View Full Version : The Routine (1400 words)

Jeff Degginger
December 31st, 2010, 09:49 PM
The psychiatrist walked down the hospital hallway. Large guards stood to the sides, and when he stopped at room one-twenty-one he asked the guard, “This the new one?”
“Yeah, he just got here this morning from the jail.”
“Well let me see him.” The guard slid the door open and the psychiatrist went into the padded cell. At the other end of the room was a bald man in a strait jacket. He was sitting calmly and upright on the floor. The psychiatrist examined the chart in his hands and said, “Good morning Tyler, how are you this morning?” The bald man didn’t respond. His eyes were empty and seemed to hold the psychiatrist in contempt. “Tyler, I am a friend, here to help you and return you back to society. Or if you play hard ball, then I can figure things out my own way.” Tyler still didn’t say anything.
The psychiatrist crossed his arms and said, “Alright then, if you don’t mind, I’m going to give you something that will help loosen those lips.” He snapped his fingers and produced a small blue pill. “This is just going to make you relax.” He asked the guard for a small cup of water and the guard got one from a nearby source. The psychiatrist showed the pill to Tyler.
Tyler eyed the glass and the pill. He blinked stupidly. The psychiatrist smiled and said, “No worries,” then placed the pill into the water. “That makes it simpler doesn’t it?” He shoved the cup into Tyler’s hand. Tyler almost robotically drank the water and the pill.
The psychiatrist then sat down and said after a few minutes, “Now I’m still going to help you and I like to hear things from the patient’s myself. The pill you took is sort of a medical form of hypnosis. It just allows you to express yourself without your personal feelings getting in the way. I have the police report here, let’s see… it says here that what you did happened on July the Third, so why don’t we start there. What did you do on July the Third?”
Tyler replied, “Nothing special, it was a sunny summer day, high winds. Particularly though, I do remember the little girl at the ballpark.”
“Who was the little girl at the ballpark?”
“I don’t know. There was a breeze of wind that kicked up dirt, even though it had rained a couple days ago. The field was a little muddy though and the mud was caked on her socks and shoes, making them look like the faces of soldiers in the desert. I paid attention to the way she pitched. She’d shift her legs from side to side. She had a pattern, a routine, which was too powerful to be shaken out of her by dirty shoes. Something about her that I noticed right away was how she smiled. You could just tell, just know, from that one look, that she was the type of girl who smiled when she knew she had won. She smiled with a big grin, like a villain from a comic book. It was adorable really, and it made me think, ‘She probably won’t have that smile forever, she’ll grow up and get to middle school and all the confidence will be drained out by magazines and reality TV shows.’”
“So what were you planning to do with the girl?”
“I didn’t have any plans for the girl. I was just a bystander watching the ball game.”
“How did you come to be at the ballpark?”
“I was walking through the woods back to my car whenever I found the ballpark.”
“Hmm… and what had you been doing in the forest?”
“I was digging… digging in the mud. I was planning ahead, holes are useful things to have.”
“Well, let’s not worry too much about that. How long did you stay at the game for?”
“I stayed for the whole thing, watching the little girl. She struck out batter after batter, she was better than the rest of them. I sat at several different places in the bleachers, even bought some popcorn at the concession stand.”
“What about after the ball game?”
“I went back to my car and I waited to see which car the little girl got into. I waited for a long time. She was being told something by the coach, probably about how she did a good job.”
“Was this the first time you had done anything like this Tyler?”
“No, I had done this plenty of times before.”
The psychiatrist wrote a note on his own paper, “Well then Tyler, what happened next?”
“I waited for the girl and her parents to get into the car and then followed them home and watched them park in the garage, making a mental picture of the entire home.”
“Why were you memorizing the house?”
“I couldn’t have told you at the time… but it wasn’t anything new. I just… I get so interested and I follow people so I can know more about them. And this little girl was fascinating, she was an enigma to me and I wanted to… to…”
The bald man fell silent. He opened his eyes and blinked. Then he closed them again and said. “I couldn’t have told you at the time, I don’t plan on doing these things. Sometimes I just wake up as if in a trance and someone is banging on the window looking at me asking me, ‘What are you doing here?’ or ‘What are you looking at?’”
“You don’t always plan on doing these things?” The psychiatrist was busy jotting down more notes, “Exactly how many times had you done this before Tyler?” The psychiatrist noticed a large brown bruise on Tyler’s head.
“More times than I could count on two hands.”
“What happened next, did you go back to the house?”
“I eventually went back to the house. I waited in a different vehicle so they wouldn’t recognize me. I can’t remember exactly what type of vehicle it was, or even where I had gotten it. Maybe I had borrowed it from a friend. Anyways, I waited until the parents left to go somewhere together. Then I am all of a sudden in the house and I’m looking around. I’m calling out her name, as if I knew her name.”
The psychiatrist stopped taking notes, holding his pen still as he listened to Tyler tell his story.
“Well all of a sudden I’m in her room. The walls were pink. There were Barbie dolls and baseball posters and then right in the middle of all these nice, clean, girly things, there are these dirty baseball shoes. Well, I think, ‘geez, these don’t belong here’ and I decided to wash them. So I go into the kitchen and I use the dish soap and a sponge and I start washing these dirty shoes for like ten minutes.”
“I hear a door open and I practically leap out of my skin. I calm down when I see it’s just the girl… Molly, I think was her name… or at least what I thought her name was and I go ahead and tell her, ‘your shoes are all clean.’ She just looks at me and I look at her.”
“I start yelling at her, “What’s wrong Molly, I’ve just done a nice thing for you!” She just stares at me. I yell again, ‘You should thank someone, me, for washing your god damn shoes!! That wasn’t something I had to do right? I just did it because I was a nice guy and they were dirty and they didn’t belong in your god damn pink ass room!!!’ But she doesn’t react at all.”
“Then I ran at her. I hardly saw that she was shifting her weight from side to side. I don’t know how I didn’t see it. The next thing I know she throws a baseball, so fast and so hard that I didn’t have time to dodge and it smacks me right in the forehead. It knocks me on the floor and I lose my vision for just a second. When I get it back, all I see is Molly standing over me. She has her baseball bat and the last thing I remember is her smile.”

