It had taken a long time for the men to trust Glenn in her position. She wasn’t who you would typically expect to have taken a role as a therapist in the Kiln. In her previous life, she had been a sex and intimacy therapist to the stars. She helped influencers with their transition into the public sphere, coached people who they should date, and when things went wrong, she was there to mediate amicable separations. This job was quintessential in the age of arranged clout and combined media empires. That was until Seesa ruined everything.
Now Glenn had relocated to basically the middle of nowhere to lick her wounds after she had a taste of the limelight for herself. Glenn had been so good at being the puppeteer; the producer of these relationships. Before she left, she even landed an opportunity to help with the union of a potentially lucrative couple. It was a raw meat carnivore and lumberjack influencer by the name of Sven Copeland and new-age, free bleed advocate Seesa Cane. These two had met in a vortex-healing retreat in Sedona and had not been able to take their hand off each other. Lately they have been having a hard time negotiating Sven’s brand as a raw-meat warrior and Seesa Cane’s die-hard vegan following. Could these two work out if they represented the opposite of what each other preached?
It didn’t matter as she looked up from her chart at the angry 54-year-old man in front of her in tight jeans and a clean blue t-shirt that exposed the tips of tattoos that were likely adorned in the 90s. His arms were crossed over his heart and his knuckles were turning white while he clenched his forearms.
“Randy, do you want to tell me again why you punched that woman at work?”
“Well it says here that you went into a blind rage when she asked you to not call her ‘Ma’am’. Any reason why that is?”
“You wouldn’t get it.”
They sat in silence for a full two minutes. She knew better than to push people, they need to be able to trust you before letting you in. She tried to change the subject.
“So… have any hobbies?”
“Oh…that’s a hobby?”
She thought back to the first time she had met Sven and Seesa in their home in Mount Washington. After the pandemic had died down, she had decided that she would only be doing house visits and meetings in her office from now on. The cold boxes seemed to drain people faster, especially in relationships. Nothing was as depressing as watching two people drift apart in a Zoom chat. They often were in the same house, in two different rooms, now in two different windows, soon to be two different life paths. When Seesa came to the door she was wearing a flowy, white linen dress that her small nipples levitated off of her body. She had a bright scarlet stain that ran down the front and seeped through the back.
“GLENN! Welcome to our home!” Seesa’s smile beamed against her olive skin. She opened her arms wide and brought Glenn in for a hug.
Glenn immediately turned rigid trying to avoid the blood stain on Seesa despite her tight grip. She felt like she was being marked.
“Oh don’t worry about that- I’m sure it is dried by now.”
Glenn was pulled into the living room and it reminded her of a crime scene. On every surface there was little puckers of blood on the white seats. When Seesa went to open the refrigerator to grab a La Croix for Glenn, the organ meat for Sven was piled high on a dish.
“Disgusting, isn’t it?” Seesa rolled her eyes at the bull testicles on display.
Then Sven walked in, from the backyard- Glenn didn’t understand how one could be a lumberjack in Los Angeles, but she was keen to find out. He walked into the room shoulders wide and smile wilder, with bright blue eyes glistening. Whatever they were feeding this man, it was working.
“Time for the ole’ shock treatment then?” Sven inquired to the women.
Seesa chuckled and they all sat down together.
“So- what are you trying to accomplish with this session- what is the end goal?” Glenn inquired.
“Well- more than anything we have conflicting optics. Sven is part of a raw meat following and has sponsors with organic jerky companies and masculinity retreats. However, I as you are aware am an advocate for free bleeding and I spread my blood everywhere.”
“Do you think this is a conflicting message?” Glenn questioned.
“See babe, I-“ Sven started
“It is about the larger mission. My free bleed. Why does it upset people when my own natural blood is shed when we as consumers already have blood on our hands every day. Why are women’s bodies policed and no care is given to animals who suffer for us to harvest their blood.” Seesa explained.
This was going to be a hard problem to solve indeed.
It didn’t matter anymore- none of it mattered. She sighed as her next client came in. A squirrely man about 22 years old and covered in picked over zits. He couldn’t sit still, was it his personality? Meth? Untreated ADHD? Too many energy drinks? Maybe a cocktail of all of it.
“Hello Terrence, says here you have been having problems with kleptomania? Your employer at Cracker Barrel sent you here to figure out how to mediate it?”
“I just stole a couple of salt and pepper shakers- I don’t know what the big deal is?” Terrence started.
“Yes, but before that it was an apron, a potholder, 5 t-shirts, someone’s driver’s license and honestly this list keeps on going. Frankly I am a little surprised because it says here your father is the manager at this Cracker Barrel? Don’t you realize that if this was any other employee we wouldn’t be speaking? You would have just been fired.”
