Case 0492: Sleeping with the Homeless, Part 2
It was one o’clock in the afternoon when McGillicutty deposited the young sexpot Vanessa on the corner of 8th Avenue and Speer Boulevard. As instructed while under the influence of hypnosis and benzodiazepines, she stood in the tattered clothes she had been told to change into. These vestments aside, all she was provided was a swatch of cardboard and a black permanent marker. The skies were cloudy and the wind was high. Traffic at the intersection was robust.
As I had no interest in carousing with the city’s Morlocks, I had called upon McGillicutty to do the work for me. The stout part-time private eye and longtime patient of mine, unable to finance his psychoanalysis, had been easily persuaded to put his skills to work in the name of my scientific and therapeutic agendas as recompense. Among his many demons, he berated himself for finding whiskey unpalatable and thinking himself too unlucky for his race. Despite these hang-ups, McGillicutty proved himself time and time again as a master of his craft: surveillance. Perhaps more importantly, the man was a dutiful follower of instructions. To wit, within minutes of dropping off Vanessa, he was, unbeknownst to her, perched atop the nearby Channel 7 building with a video camera and a parabolic microphone, broadcasting the sights and sounds of the experiment to the media room of my Lodo office loft.
Vanessa stood on the corner looking quite bewildered, her long brown hair whipping hither and thither in the breeze. After about 2 hours of virtual paralysis, Vanessa had seated herself near the corner of the intersection. She had uncapped the marker but had not yet written anything on her sign.
“Sell yourself, you trollop!” I exclaimed aloud. Years of clinical experience and raw instinct told me that young whelp had to invite all comers in order to ultimately break free of her sexual compulsions. My hypothesis for this experiment, therefore, was that she would first write something to the effect of “Free Love!” or “Me Love You Longtime!” on her cardboard calling card. Then, after the street urchins had taken her every which way, her appetites would be exhausted enough to allow her to find new confidence and direction in her life. Henceforth, she would have been cured by none other than than the brilliant and unorthodox methods of Dr. Leibnitz Osgood, champion of psychiatric practice.
The experiment, however, took a few unexpected turns. The first mitigating factor was when the hapless Irishman in my employ accidentally dropped from his rooftop perch the means of surveillance, which smashed into smithereens upon contact with the street below. Static rained upon my monitors.
“McGillicutty, you fool!” I bellowed into his earpiece, loud enough to rupture an organ of Corti. “Do you know what this means?”
What this meant, of course, was that I would have to see this experiment through first-hand. I rummaged through my expansive walk-in closet and fetched the most unfavorable outfit I could find. Unfortunately, my taste in clothing is impeccable, so, after an hour or so of admiring my wardrobe, I had to defile a choice garment so that it would smack of homelessness. It was painful, to be sure, so I repeated the mantra that has served me well on occasions such as these: “I do this in the name of science…”
And in the name of science, I mussed up my hair and took to the streets. Unfortunately, when my driver dropped me off at the intersection of 8th and Speer, there was no sign of Vanessa or McGillicutty. Instead, a disheveled middle-aged ruffian with a cardboard sign informing passersby that he was a veteran of some forgotten war in Southeast Asia so that they would be compelled to subsidize his lifestyle with donations. I identified him immediately as a charlatan and approached him.
“I say, fellow, perhaps I can be of help to you. Have you seen a nubile homeless woman or a clumsy Irishman pass by this way?”
“Uh, well, maybe … I think I saw a guy trailing some girl. They were headed towards downtown.” He held out his hand in anticipation of some manner of gratuity.
With my right hand securely fixated upon my billfold, I sized him up suspiciously, then announced, “You spelled “Vietnam” wrong. It’s ‘I before E except after C.’”
“Your welcome,” I added, prompted by his lack of response. Turning my back to him, I walked past other street people languishing on the nearby grass. I proceeded down the hill to the bike path running along Speer in pursuit of my patients.
Hours passed. The weather became dreary, then snowy without relent. As I had brought nothing with me other than my shoddy garments, I was overtaken with a bothersome chill. Shivering, I hurriedly made my way down the bike path. It occurred to me that my lost acolyte and research subject would probably be seeking shelter, so I made towards the Denver Rescue Mission confident that I would come across them. Night descended alarmingly fast, and the chill quickly went from annoying to agonizing. Accordingly I went from a harried walk to a mad scramble down Park Avenue West, audibly cursing McGillicutty and his incompetence all the while.
Suddenly I was ripped from the street and pulled into an alleyway. When the grip on me was released, I spun around to find had been accosted by a massive black bohemoth of a woman. Behind her, cloaked by shadow, was a small group of street people huddling together, passing around a small bottle. Her toothless mouth issued, “Hey, is this yo doctor, man? I heard him say yo name!”
From the crowd huddled together, McGillicutty emerged. He took a swig from the bottle–it was Bushmill’s–and handed it off. He thanked me incessantly for helping him overcome his distaste for whiskey, which he would never had done but for the prolonged exposure to the cold driving him to find warmth in the liquor. He had never felt himself a man of Irish heritage until now, and apologized profusely for doubting my methods.
Naturally, I accepted his much-deserved apology with grace. He offered me a swig of the whiskey, but despite the punishing cold, I could not accept, lest the diseased saliva droplets left behind by his McGillicutty and his disagreeable companions breach my lips. I pushed the bottle aside and demanded a report on my subject.
Vanessa had been last seen entering the Rescue Mission accompanied by a man she had apparently met on the streets. The shelter since became filled to capacity, relegating McGillicutty and his new acquaintences to the street. We would have to wait until morning before we could ascertain Vanessa’s disposition. In the meantime, we would sleep here, freezing within the relative warmth of the alleyway.
Without warning, the mighty woman that had so suddenly yanked me into the alley now grabbed me like a rag doll, pulled me into her bosom, and laid us down upon a steam grate. I struggled at first, but yielded to the warmth and comfort. She prattled on incessantly, and as she did so, it became abundantly clear that Leslie Willis, as she called herself, suffered from dementia praecox. With my head sandwiched between her breasts, she lovingly told me how grateful she was to finally see a doctor, and that now maybe she would be able to get back on her psych meds, and maybe finally get a referral to an oncologist to address the untreated cancer spreading inside her, and perhaps even get some dentures too.
I politely informed her that I wasn’t taking new patients at this time, but she kept on rambling off a bunch of pie-in-the-sky nonsense about her life taking a turn for the better. Eventually, her endless jibber jabber coaxed me to sleep.
In the morning, I awoke to the welcome warmth of sunlight on my face. Extricating myself from the clutches of the still-sleeping Ms. Willis, I made my way to the shelter, finding Vanessa and her new beau sharing a cigarette outside. Naturally, she was delighted to see me.
My therapy proved to be a resounding success. Vanessa acknowledged that, as a direct result of her experiences on the streets, she was now poised to take charge of her life as never before. Her plan, she told me with unbridled excitement, was to give up school for good and produce and star in a line of adult films showcasing the homeless. Citing some popular franchise I had never heard of, she billed it as “the ‘Bumfights’ of porn.”
I should admit that, upon hearing this development, I nearly shed a tear. Sometimes, even I, Dr. Liebnitz Osgood, master of mind and emotion, can be moved by my own brilliance.