PROJECT X by Dr. Mel Waldman

“Motherfucker! Doc, I gotta kill my roommate’s boyfriend. Gotta. The cocksucker’s abusing her.”

“No!” Dr. F. cried out. “You must control your rage. Speak to this guy. See if you can reason with him. Sounds like he needs a shrink too.”

“You kiddin’, doc? The prick needs a good beating. Maybe I’ll break his fucking ribs, an arm, maybe a leg too. And if that don’t work with this fuckup, I’ll cut him into a thousand fucking pieces. Feed his rotting flesh and limp cock to the wolves.”

“Don’t do nothing stupid, Pedro.”

“I’m just expressing my emotions, doc. I ain’t gonna jeopardize my freedom. Cause I ain’t going back into the joint. No way.”

“I’m trying to help you. We gotta work together, Pedro.”

“That’s why I’m here.”

“Good. Now, why won’t your roommate break up with this fella?”

“The dumb broad says she loves this freakin’ loser. Give me a fuckin’ break.”

“How do you know her?”

“She’s a friend of a friend of my people. She knew me before I went into the joint. I ain’t fuckin’ her. But she offered me a place to stay. She’s off the wall. Real crazy. But good-natured.”

“Sounds like you got lucky.”

“Yeah. But she drives me crazy. She’s Bipolar, on Lithium and other psychiatric shit. I just got out of the joint after spending 20+ years in that Hellhole. And I’m giving advice to this fruitcake. Ain’t that something?”

A motherfuckin’ silence swept across the room. Dr. F. looked at Pedro as the ex-con drifted off into a private universe of madmen.

 *

The shrink was a tiny middle-aged man with abnormally protruding eyeballs, a condition known as exophthalmia. His ocean blue eyes were large and intrusive too, evoking laughter or anxiety in the observer. He reminded the ex-con of Marty Feldman in “Young Frankenstein,” a parody of horror films. The doc also had dirty blond hair, a goatee, and a long curved scar across his pockmarked left cheek. Somebody had fucked with him and cut his face up real good. Maybe they cut off his balls too. His voice was high-pitched, annoying and feminine.

The giant, a monolith almost 7-feet-tall, looked at the little fucker and laughed maniacally.

“Sorry, doc, but you’re a funny dude. You got me outta prison and tole me I hadda see you weekly at this here outpatient clinic.”

“That’s correct.”

“And I agreed to be part of Project X even though you never tole me what it was and what I hadda do.”

“Correct.”

“Yeah, doc. I know. But maybe I ain’t gonna control my anger. If someone disrespects me, I got a problem with the dude or broad. If you’re right with me, I gonna be right with you. But I don’t know, Dr. F. Can’t figure out why you chose me, a two-time loser and a convicted murderer. Why me, doc? You wanna save me?”

“Why not?”

“I heard rumors Project X is very successful.”

“Correct.”

“Even Project L, whatever the fuck that was, hadda high success rate.”

“Absolutely. Just a little too expensive to fund. So we had to end that project.”

“Too bad, doc.”

Dr. F. sat in a black leather armchair behind his oak desk. The giant sat on a black leather armchair too a few feet away facing the doc. In the distance, through the bay window, he saw the Wonder Wheel in Coney Island .

“Ain’t you afraid of me, doc? I mean, I could kill you with my pinkie.”

“But you won’t.”

“Why not?”

“Cause I’m on your side. I’m the man who spoke on your behalf and recommended you return to society. I got you out of prison.”

“I owe you, doc.”

“Yes, you do.”

“So what is Project X?”

“Why don’t we begin with Project L?”

“Shoot, doc.”

“With Project L, all the ex-cons adjusted to the outside world. In the end, they didn’t complain about living out here. And they no longer engaged in criminal behavior.”

“I don’t believe you, doc.”

“It’s true. Every violent criminal selected for Project L received a lobotomy, a surgical operation.”

“I heard of that. Don’t the patients become fucking vegetables?”

“You could say that. During brain surgery, a lobe of the brain is cut into. Usually, it’s the frontal lobe of the cerebrum.”

“Speak English, doc!”

“After the frontal lobe is cut into or across, you lose a lot of your fucking emotions-raging feelings that made you commit heinous crimes. You’re human, but you’re not. You’re not violent, but you’re less than human.”

“You try to cut up my brain and I’ll fucking kill you, doc. Don’t motherfuckin’ play with me. I’ll squeeze your fuckin’ neck until it breaks. Or maybe I’ll cut your skull open and feed your brain to a Doberman. Get the drift, doc?”

“You bet. Don’t worry, Pedro. We don’t give lobotomies anymore. It’s not cost effective. No, I don’t wanna make you into a freakin’ vegetable.”

“So what is Project X?”

“We got 100% success, Pedro. Until this fucking moment, not one violent ex-con committed another crime once they received the standard treatment for Project X participants.”

“Impossible, doc. Don’t screw with me. What’s the fucking treatment?”

Pedro stood up and fixed his frenzied eyes on the doc.

“Tell me or I’ll kill you nice and slow. You’ll beg me to finish you off.”

“Don’t kill me, Pedro. I’ll tell you. But can I have a cigarette first? You’re making me nervous.”

“Sorry, doc. I ain’t got no cigarettes.”

“Oh, but I do. Do you mind?”

“Go ahead and have a smoke. Make it fast if you wanna live.”

“It’s in my bottom drawer.”

“Get it. I ain’t no paranoid freak. At least not with you, doc. Get your freakin’ smoke.”

Dr. F. opened the bottom drawer and removed a loaded .45 Magnum. He pointed it at the giant.

“What the fuck?”

My name, by the way, is Dr. Faustus. I sold my soul to the Devil and he gave me tons of power. Project X is my beautiful idea-my baby so to speak. With 100% success. Every fuckin’ murdering son-of-a-bitch receives my personal attention. Yes, PROJECT EXECUTION is perfect. Come, try to grab the fucking gun. I mean, I’m just this little guy you make fun of. A giant like you can kill a tiny freak.”

The giant leaped toward Dr. Faustus. But doc blew his head off long before his mammoth body struck the desk. The doc laughed maniacally as he watched the decapitated head fly through the air, heading toward the bay window and maybe the Wonder Wheel. He just kept on laughing. In a few minutes, he’d call the cleanup crew. Once they arrived, he planned to treat himself to a couple of Nathan’s hotdogs with mustard and sauerkraut and a large bag of sizzling French fries. It was gonna be a real beautiful dog day afternoon.

*

Dr. Mel Waldman, a psychologist, is also a poet, writer, and artist. His stories have appeared in dozens of magazines including HARDBOILED DETECTIVE, ESPIONAGE, THE SAINT, and AUDIENCE. He is a past winner of the literary GRADIVA AWARD in Psychoanalysis and was nominated for a PUSHCART PRIZE in literature. He is the author of 11 books. World Audience has published 9 of his books, including a 7-volume collection of short stories. His email address is mwaldman18@earthlink.net.

 

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