“Oh- I just bet he liked that, I just bet he likes that I’m here now. He don’t even know what he’s talking about. Now I’m just going to owe him again.” Terence spit out. He got up from his seat and started to pace.
This was the second time she had heard this phrase, “He don’t even know what he’s talking about.”
Well, it was from Seesa referring to Sven.
After working through both of their opinions on veganism, clout, appearance, love, romance, intimacy, and even whether owning pets was a form of animal abuse, they almost reached an understanding- or a new way of healing the relationship between the free bleed vegan queen and lumberjack raw meat.
“As I see it, you both are into something familiar in my field. Gestalt! Blood for you Seesa is a way of shocking people into hearing your opinions about feminism and animal care. Sven, eating scrotums is your way of expressing your distance from masculinity in the digital age. Both of you, as I see it are more alike than different. You need to reframe how these rituals can include each other if you ever hope to continue.”
“That makes a lot of sense to me, I have been saying for weeks that I would be happy to do a collaborative video about how hunting industry is actually a push back against the industrialized farming industry and eating meat that you render is actually less detrimental than depleting quinoa from indigenous communities.” Sven postulated.
“He don’t even know what he’s talking about.” Seesa had retorted.
For two months, these damaged men were sent to her from the weirdest situations. She had multiple veterans, she had the klepto, a man who seemed to wear entirely real tree camouflage for some reason and barely any of them had seemed to break and express to her the anger they all seemed to radiate.
One day Randy returned, and they started their starring contest again. That’s when she thought about it. Gestalt! Why was she fighting her clients. She needed to play on their field and with their interests.
“What do you say we get out of here, Randy?”
It took a total of 5 sessions to come to an agreement between Seesa and Sven. They finally had decided to do a workshop on ethical blood and consumerism together. They found out that there was actually quite a bit of people who toe’d the line of new age hippie, survivalist, and raw meat enthusiast. In fact, both of their followings nearly doubled after they did their Free Bleed, Bleed Out retreat in Utah. Glenn was really pleased that her work had panned out and she even started to get referrals from both enterprises afterwards. That was until one day when she was in her office there was a knock on the door after her last client had left.
She had a small storefront in Highland Park that she had converted to her therapist office and only a handful of people knew what this stucco, olive green building was for. Other than her clients, not many people knew it was a therapist office. Which led to many confused people thinking her business was the hipster ramen place next door.
“Hello?” she asked the wind.
In walked Sven, his body so big it barely seemed to fit through the 1920s doorframe. He lumbered in and found a seat on her knock-off Eames chair.
“Hello, Glenn- I hope you don’t mind that I stopped by. I was in the neighborhood picking up some tongues from the carnicería and remembered your office was around here.” Sven explained.
“Oh, well- it is no problem. Is everything ok with you and Seesa? Did you need to set up another appointment for the both of you?” Glenn inquired.
“Well- it isn’t that- I mean not really. We’ve done the retreat and that was great. Honestly, it seems like both of our careers are taking off at the moment. It just has to do with something you said more than anything.”
“Something I said?” Glenn pushed.
She looked at his eyes and they were moving as if following an ant in the world’s smallest labyrinth. He was looking for something. Closure? She could not tell. Honestly it was too distracting to figure it out looking at his hand grasping the plastic bag filled with tongues, looking at his forearm’s tendons flex and relax around it like dancing worms. The other hand reached up to swipe back his long auburn hair. Glenn was also a red head, and she had a theory that all gingers secretly wanted to continue the bloodline.
“Yes, well, maybe not what you said, but how you acknowledged me and my opinion in front of Seesa.”
“I find the key to relationship building is to make sure that everyone is heard in these scenarios.”
Sven nodded earnestly and looked up at Glenn.
“You have no idea how nice it is, sitting in a chair that isn’t covered in blood.”
“Sven, if this was a professional meeting, I feel like you would have made an appointment with me. Is there something else on your mind?”
Glenn was having a hard time navigating her professional demeanor as she saw his well-toned chest lifting and falling slowly.
“I came here to see you, Glenn. I came here to see you and I think I want to stay here with you too.”
The bag of tongues had dropped to the ground.
She had talked Randy into getting in her car with her and letting her take him on a field trip. She promised if he didn’t like their session for today, that she would sign over his anger management papers needed to return to work, and they would stop therapy. He didn’t need to know she was lying.
When they turned the corner into the Mississippi Combat Training Academy shooting range, Randy’s eyes widened.
“Why are we coming here?” Randy spoke up.
“You said you like guns. So I figured you’d be able to be more comfortable in your element.”
“Hmmm. Just try not to embarrass me.” Randy commented.
