The Magoo Effect

Dr. Panessa pressed the timer button and leaned back in his leather desk chair, clutching a pen like a weapon, ready to unleash its fury with emotional bloody strokes on the paper clipped to the clipboard. The pen was his power and his power, the pen.

Murgasson lay on his back on the leather couch, or was it a settee? Some such thing, neither too hard or too soft. The timer was quiet, but not that quiet, and in the silence the tick, tick, tick sounded like goddamn Big Ben. Well, really Big Ben is the bell, not the clock, but everyone thinks it's the name of the clock too, so, Big Ben. The tick, tick, tick sounded like goddamn Big Ben.

Murgasson took a deep breath, exhaled, then spoke.

“Okay. I'm just gonna jump in, okay? I know how you are, so I'm just gonna jump right in, get the side show on the road. So to speak.”

tick, tick, tick.

“Okay, I'm gonna start...cause I know how you watch that clock thing...timer, whatever you call it, so I'm just gonna start. Bet you named it too. What do you call it? Little Benny?”

Murgasson chuckled a little, then heard the scratching and looked over to see Panessa writing with his pen. “Ahh,” Murgasson said, and waved his hand as though dismissing the man and his pen.

“Anyway, I've had this feeling...I mean, we all have feelings, right? Feelings. Things. Things we feel. Things we think. Like it's real, you know? It's not a dream, I mean, I'm feeling it and I'm awake, and it feels so real, but it's not really a real thing, but it feels like it. You know?”

“But it's like my whole life snaps into focus with this...clarity. Like a camera, you know? The kind you look through the lens and it's all blurry and then you turn the thing and it comes into focus? And it's not blurry any more? Like that. It all makes sense all of a sudden. Except what makes sense is that it makes no sense. Does that make sense?”

Murgasson shook his head from side to side, then started again.

“The clarity is a realization. That's what it is. A realization. About my life. About why I'm kinda fucked up. You know, like, the way I've lived my life was out of focus. But then it's like—snap—into focus.'s the thing...except what comes into focus, about my life, I mean, is that it's been out of focus. There's no focus there. You know? Just kind of wandering...out of focus.”

Murgasson looked over his shoulder. Panessa wasn't writing, just leaning back with his eyes closed. Murgasson wondered if the fuck was even awake.

“Hello,” Murgasson said. Panessa made a rolling motion with his hand as if to say, “Continue.”

“Well. Okay. Where was I? Oh yeah. Jews.”

Panessa's eyes blinked open. He leaned forward towards the clipboard with his pen.

“Wandering Jews,” Murgasson said. “It's like I've been a wandering destination. No focus.”

Panessa leaned back into the comfort of his chair without writing anything with the pen and closed his eyes.

“I don't know. I don't know...I don't know, I can't explain it.”

Murgasson exhaled loudly, then removed a peppermint from his pocket and began unwrapping it, the sound of the cellophane like a campfire against the tick, tick, tick of the timer and the...the...the scratching of the pen! Murgasson whipped his head around to look. Sure enough, that rat bastard was writing with the fucking pen.

“So you're...what? You're writing? You're writing that down? What? What the hell is this? A guy can't suck on a peppermint without it being his mothers nipple for chrissakes? What are you writing? I suppose I have a mother separation nipple sucking fixation now, or something. You shit. You guys are all the same. Got your fucking degree from a cereal box. Send in two boxtops, you shit. What are you gonna do now? Offer me a cigar? See if I take it? Try it. Go ahead. I'll shove it down your Freudian throat. Probably like it too. Marxist. Je-sus-Christ." His face is redder, jaws tight. "Shit.”

Murgasson slammed himself back flat on the couch, folded his arms across his chest.

tick, tick, tick. Scratch, scratch, scratch. Exclamation point.

tick, tick, tick.

Murgasson got control of himself and started to breath normally. Slower. Calmer. He took a deep breath.

