Friday, January 08, 2016

Fiction Friday - Moon-Kissed

One late spring day, a burst of warmer weather filled the streets of New York City with even more people than usual. Dr. Patrick Armstrong, a noted psychiatrist, and son of a noted psychiatrist, had a cancellation. One of his patients, who had been suffering from severe Seasonal Affectiveness Disorder, decided that it would be a lot cheaper to go to the park and enjoy the sunshine. Dr. Armstrong did charge a small ($50) cancellation fee, but it was still cheaper than an hour’s session, and arguably more pleasant, depending on which patient was arguing.
            Dr. Armstrong decided to take a small rest break himself and get some exercise and a cup of joe. Despite the fact that there was a cart-style Starbucks actually in his building, he decided to walk to the larger Starbucks a few blocks away, where the baristas knew him by name, and several patients held a self-help group on Friday nights. When the weather was bad, convenience was a plus, but on a day like today, he liked to show some community support.
            On his way back, taking a short detour through a small park, he noticed a young homeless woman, just waking up from a nap. Seeing the small Styrofoam cup on the ground beside her, and the lost, hungry look in her eyes, he headed her direction to drop his spare change in her cup. Since most homeless persons had at least one psychological problem, including addiction and alcoholism, he often took a few moments to chat with those he gave money to, which helped him feel like he was using his gifts for the good of all, instead of just the very wealthy or well-insured.
            When he reached the young woman, he saw that her cup was not empty, it was actually a coffee cup. The young woman snatched it out of his reach and took a sip. She was clearly not interested in his money. Then she smiled at him. The contrast of her white, even teeth shocked him almost as much as the sincerity of her smile. She did truly appear homeless, a few small grocery bags behind the bench seemed to contain her personal items. The clothes she wore were filthy and ragged with overuse and the recent heavy spring rains. She had no shoes on, despite the recent chillier temperatures. Her hair was dirty and matted. At one time it appeared to have been blond, or possibly red, Dr. Armstrong could not really tell. Her eyes and smile, however, now portrayed an intelligent and kind persona.
            He smiled back at her, “Good afternoon, young lady.” He took the approach of treating her as any normal acquaintance he happened to meet on the street. “Out enjoying the fine weather?”
            “I always enjoy the weather.” She said, a positive attitude clearly showing that she did mean all of the weather. “Are you a friend of mine?” She asked, confusion slightly clouding her eyes again.
            “We haven’t met before, but I’ve heard about you.” He added in a burst of inspiration, he had heard of many homeless in the area with the recent weather, so surely someone had to have mentioned this young lady specifically. “My name is Dr. Armstrong, but you may call me Patrick.” He held out a hand.
            Her handshake was firm, yet feminine. “Pleased to make your acquaintance, sir. What brings you out on this lovely day.”
            “The weather of course, and might I ask what brings you out?”
            “I believe you already have via your implied question in your greeting, I wonder about your memory, sir.”
            “And I wonder if might be willing to answer that question, implied or otherwise. Please, do call me Patrick. Sir is much too formal. What can I call you?”
            “If you had truly heard of me, you would know my name. Cassandra Lovingchild, but you may call me Cassie. The news and gossip columnists typically call me just Lovingchild, due to the type of films I typically star in. We’re shooting next weekend in Freeport if you’d like to come check us out.” She gazed around at the sun filtering through the trees. “I often sleep through the day, I had forgotten how bright the sun is. It can even see through the leaves.
            Dr. Armstrong thought for a moment, he couldn’t place the name. Lovingchild, Lovingchild, Lovingchild. It didn’t exactly sound like a real name, but if she had been an actress once upon a time, it could certainly be a stage name. Then again, she could indeed be suffering from a psychological disorder. Why else would an otherwise healthy, attractive girl allow herself to reach this state of living. “I would love to come see a real movie set. You’re shooting in Freeport you said, which Freeport?”
            “Freeport, Maine of course, it’s only a short drive from here.” She smiled up at him.
            “A short drive, you say? Which here are you referring to?”
            Confused again, she thought for a moment, “Boston?” then more firmly, “It’s a couple hours from Boston. I can easily drive that distance and still make it on time.”
            “Where is your car?” Dr. Armstrong asked.
            She shrugged, “In the garage, I think. I won’t worry about it. I usually travel at night, so it shouldn’t be any trouble to make it to Boston on time.”
            “I thought you said Freeport, Maine.” Now Dr. Armstrong was frustrated. He really did not have time to play games with this woman. He glanced at his watch. “I probably won’t have time to come see your movie. It’s a long drive from New York City.” He emphasized those words, but she didn’t acknowledge the change of location. “Can I meet with you again in the City sometime?”
            “If you look closely enough, you can see me dancing in the moonlight under these trees.”
            “Isn’t that dangerous in the City?” Now Dr. Armstrong was truly conflicted. He couldn’t leave this poor girl alone to fend for herself. She would surely be raped or murdered within a day.
            “My bodyguards keep a very close eye on me.” She lowered her voice. “Sometimes too close, if you know what I mean.” She dismissed him with a wave of her hand. “Go on about your business. If you don’t have any more time for me, I won’t waste any more of it chatting with you. It was nice to meet you, Patrick.”
            Confused now, but with an appointment in less than ten minutes, Dr. Armstrong turned to leave, but resolved to meet with her again. “Can I meet you back here at about 6:00 in the evening? Will you be able to stay around that long?”
            “Let me check my appointment book.” She grabbed at her pockets, most of which were ripped and muddy. She gesticulated with her hands in the air and then closed her eyes briefly, tapping an imaginary pencil against her cheek. “I believe I will have a few moments to meet with you. I will try to be here when you arrive. If I am late, feel free to wait a moment. I do have a 5:30 appointment, which might run over.” She placed an invisible appointment book on the bench beside her and attempted to brush a hand through her hair.
            “Thank you, Cassie. I really do have to run, but I look forward to meeting with you again. Maybe you can tell me more about how you got into the acting business.”
            She didn’t respond. She just gazed past him, towards a little boy splashing in the cool water of a fountain. He reluctantly left, rushing back to the office so his important, wealthy clients would not immediately call around to find another noted psychiatrist, who was also the son of a noted psychiatrist.

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