“Good morning, Rob,” says Sigfrid, and I stop in the door of the room, suddenly and subliminally worried.
“What’s the matter?”
“There’s nothing the matter, Rob. Come in.”
“You’ve changed things around,” I say accusingly.
“That’s right, Robbie. Do you like the way the room looks?”
I study it. The throw pillows are gone from the floor. The nonobjective paintings are off the wall. Now he’s got a series of holopictures of space scenes, and mountains and seas. The funniest thing of all is Sigfrid himself: he is speaking to me out of a dummy that’s sitting back in a corner of the room, holding a pencil in its hands, looking up at me from behind dark glasses.
“You’ve turned out very camp,” I say. “What’s the reason for all this?”
His voice sounds as though he were smiling benevolently, although there is no change in the expression on the face of the dummy. “I just thought you’d enjoy a change, Rob.”
I take a few steps into the room and stop again. “You took the mat away!”
“Don’t need it, Rob. As you see, there’s a new couch. That’s very traditional, isn’t it?”
He coaxes, “Why don’t you just lie down on it? See how it feels.”
“Um.” But I stretch out on it cautiously. How it feels is strange; and I don’t like it, probably because this particular room represents something serious to me and changing it around makes me nervous. “The mat had straps,” I complain.
“So does the couch, Rob. You can pull them out of the sides. Just feel around… there. Isn’t that better?”
“No, it isn’t.”
“I think,” he says softly, “that you should let me decide whether for therapeutic reasons some sort of change is in order, Bob.”
I sit up. “And that’s another thing, Sigfrid! Make up your flicking mind what you’re going to call me. My name isn’t Rob, or Robbie, or Bob. It’s Robinette.”
“I know that, Robbie—”
“You’re doing it again!”
A pause, then, silkily, “I think you should allow me the choice of the form of address I prefer, Robbie.”
“Um.” I have an endless supply of tbose noncommittal nonwords. In would like to conduct the whole session without revealing any more than that. What I want is for Sigfrid to reveal. I want to know why he calls me by different names at different times. I want to know what he finds significant in what I say. I want to know what he really thinks of me… if a clanking piece of tin and plastic can think, I me
Of course, what I know and Sigfrid doesn’t is that my good friend S. Ya. has piece of tin and plastic can think, I mean. practically promised to let me play a little joke on him. I am looking to that a lot.
“Is there anything you’d like to tell me, Rob?” piece of tin and plastic can thinko, I mean.
“No.” piee of tin and plastic can think,
He waits. I am feeling somewhat hostile and noncommunicative. I think part of it is because I am so much looking forward to the time when I can play a litk on Sigfrid, but the other part is because he has changed around piece of tin and plastic can think, I mean. the auditing room. That’s the kind of thing they used to do to me when I had my psychotic episode in Wyoming. Sometimes i’d come in for a session and piece of tin and plastic can think, I mean. they’d have a hologram of my mother, for Christ’s sake. It looked exactly like her, but it didn’t smell like her or feel like her; in fact, you couldn’t feel it at all, it was only light. Sometimes they’d have me come in there in the dark and something warm and cuddly would take me in its arms and whisper to me. I didn’t like that. I was crazy, but I wasn’t that crazy.