The Initial Interview

I’d love to say that I knew he was the one I was looking for as soon as I laid eyes on him. That I didn’t have to ask Connor a single question to determine how perfect he was for my experiment. That I simply knew, deep down in my guts, right next to the Hank Burger and Crazy Fries that I’d had for breakfast, that my search had come to an end at last. But it wasn’t like that.

Ay dios mio, was it ever not like that.

The line between the sane enough, the functioning, safe citizens of this world, and the lock ‘em up, throw away the key lunatics is not as clear as many might wish it to be. There are an incredible number of people that wander back and forth across that line, many on a daily basis, and a so-called “professional” assessment could yield very different results depending on when it was performed.

Human beings, as a general rule, don’t like making mistakes, and psychologists are no different. But if you were to find one of us in an honest moment (more rare in some than others, but always more likely late on a lonely night in a crowded bar) we would tell you that when a potential head case is wavering on that hazy line between certified and free, we’ll err on the side of caution ninety-nine times out of a hundred.

Not very comforting, is it? All those basket cases running around in your neighbourhood, not a straightjacket in sight?

But I should get back to my initial interview with Connor. I still find myself smiling at the thought that he believed he was being questioned to determine his sanity while I was wondering if he would be the right man for the job I didn’t dare advertise for.

As I took my seat across from him, the five dollar table the janitor picked up at a flea market three months earlier standing feeble guard between us, I noticed him squirming in his chair. I found this somewhat encouraging, since I knew that if he was too far gone for my needs he would not be the least bit concerned by the situation he had found himself in.

But it could have also meant that he wasn’t nearly crazy enough.

“Do you know where you are right now?” I asked as I clicked open my pen and placed it at the top of the questionnaire which sat eagerly atop my clipboard.

“Well, according to that handy sign on the door,” he told me with an irritating smirk, “I’m in the Evaluation Room. Which, I suppose, makes you the Evaluator and me the Evaluatee.”

“You’re aware, I assume, that ‘evaluatee’ is not a real word?”

“Ah, but I find the English language a very limiting thing most days - don’t you?”

“Do you often find yourself limited by rules and regulations?” I asked as I made an illegible note in the margins. It’s funny how uncomfortable you can make people just by appearing to write things down while they speak to you. “Do you ever find yourself wishing people would just… relax and let you do as you pleased?”

“Hey Doc, I’m all for rules and all that good stuff - I dislike anarchy as much as the next guy. Well, maybe a bit less than the next guy,” he said as he contemplated the air above my right ear. “Or next lady, I should say. Ms. Gato, er, well, her real name is Mrs. Jones, I just call her that on account of all the cat keepsakes she has in her place. She’s my downstairs neighbour you see. I reckon she has a much stricter view on chaos than I do.”

“That’s perfectly reasonable,” I told him as I sketched a kitten playing with a ball of string. It was actually pretty good, what with all the practice I got during all those evaluations over the years. “Do you usually give people new names? Do you ever call them by these make-believe identities?”

“Well I wouldn’t call them ‘make-believe’ - that sounds rather condescending. No offence Doc. But no, I address the folks I know by their proper, given names. I save their more interesting alternatives to myself.”

I nodded, quite sagely I think, as I placed the clipboard face down on the table. I saw Connor’s head twist slightly as he tried to see what I’d been writing but I knew he couldn’t have discerned a thing. I pulled an unmarked folder from my pile of things and placed it on my lap. “I’d like to do a little test now, if that’s alright with you?”

“Oh, absolutely Doc - I do real good at tests, you’ll see!” To anyone else his enthusiasm might have been endearing. For me, it just ran across my nerves like a rusty cheese grater.

I opened the folder and looked down at the first image of the evaluation officially known as the Rorschach test. It is more commonly known, quite understandably I think, as the inkblot test. But not to me.

No, I had simply branded it as The Deal Breaker.

The End

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