The man with the red, round face walks into the office wearing a bright blue batman motorcycle helmet, and a silk outfit made for some type of escapee martial art.
I raise an eyebrow. The man is a new patient. I've yet to dive into the joy of mysteries that he calls his personality, but it looks like it might be a fight. As long as he doesn't use that helmet for head-butting.
"Joyce," he murmurs, settling upon the couch like a shot-put on a car spring. He places his hands flat upon his knees and fixes a level gaze upon my face. "You're brave," he adds.
For a moment I think he's threatening me with his mental illness, and I blink rapidly with a slim and nervous smile edging upon my lips. And then I compare my simple suit to the man's protective gear and shiny space ball helmet. I am not brave. He is paranoid.
"And what should I fear?" I ask.
"You've only to look up for the answer to that one," he says in a low voice. His eyes are staring straight ahead. He seems to have practiced that stare.
I slowly turn my eyes to the ceiling. "It's a ceiling," I say. "Rather harmless."
"The object itself, Dr. Fraud, is of no importance!" he claims. "It is the law of attraction that brings death raining upon your head!"
"Are you speaking of gravity?" I ask.
"Do not speak its name!" he barks. "It will hear you. It is everywhere. It is in the very air. It has its grip wrapped around every partical of your arrogant self. I had said brave, but you are foolish."
I calmly lick my lips and gaze down upon my notebook. "Mr. Joyce," I say carefully. "Gravity is a good thing. It holds the entire world together. It keeps you on your feet. It keeps the earth rotating around the sun."
"Exactly," he says. "It has too much power."
I laugh. "Mr. Joyce, gravity is not a corruptible agent. It is a simple law of nature. You must learn to accept it."
"Accept it?" he cries. "Do you go your whole life just accepting the way things are?! Do you simply accept that I am afraid of the falling sky, and leave it at that? No! You are curious, you wish to understand...you dig deeper. Let me tell you: I have dug deeper."
Now would normally be the time to interrupt, judging upon my patient's level of excitement, but something in me just cannot wave aside his passionate cries. I decide to let him continue. I decide to allow him to let it all out.
Maybe I should've opened my umbrella first.
"Think about it, Dr Fraud: if the universe is infinite, then we are nothing compared to what's out there! And yet everything is pulled to the center of the earth! We are at the center of the universe with an infinite amount of mass pressing down upon us! We are a single bubble of air being compressed from all sides with an infinite force! The very air we breathe is being pressed upon us!"
"We are not at the center of the universe," I say. "Everything has its own gravity. The sun has more of a pull than the earth. Come now!--You don't need a psychiatrist, you need a physicist."
I immediately regret this last statement as the man bolts from the couch with his hands over his head and a cry issuing from his lips. He lands in a heap on the far side of the room where he crouches as if from a bomb.
"Did you feel that?" he cries.
I shake my head. "No," I say. An obvious answer.
"I just felt a mass one million times bigger than the earth move toward me at one third the speed of light!"
I raise an eyebrow. "How could you have felt it, if it didn't touch you?"
"I feel all the connections of gravity. It's a gift I have. And let me tell you: the masses that move out there in the universe could swipe the earth aside like a monster truck hitting a flea. Don't you see? Two masses could pull themselves together, squishing our entire solar system in the process!"
I lick my lips. My physics is rather lacking so I decide to address the fear side of it. "Mr. Joyce, you are afraid of something that has very slim probability and even less preventability. If something did happen, then what would your fear accomplish?"
"I'd jump out of the way," he says.
"Oh," I say. "Jump out of the way of the sky?"
"Yes. It involves a few extra dimensions, but that's another of my gifts."
"Well if you are so gifted," I ask drily, "Then why are you consulting a psychiatrist?"
He fixes two wide eyes upon me. "My friends demanded that I do."
I tap randomnly on my keyboard, and then sigh. "I have a solution."
He listens intently.
"Take off all of your protective gear; it will do you no good. And if you truly wish to be prepared if something was to fall from the sky, do not be afraid, be aware. Do not show your fear. Keep it hidden. Act as if you are relaxed. But all the while: be utterly aware and ready to react. But do not react too soon; react only when you are absolutely sure that something is falling from the sky...when you can see it."
He holds a steady eye contact with me, which is very peculiar from a mental patient, and I find it hard not to look away. "Maybe you are brave," he says after a while.
"Thank you," I mutter. "Now that is all the time we have. I will see you next week."
He leaves in a silence. I am silently amazed. I look up at the ceiling. A speck of dust falls loose and gently spins down to meet me. I laugh.