Madness matters…

Pixabay. Ripples in water like the circles in the mind.

by LJ Frank

story is birthed from what appears to be a simple matter on the surface. Yet if an observer were able to apply some gel to the skin of the story to eliminate any pockets of distortion and perform an ultrasound to discern the body under the skin, what is revealed is a much more complex process to even the writer giving birth to the narrative.  The birthing process is more intricate than discerning which comes first, writing or thought, as the process involves interactions and interdependence of cells with each other, including the whole environment that affects the entire process.  

Some stories are dead before being birthed and affect the health and well-being of the writer. Different writers deal differently with the process from a tool of stimulation to the use of stimulants to avoid a miscarriage of plot.

For me giving birth to a story is hardly ever smooth. Twists and turns and off the wall existential climaxes that are never really climaxes but the beginning of another story.

My writing generally triggers the immediate stimulus and weave of thoughts within the context of an experience I am attempting to unravel and reveal. This peculiar story is based on a situation that caused rise to whether there is such a thing as karma, fate, or perhaps merely, randomness.  The problem of free will bothers me.  

That all said, on a summer day a year ago, a warm breeze blew in from the ocean enveloping the coastal city.  By afternoon the cityscape would be wrapped in heat, like being covered with a wool blanket inside a sauna bath. A step in any direction would cause the skin to break out in tears. The weather was such that meteorology computer models stressed uncertainty at best.

The morning of that day, a brick alley off the main thoroughfare served as a brief respite, especially after being hosed down in the early hours. The alley itself was filled with art galleries, scattered professional offices, a small grocery market, florist, coffee shop, and a bakery with a colorful smattering of umbrella covered tables for customers wanting to take a break and sip their cold drink and eat a pastry.

A therapist’s office was also located in the alley, situated between the florist shop and the bakery. The fragrance of flowers brought a smile and an occasional sneeze while fresh baked goods beckoned the passerby to taste while sipping a tea or coffee. The therapist couldn’t have had a more inviting location.

And during that morning an average looking man wearing a troubled expression on his face, dressed in blue jeans, and a short sleeve Henley shirt underneath a lightweight navy-blue blazer, entered the office.  He looked as if he just stepped off a yacht. Perhaps he did. No one knew for sure, not even his therapist.

The doctor’s assistant was seated behind a rectangular mahogany table that served as a desk with a long neck architectural lamp atop along with a desk top computer. Two burgundy leather wingback chairs sat across from the desk. A coffee table sat between the chairs with the latest copies of architectural digest and a small box of tissues.  Except for the added abstract art works on the walls and an oriental rug laying on the refurbished hardwood floor, the room otherwise retained a contemporary minimalist atmosphere. 

Good morning, the man said.

You must be the man who called yesterday. She smiled and winked in recognition.

I apologize. I know it was short notice, but….

I understand. The doctor said he could see you for forty-five minutes as another of his patients had called in from out of state.


The assistant got up from her swivel chair, knocked on the doctor’s door, peeked in and said, he’s here.

Send him in.

The man stood up, walked into the doctor’s office, and took his normal place, on a burgundy leather love seat across from the doctor’s twin love seat with a very low, large square mahogany table with small stacks of books on top set between the two love seats.

Thank you for seeing me.

You’ve been a patient of mine for the past seven years.


I know.

And you? Why do you allow me to keep seeing you when we have resolved most of my issues.

You’re intriguing… and you don’t procrastinate paying the bill.

Patient laughed. Trust… he said.

Thank you. Are you bothered about what was written up in social media about you?

 I consider it sad if not tragic. It’s not me. It would take years for a lawsuit. Attorney fees…Fuck it.

Would you like to talk about it more?

No. It’s madness.

The doctor nodded.

The reason I wanted to see you was recent personal events in my life. I need to unscramble my thoughts.

Would you like to clarify?

I’m in an odd predicament with family, friends and even colleagues. I’m questioning everything. What is real and what is illusion. I’ve got an existential angst. That’s not me.

You’re at a new juncture.

Yeah…I’ve withdrawn most of my savings, cashed in my stocks, and sought added professional advice.


An architect,


To design a small beach house for…a retreat.

Escape from your existential angst?

You suggested in one of our sessions that things happen and those things change our perspective or view of life itself and what we considered significant yesterday may not be so today. We wake up one day and realize we have changed but at a different pace than those around us. The question becomes whether it’s too late to do anything about my current situation, or whether it’s even advisable?  I have found myself in a dilemma and whether my decision is even a choice freely made or not.

I see.

What I am trying to say… things have crept up on me, nothing makes sense. Including my relationships, the definition of partnerships, marriage, career, etcetera …I don’t know who I am…I shaved my mustache again and…

I noticed.

My recent partner said, her we go again, you never had a mustache.

I told her I did.

 She laughed.

I felt like I walked into a remake of an earlier film made decades ago.

Déjà vu?

 My first wife all over again. Am I living in an alternate reality? So, I thought I would move away from all the other seeming cul de sacs I was encountering.

 What next?

Is it more a matter of whether I am genetically predisposed to act in a certain way …is choice really just a neural sleight of hand?

What do you think?

That’s why I hired an architect. I mean… either way.

Either way?

Ambiguity makes for a suggestive if not seductive life.

I see.

Isn’t life a toss of a coin?

Is that what you think?

I think that madness matters.

How do you define madness?

It’s when I get in my car and drive to a designated place that I mapped out in my head but realize I ended up where I started the journey.

And that’s why the architect?


Would you like to meet again?

After I meet my architect tomorrow, I’ll call your assistant about an appointment.

The doctor nodded. They shook hands and the patient departed.

Fifteen minutes later the assistant knocked on the door, opened it and said, your new patient is here.

The doctor nodded and said thanks.

I might mention.


She was looking at the magazines on the coffee table. Smiled and showed me a page in Architectural Digest…. said she designed that house.

Fascinating…and how…never mind. Send her in.