#21 Group Therapy

by Michael Gillan Maxwell

I’m here as mandated by the court. I look around the room with trepidation. It’s so mundane it’s stupefying. Harsh fluorescent lights, a circle of metal folding chairs and stale, acidic coffee in white, styrofoam cups. The acrid tang of Pine Sol fails to mask the pungent undercurrent of body odor.

I size up the other participants as they introduce themselves. I haven’t seen anything like it since I was in the circus. It’s more like night court or Walmart after midnight than a Program meeting. There’s a couple too strange to be true. She’s a ventriloquist and he’s a mime. Talking with them is like throwing darts with a drunken carny.

We’re all here for the same reason. To exorcise our demons. And we all battle the same demons. Obsession and compulsion. In my case it’s bowling shoes. I used to go bowling just to rent the shoes. Then I started keeping the shoes. After I was banned from every bowling alley in town, I broke in after hours.

The court mandated the Program, ordered me to surrender my hard won bowling trophies, priceless collection of vintage bowling shirts and my balls. I gave up drinking when I quit bowling. It just seemed pointless after that. For me, it’s all about the shoes.

I introduce myself and launch into some spiel about how well I’m doing. I think we all know where I’m going after this.

At least I do.


Sam Knight said...

Nice job pulling us into the setting and the protagonists point of view, showing us what they are seeing and thinking. I liked your use of visuals, tastes, and smells.

Annie said...

This was very cute. Loved the closing line. Well done.

Flutterby said...

Funny twist on what you need to go to rehab for!

JRVogt said...

Great scene setting, character voice, and humor!

Bruce Roush said...

Love the sentence "She's a ventriloquist and he's a mime." What a mental video that conjures up!