Meeting at 7:00PM

Reads: 175  | Likes: 0  | Shelves: 0  | Comments: 0

More Details
Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
Frederick suffers from borderline personality disorder. He is blind to his effect on others. He's practically unaware of his mood swings. His therapist is even starting to find it hard to work with him. She suggests attending a support group at 7:00PM the day after their appointment to gain some perspective. What he doesn't find out is something he should know.

Submitted: June 24, 2017

A A A | A A A

Submitted: June 24, 2017



7PM Meeting




There aren’t but four people in front of me standing in line for coffee, four too many. Each person adds one or two minutes of time to my trip to work than if there were no line. Aghh. I press my index finger and thumb together to ease my tension and anxiety, it does little to help. 


The people in front of me chat with Brad, the cashier, when it’s their turn. Other customers carry on conversations with one another while some converse with the baristas making their drinks. Geezus, I thought, people please pick up the pace. There are even chatty-cats wearing casual business attire like me; didn’t they have some place to be?


I can’t blame any of them for this happening, for my arriving to the coffee shop late; I’m the one who decided to make an omelet this morning instead of my usual fruit smoothie. The therapist said I need to start accepting some of the blame because it’s not possible that everything that doesn’t work out my way isn’t my fault. Control what you can control is a common phrase she uses during our sessions. Next time I need to remember not to lower myself to these mere mortals. 


Finally, only one person left before I order. I take the time that the brunette lady ordering and Brad spend having small talk to calm down. The breathing exercise my therapist taught me to calm down quickly is about as effective as it is easy, though, I still do it to give the appearance that I’m in control of my actions. I shut my eyes inhale three seconds, hold my breath three seconds, then release my breath for three seconds. While I breathe I think about the support group tonight that my therapist recommended and start to accept it may be of some benefit to me.


Brad said, “Ah, good morning Mr. Wilson.”


Brad has on the usual uniform—black polo, black visor, and a grin—ready to take my order. He’s a young man with a baby face. Probably hasn’t shaved a day in his life. The bright blue eyes and shoulder length blond hair are a signature surfer boy look that I could swear he probably loved to do, though that’s not possible, the nearest beach is 500 miles away.


I look into his bright blue eyes, “You too Brad.”


Underneath the surface I’m thinking, how the hell can you be happy at a coffee shop. Where are you going to get in this life with so little expectation for yourself? Where are your goals? I wonder how he’s happy doing this daily. Almost everyday I come here for my workday coffee, Brad is here. Solely based on looks, Brad has potential to go somewhere and be somebody. Though, there he is each morning taking orders and pouring coffee. There are days I wish he didn’t show up. Not seeing him again is surely a good thing; that is, for a kid with his potential. And there are days he isn’t and I smile. Although, I come in the next day and there he is grinning, greeting, and filling up coffee cups.


Brad says, “The usual, sir?”


I nod, “Yep.”


I hand Brad the usual $1.27.


Brad’s mouth straightens, “Sorry, Mr. Wilson. I forgot to mention we raised our prices.”


I feel my breathing increase rapidly. My anger at him isn’t his fault, after all he is merely and employee. Yeah, that’s right I told myself, he is just another social security number who’s check his boss has to fill out.


I brace myself and try not to sound like a jackass, “You mean a tall cup of coffee is going to be more than normal.”


Maybe I didn’t do such a good job holding back, because Brad tremored, “Uhh, yeah. It’s going to be 1.34.”


I seethe, “Ugghh.”


Brad shrugs his shoulders and keeps a blank face, “Sorry, sir.”


I open up my black wallet and dig through it for a nickel and two pennies, “Here Brad. Don’t expect a tip. Tell that to your boss.”


Brad looks at me for a second. For a brief moment I think he will challenge me. How proud I that would make me. All he did though is nod, if he has any anger he hides it. He grabs a white styrofoam cup from the stack next to the cash register and walks to the coffee pots. While he pours my regular, the breakfast blend, I look at my phone. 




Good, I thought, that’s plenty of time to get to work. 


Brad hands over the coffee with the same stone face, “Mr. Wilson.”


I smile and raise my cup, “Ahh, thank you Brad. And here’s a dollar.”




I sit in the conference room taking notes. Each of us has a note pad out, scribbling down the details of the next project that our supervisor Candice is presenting. My supervisor is notorious for perfecting the nit and grit of a graphic design, which I appreciate. What I don’t appreciate is her lack of faith in my ability to lead the team when it comes to formulating who will do what part of the project. 