They entered the gun range and spoke to the attendant that went over safety rules and concerns. Randy had selected a 500 Flex Mossberg for the range. Glenn decided that she was going to write off this expense as an experiment in her practice. She paid for the ammo and the targets and hoped for the best.
She went with him to the lane, ears covered and let him show off his skills with the shot gun. He moved rather gracefully pumping the gun and carefully squeezing the trigger. Once he had cleared his 6 shots, she asked him to sit with her again.
“Why did that young woman upset you so much?” Glenn pushed.
“I was just asking her a question and I called her ma’am and she got mad at me. Kept saying shit like ‘I’m not old enough- ‘ Honestly, I just went red.”
This was the first time Randy had explained his situation to her. The first time Randy had looked her in the eyes. Interesting.
“Interesting- I want you to take those feelings of falling out of control, and I want you to approach them with as much control as you have on that Mossberg. Then I want you to look at that target and put your control through it.” Glenn directed
They both put their earmuffs back on and she watched as Randy was able to shoot the target point-blank 6 times straight. She asked the gun range attendant if he could bring back not only the target but also the confetti that had fallen to the floor.
“What you do that for?” Randy asked.
“That’s for next session,” Glenn answered.
She knew that it was wrong, making love to Sven in her small office in Highland Park. He had been a client, and this would surely make a mess of things. Yet now, as their ginger locks pooled on her tile floor together and their hands interlocked, there was something right in this animalistic hedonism. She had always done things by the book, never toed the line and here she was getting involved.
“I don’t think I can go back.” Sven said.
“I don’t think I want you to.” Glenn responded.
She heard a buzz vibrating through her mahogany table. Sven got up and looked at his phone buzzing on her desk.
“Don’t answer it, Sven. Don’t- “
She knew in that moment she had lost him as quickly as she had received him.
Randy returned to the next session enthusiastically. Glenn thought that she probably led him to believe that he was going to be going to the shooting range again.
“What’s up, Doc?” Randy asked in a lighter mood than usual.
“Craft time!” Glenn responded.
Randy sighed and slumped into his chair. Glenn ignored his child-like behavior and brought him his targets and the gun confetti.
“I want you to glue it back together and tell me the whole story.”
“The whole story?” Randy asked.
“Yes, tell me about the day you punched that woman.” Glenn demanded and shoved a glue stick and some tape in his hand.
Randy sighed yet while holding his target he looked a little proud of how well his shots were at least. He began to match up the holes with the confetti. Arranging them to see if any of them would fit.
“So, she was yelling at me about how she isn’t from here and that you don’t ma’am someone younger than you and I was explaining I’m ex-military. We call everyone Sir or Ma’am. It is a form of respect, but she didn’t seem to like that and kept on harping on. Gender, politics, age, class. She covered it all, I just wanted to find out where they kept the spare keys to bathroom,” Randy explained.
“This woman. Do you think she threatened you?” Glenn asked.
“THREATENED ME? HA!” Randy answered as one of the confetti stuck to his hand, “She’s barely 5 foot tall! THREATEN ME. Please.”
“Well, I don’t mean physically, but do you think that correcting you was disrespectful? That your opinion should matter more than hers because you are older?”
“Nah, that’s not it at all. She can be called whatever she wants, it is about the tone she used when she spoke to me. It was seething. Like I was a moron for even attempting to show her some respect.”
He was struggling to tape everything into place. Some of the holes did not have a mate- almost seeming like the paper must have burnt up on contact.
“What am I supposed to do about these holes that can’t be filled Dr. Glenn?”
“Well, what do you want to do- let them stay holes, or heal them?”
She brough out a package of brightly colored dinosaur stickers.
“Ohhhhhhhh,” Randy got it alright and begun sticking a triceratops to his picture.
Two Months later
Glenn had continued this practice with the gun range with all her clients. She had worked out a deal with the range and being a member for about $600 a year she was able to bring in her clients and pick up her confetti. Randy had finally realized that his anger stemmed from a lack of security in his job and his feelings of inadequacy from dropping out of Pearl River Community College. Terrence had figured out his Kleptomania was a way to feel a connection to something because of the lack of physical contact he was given as a child. All her clients were dealing with their anger for the first time ever it seemed. This was the first time she had felt accomplished in her job well… since them.
Randy came in for his last session required to return to work. It had been four months of anger management and not only did he seem to be in better spirits, he also had apologized to the young Ma’am. He had enrolled in a trade school to pursue a career in Air Conditioning repair, he told her it was to keep a “cool head”. That Randy.
“Let’s go back to the range, for old time’s sake,” Randy pressed.
“I don’t know, you are doing so well Randy, do you really think you need it?” Glenn questioned.
