I entered Dr Vigot’s office with great apprehension. Having slowly turned the handle to then slowly nudge the door open, I glanced round the room and my eyes found the back of a black office chair in front of a desk in front of a big wide window. The chair turned round to me and my eyes were met by the bright wide eyes of Dr Vigot. He was not the old, sinister figure that I had imagined. Instead he had a young, energetic and enthusiastic face. He was tall and skinny with short brown curly hair. He was tanned as if he had just returned from an eternal holiday.
As he stood to greet me, I noticed a spring in his step which exuded plenty of confidence. His wide smile showed shining white teeth – it was obvious that he had had a clean life. He was older than I but not by much. He must have been in his early 20s which made me wonder how he could have gained the qualifications necessary for being a psychiatrist. He wore a white shirt, without a tie, with his top button undone and he wore suit trousers. He looked cool.
“Hello Mr. Harrington”, he said calmly with excitement but a hint of wariness. I shook his outstretched hand and gave a grin of approval.
“Please sit or lie down if you want,” he said pointing towards a couch. He pushed his chair so that he was facing the front of the couch which I was about to sit on. I took my place on the leather couch. It was not well-used, but it was comfortable. I lied down on my back so that Vigot could only see the side of my face. As I looked around the walls in his office I noticed a picture of his family, some framed certificates and bookshelves filled with books. I couldn’t see the title of the books but they all looked new and fresh.
“Why aren’t you in rehab Mr. Harrington?” asked Dr Vigot suddenly, as he started to read what I guessed was my profile on his note board.
“Too expensive,” I said hesitantly. I don’t know why but I felt intimidated by him. He was such a successful young man and he exuded intelligence in all of his movements and gestures. However, my confidence had been dented so much that I would be intimidated by most people.
“Mr. Harrington, I just need to check some things. You are 21 years old and you have no previous record of severe illness?”
“Yes. Yes that’s true.” I said tiredly. I felt so drained of energy that I struggled with everything I did. However, I was curious about Dr Vigot. He seemed so young yet he was already a qualified psychiatrist. I asked him, “How old are you doctor?” as if in response to his questions.
“Well, Mr. Harrington,” he said with a more sullen tone, “It is I who should be asking the questions, but if you are so curious, I can tell you that I am 30.” I was shocked to hear this. He looked so much younger than 30. “Luckily, unlike you, I have been able to keep myself free from stress and my healthy lifestyle has allowed me to look as young as you suspected upon first seeing me.” His confidence was stunning and his answer was probably logical. I didn’t like how he was putting me down though. I could tell that he was trying to dent my confidence further when he said ‘unlike you’. I guess that he will probably find it easier to open me up if I have absolutely no confidence, but I don’t want to open up too easily. I came here for shelter, not to get better. I don’t want to become healthy because that would just make me feel guiltier about what happened before.
“You are physically healthy Mr. Harrington. You have already recovered quickly from the physical effects of your drug use. However, I will enforce the point that you must never take drugs again. I’m glad to hear that you have not smoked tobacco, but you must no longer smoke cannabis or snort cocaine because they do have physical side-effects as well as the mental ones that I will be addressing.”
His tone was so formal and intellectual. I had never met someone so intellectual. Not even Charles spoke in the way that Dr Vigot did. My father might have spoken with this intelligence, but I never knew him.
“Mr. Harrington,” he said seriously, “As it is our first encounter, I will try not to ask too many questions. However, I will ask you this. Do you have dreams?” I don’t know why he asked me this and it startled me. What do dreams have to do with anything?
“I have a few dreams.” I said truthfully, but without wanting to go into any detail.
“Do you have any dreams that repeat?”
“What do you mean?”
“Have you dreamt any dreams that have occurred on more than one occasion?”
“Yes”, I said slowly knowing that I had exactly four dreams that have occurred many times. “I’ve had a few of those.”
“A few?” he said surprised, “can you tell me how many?”
I didn’t want to respond but I told him that I had 4, knowing that he would probably be able to tell if I was lying to him. I thought it would be unwise for me to lie to my psychiatrist in the first meeting. I can lie to him later.
