A Mental Feedback

by Bertil Falk

Inspired by and dedicated to R.D. Larson


The lilac safety pin penetrated her left cheek. She was all in saffron. Her hair was yellow as were her eyes, eyebrows, lips. Saffron things hanging from her ear lobes. She sat on the big cushion that ran out in all directions on the floor.

From invisible loudspeakers, the sound of the Kronos Quartet performing Jimi Hendrix’ Purple Haze. Her eyes were closed and she had covered her tear glands by putting the thumb and the forefinger of her left hand over the root of her nose.

Then the doorbell rang. Once, twice, thrice...

Lars Parker thought of pressing the doorbell a fourth time, when he heard someone coming from behind. He turned around and faced a woman, all dressed in saffron and with a safety pin puncturing her left cheek.

“I’m coming,” she said. “You’re early, Mr. Parker.”

“Ah, you’re Billie Occasion,” said Lars Parker.

She looked exactly as he had visualized her. Relatively young, perhaps of his own age, somewhat punkish in a yellowish way as well as attractive; and he knew that she was divorced, very much so. Her former husband had told him that they were not even on speaking terms.

“Hmm, so that son of a bitch recommended me?”

“Your former husband did, if that’s what you’re hinting at.”

“More than hinting,” she said, while opening the door. “Please, step in!” She kept the door open.

“Thank you,” he said, walked in, stopped and stared unbelievingly at the woman on the cushion, who took away her thumb and her forefinger from her tear glands and opened her eyes.

Paralyzed for a moment, Lars Parker swiftly turned around, only to find that Bille Occasion was not there. She was on the cushion, or rather had been on the cushion, for when he once again turned around, he found that she was on her feet. How could she possibly have passed by him into the room?

“How come you know that son of a bitch?” she inquired.

Confused, he replied: “He speaks kindly of you.”

She smiled a warped smile.

“I’m a programmer too,” Lars Parker recovered his composure. “I’ve known him a couple of months.” He paused. “We’ve been working together.”

“I see. Well, please sit down. And tell me what your problem is?”

“My problem?”

“Why are you here if you don’t have a problem?”

“Oh that. Well, it’s not exactly a problem. It’s just curiosity, something I don’t understand. No doubt I can live without understanding it, but the question gives me no peace. It’s gnawing. It’s a li’l bit irritating.”

“I see. To the point. What’s gnawing?”

“A dream.”

She nodded. “Dreams can be very annoying, yes,” Billie Occasion observed. “Tell me about it.”

“Well...”

Lars Parker was at loss for words.

“Yes?”

“I don’t know how to begin.”

“Try.”

He cleared his throat. “I dream that my mother, who has been dead for many years, scrambles eggs, sometimes in the kitchen, sometimes on a solar heated slab of stone. Then she serves them together with bacon and chocolate, all of it put together into a sandwich.”

“Bacon and chocolate?”

“It’s a kind of culinary fashion today, but when my mother was alive, she was the only one who mixed chocolate and bacon.” He paused and added: “With eggs.”

“You mean she actually did? Not only in your dreams?”

He hesitated. “I don’t remember.”

“And that’s all?”

“No, no, not at all.”

“What’s more?”

“I don’t know.”

Lars Parker looked at her with a helpless gaze. She smiled and closed her eyes, covering her tear glands by putting the thumb and the forefinger of her left hand over the root of her nose.

She trod lightly on vague ground. It was like being in a quagmire. All around her, there were changing realities, melting colors, sudden appearances, absolute quakes, and changing gestalts, a cacophony of shifting shades, sometimes recognizable human beings.

The unreliable ground she walked on wavered and she knew that she strode and stalked and strolled on a roller conveyor psychoanalysts call a stream of consciousness. She was in the midst of her guest’s inner monologue. She could feel the helplessness she had seen in his eyes before she set out on her mental excursion into his mind.

Unexpectedly, her road turned slippy and she went into a skid and fell, her hands and feet stuck in a sticky mess of associative thoughts that hardened and then softened again. She got to her feet and walked towards a silver screen, where something that looked like a newsreel was shown, but she soon realized that it was the screening of old memories, where the lad Lars went downhill in a snowclad landscape on a toboggan branded “Rosebud,” a piece of information that immediately was replaced by Superman for the two thousand five hundred and seventy-twelfth time saving Lois Lane in distress from a catastrophe beyond inhuman inexperience.

