I. Anger Management

“And that was both the first and last time that my father gave my mother what he called a ‘butcher knife enema,’” recounted Lenny, his hands trembling in his lap. “It wasn’t the best solution to the problem, but then again, it did the trick. It did quiet her down, and she never gave him anymore lip.”

“And how did that make you feel?” asked Dr. Hostelz, the group leader and psychiatrist. He opened his plain gold pocket watch, glanced at the time, and slid it back into the breast pocket of his cross-hatched gray-and-black vest.

Wyandotte checked his own watch. It was only three-thirty. God damn it, thought Wyandotte. My legs are starting to hurt. This was probably that damn priest’s plan all along.

Every meeting of Anger Anonymous was, as far as Wyandotte could tell, fundamentally the same. All of the so-called members drove up to whatever school was the site of this week’s meeting and pulled into a parking lot somewhere in the back, their path illuminated by neon pink or orange signs with black arrows pointing the way. A few people always arrived early, and they always found a way to congregate right in the middle of the lot, effectively blocking the others from being able to park in a majority of the spaces.

The meetings themselves were sometimes held in the school’s gymnasium or, if that happened to be occupied at the same time, the school’s cafeteria. Though Wyandotte never verbally questioned it, he often found it hard to believe that a group that never had more than twelve members at any given meeting would need so much space.

Though the issue of “why” was confusing, Wyandotte was never perplexed about the “where” of things. As was the case with the parking lot, neon signs and thick arrows posted in hallways fingered the way to serenity and bliss. This particular meeting happened to be contained in the cafeteria, complete with grimy, soda-covered floors; ketchup-stained tables; a mixed aroma of stale chicken nuggets and bleach that would cling to Wyandotte’s clothes for days; and, worst of all, hard steel chairs.

“Scared at first,” said Lenny. “But he was only doing what my grandfather had taught him to do. Do you think maybe that’s my problem, Dr. Hostelz? Is it genetics?”

Hostelz looked first at Lenny through square wire-rimmed spectacles, then at the ceiling. He rubbed the edge of his receding hairline for a moment and made a horrendous popping sound with his mouth that sent shivers down Wyandotte’s spine. Finally, Hostelz replied. “Yes, actually. Genetics seems to be quite probable as the source of your rage.”

Wyandotte wanted to scream. He wanted to speak up and tell the doctor where to stick his genetic nonsense. Wyandotte wanted to strike Lenny across the face and tell him that genetics didn’t force him to beat his wife of twelve years: twelve years of marriage and an inability to cope with his own problems did. But, Wyandotte remained quiet as he always did. As he saw it, to speak his mind would most certainly be proof that he belonged in such a place. Wyandotte did not want to give them the satisfaction.

II. Marriage Roulette

To say that Wyandotte was an expert on marriage would be an absolute falsehood. He didn’t know the first thing about marriages, and he was aware of this fact. But one thing he did know was that blaming one’s marital problems on genetics or fate would not solve them, but only make them worse. He had tried such an approach three times before, and all three times the approach resulted in failure.

His first marriage was to Jeanette, an Irish girl whose lips always tasted to Wyandotte like orange juice and alcohol. They had first encountered each other in a Detroit bar shortly after he moved there from Cheyenne, Wyoming, and it was love at first sight; more accurately, it was the sight of her that made Wyandotte fall in love. She had an hourglass shape, shoulder-length red hair, sparkling green eyes, and freckled ivory skin. Jeanette also possessed an uncanny ability to suck in whiskey as though it were air.

Though they had been dating for two years, she refused to engage in any sexual activities with Wyandotte until they were married. Eventually, that day came and, as can be expected, the marriage night followed. Everything was prepared: candles, incense, rose petals, the works. Jeanette had always talked about tying Wyandotte to the bed, and this thought excited Wyandotte greatly. On the wedding night, the excitement turned to reality; unfortunately, reality was the only thing into which it turned. Mere moments after securing his arms and legs to the bedposts, Jeanette received a call on her cellular phone, told Wyandotte that she had to “take it really quick,” and then ran out of the house.

Eventually, Wyandotte freed himself and, once he did, he discovered a note from Jeanette on what was to be her side of the bed asking for a divorce. She had not written a reason on the note, nor had she given him a straight answer during the court proceedings; indeed, when Wyandotte asked Jeanette what the problem was, she simply said, “You are not man enough for me.” Though he didn’t understand, he did not argue with her. She was obviously very hostile, and Wyandotte was not only proud but a bit naïve. As such, he did not want to give her the satisfaction of getting the better of him. This was only his first marriage, after all, and Wyandotte was only twenty-three. He still had time, right? Things just didn’t work out, most likely because fate didn’t see fit to make it work out. Wyandotte could still try again if he wanted to, and lightning never struck the same place twice.

Wyandotte’s second marriage was to a girl named Collette. She was quite unlike Jeanette, as she was tall and skinny to the point of emaciation. Her hair was dark, her skin had an olive tone to it, and her eyes were a smoky brown. Like Jeanette, she would not engage in premarital sex, and Wyandotte was okay with this. Two years after their first date, they were married. Again, the submissive fantasy was explored, only this time, foreplay was engaged. And then the phone rang.