Typically, their is a leader of the team who collaborates with everyone and ties everyone’s part of the design together to finish the project. I should be the leader every time. It’s clear that I’m the best graphic designer of the team, though, not once have I ever been chosen to lead a team since Candice, a former peer, was promoted to be supervisor of our department.


Candice is older than me by at least five years. She’s shorter than me by quite a bit, but that’s in large part because I’m very tall, not because she’s small. Candice has curly blond hair and a pudgy face that match her squatty body.


Candice looks at each of us, “Got it guys?”


We all say nod our heads and say yes. I politely follow along, secretly and anxiously hoping she’d pick me to lead the team. 


Candice asks, “No questions.”


We all shake our heads. Ok, Candice we get it, you asked us once already, I thought.


Candice swallows, or maybe it is a gulp, “Tom. I want you to lead the team. If any of you have any problems ask him. Tom come talk with me in my office. Everyone else stay here and start brainstorming. Tom will be back shortly with further instruction.”


Beneath the table I clench my fists. What the hell? How will I ever get a promotion or a raise without leadership experience? Fuck this. Four years of this was enough. I make a note to start looking for freelance work and jobs. When I finally gather myself Tom and Candice had left. 




I didn’t like it, not one bit. I have been with the company longer and I am more talented than the others on the team. My time for recognition is due. Oh well. At least it is lunch, a much needed break from the stress of work. I thought about the grilled chicken salad that will be sitting in front of me in ten or so minutes and smile.


The waiter walks over to my table. His hair is thick and black. The man has it combed back as far as back as possible. His hawk like face with pale white skin makes him look vampire-like.


The man grins at me and cheerily says, “What would you like to drink sir?”


I am happy enough since I dilute my anger of work with the relief of lunch. I return the smile with one as well, “Water will be fine. I’m also ready to order too.” The man pulls out a pad and pen. 


“Get it in down in detail sir. “ I say, “I’m very particular about my meal.”


The man sighs just heavily enough for me to hear it. I ignore it like he is an ant crawling on my toe and speak defiantly, “I’ll have the grilled chicken salad. Got it?” He nods his head, “Ok. Make sure the grilled chicken is diced.” I give him a stern look, “Not sliced, not chopped, I want it diced into tiny pieces.” I show him the size I want with my thumb and finger.


He finishes his notes, “Mhhm. Anything else?”


I shake my head, “No.”


The man nods and walks away.




I look forward to happy hour everyday. It is a ritual among me and my friend Charles. I have known Charles and been friends with him since we were children. We both like sports and drinking. Other than that there isn’t much substance to either of us. In school we both dominated every sport we played. Other than the fact he has hair, we pretty much can be mistaken for brothers. We both are tall and have broad shoulders like that of an olympic swimmer. 


I sit down at the bar in my usual seat next to Charles, “Hey Charles. The Sierra Nevada looks good today.”


He raises his glass, looks at me, and condescendingly says, “Your Welcome.” 


We clink glasses and I smile, “You got next round too?”


Charles playfully punches me in the arm and then takes a swig of beer.


I take a gulp of beer and nod, “How was work?”


Charles shakes his head, freeing his brown hair from his forehead, “Ehh. Same as always. You?”


I shake my head, “Not good. I don’t know what Candice is doing. I would say I have accepted it, but I’d be lying. I don’t like her decision one bit in regards to our new project and my role. This new project is meant for me to lead.”


Charles looks up at the TV then back to me quizzically, “Maybe your better in an acting role.”


I can’t believe I am hearing this, this simply is not the truth, “You’re right that my talents are no match for my peers. That should be reason enough for Candice to hand me over the keys on a project.”


Charles pauses for a moment. His eyebrows pinch together. Clearly he is pondering what he is about to say next carefully, “Well, it’s possible you just aren’t suited to lead.”


I slam my beer down on the bar and sarcastically say, “Yeah? And how do you know that Charles? Because your head of the payroll department for the city.” 


Charles stands his ground, “Sure and experience helps too. Don’t be an ass about.”


I don’t like this. It don’t feel like he is supporting me, though, I do admire that he challenges me.


I say, “Hmm, you’re probably right. Maybe this ‘support group’ might help tonight.”


“Yeah? Your therapist brought it up?”


“She says it will be a room full of people like me. What a joy? Look I got to get going, I’ll buy next round tomorrow.”


“Ok. Bye.”




