Danny Boy's Lament
A Rogue Series Extra
The woman sitting opposite me has a practiced blank expression on her pleasantly round face. She’s waiting for me to respond to her last query. Only, I don’t remember what she said. Or rather, I don’t want to share the truth of what her question triggered in me.
“Well, Daniel? Are you going to tell me how that makes you feel?”
Daniel. I’ve told her three hundred times nobody calls me Daniel. I’m Danny Boy. No surname even needed. I’m like my own version of Madonna or Bono. Everyone in the whole of Dublin—hell, maybe even all of Ireland—knows me as Danny Boy. It’s all I’ve ever been called. But Ms. Amelia Patterson, my therapist extraordinaire, thinks it’s time I go back to formalities. She says it’s only right now that I’m closing in on forty years of age and am trying to improve myself. The name, however, like these sessions, doesn’t sit right.
I lean down and give Roscoe a pat. He’s resting all his weight against my leg in the same way he did ever since he adopted me on the streets of South Korea. He’d conned and charmed his way into my life the way I might have been accused of doing to others before. But as a stray dog in need of a home and companionship, he didn’t get too much resistance from me. Now we’ve been best of mates for going on seven months. We don’t go anywhere without each other. He, more than sitting my arse in this overstuffed therapist’s chair, has given me the support I need.
But, I have promised my little brother Shay I’d keep on with this nonsense. It’s sort of a condition of me continuing to stay at his posh house in the wealthy Dublin suburb of Ballsbridge while he’s off in the States with his girlfriend.
The best thing about Ms. Patterson, as she insists I call her since as a psychologist she’s not technically a doctor, is her penchant for pencil skirts. She’s on the thicker side, but has lovely legs. Which, along with my reluctance to share my feelings, prolongs my delayed response.
I can’t stall any longer, however, so I tell her, “What I feel, actually, Ms. Patterson, is a keen desire.”
She does her best not to roll her eyes. Apparently she can see what I’m after. It’s not, after all, the first time I deflect this way.
“A keen desire,” I continue, “to explore the patient-doctor boundaries. I don’t see why we can’t talk over a drink. Just a wee pint?”
“As a part of your ongoing recovery, you know you shouldn’t be drinking alcohol.”
“Ah, that’s not a no this time, is it? Look at that, Roscoe, she’s coming ‘round.” I give Ms. Patterson a wink and she sighs. Her patiences has limits.
Technically, she’s right about the whole recovery thing. I’ve been clean of heroin for over nine months. Part of the effort to stay that way has been Narcotics Anonymous meetings where they encourage a clean slate from all substances. But I’ve always done things my own way. I detoxed—more times than I like to admit—on my own. After twenty-odd years of the back and forth to using and being free of it, it’s finally stuck. What makes the difference this time? How do I know I won’t slip back into that sweet oblivion again? That’s what Ms. Patterson wants to know.
Truth be told, she wants to know even more than that. She wants to know my deepest issues, the ones that made me deficient and turn repeatedly to the smack. But I don’t think she and I know each other well enough for all that—hence the invitation for a drink.
“Let’s go back to my original question,” she says. She uncrosses her legs and crosses them again, and I fixate on the red mark left on her bare skin. It’s from the way her flesh had been pressing together but looks like one of those inkblot perception tests as it takes the form in my mind’s eye of a heart. A heart that looks stretched out and worn like the neckline of your favorite cotton shirt. “How does your brother moving out of the country make you feel?” she asks.
Ah. Yeah, now that sounds familiar. She had asked that earlier and instead of answering I’d gotten sucked into my own thoughts. Seeing as how she’s pushing for a response, I take a deep breath and look her in the eyes.
“I feel,” I say, “fantastic. You know? Like a liberated man, in fact. No one to babysit me or constantly check up on me.”
That I’ve felt almost unbearable loneliness, is not something I’m going to tell her. Not until we’ve at least had that get-to-know-you drink.
© Lara Ward Cosio