51

Prospect Park

Scene Four

DR EISBEIN and KENNETH enter carrying a chair and a couch respectively. They are placed in the classic analyst-patient position. Dr Eisbein is soft-spoken and reasonable. He wears sneakers and jeans and an open shirt. A large medallion, which he often fingers, hangs around his neck. He has a tic in his cheek and continually crosses and uncrosses his legs.

DR EISBEIN: [Examining papers] Your tests show nothing abnormal, Mr. Paulson. Frankly, I didn't expect anything else. If it weren't for your own request, I probably wouldn't have had you take them...

KENNETH: Judy's request you mean.

DR EISBEIN: [Ignoring him] Now, concerning the problem at hand: as I see it, there are several possible explanations. One, it was a hallucination. Now don't get excited. [But Kenneth is calmly resting with his eyes closed] I just want to mention the possibilities. Two, you really saw this person in the park and everything happened as you described it – except the walk on the water of course, which could have been some kind of optical illusion made possible by hypnotism, suggestion or the like. Three, the whole thing is a deliberate or unconscious fabrication on your part for whatever motives, conscious or unconscious, you may have. [Kenneth opens his eyes] Before examining these possibilities …

KENNETH: What about a fourth possibility, Dr Eisbein?

DR EISBEIN: Yes?

KENNETH: That it all happened exactly as I described it, including the walk on the lake.

DR EISBEIN: [Long pause] All right, we'll include it for now as a possibility. [Writes]

Now, before examining these possibilities, I'd like to ask you a few questions – O.K?

KENNETH: Sure.

DR EISBEIN: Have you dreamed of this person, before or after meeting him?

KENNETH: You mean HeyZeus?

DR EISBEIN: Yes.

KENNETH: No.

DR EISBEIN: Are you quite sure?

KENNETH: Well no, but I don't recall dreaming about him. By the way … no, never mind.

DR EISBEIN: Yes, what is it?

KENNETH: I was going to say that in Spanish you dream with someone, not about them. You say I dreamed with you last night.

DR EISBEIN: Is that so? What does it mean to you?

KENNETH: Nothing. I only think the differences in languages are interesting.

DR EISBEIN: Was Zeus Hispanic?

KENNETH: I don't know. He didn't have an accent.

DR EISBEIN: What about your dream life in general. Do you dream frequently?

KENNETH: Average I suppose.

DR EISBEIN: What do you call average – once a week, every night?

KENNETH: I think I dream all the time. The problem is in remembering the dreams, isn't it?

DR EISBEIN: Do you recall a recent dream?

KENNETH: Yes, last night. You know, names are interesting, too. Your name, Eisbein for example, means pig knuckles in German.

DR EISBEIN: [Icily] Ice-leg.

KENNETH: Yeah, but there's no such thing as ice-leg, whereas Eisbein is a cut of meat – a delicacy! [laughs]

DR EISBEIN: [Angrily] So what … exactly ... did you dream last night?

KENNETH: Oh yeah, sorry. I was visiting Judy in another country.

DR EISBEIN: And Judy is?

KENNETH: My fiancée.

DR EISBEIN: [Writing] What country?

KENNETH: I don't know, I think it was Italy.

DR EISBEIN: Go on.

KENNETH: She had gray at her temples. I was older too. She was happy, talking animatedly. Her hands were prominent and mobile. I asked her something, I don't know what, and she said, “We're playing tonight. All the theaters here play on Sunday nights”. [Pause] That's all.

DR EISBEIN: What do you think about it?

KENNETH: Judy once played Winnie in Samuel Beckett's Happy Days. She was supposed to be fifty years old. She was stuck up to her waist in a sandy mound, but retained her good humor.

DR EISBEIN: What's the first thing that enters your mind now?

KENNETH: Pigs knuckles.

DR EISBEIN: Are we going to be serious about this or not. Remember you're paying for my time.

KENNETH: Sorry, but it really was my association. You see, after the premiere Judy and I went to a German restaurant – this was an English-speaking theater in Germany, by the way – and we ordered Eisbein. I thought it was something with ice cream, but it turned out to be, well, what it is: pig knuckles. I became a vegetarian on the spot. You remember the Good Humor ice cream man, don't you?

DR EISBEIN: Yes, and?

KENNETH: More association: Fear no more the heat of the sunday.

DR EISBEIN: I beg your pardon.

KENNETH: Fear no more the heat o' the sun,

Nor the furious winter’s rages.

