(Last Sunday: Chartan walks out of Minerva’s mansion for the second time in one evening. He returns believing the three women—Minerva, Elisa and the unnamed artist– are laughing at him.)
Chartan wasn’t a wizard with supernatural powers. His only weapon was intelligence. He fell forward into the prone position, head down and waited for the sound of the front door opening. The crickets got louder and louder with each breath he took. The picture window light went out, sending everything into a shadowy blackness. It was hard to see where the house started and ended. Chartan was unable to move.
Three months later: Chartan rubbed his hands over the arm rests of a rich leather chair. He wondered what famous people had sat here waiting for Dr. Ivan Kodor to cure their life’s neurosis. Certainly, Minerva had been here, but for what purpose? Regardless, she was paying for his sessions.
Kodor walked in, notebook in hand. He was bristly, from the tweed jacket to the afternoon shadow on his face.
“Chartan Chartan, I am pleased to meet you and please do not get up.”
Chartan had extended his arm but the therapist acted if he had not seen it. Kodor took the chair opposite of Chartan’s.
“So tell me, “said Kodor, “You were shot by the Car Window bandit while waiting for my client. You were unconscious for a time. Recovered. And now you have a reoccurring dream involving the client and two other women and you want to understand why.”
“It’s more than that—I can’t distinguish what is real from what is in my dream.”
“A dream, itself, is real if you remember it.”
“Yes, but the dream occurs constantly, every hour.”
“Tell me more about the people in the dream, the ones who are there day after day.”
Chartan readjusted his position in the plush chair. “It all begins with Minerva. I was hired to drive her. It took great pains on my part to get her to call me by my name.”
“That was important to you?”
“Acknowledging that I was more than a driver to her was my point. “
“Define, ‘more than a driver.’”
Welcome to Chartan’s mind. Your stay here will be brief, but, hopefully, illuminating. Most of you require some anchoring of facts. Here are a few: I was knocked unconscious when a bullet grazed my temple. I went into a deep dream where I was considered a hero for stopping the person who fired the bullet. I had a subsequent adventure involving three women; apparently this never happened. A famed therapist is attempting to help me make sense of this mental chaos.
I am awaiting Dr. Kodor to enter for what will be our second session. Love this leather chair, so plush. Oops, here he comes. We make eye contact.
“Chartan, last week you said you wanted Ms. Woods to recognize your intellectual abilities and we concluded you find driving rich people around to be demeaning. Agreed?”
“Good, then let’s skip to Elisa the temptress. Did you know the nurse in the hospital were you were treated is named Elisa?”
“Perhaps. What about the artist? Before you met her, had you ever known anyone who did small paintings of flowers in vases?”
“There is a woman who lives in my apartment building—she uses oil paints. She is always carrying cut flowers home.”
“Do you know her name?”
“I’m not sure. But I want to know it.
“We’ll assume the artist in your dream is the woman in your apartment building. This leaves us with Minerva. Who is she in your real life?”
“My mother is dead, so it’s not her.”
“Are you sure?”
The train’s gentle rocking nudged Chartan into a partial sleep. Dr. Kodor had finished their second session by suggesting that Minerva was a replacement for his real mother who had died in a plane crash 20 years ago. Chartan mulled over the threads of his analysis and as the train rolled into Sacramento and concluded: I don’t have to pay for the therapy, so it’s worth it my time.
The concussion had upended his life. He was collecting disability payments since the injury had rendered him unfit to drive commercially, even though he been able to drive back to Sacramento where he was interviewed for the evening TV news.. Minerva was taking care of his medical expenses, including the therapy. He did not have to work. Save for the occasional headaches and dizziness, he was happy with the time he now had to think about his life. He relished sitting on the floor of his apartment without worrying about money for food or rent. He had tried to think of the future but couldn’t shake how real his dream of the three women had been.
When Chartan stepped off the train, his left foot struck the concrete platform hard and for a moment his head began to spin. He almost fell backwards, but someone grabbed his arm.
“Are you okay?” The voice was soft.
He turned to face a woman who resembled Elisa. “Aren’t you the nurse from San Francisco?”
She nodded and grasped his arm with her hand.
“How about coffee? he asked.
She smiled. “72 beans?”
(To be continued next Sunday)