She knew there had to be a downstairs to the subconscious, but she could not find it. Then she found the elevator and realized that stairs were probably a thing of the past in this ever-changing environment.

The elevator cage was a subreal thing, not like a box but a formless entity with perpetually changing walls, ceiling and floor that had a dizzying influence.

She reached the bottom and walked out on the billowing platform of a subway station. The doors of a dilapidated train, tattooed with colorful 3-dimensional ZipZap letters, closed before her eyes.

“Welcome.” A female voice.

“You’re late!”

She turned round and faced a beautiful woman.

“This is how Lars remembers me,” she said. “It’s very flattering. But I’ll show you my real face.”

The beautiful woman turned into an old hag.

“You expected me?”

“Yes.”

“Interesting. How did you know that I have the faculty for mental bilocation?”

“I’ve no idea. Let’s take this train.”

The arriving train was empty and before she could say or even think supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, the doors opened at the next station while a male voice said “Don’t mind the lack of platform.”

“Let’s jump!”

The woman jumped and disappeared into a totally black abyss. She followed in the woman’s “footsteps” and fell and fell and fell until she found herself in a garden of exotic flowers and with a pavilion.

“This is his unconscious. It’s down here that I am forced to make sandwiches mixed with bacon dipped in chocolate. And scrambled eggs.”

“Forced??

“This is a giant obsession related to a magnificent post-traumatic stress disorder.”

“Considering that you’re only a figment of your son’s imagination, you have very strong opinions.”

The woman said, “I have my kitchen in the summer house.”

They walked towards the garden pavilion. And for the first time, Billie Occasion was really surprised. Who came walking on the other side of the garden? It was she herself, but it was not a result of bilocation.

“That’s you as a figment of my son’s imagination,” the woman explained. “Unconsciously, Lars is thinking of you right now.”

At that moment the gestalt of Billie Occasion turned into President Barack Hussein Obama.

“As you can see, Lars’ stream of unconsciousness is shifting like Molly Bloom’s inner monologue.”

Obama disappeared into a rain of colorful display of July 4 fireworks, while the sound of Purple Haze was heard from above.

“Why is Lars repetitively dreaming about you preparing chocolate on bacon and scrambled eggs?”

“I don’t know.”

“Can’t you stop doing that?”

The woman laughed. “Impossible. I’m just the realization of his dreams. His dreams in a different incarnation from what you think. But I think that we can solve the problem you’ve come to solve.”

“How?” Billie Occasion asked.

“Take this Walther and kill me!” The figment showed a pistol.

“No, I can’t do that. I’m not a murderer, not even of figments like you.”

“Then I’ll do it myself.”

Lars Parker’s mother turned the pistol to her left temple.

There was a click of a trigger and a report. Billie Occasion looked at the spot where the image of Lars Parker’s mother had gone up in smoke and then she turned around. The summer house was gone, the garden was gone.

She had to find her way out of this mental mess. She roved about and found an escalator running up to the subconscious level. She entered the moving staircase, closed her eyes and covered her tear glands by putting the thumb and the forefinger of her left hand over the root of her nose.

Lars Parker saw her taking away her thumb and her forefinger from her tear glands.

Billie Occasion opened her eyes. The last sound of Purple Haze died away. She smiled at him.

“I think that your problem is solved,” she said. “Your mother committed suicide.”

“Yes, I know,” he said.

But Billie Occasion was not sure and she was not really surprised when the following day she got a frantic telephone call from her former husband’s colleague.

“Is she still pestering you with her chocolate embedded bacon and egg sandwiches?” she asked.

“No, she’s gone.”

“No more chocolate and bacon then?”

“It’s still there.”

“It is? But if your mother is gone, who is...?”

A sudden suspicion surfaced. “Do you mean that...”

“Yes, now you’re playing the part. You’ve replaced my mother. And damn you! I don’t know where you find them in my mind, but you’re using rotten eggs!”


Copyright © 2010 by Bertil Falk

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