I twiddle my thumbs as I look at the workers in the Deli department. There were only three people in line, including me, and it is still moving slow, too slow. Maybe my lunch meat can wait till tomorrow. Then again I can’t in line at the deli for lunch meat. I have one hour before my meeting. If I leave the grocery store in the next fifteen minutes I have just enough time to get back to my house, drop off the groceries, and head to the meeting to make it on time. 




“Oh, yeah.” I smile at the girl, “Sorry about that. I’ll have 1/2lb of turkey and 1/2lb of honey ham. Slice it paper thin and exactly 1/2lb and we won’t have a problem.”


I take out my phone and scroll through some emails. I anticipate there will be an update from our project leader on what roles we will assume. 


“Sir. Here’s the turkey.”


She has the pile in her hand and weighs it out. Exactly on point.


“Perfect. Make the ham just like that.”


I peruse the ESPN app to see any new updates in the world of sports. Nothing. I visit a couple job sites and look for any freelance work for graphic designers.


“Sir, the ham.”


The weight looks fine, but the ham slices are shredded.


“The ham is shredded.”


“Sir, I left it on the same slice size I had as the turkey.”


I look at my phone and hurry myself. It is time to go.


“Put it in the bag honey. I need to go.” I smile at her and point sarcastically, “Next time it will be better, got it.” 




I arrive a few minutes early and walk into one of the meeting rooms on the bottom floor of the hospital. Candice and my waiter from lunch earlier that day are sitting next to each other talking. They don’t notice me until the woman sitting in the front of the semi-circle of chairs welcomes me.


The woman’s thick pink lips curl up when she smiles, “Hello and welcome to the support group. I’m Theresa.”


I nod my head, “Thanks, Theresa. I’m Frederick, nice to meet you.” 


I look over at Candice and the waiter, who’s name tag says William, “It’s good seeing you here Candice and William.”


We each share lukewarm smiles.


Theresa flashes her eyelashes, tosses her long and black wavy hair over her shoulder and says, “Behind me are name tags on that table. Fill one out and grab a seat, please. Thanks.”


I walk over to the table and write Frederick in green sharpie. I stick my name tag on the left of my chest, just like Candice and William, and grab the middle seat of the semi-circle.


Theresa takes notes on her clipboard, Candice and William whisper back and forth, and I search the job board sites for work prospects. I scroll thru job listings with higher pay than my current job. The type of job or graphic design doesn’t matter; I want to get paid. I earn $15 an hour and have since I started working with the company I am with now. It’s about time for a raise. If that’s not going to happen, which it doesn’t look like it will, it’s time for a change of scenery. I check the time at the top of my phone; 7:00PM.


I turn my eyes up. Every seat of the semi-circle formation are filled except for one which sits by itself on the end of the left side of the semi-circle. I slid my phone in my right pants pocket and avert my eyes to the faces in the room. Aside from Candice and William, the Deli girl and Brad are here too. Odd, what are the chances they are just like me; unknown daily struggle; intense battles with a therapist over prescriptions; various violent mood swings.


“Welcome again everyone. Thank you for coming. We have a new face this week. Frederick.”


They all look at me, observing my process of finding words to respond to Theresa. A few seconds pass, I gulp some saliva and decide my approach, “Hi, I’m Frederick.”


“Usually, Frederick, new people to the group typically give a brief introduction of themselves.”


I stand up, look at Theresa’s olive skin face, and into her emerald eyes, “I’m Frederick and that’s all you need to know.”


I sit back down. Theresa professionally handles the situation, adding, “That’s fine, Frederick. Who would like to start today?”


Brad break the deadpan silence, “Sure, I will.”


Theresa crosses her left leg over her right in a lady-like matter and thanks him.


Brad begins, “Well, for those of you who have been attending the meetings recently know that my girlfriend, Ariel, has been in the hospital the last few weeks. Her parents, psychiatrist, and I aren't sure what triggered the manic episode. All we have is a guestimation based off of her behavior. We think it could be stress from school that broke her and which led to an obsession with the bible; the bible was a possible cry for help. When I came to visit her at her apartment after I got off of work a few weeks ago, she didn’t recognize me. Well, she did, but not for who I was. She clearly wasn’t doing well. Unfortunately, she found many metaphors in her bible reading that alluded to me as a messenger from God. Since then she has been in the hospital. Every day she slowly gets better. I emphasize slowly. Recently, though, she has regressed. It’s tough because I know she’s not doing it to upset me and make this a practical joke even though it feels like it is sometimes.”


