Featureless, he sat before the therapist. Blank faced, serene, just a slit of a mouth in his smooth round face to go on, to speak, to answer; no eyes, no nose, nothing.
So how do you feel, asked the therapist. How do you feel today? What brings you here?
The mouth moved in the smooth peach fuzzed face making words.
The quest to grow old through drugs, he said. The quest to grow old through drugs has consumed me. I need a morphine drip, Doc—fix me up.
I’m not that kind of doctor, said the therapist. But why do you have this on your mind?
Because it is painful to have no face—I cannot see, I cannot breathe but through my mouth. I sit here.
Well we are here to solve that—tell me more.
I just am in pain—I need—
All at once, a heavily lined forehead appeared on his face.
I need the drugs—I—
The therapist exclaimed But look! A feature has appeared on your face!
The blank faced man’s finger came up and touched the forehead.
Ah—well. So it has—but I still need the morphine drip doctor—I am still in pain—the pain of growing old and nearing death—
You are not nearing death, said the therapist. He wrote something in his notepad and then said So go on—tell me more.
The mouth and forehead writhed on the eyeless noseless face. It did look painful. The blank faced man said It is all in the quest to eat the crust—the pot pies when serving four you always have to ask who wants theirs flipped and who doesn’t. I’m told it all lies in the quest to eat the crust and the need to grow old, with drugs—hey doc—how about a Percocet—I—
A chin formed under the mouth with a noticeable cleft and a small beard.
Look, exclaimed the therapist—look what has appeared! Touch your new chin! Touch it—
My God, said the blank faced man, touching his chin. So there is one—
Yes, keep talking keep talking that’s your cure—
The therapist wrote wildly on the pad as the blank faced man went on.
It comes to mind, he said—that Tare is a wild assed gypsy.
The therapist looked up. Who is Tare, he said, pen in hand.
Tare—Tare is the man who took my face, in a gypsy camp—a long, long, time ago. I lived in Hungary, you know—I really lived in Hungary and I knew Tare. He took my face with a mere wave of his hand because I beat him at cards one time too many. And I got home and looked in the mirror, somehow even without eyes I saw myself, and God! The pain started! I need a morphine drip doc—
No, you don’t, said the therapist, waving the pen—just keep talking—keep on! Your cure is in your words.
The blank faced man raised his hands and said I used to be in a band before I lost my face—Alexis Texas and the Coroners—or was it the Coronets—I can’t be sure but if I get my face back I can be in the band again doc how about that—
Lips formed at that instant. The therapist waved a hand.
Yes! he said—you have lips now—feel!
Uh so I have—
I—uh—I can’t think of anything to say—
Well, you must!
Okay, it just came to me that I once saw Jackson Golden eat a crab.
Jackson Golden? Who’s that?
Singer. The singer in Alexis Texas and the Coroners.
With that, a nose and right nostril popped out. The nose was beet red and fat and porous.
Down Beat! I used to read Down Beat!
The left nostril popped out.
Doc—I can breathe again—I can breathe through my nose—
Never mind that, just keep on!
As the therapist wrote wildly the blank faced man said I remember when I was a little boy, in the cellar was our old hand wringer washer you know the kind with the crank and the rollers it was down there and I used to play with it. It was white and it was in perfect shape I wonder what it would be worth today it would be an antique you know—
At once, a right eye and eyebrow popped into view.
I—I think I can see—
Never mind that, go on!
And I used to eat Rold Gold pretzels you know that brand my father always ate that brand my father my damned dumb fucker of a father in Hungary—
The left eye and eyebrow popped out.
The blank faced man grew very agitated flooded with light, and hesitated—
Talk! Talk! cried the therapist. You are cured.
Well, good God so I am, he exclaimed. Instantly, bolts of fire flashed from his eyes and shot across the room and slammed into the therapist, burning all the way through his chest, killing him. The therapist flew back in his chair and his pen and pad flew and the formerly blank faced man rose and gawked at the smoking corpse splayed out on the floor. He smoothly ran his hand down his face and went to leave, totally cured.
But I still need that Goddamned morphine drip—
I have no more pain but I want it anyway—
He left to go doctor shopping, his face following behind, drifting in the air.