January 2nd, 2011, 09:20 PM
I enjoyed this piece; the way the man linearly tells his story captures the reader's attention and wants him to read on. I don't have much to criticise about the writing, either - here's the nitpicking:

I'm not sure if it was intended, but "the psychiatrist" is repeated very often throughout the story, which sticks out a lot. Try to keep that out of the sentences unless it serves a real purpose, as it can be irritating otherwise.

He asked the guard for a small cup of water and the guard got one from a nearby source. The psychiatrist showed the pill to Tyler."Again, the repetition, could be avoided, e.g. by using "he" or "who".
Perhaps reword the "got one from a nearby source" - it sounds a little awkward.

That was really all with the repetitions; in the dialouge, the repeated "Tyler" seems believable and not out-of-place or irritating.

Otherwise, the writing was good; especially the idea of the story and the characters Molly and Tyler are great. Good work, and I'd love to see more.

Olly Buckle
January 2nd, 2011, 10:46 PM
The first sentence was great, I know who, where and what he is doing, then this," Large guards stood to the sides ", and it is not nearly so clear. Are they lining the corridor? Are they standing to the side as he approaches? Why so many guards? Perhaps you mean they flanked him, but you say they are stood and he is walking. The next bit doesn't eactly clarify it for me..

There is an inconsistency in that you told me he was in a strait (straight?) jacket and then you have him take a cup and drink.

January 2nd, 2011, 11:19 PM
How about opening like this?

'The psychiatrist walked down the hospital hallway. He stopped at room one-twenty-one and asked the guard, “This the new one?”

The repetition of 'psychiatrist' is something I did not notice until it was pointed out by others.

The strait jacket would keep Tyler from drinking for himself. The psychiatrist would have to hold the cup for him. In that same area, exactly where did the guard find the cup of water? That needs to be clarified.

The ending is great, echoing the look on the girl's face that Tyler had noticed as she was pitching.

A very enjoyable and believable story.

April 17th, 2012, 07:38 AM
A bit rough yet, but I like the flow. A few awkward sentences that can be smoothed out too. For example: 'The psychiatrist then sat down and said after a few minutes.' Could read ... The Psychiatrist sat down, paused a few moments, then said... OR... After a brief pause, the Psychiatrist sat down, and said... I believe Pschiatrist is capitalized as well.

I could extract many examples but this one should serve to illustrate. And watch the repitition. The guard (which guard, the one from the hall, the one in the room, the one immediately outside the door), The psychiatrist (this man needs some description, character)

I'm just suggesting in these examples. I think it's always fun to play around with the wording of a sentence to find the right feel and flow. This is all subjective of course.

Keep going. I think you're on to something. You'll know when it feels right.

June 10th, 2012, 07:08 PM
This is good! It really does pull you along. 95% of these stories I just stop and tell people why they failed to make me read on; if you don't want to read something, the rest is kind of moot isn't it? But there is a lot of immediacy to your story and action; I wanted to figure out why the psychiatrist was interested in this man's story and what he did. I do think it's a bit dialogue heavy at the end though. You might consider developing the characters in the present scene some, so we also want to find out what happens to them, as well as what happened with the little girl. Great job though.