Thou thy worldly task hast done,

Home art gone, and ta'en thy wages.

Golden lads and girls all must,

As chimney-sweepers, come to dust.

DR EISBEIN: The Bible?

KENNETH: Shakespeare. Winnie says the first line – Fear no more the heat o' the sun – out of nowhere and tries to get her husband, Willie, who's sitting behind the mound half-asleep, to repeat it. He tries, but can't get beyond “Fear no more...” It's all very enigmatic. At a party after the premiere I asked the director if he knew where it's from, and he didn't. It sounded vaguely familiar to me, so the next time I opened my Complete Works of Shakespeare to the right place by coincidence, if you believe in coincidences, I realized it's from Cymbeline, which I have never seen performed and didn't remember having read. It's a song recited on the death of Cloten.

DR EISBEIN: Why do you bring it up now?

KENNETH: Because I played Willie.

DR EISBEIN: I see … mmm … Do you see a connection between this and the appearance of Jesus?

KENNETH: HeyZeus. No [Pause] except, possibly … but no, never mind.

DR EISBEIN: No, please go on.

KENNETH: It was a hot day, a lot of heat of the sun and I was feeling kinda anxious, maybe about death. After all, I was on my way to a wake. And a storm arose, like a winter rage.

DR EISBEIN: [After a long pause] You said you felt a strong attraction to this Jes ... HeyZeus. A feeling of love.

KENNETH: That's right. It was a kind of tingling sensation.

DR EISBEIN: Have you ever had homosexual experiences?

KENNETH: Twice, when I was a boy. Statistically I believe that's about normal.

DR EISBEIN: Of course. Would you mind telling me about them?

KENNETH: Yes, I would mind.

DR EISBEIN: Oh? Why?

KENNETH: Because I see no point in wasting time by going in that direction.

DR EISBEIN: [Writing furiously] Tell me, do you have brothers or sisters?

KENNETH: I had a brother who died as a child.

DR EISBEIN: How old?
KENNETH: Nine, I was seven.

DR EISBEIN: Do you feel any association between him and the man you met in the park?

KENNETH: No, he would have been older. How about getting to your possibilities.

DR EISBEIN: Very well. [Flips back the pages of his notes] The first possibility was a hallucination – or a dream.

KENNETH: Two different things.

DR EISBEIN: Quite. A hallucination of this magnitude would indicate mental illness. How about a dream?

KENNETH: I was wide awake, unless you mean a vision.

DR EISBEIN: What do you mean by that?

KENNETH: No, I don't mean that either. It couldn't have been a vision because he kissed me. [Touches his cheek] I felt it but... it wasn't as though real lips, of flesh and blood I mean, had kissed me – which wouldn't have caused this persistent tingling either. No, it wasn't a dream or a vision. Yet it might not have been a normal human body either.

DR EISBEIN: Then you admit that he wasn't real?

KENNETH: Yes … I mean no. He was real. It's hard to explain.

DR EISBEIN: Try.

KENNETH: Did you ever feel someone's presence even though they weren't there?

DR EISBEIN: No, I can't say that I have. Either they're there or they aren't. Of course during masturbation another's presence can be felt very vividly, but that's due to one's own ability to fantasize.

KENNETH: That's not exactly what I have in mind, Shall I continue anyway?

DR EISBEIN: By all means.

KENNETH: It was like he was a felt presence who was really there, but not completely. As though he had gone and left something behind.

DR EISBEIN: As though he'd left what behind?

KENNETH: I don't know, like a phantom body. You’ve heard about people who've had a limb amputated, a leg, for example.

DR EISBEIN: Yes, yes, go on.

KENNETH: Yet they can still feel the leg. As if the leg is still there but emptied of its physical content.

DR EISBEIN: Yes. [Writes furiously]

KENNETH: He was like the amputated leg, the part that still lives and the amputee feels. But – and this is the tricky part – it´s visible and touchable without containing its physical substance. Do you follow me? Like an ice-leg.

DR EISBEIN: Yes, no doubt about it.

KENNETH: No doubt about what?

DR EISBEIN: Castration complex

KENNETH: [Astonished] Are you serious?.

DR EISBEIN: Quite. But don't be put off by the word complex, which is a poor translation of the German Gefühl. In your case it's more of a castration feeling. Tell me, why do you think he kissed you?

KENNETH: How should I know that?

DR EISBEIN: I asked you what you think.

