Route 7 Review - Page 122

Ca-Caw By Brent Petersen “The crows!” Jimmy fell to the floor, clutching his head. “They’re gonna kill my mother!” Spittle flew from his mouth in all directions. “Jimmy, calm down.” Dr. Edmund Jeffries, Jimmy’s psychiatrist, tried to sound authoritative. But Jimmy wouldn’t calm down. He wailed and thrashed, making his hatred of the avian monstrosities known to the entire building. “I’ll do it!” He wrapped his hands around his own throat. “I’ll kill myself if I have to live in a world with them!” It was no use trying to calm him. His mental state had destabilized. Dr. Jeffries dialed for an ambulance to take Jimmy to a psychiatric hospital. When Jimmy was four years old, a flock of crows attacked him and his mother in the parking lot of a Toys ‘R’ Us. Three months later, she lost her eye to cancer. Although, to the average person, the two incidents might have seemed unrelated, they were strongly connected in Jimmy’s mind. Even now, the sight of a bird –or worse, a crow– would cause the old anxieties to reawaken and gnash their fangs against the bars of his subconscious. These neuroses were the reason he saw Dr. Jeffries for the management of his Zoloft, Zyprexa and Topamax. Jimmy had dubbed this cocktail the ‘ZZ Top regimen.’ Six minutes before the incident in Dr. Jeffries’ office, the receptionist called Jimmy’s name. Jimmy shut the door gently and seated himself on the pleather chair with the brass buttons. The office was lit with yellow bulbs and smelled of old banana peel. After closing several windows on his computer, one of them a game of Pong, Dr. Jeffries swung around in his chair and greeted Jimmy with a smile full of coffee stained but otherwise perfectly aligned teeth. “All right,” he said. “If I remember correctly, you are taking…” “The ZZ Top regimen,” Jimmy interjected. “Oh, right.” Dr. Jeffries laughed. The two made small talk for a few minutes then Dr. Jeffries cleared his throat. “So I understand you’re looking to go down on your dosage of Zyprexa because you’re concerned about your increased appetite, is that correct?” Jimmy looked down at his stomach. His oncelean torso had, within two months of taking Zyprexa, become a blubbery mass of hair and stretch marks. “With this gut, I won’t be going down on anybody anytime soon.” His voice carried no hint of snark. “That’s funny,” said Dr. Jeffries, getting the joke. “Okay, sure, so let’s help you do that.” He adjusted his glasses. “Now, Jimmy, how would you say your mood has been?” Jimmy couldn’t answer. It was fall: crow season. The objects of his most primal fears were roosting in trees and on telephone wires above his house. Flocks of them ate grain on his front lawn and he could hear them from his bedroom. Placid afternoons of video games and net surfing would mutate into anxiety if the volume of his TV and computer weren’t turned up all the way. It usually took Jimmy an hour to calm down after a crow encounter. On top of that, he had found out the previous week that his mother’s cancer had come out of remission. Jimmy was convinced that the hole where her eye had been was sending signals to the shadowy imps, telling them where he and his mother were at all times. He could sense them lurking outside her hospital window, perched on branches hidden from view. Whenever he wasn’t looking, they’d poke their heads out from behind tree trunks. Their very existence was enough to cause pulsations of paranoia throughout his body. Somewhere on earth, a group of them was plotting to