It wasn’t until after Wyandotte had to free himself again that he realized that lightning had struck the same place twice, and again, he was the one to be electrocuted. When asked why she wanted a divorce, her answer was the same as Jeanette’s:
“He’s not man enough for me.”

Despite this second failed attempt, Wyandotte was not deterred. So Collette wasn’t the one. So what? Though in pain, he wasn’t about to let her get the better of him. Wyandotte was only twenty-six, and had his whole life ahead of him. He would try again, as the third time was always the charm.

But not for Wyandotte. Again, history repeated itself, only this time with a French girl named Rosette. She had curly blond hair, deep blue eyes, and peach colored skin that was the smoothest and softest that Wyandotte had ever seen. Again, they were married after two years of dating and, again, Wyandotte was left on the night of his marriage, tied to a bed all because he wasn’t “man enough” for Rosette. By this time, Wyandotte was thoroughly convinced that he was the only man in the world to be married three times and remain a virgin.

Though he did not argue with Rosette during the court hearing and, as a result, lost most of the money he had made while working as the vice-president of Brachiosaur, Inc., Wyandotte became very embittered and defeated with regards to the idea of marriage, dating, and relationships with women in general.

The reason for this wasn’t so much because he had come to distrust women; indeed, anyone would agree that such a progression would be logical, especially when a loss of funds due to a divorce resulted in Wyandotte’s office becoming his living quarters. No, Wyandotte came to realize that perhaps it wasn’t fate, but really was his entire fault. Perhaps even now, at age thirty-three, he still wasn’t “man enough” for any woman.

At least he never let them get the better of him.

III. The Waiting Game

Wyandotte checked his watch again. Three-thirty-two. Time flies when you’re serene. Wyandotte shifted in his chair again. Was Lenny still talking to that quack? It didn’t much matter.

Wyandotte looked around the cafeteria. The walls were built from large bricks, each one painted an off-white bone color. The mortar that held the bricks together, however, was unpainted and gray. Wyandotte suddenly felt cold, as though this place were meant to be a children’s prison rather than the site of food fights and juvenile jokes. Along the walls were posters of anthropomorphic animals playing different sports, each with a pun beneath them. Wyandotte was particularly fond of the picture of the soccer-playing lion, whose poster read, “Nutrition is great! We’re not lion!” Wow, thought Wyandotte. That’s not even clever enough to be called “stupid”.

“How about you, Mr. Thorpson?” asked Dr. Hostelz, his large hands engulfing his face. Wyandotte turned, but could see only Hostelz’s receding hairline, angular nose, piercing green eyes, and a tuft of gray beard. He was looking at someone else, so Wyandotte went back to looking at the posters.

“Wendell,” said a short man sitting next to Wyandotte who placed his hand on Wyandotte’s knee, “the doctor is speaking to you.”

“Oh,” said Wyandotte. He looked back at Dr. Hostelz, who was now staring quite impatiently at Wyandotte. “I’m sorry, Doctor.  I didn’t hear anyone call my name.” He gently pushed the short man’s hand away. “Could you please stop rubbing my knee…Karl, I guess?”

“Mr. Thorpson,” said the doctor, “these people have serious problems, and apparently, so do you or you wouldn’t be here.”

“W-well,” replied Wyandotte as he felt the perspiration gather on his forehead, “with all due respect, my only problem at the moment would be the tiny nametags you make us wear, and the thick markers that we have to use to write our names on them. My name isn’t ‘Wendell Thorpson’. It’s Wyandotte Thompson.” Though a few people in the group were amused by Wyandotte’s unintentional irreverence and were chuckling as a result, Dr. Hostelz could only glare at Wyandotte.

“If you are not serious about being here, Mr. Thompson,” said Dr. Hostelz, “then you should leave.”

Wyandotte fought the impulse to take Hostelz up on his offer. As much as he wanted to tear out of that godforsaken place, he couldn’t; his boss wouldn’t allow it, and neither would the law. “I am serious, Doctor,” he said, “but I hardly think that my problem is as bad as Lenny’s. No offense, Lenny.”

“None taken,” said Lenny, his eyes already filled with tears. Jesus Christ, thought Wyandotte. When the hell did he start crying?

Hostelz removed his glasses and pulled a handkerchief from his pocket. With slow, almost deliberately ritualistic motions, he rubbed the lenses with the red fabric. Again, he made the popping noise with his mouth. The sound filled the room.

Wyandotte checked his watch again. It was three-forty.

“Just why are you here, Mr. Thompson?” asked Hostelz, still cleaning his glasses.

“That damned priest,” said Wyandotte. He caught himself a little too late. He hadn’t meant to give away that much informationor any information, for that matterand by the time he realized that he had, Wyandotte was too far ahead to back out.

“What priest?” asked Hostelz. He raised his head, looked at Wyandotte, and cocked a bushy eyebrow at the prospect.

-TO BE CONCLUDED IN PART 2-