“Ahh come on, I’m sure I can come up with some Daddy issues to make it worth your while.”
As they returned to the range and Randy stood there with his Mossberg and looked down the barrel of the gun and paused.
“Have you ever shot a gun?” Randy asked.
“ME? Heavens no.” Glenn retorted.
“Why the hell not?”
“I’m not into guns, they are dangerous in the wrong hands.”
“Are you dangerous? How do you even know your therapy is working if you aren’t trying it out for yourself?”
“You do have a point there.”
“Get up here and let me show you how it is done.”
Randy went over all the parts of the gun, the muzzle, the receiver, the safety, as if he was introducing longtime friends to a new acquaintance. He showed her how to aim the gun and how to stand to make sure she didn’t get any kick back.
“Let ‘er rip!”
The first shell flew through the air and clipped the corner of the target. Her body buzzed from the feel of it. She had never felt her eyes dilate but after that first shot they had. One shot was all it too to transport her back in time.
BAM BAM BAM
Someone was at the door of her little office off Figueroa.
“YOU FUCKING BITCH,” an angered Seesa screamed from outside.
She dare not get up and answer the door. She might have been a coward, but Sven was a bigger coward. She couldn’t believe he told her about them. She couldn’t believe he went back to her. She sighed and shook herself back to focus. She was still holding a gun and needed to remain in control.
“Almost! Take a breath and really get a good look down that barrel, try not to blink when you press the trigger,” Randy advised.
She pumped the forearm and repositioned her body. Taking a deep breath, she took a shot. It whizzed through the temple of her target’s head.
She hit her head against her desk as she looked at TikTok. Seesa had released a video about Glenn as a form of revenge. She was saying that Glenn took advantage of her role as a therapist and had manipulated Sven into a compromised position and that she was a bitch and a hack. So much for the sisterhood.
Her hands trembled as she gripped the gun. She let off two shots back-to-back, one zipped through the mouth and one through the heart.
“I’m sorry- this number is not recognized…” The automated voice explained.
Glenn sobbed into her pillow and tossed her phone against the floor BAM! She could not believe that coward would not even answer her phone calls. Why was she the one taking the blame for something he instigated? UGH A LUMBERJACK? IN LOS ANGELES? What’s more embarrassing than sexily chopping sections of palm trees. She was a DOCTOR for christsake. Why couldn’t he at least explain what he had said to Seesa? Didn’t she at least deserve that validation?
“You ok, Doc?” Randy asked.
When she turned to answer him, her body frozen in its posture brought the gun with her.
“Whoa, whoa, whoaaa- NEVER turn a loaded weapon on someone unless you plan to shoot them!” Randy lectured.
Horrified, Glenn put the gun down on the table facing the target and sat down on the shitty bench where she was used to being an observer.
“I’m sorry- I think this therapy might be a little much for me.”
“Bullshit- that feeling you are feeling, it is power. Power doesn’t have to destroy you. Do what you taught me to do, Dr. Glenn. Focus it, focus the power, and let it move through you.” Randy pushed her.
She got up from the bench and went back to the gun. She readjusted. She took a deep breath in.
She remembered her pink-tipped fingers intertwining his large, callused hands. They had fit together, so beautifully, so simply.”
She was packing her green Subaru up and throwing her keys into her Highland Park office building for her landlord to collect later that week.
She was crying to Neil Diamond’s “I am, I said,” while driving through ghost towns in Texas.
There was no other bam. Yet she felt it just the same as if she had set off a rocket launcher. Tears were in her eyes as she placed the gun down and looked at Randy.
“Ah Doc? Are you ok?”
She looked at her target- all shots to the groin. It looked as ridiculous as Seesa’s free bleed. Something broke inside her.
“FREE BLEEED!” she screamed, “IT IS SO DUMB!”
Randy looked at her like a concerned dog but continued to approach her.
“It’s SOO FUCKING DUMB? WHAT IF I DON’T LIKE BEING COVERED IN BLOOD? AM I ANY LESS OF A WOMAN?” Glenn cried.
Randy went up to her and said, “Can I give you a hug, ma’am?”
“OF FUCKING COURSE YOU CAN!” Glenn screamed, her glasses askew on her face.
Randy gave her a hug and Glenn continued to cry. She had forgotten what anger had tasted like, how addictive it was. Energy zapped through her body like electricity as Randy tried to ground her. She fucking hated those fucking energy vampires. Those ungrateful assholes. She had given her time, her advice, and her body to those two and they chucked her aside the moment it served them. Why had she tried to steer her clients away from this feeling. Randy was right. Someone disrespects you, punch them in the fucking face.
All this over the slip of some tongues.