The Freeing of Jonathon Mark.
Status: proofreading and typesetting before publication
Samuel N, he’s got a bee in his pretty little bonnet about his wife being too nagging like.
Nancy D, she didn’t like the way her daughter-in-law ‘refused’ to phone her for a week, and how she’s never worn the dress she made for her.
Harvey S is indeed a petty fuck, unhappy with how his ‘old bag’ of a secretary doesn’t sharpen his pencils to a point.
And Jonathon M, he’s numb.
That’s me, Jonathon M – the M’s for Mark, and I’m numb with grief from what I’ve put up with between morning tea and lunch, and the rest of it.
Jonathon is a Taker, some type of modern day psych in the growing industry of modern grief. Takers treat people for all that ails them just by listening. In session, a Taker doesn’t speak. A Taker doesn’t move. A Taker doesn’t even blink. They take till you’ve got no more negative energy to give, and you feel cured. For another week at least.
Jonathon and his fellow Takers are meant to be the last stop in the continuous cycle of grief that circulates through society. But a Taker is only human. They can only take so much. And when the grief box doesn’t suffice, a Taker is at the mercy of their vice, releasing back into society through sex, or theft. Fighting, or murder.
The one thing Jonathon would love to do is quit but the Takers are chained to the crimes committed through their vices by their boss, Needles and his obedient Doberman, the Inspector Cutafidis.
Then a chance meeting throws a new patient into Jonathon’s life. A girl whose carefree lightness of being is in complete contrast to the average patient and slowly but surely, Jonathon realises he can no longer refuse to deal with the man chasing him in his dreams. How his job makes him sick. And his own destructive vice.
‘The Freeing of Jonathon Mark’ is one man’s attempt to be free, and the lengths to which he will go to make it happen.
Chapter 1: ANATOLA G
Anatola G pushes through the door into my office, waiting politely to make sure it shuts. Then slowly, Anatola G, she treads her way over towards my desk on old arthritic legs. Anatola G, she has her frail wilting body all dressed up in black.
If I could say something, I’d want to ask, “Anatola, aren’t you a little warm wearing all that black on a day hot enough to turn the bitumen to treacle?”
But I say nothing. It’s not my job to talk.
Anatola G, as she takes the seat opposite me, I see she’s flicking prayer beads through her fingers, worrying the same index finger over them one by one. She looks at me carefully, sadly, through seriously myopic lenses.
“I found him on the couch,” she says in a heavy Greek accent.
“Who?” I want to ask.
But I don’t. My job is to listen.
“I thought he was sleeping. He looked so peaceful there, so I left him. I went to do the shopping. But when I came back, he was still sleeping.”
Again, what I want to ask is, “Who, Mrs G? Was it the cat?”
But I don’t. Speaking to a client, it’s against company policy.
So I keep staring at her with my consultation look. Read that – deadpan eyes. Unflinching. Unblinking.
“I try to remember the last thing I say to him before he went to sleep, but I, I can’t remember!”
Her eyes, puffy and red, they betray the fact she’s been doing some major crying.
“Oh my dear Stavros,” she wails, “Why did you have to leave me? Why God? Why did you have to make my husband die?”
And suddenly the pieces of this little puzzle fall into place.
What I do next, I don’t want to do. Letting Anatola G wail a little, it might do her some good. Heal a bit of the hurt. But, by company policy, I don’t have a choice.
“Anatola,” I say.
And Anatola G, she stops wailing.
“They told me you wouldn’t speak?”
“Yes, I’m sorry,” I say, “Normally that’s how it works, but I’m sorry. I’m going to have to ask you to leave.”
Right there, I’d be the biggest arsehole in the world.
“But my husband, he’s, he’s died. They told me by talking to you, I could feel better!”
“There’s been a mistake,” I continue, “I can’t help you. I can’t take your pain.”
“I, I don’t understand?”
“I know you’re grieving. But here, we don’t deal with that type of grief. The type of grief we deal with is modern grief. It’s different.”
Anatola G, she just looks confused.
Fair enough too. It sounds so ridiculous, so silly to me to be saying this to an old woman with real pain, real need, that I can’t begin to imagine how it must sound to her.
I try again.
“Unfortunately, I can’t help you,” I go. “You, talking to me, I’m not going to be able to take the grief of the loss of your husband away from you.”
“But, but, I don’t understand? It doesn’t make sense.”
Me, I want to say, “You’re right, it doesn’t make sense. But you’re suffering from old style grief.”
I want to say, “Just by talking about your loss, maybe you will feel better, but I won’t be taking your grief from you.”
I want to say, “It’s a fucked up world, but, according to company policy there just isn’t enough money in old style grief for you to be taking up my time, sitting here in front of me telling me about it.”
But all I say is, “I’m sorry Anatola, really I’m going to have to insist that you leave now.”
And the poor old woman, poor old confused Anatola G, she slowly, painfully pulls herself to her feet, retreads the path back to the door, and leaves, waiting politely for the door to shut before silently moving away.