KENNETH: All right. Perhaps for two reasons. First, because he knew what I was thinking, that I wanted to touch him just to make sure. You know, like Doubting Thomas.

DR EISBEIN: So you weren't completely sure?

KENNETH: Dr Eisbein, have you been listening to me at all?

DR EISBEIN: [Long pause] What's the second reason?

KENNETH: Because he loves me... should be the first reason.

DR EISBEIN: Now we're getting somewhere. Kenneth – if you don't mind my calling you that – you said that you had two homosexual experiences as a child, but you don't want to talk about them. Your lack of willingness to be open about them is a hindrance of course, but on the other hand it could be meaningful. I'll accept that for now, but I'd like you to tell me – frankly – if you ever felt sexual desire towards men. I mean ever!

KENNETH: Oh God!

DR EISBEIN: Apparently it's too early to confront you with that kind of reality, so let's pass on to the second possibility. What was it? [Looks through notes] Oh yes, that it happened as you describe it, that you really did see such a man who you imagined to have walked on the surface of the lake in Prospect Park. [Pause] Tell me about your mother.

KENNETH: She's a lot of fun.

DR EISBEIN: Domineering?

KENNETH: Of course. Aren't they all?

DR EINSBEIN: Oh, I wouldn't say that.

KENNETH: [Turns to look at him] Wasn't your mother domineering?

DR EISBEIN: We're talking about your mother, not mine. How was your relationship with her?

KENNETH: Sexy as hell. And the lake reminds me of her cunt. Shall we pass on to the third possibility?

DR EISBEIN: [Checks his watch, then reads] A deliberate or unconscious fabrication.

KENNETH: Hmm. Judy thinks I'm trying to get out of marrying her by using HeyZeus as an excuse. Hey, you must know Judy, she recommended you.

DR EISBEIN: No, Mrs Muelletonne called me about you.

KENNETH: What is your relationship with her?

DR EISBEIN: Doctor-patient. Why do you ask?

KENNETH: Curiosity. Look Dr Eisbein, I do want to avoid marrying Judy. But before I met HeyZeus I wanted to marry her. Assuming that I'm not queer, which I'm not, there's no apparent cause for that effect.

DR EISBEIN: What effect?

KENNETH: Wanting to not marry Judy. I mean the effect can't come before the cause.

DR EISBEIN: Where the unconscious is concerned, all is possible.

KENNETH: Explain, please.

DR EISBEIN: The real cause may have been – note that I say may have been – that you want to avoid marrying Judy because she reminds you of your mother. And you're attracted to her sexually for the same reason. However, since all this takes place in the unconscious, you don't recognize it as the cause so you assign the cause to HeyZeus. The dream with Judy buried up to her neck for example...

KENNETH: That wasn't a dream, it was a play. And she was buried up to her waist in a mound.

DR EISBEIN: She was buried up to her waist in a play?

KENNETH: Yes, I told you that. In the dream there was no mound.

DR EISBEIN: Yes. In any case, the mound is significant.

KENNETH: For Beckett maybe, but not for me.

DR EISBEIN: The mound has a hole in it, where Judy is, er, inserted, I presume.

KENNETH: I see what you're driving at: the mound is my mother's womb and Judy is my mother. But what's my mother doing in her own womb?

DR EISBEIN: Where the unconscious is concerned …

KENNETH: … all is possible. Yeah, right.

DR EISBEIN: One shouldn't oversimplify; we must analyze this dream carefully.

KENNETH: [Sits up] Hey Doc, I think you've got something. Winnie is buried up to her waist only in the first act. You really should see some Beckett, Dr Eisbein. What's your first name, anyway?

DR EISBEIN [Pleased, smiles] Archie.

KENNETH: Archie Eisbein! By God, that's an interesting name! You've hit the nail on the head, Archie. Winnie is being sucked down. In the second act, she's up to her shoulders in the sandy mound. She's dying. She’s being sucked back into the womb of the earth. And Willie? He's got a few years to go yet. Okay, that takes care of that possibility. Let's move on to the fourth; the only one I suggested.

DR EISBEIN: Which one was that?

KENNETH: Look it up.

DR EISBEIN: Oh yes, of course.

[As Eisbein rummages through his notes looking for the fourth possibility, Kenneth tiptoes behind him and … off. The lights dim to out as Eisbein notices that Kenneth has gone and looks around stupidly.]

Continued in the next issue of SCR.

Scene One


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