He let’s out a heavy sigh and continues, “The reason I came today is because there is no sign of her getting out any time soon. When I got off work today I went to go see her. While we were talking her attention would during our conversation. This was actually good because it appeared that she was beginning to realize exactly who I was. To my dismay that wasn’t the case. In the middle of our conversation while I was talking, I noticed her whisper something to herself. She grabbed the cup of milk next to her and dumped it on her head, believing that I could turn it into water and bless her.”


Theresa says, “Thank you, Brad. Who would like to go…”


Candice jumps in, “I will.”


Theresa smiles, “I’m glad you’re eager to share today.”


Candice nods her head. She looks to her left and I catch her face. Her eyes meet mine and she makes sure that I acknowledge her before continuing. 


“Ahem, well, as most of you know my husband died a few years ago. When I got home and saw red all over the kitchen floor I didn’t know what to think. I walked into the kitchen and saw Derrick lying on his back and his neck slit; I was sure he was murdered. There was no suicide note, at first. He also didn’t show any signs that he was capable of killing himself or suicidal.”


She pulls out a kleenex from her purse and blows her nose, “Sorry.”


She stuffs the snotty kleenex in her pocket, leans forward in her chair, and looks into each of our eyes before talking, “Well, as you may know, the cops thought it was murder at first. Four months into the investigation, the story changed however. I was going through the mess of his work den when I found an envelope with my name written in cursive by my husband. I went to the kitchen and used a steak knife to cut open the envelope seal. I broke the seal, though, I cut myself. Blood dripped onto the letter as I pulled it out. The note was dated the same day he died and all it said was ‘I did it’. I handed it over to the police and there was a new direction in the investigation. After a couple weeks it was determined he had committed suicide. Psychiatrists that were called for their opinion said he was probably silently suffering from major depression. Since then I have come here to cope, help who ever I can, and understand mental health.”


Theresa nods her head, “Good. Thank you Candice. Anyone else want to share?”


William sighs, “Yeah. Well as most of you know.” 


I feel his eyes on me even though I am staring at the ground. 


He begins his story, “My wife suffers from schizophrenia. Generally, she is balanced and stable. When she isn’t, she typically suffers depression. When that happens she completely disappears. It was worse when she was younger; sometimes she would have to stay in the hospital. Now, her and I have a better handle on it. We can treat her with certain medication and natural treatment. Currently she is doing well and hasn’t had an episode of delusion or hallucination for a month or so. Despite I’m the only one who works daily, she does paint. It’s inspiring for me and I hope others, especially those who support her work that she uses her hallucinations and delusions as part of her unique paintings.”


This time it is the deli girl’s turn. Guess I didn’t have to feel rushed at the grocery store. 


“My mom is constantly in charge of every situation. She is over bearing and it not only strains our relationship, but her friends have begun dropping like flies. I know it’s time for me to start taking the steps to be more independent. And I am. I’ve begun a job at the deli at the grocery store and started saving up for school. Good for me right? Well I still want to have some kind of relationship with my mom, and I haven't had one of those with her since I entered my teenage years. Sure, I was challenging, but she withdrew from the family around that time and stuck her nose into her life to escape from me and my Dad. The latest of my many attempts to grasp her was at lunch today before work. Not once did we talk about me or had a conversation that wasn’t concerned about her. It’s definitely hard dealing with the wide range of emotional mood swings, she can flip just like that.” And she snapped her finger.


Theresa looks at me, “Would you like to share Frederick?”


“Uhh, actually, sure. Yeah, so thanks for sharing everyone and giving me an idea of what this is, but I don’t think this is for me. See, I have a mental illness, it appears none of you do. I think I’m in the wrong support group.”


Theresa says, “Oh, yeah, you’re looking for the support group down the hall. This support group is for people who have people close to them who suffer a mental illness.”


I thank everyone and walk to the meeting room door. I hear their conversation fade into a whisper. I open the door and begin to turn right to the other room down the hall. When I open the door though, walking towards me is Charles.


Charles’ smile is beaming, “Frederick it’s so good to see you here.”


I nod, “Great seeing you too Charles. I wish I could talk, but I have to be going to my meeting.”


Charles pats me on the should, “No worry, boss. I’ll see you at happy hour.”


I walk down the hallway and hear the door behind me shut.


Theresa and the group welcome’s Charles, almost in unison, “Charles, it’s great to see you.”


Charles smiles, “Thanks.”


Theresa asks, “Would you like to share?”


Charles says, “Funny you say that. So my friend that I talk about. That was actually him, leaving the meeting.”

© Copyright 2018 edward hart. All rights reserved.

Add Your Comments:

More Literary Fiction Short Stories