Mad scientist, Gary, is the recipient of heavy metal toxicity – but cancer free – who is suddenly unemployed, unemployable, angry, depressed, and at the end of his rope. The fact that he looks like Mr. Potato Head doesn't help Joan's success oriented mindset to encourage Gary's personal growth or anger management. And when the drunk sleeping it off in the park turns out to be the body of Gary's.. More
Life is not a problem to be solved, but a reality to be experienced.
“Toxic? That's very broad, Joan. What made him toxic?” Joan and I were having our book meeting before I went to work on her rough manuscript.
“Oh, my goodness, Alexie! There's so much to choose from with Gary.” I could see Joan's wheels turning to sort her client's maladies. Eventually she spoke.
“What forced his grief journey to contact me was the chemo that killed the cancer. Now he's toxic from the chemo – heavy metal poisoning that they told him they can't do anything about. Or it might have been the loss of his job – he's a research lab chemist.” She rested her chin on her hand while she went down memory lane before she continued.
“Egads, or was it the HIV his partner's incapacitated from? Gary's the sole support and caregiver. Top it all off with Gary being bipolar. Hmm, Alexie, you tell me what made him toxic.”
I shook my head, “That's an overwhelming list, Joan. What could you possibly do for this man?”
“Well, I was able to refer him and to discuss a couple of things before the body was found under the railroad trestle. He'd turned on me a few times before we got through that first meeting – I recognized bipolar at work. After that first meeting we went to phone coaching – safer all around.”
I considered what she'd just shared with me and kind of wanted to know more, “Not to pry, Joan, but you seem quite experienced with bipolar – is this the first time you thought it was worthy of a book?”
Joan looked like I'd caught her with her hand in the cookie jar. “Maybe. Or, maybe how I know so much is too hard for me to talk about.” Joan's foot tapped and her fingers drummed while she pondered how much of her soul she wanted to bare...
She spoke quietly, “Who wants to admit they were dumb enough to believe the belittling and berating lies for so many years? To keep trying to please and prevent the tirades and attacks – without success; to believe he could control himself and never do it again?”
I forced myself to listen intently while she chewed through her memories, deciding whether to let me in to more of her previous life.
“When I hear of a mate – especially a wife – who killed her husband in a bipolar situation, I understand completely. The only difference between me and that person is that I didn't act on the picture in my head. I shut down my emotions so that I felt nothing. I was in neutral or deep sadness – nowhere else.” Joan was quiet for a minute, or so...lost in sad memories. I was beginning to wish I could erase my intrusive question.
Then, suddenly, she looked right at me with a smile on her face. Tears bubbled out of her eyes, “But I became a widow through natural causes, and life began. My grief was not from loss – I know he's in a much better place – but from the abrupt and permanent changes in everyday life. My own journey through the program was a complicated one – waking up emotions – turning into a puddle of relief... learning to feel joy, anger, and every other emotion in the humanoid spectrum...”
I began to wonder if the dam would ever slow again. What have I done?
And now I live by Mama's words of, 'No one will ever do that to you again'. By the time I got my second chance at life, those words were ingrained into my psyche – and no one has – including that poor man who is toxic in so many ways.”
Joan hopped up to leave, “And I have places to go and things to do, Alexie. I'll leave you to what you do the best – correct me.”
I shuffled the papers on my desk, dealing with my own emotions, “Very good, Joan. Thank you for sharing that horrific chapter of your life with me – I probably would have told me to mind my own business.
But, yes, forward... march!”
Joan left me with Toxic Man – A Trilogy. I thought about all the others who – I hope –survived their own toxic partner and wondered if there are more positive endi...
Available ebook formats: