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Anger Management

Therapy can be very helpful.

For some folks in The Gutter, talking just ain't enough.

Anger Management by Earl Javorsky


It’s group time, and the hour’s just about over. The theme for the session is some bullshit about how “we’re only as sick as our secrets.”

Hendricks, the facilitator, looks at me and says, “Well, Locke, you’re the only one that hasn’t shared.”

I say, “Well, there’s some shit I’m just never gonna tell anyone. Gonna take it to the grave. Nobody’s damn business . . .”

I stop and leave some space to see if Hendricks wants to prod, but no. Everybody’s waiting.

“Like the blowjob I got from a transvestite hitchhiker on Lincoln Boulevard. So what? There, it’s out,” I say.

Little Mike looks away and cracks up.

Hector Vega sticks his tongue out and points his index finger at his temple. I don’t know what that means.

The bull in the corner shakes his head, his hand perched on his nightstick.

“Anyway, she looked like a girl when I picked her up,” I continue. This gets a honk here and a bray there. I’m just warming up. “And hey, how about this? My first girlfriend was a vibrating sander in shop class.”

I hear the guys laughing, but then they stop.

I check myself. I don’t remember getting out of my chair, or walking across the circle of men and standing over Hendricks. I don’t know why I’m screaming down at him. My old friend rage is visiting again.

The bull has his taser out.

Hendricks gives him a little shake of his head, then says to me, “It seems you might just be feeding us crumbs.”

He’s right. Those were chicken-shit secrets. I look around. 

Nobody’s laughing now. 

I back off.

Hendricks looks up at me and says, “Well, Locke, maybe you’re getting close. Now tell us why you’re here.”

Why am I here? Park Place, park bench, Yale and jail, tenure and failure, drink, speed, and heroin: I’ve known them all. I was looking for euphoria, but I settled for oblivion. They say I killed people.

Maybe Hendricks is right. Maybe there’s a secret, hiding like a spider in a woodpile, and if I can find it I’ll be free.

I close my eyes and scan the darkness. For some reason, I think of powdered wigs at Versailles, electric trolleys in Los Angeles, a wave that pummeled me when I was ten, my first kiss, my first hit off a joint, a creature from a Guillermo del Toro film, the way my loafers used to wear at the heels, Jorge Luis Borges’ Aleph, bodies in a car, the smell of ginger, a woman’s body in a bed, the red—it all reels by.

More secrets now: women’s underwear, stealing small bills from my father’s wallet, the boy across the street, watching my dad and my aunt—more chicken-shit. The chase is on; a toad and an ice pick, bodies in a car, a woman’s body in a bed. The red. I see it and hear the lowing of a cow, a bellow like a rutting moose, fricatives, susurrating, squeaks, squawks, and a simian howl.

The taser energizes me.

There’s a bite-size chunk missing from the guard’s throat. Hector is bleeding from his eyes. Little Mike and the others cower in a corner. 

I take a deep breath and achieve equilibrium. 

I find myself crouching on top of Hendricks’ desk, looking down at him crouching on the floor. He’s looking poorly.

I consider his psychobabble. “Hey, that bit about secrets? That’s some weak shit,” I tell him.




Earl Javorsky is the black sheep in a family of artistic high achievers. After a long stint trying to make it as a musician in L.A. and clawing his way up to mid-level management in the chemical entertainment industry, (just about killed him), Earl went back to his first love—writing. He has two very different novels out: Down Solo, an oddball noir tale of a dead junkie PI; and Trust Me, a more mainstream psychological thriller. Both are described at www.earljavorsky.com. His last bit with FFO was called Cats-Eye. His website is at www.earljavorsky.com.