I’ve come looking for some help. I don’t know if that’s the case with other writers, but I seem to accumulate beginnings of stories that sometimes get parked because I’m too busy, or because another story comes up in my head, or because I get stuck, or life gets in the way…And every so often I revisit this orphaned stories and sometimes I think…nothing doing, but sometimes I wonder if it might be worth investing more time or carrying on writing and seeing if it gets anywhere…
I’ve decided to try and rescue the beginning of some of these stories and bring them to your attention. I’d be really grateful for your feedback, positive or negative. If positive I’ll put them in the pile of ‘future work’. If negative, I’ll put them out of their misery.
In no particular order…I’ll start with this one….
Xenon. Billie always tried to guess things about her patients by their names, even before reading the referral letter, or the notes, but somebody called Xenon…It said something about his parents for sure, but…
It was a referral letter in his case. Very vague. She wondered if it would be one of these cases where somebody who should have been referred to a counsellor, or told to get a life, had been referred to a psychiatrist. No specific symptoms, asking for help…Drugs maybe?
He was a young man, 27 nearly 28, quite attractive, the tall, dark and handsome type, dressed in a casual but expensive manner. He shook her hand and sat in front of her, at the other side of the desk. He appeared quite relaxed.
“Call me Xenon. Or Xen. Everybody does.”
“Thanks.” She must have looked intrigued or puzzled because he felt obliged to explain.
“My parents wanted to call me X but they weren’t allowed to. The guy at the registry thought Xenon was a real name.”
“Everybody always asks you the same, I imagine.”
“Not always. Some people pretend they know the name or they’ve heard it before. In a human being, not a gas.”
Billie smiled. At that point she wasn’t really sure that it was going anywhere.
“Sorry but Dr Asley’s letter isn’t very specific. Why do you think you need to see a psychiatrist?”
“Oh…I have problems…I don’t mean I’m mad, or depressed, or anything like that. It’s just…I’m different…”
OK. One of those. Nobody understands me, I’m trying to find myself…Bo-ring.
“I don’t mean all that crap… ‘I don’t fit in’. ‘Nobody understands me’. No, I mean…I don’t….I’m not a human being. I’m different.”
Billie knew her face was not showing anything. She was a professional and had heard a lot of things. But now what? Humour him, or send him on his way? Was he genuinely mad? How had he not come to the attention of mental health services before if he was really mad? Had something happened recently?
“I’ve lived with it all this time but it’s getting too much.”
OK, the next question was self-evident, but that didn’t mean it shouldn’t be asked.
“If you’re not a human being, what exactly are you?”
Xenon smiled and as he did opened him mouth wide. His canines had become fangs and his eyes had changed, showing elongated pupils, like a cat’s.
“Oh, I see. You’re a vampire.”
How unoriginal! Billie sighed. It was a reasonable trick, but she had things to do. Better things to do.
“Have you come on behalf of my friend Cynthia? She’s been talking about secret societies and vampires since we were kids. I’m not that interested.”
“I’m not joking. It isn’t a trick!” He said, holding her by the wrists and leaving marks there. That was much more than she was prepared to take from somebody who wasn’t even a patient yet.
“What do you think you’re doing? I don’t care if you’re Count Dracula in person, but don’t touch me! Do you understand?”
“Sorry. I didn’t mean to…Look again…” He showed her how his teeth transformed into fangs, step by step. OK, no tricks she could see. He then smiled.
“I can do other things too.”
Suddenly the things on her desk moved without his touching them, including the computer and all the papers, lifting up and floating as if not subject to laws of gravity and then twirling around. He then just gave a short nod and all went back to its previous position.
“Amongst other things. Your friend has been right all along.”
Maybe he should be telling Cynthia rather than her. The guy was definitely different, but from that to needing a psychiatrist, and her in particular…
“Well…What do you expect from me?”
“Help. It’s difficult to live between humans and pretend to be like them when to us they are only…”
“For feeding. Cows?”
Xenon nodded and then a smile toyed in his face.
“You know? You seem very calm and cool about all this. You aren’t thinking about telling anybody, are you? You’re bound by clients’ confidentiality.”
“I’m not sure it applies to non-humans.”
Xenon looked at her with incredulity and menace in his eyes.
“If you try…I’ll hunt you down and…kill you.”
“That’s what I call the beginning of a good therapeutic relationship. Why did you choose me?”
“I sensed something about your name.”
Billie couldn’t help trying to get some amusement out of the situation.
“Shouldn’t you be in your coffin or something? It’s day time.”
“Oh, there’re a lot of things people believe about us that are pure crap and lurid imagination. For some reason we appear to be a never ending source of desire, fear and inspiration to humans.”
The uncanny, as Freud put it. He was right about human’s fancy with vampires and other monsters, although vampires more than others.
“But you suck blood.”
“That’s a relief. At least they got something right. I’m not sure I could have coped with such disappointment and let down.”
“I like your sense of humour. Very…dark.”
“It helps in my profession.”
They looked at each other. Surprisingly Xenon gave up first and looked down.
“I’ll bring you our book of rules and laws…It might help you understand my issues.”
“Do you have a code of conduct, rules, regulations…?”
“We’re a very ancient…people…Yes, we have some laws…”
“Good…Isn’t all this supposed to be a secret? Aren’t you breaking the rules here?”
“Billie…Yes, of course. But then…I’m trying to avoid breaking more serious rules. There are rules and there are rules…and as you know rules are made to be bent…if not broken. I hope you don’t mind if I call you Billie.”
“I’m not that bothered.”
“Could we meet in the evenings? Yes, we can walk around and all that, but we’re creatures of the night, that’s true enough. We function better at night.”
“I only have use of my office during standard working hours.”
He might be prepared to break or bend the rules, but Billie didn’t want to set a precedent. It was quite clear this was a guy who didn’t take no for an answer if he could help it. He needed boundaries…and many other things, although she didn’t have any idea of what those might be.
“Could I come to your place? Or we could meet somewhere else. I have a nice apartment.”
“I don’t do home visits…If you insist…If you give me your mobile number I’ll let you know of a convenient evening, if you don’t have any…”
“We normally meet on Thursdays, after midnight. I don’t imagine you’d want to meet that late. Otherwise most of my business is conducted at night.”
“Give me your number.”
Xenon gave her a card. Black, red letters, very stylish.
“Very you…I’ll call you.”
He looked at her fixedly.
“I will call you. Honest. Can’t you read my mind? Or is that also part of the folklore?”
“We’re quite good with some people. Some better than others. Particularly if the person isn’t very complicated.”
She guessed that was as close to a compliment as she could expect to get from him. He then gave her a thick envelope. It was full of money.
“What is this for?”
“I want to pay you in advance. Just tell me when you think we’ve run out of money and I’ll keep topping up. It isn’t a problem.”
“But, how many sessions do you think you need?”
“No idea…Anyway, pleasure meeting you. See you next week.”
“Listen, this money…”
“Oh, don’t worry. You’ll earn it. Don’t be concerned about that. I don’t give anything for nothing.”
He shook her hand and left swiftly.
Thank you and don’t forget to leave a comment!