“Okay...sorry." His breathing decreases slowly, settling into a normal pattern. "So. It's like this. I'm whole life...I mean, I'm walking on this giant steel girder or whatever they call it...a beam...and it's being lifted into the air while I'm walking on it. And I can't see but I'm walking towards the edge, the end of it, you know...and I can't stop. I can't stop myself...walking toward the edge of the girder—or whatever—and I can't do anything about it. I just keep walking, even though I know I'm gonna step right off the edge. But just as I step off, another one—one of those girders or beams—comes rising up just in time so that I walk right onto it. saves my ass, you know? And then...I'm still walking on a beam that's rising—another one—and I'm like blind or something still, and I step off of that one, but then another one comes rising up from nowhere and I step right off onto it...again.”

Murgasson starts wringing his hands and his breath get shorter.

“And it keeps happening. Over and over. Beam, beam, beam. Me blind, walking, stepping off. Whoosh. Beam comes up just in time. And I realized, my whole life's been just like that. Me walking blind, just trusting—or hoping or maybe I just don't know—that the beam will be there. The beam or girder or whatever will come rising up to save me. And I've been lucky. It's always been there. It's always saved me...the beam from nowhere. I call it the Magoo effect, just like Mr. Magoo. You know, that's what happens to him. Things just work out. Against all just works out.”

Murgasson listened for the scratching of the pen. There was nothing. Just the tick, tick, tick of the timer.

“But here's the thing. I know—and this is what has got me a little freaked out—the thing is, I know that the beam isn't gonna be there one day. knows that one day the beam won't be there, but what I'm saying...what I that I think it's gonna be soon. time. Like...later today...I mean, soon. The beam isn't gonna be there, and I'm just know...step off. Into nothing. The beams not going to save me this time. Nothing. Just...step off.”

Murgasson inhaled deeply, then exhaled. "Well?"

tick, tick, tick.

Panessa looked at the clock, the great arbiter of all. “Time's up,” he said.

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Comments 46 comments

lorlie6 profile image

lorlie6 6 years ago from Bishop, Ca

Damn, Christoph, this tale had me by the balls from the start. Weaving magic is one hell of a talent, and you've got a sorcerer's touch.

Never stop, and wait for that beam-it's on its way.

Twilight Lawns profile image

Twilight Lawns 6 years ago from Norbury-sur-Mer, Surrey, England. U.K.

Chris, that was powerful and very unnerving. I was going to say, "depressing", but that's not quite the word. I'm going to be thinking a lot about this today. You certainly know when, and how, to change the tone from flippancy into minor horror.

Shalini Kagal profile image

Shalini Kagal 6 years ago from India

The Christoph Effect - never fails to amaze!

Christoph Reilly profile image

Christoph Reilly 6 years ago from St. Louis Author

lorlie: Ha, you don't have balls. You can't fool me. Or...what do I know. Thanks for the nice comment. I appreciate your reading this, sweets.

PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 6 years ago from Dallas, Texas

"Like that. It all makes sense all of a sudden. Except what makes sense is that it makes no sense. Does that make sense?” Yep. Perfectly good sense. Keep your eye out for that beam.

Christoph Reilly profile image

Christoph Reilly 6 years ago from St. Louis Author

Twilight: Thanks so much, Sir. Well, if you think about this today, and you figure out what it's about, let me know. Thanks again for your overly kind words.

Christoph Reilly profile image

Christoph Reilly 6 years ago from St. Louis Author

The Shalini effect. Big..Smile..On..Face.

PegCole: Well, hi PegCole. Thanks for coming by and your comment. Hope you enjoyed it. We could all use a beam just in time, couldn't we?

GusTheRedneck profile image

GusTheRedneck 6 years ago from USA

Howdy Christoph - tick, tick, tick. I surely do wish I knew how to spin stories.

Thanks for the fun read.

