I never speak of my ability to see patients’ secret selves
except with my Unit Director, “Fez”
when after work we go to the Rail
down the hill
in the middle of a knot of decrepit brick buildings
clustered around the railroad tracks
the old center of this puny Southern town
We sit at the bar and watch the beer sign’s blue waterfall
eternally arcing down
perpetually renewing itself
and after enough drinks my tongue becomes loose and
I begin to babble
You’ve developed X-ray vision, huh? Fez says.
A few shots of Wild Turkey and you Viet vets invariably get weird
Fez has this thing—he pretends that I’m a Vietnam vet
which offends me—
it dishonors the boys who did go to Nam
with all its ugly violence.
But Fez persists, despite my protests:
I ought to fire your ass, Ribinthal–
you’re as nuts as any two of our patients
You’re the biggest looney in the bin
Nuttier than a schizophrenic?
But he won’t fire me
My job is safe
if only because of the hiring freeze
which is as entrenched as the Arctic
Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois has had over seven hundred of his poems and fictions appear in literary magazines in the U.S. and abroad. He has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize for work published in 2012, 2013, and 2014. His novel, Two-Headed Dog, based on his work as a clinical psychologist in a state hospital, is available for Kindle and Nook, or as a print edition. He lives in Denver.