“Could you possibly describe to me one of those dreams?”
This I didn’t want to hear. I didn’t want to talk too much; I just wanted to answer his questions simply. I guess that it’s a tactic of his to try to get me to talk.
“Well could you?”
“I’m not sure I want to. I’m feeling very tired. I just want to sleep.”
“You’ve been sleeping non-stop since you arrived here Mr. Harrington. I think it’s about time that you started talking. No progress will be made unless you talk.” His tone had become agitated. He was now very serious and for the first time he seemed to not have too much respect for me. This was clear from the way in which he constantly called me Mr. Harrington. This didn’t seem at all friendly and was very formal. I think he must have seen my history as a drug addict involved in gangs and decided that I was some kind of criminal. I didn’t like this. I ain’t no bad guy!
“Well, Mr. Harrington, will you talk to me? About your dream? Just one dream Mr. Harrington. That is all, just one dream.” His persistence annoyed me. Why couldn’t he just let me be? What had I done to him?
“I don’t want to talk about my dream doctor. It’s too dark and personal. I don’t want to say anything.” I just wanted to say anything to avoid having to tell him, but I knew he would continue to persist until he had to move onto another engagement.
“One dream, Mr. Harrington.”
I decided that I’d give up and tell him the least important one. I realised that I’d probably get out of his office quicker if I just told him.
“Ok.”I said slowly, “I’ll tell you one of my dreams, but it won’t make things clear, you hear me? It’s random.”
“That’s fine Mr. Harrington.”
“Well, I’m in this desert. It’s all sand, everywhere, just eternal sand surrounding me. The sun is pounding against me. It’s so damn hot. I’m sweating like a bitch and I ain’t even doing anything. I’m just looking ahead and seeing sand.”
“Is this dream seen through your eyes or are you outside of yourself?”
“What do you mean?” I think I understood but I wasn’t sure.
“Were you seeing the dream as you see me now, or did you see it as though it was a film in which you see yourself being the actor?”
“Oh the first doctor, definitely the first. It was real. Well it wasn’t real, but it sure did feel pretty real.”
“I’m sure it did Mr. Harrington.”
“Well I’m in this desert and there ain’t nothing but sand. The sun is boiling and there ain’t cloud in sight. There’s no life apart from me – no cactuses, no snakes, nothing. I’m just like walking forward as though I’m walking into the sun. It’s so damn hot and I’m so tired. I feel as though I’ve been walking for years without stop and its torture man. It’s so damn hard and I’m always walking uphill. There’s like some massive sand mount and it seems eternal, but it ain’t. After like hours of just walking I see the slope start to reduce until it’s just like a really gentle slope. An easy one to walk and then I see this tree. "
“Yeah, a tree and I just feel so good to see this tree and I just wanna reach out and touch it. It looks so green and sheltering. I guess it was just great to see some other life or something and I start to run. I feel so much freer and I just get a burst of energy. I just start to imagine the coolness of the shade and God I wanted that shade so much. But then, something changes. Something starts to not feel so right. The tree suddenly don’t seem so good. The green leaves just start to kinda evaporate and it starts to seem so stark! And as I get close, there’s nothing on it. It’s just branches and it’s so, it’s so barren. Then all of my energy just evaporates like
the leaves and I fall to the ground, close my eyes, then I wake up.”
There was a little silence until Dr Vigot broke it and said, “Your description was very detailed and vivid. Have you read much?”
“My mum read to me loads when I was young.”
“Yes, well your description was very vivid as I said. It does seem very detailed though. Too detailed. How often do you have this dream?”
“What do you think it means?”
“I don’t know. I guess it kinda shows my tiredness!” I smirk a little.
“What do you think the tree represents?”
“I don’t know.”
“OK. That’s fine. You’ve told me a lot today Mr. Harrington. I just have one last, simpler question. Your profile says that when you came in here you were in possession of LSD. This dream was very vivid. Was this dream provoked by a trip?”
“Yes,” I said, not knowing whether I should have lied or not.
This is a new character who I’m working on. He is a character who I’m hoping to build a book around.