Gus :-)))

Christoph Reilly profile image

Christoph Reilly 6 years ago from St. Louis Author

Aw, hell Gus. You're an excellent spinner of stories. Thanks for the comment.!

mysterylady 89 profile image

mysterylady 89 6 years ago from Florida

I like the ending! I should have expected it, but it came as a surprise.

Maybe I should see a shrink. You can't imagine how many dreams I have in which I am desperately afraid of falling. I am terrified of heights, and so I am always up high, struggling over rocks as I try to get dowm safely.

Christoph Reilly profile image

Christoph Reilly 6 years ago from St. Louis Author

Ah, Mysterylady. Does your life have the Magoo effect too? Sometimes, that new beam is just a little late and it's been a close call, you know? thanks for the visit!

Christopher Price profile image

Christopher Price 6 years ago from Vermont, USA

This was great! The concept and the language flowing so effortlessly and immersing me completely in the story.

Kafkaesque, Sturgeon-like this was a brief but brilliant gem.

Thanks for such an enjoyable read.


Christoph Reilly profile image

Christoph Reilly 6 years ago from St. Louis Author

Glad you liked it, Mr.Price. Thanks for your kind comment!

Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 6 years ago from California

I actually thought when you first started with the beams that this WAS Mr. Magoo and you were being a sneaky bastard somehow. lol. Thought we were in a session with him. Nicely done. As always your craft is nicely honed and the voice you give your narrator is fantastic. Great choice of details, all the right things left out. Not that this surprising me coming from you.

Christoph Reilly profile image

Christoph Reilly 6 years ago from St. Louis Author

Ha. A session with Mr. Magoo--that would have been good. Wish I had thought of it. Just wanted to write something other than newspaper stuff, so did this late at night before bed. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 6 years ago from California

I know how you feel. Since I took this job in marketing, I've written so much copy. I think I need to get transferred to a different department or something. I'd actually rather do other stuff than write that sort of thing.

Christoph Reilly profile image

Christoph Reilly 5 years ago from St. Louis Author

Yeah. While I'm sure I'm improving in some ways, I also suspect some other brain cells are dying off due to lack of use.

Eiddwen profile image

Eiddwen 5 years ago from Wales

I loved this from beginning to end!! Very well written and clever.Thank you so much for sharing and take care.

Christoph Reilly profile image

Christoph Reilly 5 years ago from St. Louis Author

Eiddwen: Thanks so much for your kind words. I appreciate your commenting...for taking the know? could have just...moved on. You know? So thanks!

Randy Behavior profile image

Randy Behavior 5 years ago from Near the Ocean

I read the title too fast and kept waiting for the Mango to come into play. Enjoyed its creepiness, but it would have been even better with Mangos.

Christoph Reilly profile image

Christoph Reilly 5 years ago from St. Louis Author

Ha, ha! Let's see...I could have him take a mango out of his pocket, shine it on his shirt and take a big juicy bite. Then the other guy can start writing. "Now what? Your writing about this? The...the...whatta ya call You're writing about me eating a Mango?"

ACSutliff profile image

ACSutliff 5 years ago

What an intriguing thought! How do you get up and go home when the time's up, after THAT? It's odd how I feel like you're telling us to just keep walking and don't look down, but now that you have said it, looking down is all I can think about doing.

To a certain extent, I think we all live like this at some point early on in our lives. It can be freeing to wander from beam to beam, but once your eyes are opened to the reality, it's hard to go back to that carefree attitude.

Loved the rant about the cellophane wrapped candy! I bet the guy was only making a grocery list. He didn't have to jump down his throat about it. :)

Christoph Reilly profile image

Christoph Reilly 5 years ago from St. Louis Author

Hi AC. I think you're right. NOTE TO SELF: Buy peppermints. Well, I'm happy you have an interpretation. I'm not sure what I'm saying. But maybe he never makes it home, because the beam doesn't come. His Time is up.

