Why is it they call it the ‘house’ red?”

This was a more thoughtful question than I had patience for, but I felt sorry for Jeff. He has access to the entire world, and he was choosing to sit in a pub with me. Sad, really. “Because it sounds better than ‘Bring me your cheapest goat piss?’ That’s always been my guess.”

“You look like shit, Paul.”

I sighed. “Just came from my shrink. He always makes me feel better. Then I start to feel guilty for feeling better. I deserve to enjoy some misery.”

The wine arrived, thank God. “So you come here to inflict misery upon yourself.”

“Come on, Jeff. You’re starting to sound like Dr. Shadenfreude. The wine just dulls the pain a little.”

Jeff sat there silently, drinking his wine. I poured another for each of us. “You know I could help you, right? I’d be happy to help you out.”

I couldn’t help glaring at him. “No thanks.”

“Right. You think you deserve this, don’t you?”

“Change the subject.”

Jeff took another swig of wine. “Okay. Why didn’t you tell Schadenfreude the truth about me? You could have just said that you really are interviewing God.”

“Ha! Pass the bottle, please. It’s hard to interview anyone when I’m in the psych ward, dude.”

“But the purpose of all this is to spread the word, write a new and improved gospel, tell all the arseholes that they’re wrong. Bottle, please. How can we do that if you deny me?”

I turned to face him. “Jeff, dude, I don’t plan to deny knowing you. It won’t be the whole Peter thing all over again. I just have to keep my sorry ass on the outside of the hospital walls. Did some time in the psych ward before, and I have to admit it was VERY relaxing, but I don’t want to go back. I will sing your praises – well, tell of your existence anyhow – to everyone I speak to. Except for my shrink. He needs to believe I don’t belong behind locked doors.”

“I believe you don’t.”

I raised my glass. “Here’s to believing in each other.”

We clinked glasses. It was almost time for another bottle of goat piss.