Hunters and Gatherers
“And now we will review our plan,” Dr. Redfern grasped the hands of Marylou and Stuart while they each reached for Jared, who initially withdrew but then gave in. “So, we’ve discovered some good things about ourselves. We’ve found out that we each have needs and that we can help each other.” Redfern smiled and looked first to his left at Marylou, who smiled back at him and then strengthened his grip on Stuart’s hand, who responded with a grimace. Then he looked across the table at Jared who held his head down and his eyes closed as though he was praying. “So, let’s review what we’ve decided in regards to our individual and group contributions. How about you Marylou?”
“We’re going to eat more vegetables,” Marylou immediately offered. “And we’re going to quit eating cows and pigs, so that we can show more respect for our fellow mammals.”
“That’s fine, Marylou, and how about you Stuart?”
“I’m gonna quit smoking,” Stuart squirmed, “And that’s gonna help me be more positive.”
“Yes, all part of our detoxification plan,” Redfern agreed. “And how about you young man?”
“Maybe you could quit calling me young man,” Jared looked up. “I’m old enough to drive and I’ve got a job. Maybe you could start with calling me by my name.”
“OK, Jared,” the counsellor complied. “What is your contribution to the family healing?”
“I’m going to quit playing video games,” Jared hissed as he glanced over at Stuart.
“And why are you going to quit playing video games?”
“Because you think it gives me bad ideas,” Jared mumbled.
“Now Jared, that’s not quite right,” Redfern found a teachable moment. “It’s not what I think, but it’s what you think that’s important. I’m simply a facilitator, a catalyst for positive change.”
“A cat what?” Jared frowned.
“Let’s just say,” Dr. Redfern took a deep breath. “I’m helping you find the little things you can change to make life better for you, but also for your family.”
“OK, OK,” Jared squirmed. “We’re here because I punched the Coach. But he was an asshole.”
“No, Jared, he was your teacher and you need to respect your elders,” Redfern tried to stay on the positive. “So back to why you’re going to quit playing video games, let me just say, it’s not unlike changing your diet or quitting smoking. Video games have a toxic effect on your mind, not unlike animal flesh or tobacco. And your step father is going to help you find appropriate situations to express your energy in a positive manner.” Redfern let go of Marylou and Stuart’s hands and concluded the session. “We’ll meet again soon to see how things are going.”
Casey Bush is a Portland poet whose eighth collection Student of Hippocampus was published in 2018 by Last Word Press (Olympia, WA). His essay “Sisters Around the Cauldron: Mary Barnard and Her Sappho” was recently posted on the Berlin based website The Decadent Review. Casey is the poetic voice of Notes & Motes: The Vlatkovich Trio Plus One. He recommends Planned Parenthood and the Southern Poverty Law Center.