Dr. Beatty’s office is typical, almost Spartan except for all the toys; toys are everywhere, peeking between the books and protected behind seat cushions, almost hidden, in a strangely familiar way.  

When my lawyer hears about “the incident”, as he calls it, he thinks the DA will offer me probation; the charge, of which I’m clearly guilty, is “Attempt to obtain a controlled substance by fraud”.  It’s a felony, so before the DA can offer me probation instead of a prison sentence, my lawyer needs a letter about “the incident” from this psychologist, Dr. Beatty.

Or, in other words, if the DA agrees to give me probation, my lawyer and I won’t say that pretty little white girls get sodomized down at the City Jail. 

Then as long as I don’t get arrested again, all I have to do is see this doctor once a week.  And I know I should be grateful and as simple as that sounds—once I’m in Dr. Beatty’s office, I’m obstinate and rude, and like a little kid I answer all his questions with:

“What d’ya want me to say?”

Beside me, almost hidden, is a toy, a stuffed lion, peeking out from behind a seat cushion with a tag that reads: “Hi! My name is Clyde.”    

“Awwww…cute…."; I try to curl my lip and snarl a little when I say, “...this for my inner child?”

Dr. Beatty rolls his eyes: “Let’s start more simply then—tell me what you were in jail for.” 

I roll my eyes and pick the lion up and trying to be insufferable I punctuate each word with the lion’s paw:  “Attempt-to-obtain-a-controlled-substance-by-fraud.  Scrip-forging. Percocet.”  For Dr. Beatty’s benefit I add, in sing-song, “Because-I’m-an-addict.  And-that’s-what-addicts-do.”  Then I swipe a paw in his direction, and for a moment I would rather go to prison than abandon this toy lion.  

“You signed a release form at your lawyer’s office. I’ve read your records. Trying to forge prescriptions is pretty stupid.  You’re not stupid."

"But you’re no lion either.”

Dr. Beatty reaches for the toy; I pull Clyde away and spit a “Fuck you” at him.  

“Fuck you too", he says. "Tell me about what happened that night in jail.”

My lip quivers, angry tears run down my cheeks and soak the lion’s fur.   

“I watched you looking around the office a little while ago," he says. "You saw the toys, the stuffed animals, hidden between the books…you saw that lion, tucked behind the cushions—you’re always on the alert…or at least, you try to be....did you notice they were all facing outward, towards the door ?  I never move them; someone put them there like that, on purpose.  You’re bright…you listen, you watch…so tell me: why do you think someone put them there that way?”

I want to answer Dr. Beatty but as simple as that sounds, instead I see myself that night in jail; Bleeding. Torn. Small and weak and trying not to cry.  In a tiny voice, I say, “what do you want me to say.”

“I guess you don’t really have to say anything…it’s up to you…you know, I keep these toys here for children who come to see me…they come here scared…angry...where they live isn’t safe...most of them find it easier to talk about whatever’s going on by sort of, role-playing—they pretend a toy or a stuffed animal is talking for them…"

"I always ask them if they'd like to take one of those stuffed animals home...but they never do.  There's something else they need more than they need that toy; I think you know what I mean."   

Dr. Beatty’s office is typical, almost Spartan, except for all the toys; they need to know there's something they're able to protect.

I tuck the lion back behind the cushion and for now I just say "Yes."

But I know what Dr. Beatty means.



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