The Shrink

by The Cowl Editor on March 21, 2019


An ominous shot of the highway at night
Photo courtesy of

by Sam Ward ’21

I. The eeriness of this silent ride spelled out perfectly in his memory. It was dark and the road seemed to carry itself longer than normal. His eyes fixated on the yellow lines as they illuminated underneath the high beams of his beat up truck, darting and flickering his tired eyes to stay awake.

The familiar, shadowy figure appeared in his peripheral vision once more. He’d normally feel the tension coming strong, first through his clenched fists, then through his body, the blood, fat, the lymph. It all provided a welcoming medium before swallowing itself in the pit of his stomach. However, he felt no anxiety at all as he turned himself to set his gaze upon the phantom figure for the first time.

II. Before Will gave himself a chance to open his eyes, his arm clumsily swung to silence the alarm clock. Will should have reveled in his fleeting ignorance, as it was only fractions of a moment after waking that Will had remembered that this was an important day. 5:26 a.m. The clock read. What was time anyway? William thought in his head. He took a deep breath.

Will is blessed with a number of quirks. The Shrink had some written on his case notes, which Will had snuck an image in his brain of:

Will Harlow. 27 years old, caucasian male. Paranoid schizophrenic, exhibited auditory and visual hallucinations, as well as delusions after mental breakdown last April. Appears responsive to medication although had called during dissociative episodes. Increase dosage of medication.

Not cooperative with others.

Will simply understood the importance of being wakeful before others. It was a primal drive, a hunger. To fight the waves of negative energy that suddenly crept in the messy apartment, Will let his fingers find the flask. He stopped himself, and the sun peaked itself through the blinds.

The phone began ringing. Will picked up before the second ring.

“Hello,” Will attempted to sound clear and put together in case it was his ex calling.

The voice on the other line remained silent.

III. The suit jacket fit awkwardly over his lanky frame. The jacket was black, with a tie to match, and an off-white shirt. Will stood outside the office where his father had arranged a job interview. Will felt an obligation to ace this interview, as if this would stop him from moving back in with his parents. Clinically bonkers and getting high everyday. However, he knew he was overqualified. He was a stellar student at his university with a full range of experience. He knew he had worked under the top lawyer in the entire city. He knew he had helped win case after case with his mentor guiding him. He knew this. This was all true. He was far above being a legal assistant in some crummy office. But The Shrink had told him that due to his diagnosis, this was the best chance to land a job in the field of his major. He still had to prove himself. It was the only pill he was still willing to swallow.

It turns out delusions of grandeur don’t score well in an interview.

IV. The wheel was grasped tightly, the hand white with tension. Pupils dilated from the rush of dopamine, and his illness rearing its ugly head. This was the break from reality, an out-of-kilter matter nightmares consist of.

He pulled to the side of the road before shutting his eyes. He wasn’t trying to sleep. The fear was paralyzing, but not a paralysis he couldn’t bear. For the next couple moments he remained frozen in comfortable cognition, free of reality’s treacherous truths.

It was then that he knew he had to call The Shrink.

V. He finally understood the motives of the phantom stalker when he turned to it. It was at that moment that Will set his gaze upon The Shrink.

Fear swelled and anger rose when Will realized that The Shrink had invaded the very places reality couldn’t go. The Shrink now occupied Will’s delusions. He realized now that the truck reeked of menthols.

Will was generally a very impatient person. He found solace in his delusions and escaped to his fantasyland, using psychoactive drugs to achieve this. For that, it is not surprising that he was completely unhinged by the presence of a familiar face.

He hurled the car across lanes and jerked the wheel needlessly on the empty, never ending road. Will screamed and cried, and it was at that moment he knew that he loved the mania. He fed on the euphoria. His mood would again cascade to divergent thoughts. But I wasn’t going to let that happen. His unconscious was too far gone to save. It was after that moment that I began to count down from 3 in order to snap him out of his hypnotic trance.

3, 2, 1 . . .