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A muscular trashcan clothed in a pinstriped suit sits across from me. Hair slicked-back, big square glasses, and a fiery glare so intense I swear he wants to kill me.
“You’re scared,” he says, scribbling in his notebook.
The sun shines in through the window, where parked cars, trees, and a graffiti-ed fire hydrant can be seen down below. I’m in a psychiatry office, but I have no memory of driving here.
“Talk about your failure as a football player.”
“You were a great college player; one of the greatest ever to play the game. If you would have continued, you could have been a superstar. But you quit.” The psychiatrist pauses, then looks up from his notepad with a flick of his eyes. “Why, did you stop?”
“I don’t recall your name, doctor… what was it again?”
I laugh. “Master? That’s what you want me to call you?”
“Yes.” ‘Master’ pulls a lighter out from his pocket, then flicks the flame on. He lets go of the switch, then does it again. “Why did you give up on your lifelong dream, Mr. Gordon?”
“I don’t see it that way, doc, never have. I was in love, and my daughter Avery was on the way. To be honest with you, professional football isn’t really the right environment to start-”
“Fear.” Master stands up, then walks over to a desk. On top of the desk is a canister of gasoline. He begins to walk in a big circle around the room, carrying the gasoline at his side. “Fear drives us to make desperate decisions. In your case, you quit because you knew it was a matter of time before others discovered the truth.”
Master pauses, then smiles kindly. “I’m sorry, Mr. Gordon, but I feel it would be rude to leave you wife waiting for a minute longer. Do you mind if she joins us? I know it’s a bit of a surprise, but I can assure you this session will be better spent with her present.”
- Thomas M. Watt