Self-Help for the Sad Sack

This is my submission for Chuck Wendig’s Flash Fiction Challenge: “Must Love Guns” 

Anger management counselling. That’s how I got here. That’s the reason why I shit in the same room that I sleep in and I spend my days trying to avoid getting beaten on by other inmates.  My wife, Angie, had suggested it. She’d slapped a leaflet with the title ‘Managing Anger’ on the kitchen table one evening, right there next to my beer, and told me that I had an appointment the following Tuesday at two o’clock.

Now I’ll admit that I dance with the devil every now and then in regards to my anger but I never laid a finger on her or my son; mostly an outburst would end up with me sticking my fist or my foot through a wall. But on that Sunday evening Angie told me she’d had enough and that, if I refused to go, she and Henry would pack up and leave me. That wasn’t acceptable to me; a man who loses the respect and love of his wife and child loses the respect of everyone around him and leaves pity in its place. So I conceded and told her I’d go and talk to some shrink about why I couldn’t control my own emotions. With the benefit of hindsight, if I could go back I’d happily tell Angie to go to hell for putting me between that rock and that hard place – as it stands all I can do is face the consequences.

My anger management counsellor, Mr Brody (“Please, call me John.”), was a short man with a shiny bald head like a boiled egg. He wore wire rimmed glasses on the edge of a stout, piggy nose and seemed to squint in a mole-like fashion despite of them. Everything about him got on my wick – the pretentious leather elbow patches on his stupid little tweed suits, the high-pitched nasal tone of his voice and, most of all, the way in which he scribbled things, about me, into his tiny black notebook during our sessions.

“Okay, today we’re going to talk about pinpointing triggers and managing anger.” It was our third session in the same amount of weeks and I’ll be damned if my anger ‘problems’ had improved. If anything they’d worsened; I’d grit my teeth and clench my fists during the meetings but once I’d escaped the quiet pompousness of his office I’d go off like a bottle of fizzy pop, tearing at my hair and kicking anything my feet could connect with. At home, though, I’d smile sweetly at Angie, play with my son and bite my tongue until I tasted blood if anything began to light my ever shortening fuse.

“Tell me, Theo, what makes you angry?” He looked over his glasses at me with grey-blue eyes and an unreadable look plastered over his pudgy face. I leaned back into the plush leather sofa and crossed my legs, trying to look nonchalant,

“Casual use of my name,” I said levelly. The plan I’d hatched after my second session with Mr Brody had solidified like cooling wax over the past week and the feeling of having a plan had calmed me somewhat. “Limp-dick wannabe shrinks trying to ‘reform my behaviour’ when there’s absolutely nothing wrong with me.” He didn’t look surprised at my quiet outburst, just pushed his glasses further up his nose with his index finger and leaned back in his black leather office chair.

“Why are you here then, if there’s nothing wrong with your behaviour?” He asked. He tilted his head to one side, as if he genuinely didn’t know the answer to that question. His reaction hit my calm exterior with the force of a bullet, surface cracks began to form; I clenched my fists and could feel a ball of rage beginning to manifest itself in my stomach like a huge, pulsing stomach ulcer.

“You know full well why I’m here,” I spat, “I’m here because my wife threatened to leave me if I didn’t. I’m certainly not here on my own steam.” I leaned forward at this point, unable to maintain a laid back demeanour in the face of such antagonism. “Look, Doc, just tell everyone I’m cured and we can both just get on with our lives.” I tried to say this calmly and quietly but even I was a little shook by the venom in my voice. The weight against my back, wedged between my skin and the waistband of my jeans, seemed to get heavier and heavier. Brody took a deep breath,

“We both know I can’t do that, sir.” No casual use of my name this time but ‘sir’ seemed to irk me even more, winding up some imaginary lever in my head. Before I could even think about what I was doing I’d reached behind me and pulled the 9mm British Army Browning L9A1 out from my waistband and pointed it at that mole faced bastard in front of him. I looked on with satisfaction as his hand loosened in shock and the crappy little notebook with all of those judgements of me slid off his lap and onto the floor.

“Not so intelligent now are you, sir?” I sneered, pointing the gun right between his eyes. I quickly bent down and picked up the notebook. I flipped through a few pages, catching a few titbits here and there: ‘inferiority complex,’ ‘feels stripped of his masculinity’. What was this bullshit? I threw the book back at him in anger and the corner caught his left temple before it rebounded and fell onto the floor. Brody held his hands up in a gesture of surrender.

“Theo, you don’t want to do this.” That was the straw that broke the camel’s back because he was wrong, so very wrong. I did want to do it and he’d just cemented in my mind the reasons why I wanted to do it.

“Sorry, Doc, it must be my inferiority complex.” I cocked the gun and steadied my shaking hand. And then I pulled the trigger, easy as that. I stood over him and watched as the blood leaked out of the gunshot wound in his skull and his secretary hammered on the door, shouting though the wood that the police were on their way.

And here I am now serving out my sentence, all thirty years of it, as a murderer. I suppose Angie was right, I did have an anger problem, and in the end it got the better of me at the expense of someone else’s life.