Sorry I haven't been by. So busy. I know I'm falling behind again on IMH. I'm going to catch up with you and my other friends here soon. Thanks so much for reading and saying hi!

rcrawford profile image

rcrawford 5 years ago from NE Ohio

This is a terrific vignette that kept my attention to the end. The switch back and forth between the speaker's two

conflicts was a perfect balance, darkly humorous, and, as anyone who's been in therapy can relate, spot on.

Nice piece!

Christoph Reilly profile image

Christoph Reilly 5 years ago from St. Louis Author

rcrawford: Thanks so much. I appreciate your comment. Glad the bit worked for you and you found it interesting and real. Thanks!

sueroy333 profile image

sueroy333 5 years ago from Indiana

I feel for the guy. He shouldn't worry, though. I've stepped off that beam to nothingness tons of times. Thank God I always wear a safety harness. You dangle for a while, but eventually another beam happens along.

Great story. You really do have an amazing way with words!

Christoph Reilly profile image

Christoph Reilly 5 years ago from St. Louis Author

sueroy: yes, me too, but don't you ever feel that one day it just wont be there? Thanks for the comment!

Stan Fletcher profile image

Stan Fletcher 5 years ago from Nashville, TN

I loved this...Made me think about a lot of things all at the same time. In the end, if the beam doesn't come, the beam doesn't come. Seems like a miracle sometimes when it does, and then sometimes we just take it for granted. Very thought-provoking. Glad you weren't trying to say something specific - that made it even better.

sueroy333 profile image

sueroy333 5 years ago from Indiana

If you mean, do I think I'll be left dangling... yes, I suppose I do. It's amazing I haven't been left there for good already.

It is a lot to think about, it kind of hurts my head. I believe I would rather go through life assuming the beam will be there, than worrying about when it won't.

Of course, I agree with Stan that the beams in your story can refer to a myriad of different things in our lives, that does make this worth considering. Maybe, in some instances, we can control the beam.

Now my head hurts again.

Christoph Reilly profile image

Christoph Reilly 5 years ago from St. Louis Author

Stan, Thanks. Yes, it's either going to be there are it's not, but worrying about it won't change it.

sueroy333, Oddly, things at work have changed in the last couple of days, and I'm going to find myself stepping off the beam I think. Oddly, I'm not freaked out by it. Hope you took some aspirin and fixed your head.

To Start Again profile image

To Start Again 5 years ago

You know, at one point I was headed for a career in therapy. Not making a career out of going to therapy, I mean being a therapist. If you knew you know who I am (hehe cryptic arent I?) then you would laugh at that notion I'm sure :)

Christoph Reilly profile image

Christoph Reilly 5 years ago from St. Louis Author

My curiosity is engaged. Hmm. Hopefully I will have the time to investigate this matter shortly.

spryte profile image

spryte 5 years ago from Arizona, USA

I was always a fan of Mr. Magoo...adorable old coot that he was. So until we got to the beams (which I remember in the opening of every episode) I felt misled...although I can't say I was upset about being fact I was rather fascinated, especially when your character started to get all heated up about being analyzed.

I'm still a disturbed way and I'll probably be chewing on this one for a while because...damn...there's something there. I can't put my finger on it but it really got to me that whole idea of being "aware" that one day there might not be something to save you when you take that next step. Magoo never knew how precarious his position always was...but your speaker obviously he's not as myopic as my dear Mr. Magoo.

Damn...this one really crawled under my skin and I'm sorta irritated by it. Nice job. :) I'm gonna go sleep on it.

Christoph Reilly profile image

Christoph Reilly 5 years ago from St. Louis Author

Spryte: Thanks for the comment, which is really quite wonderful--the comment, I mean--and as odd as it might seem, that's kind of how I feel about it too. It just sorta came to me all at once and I wrote it down but I haven't quite figured it out. I mean, I have, but there's something more mysterious about it than I can quite grasp or put into words. So anyway, thank you for your words, which coming from you whose writing I so admire, mean a great deal to me. Thank you. :) (I even made one of those punctuation faces for you, which I rarely do!)

izettl profile image

izettl 5 years ago from The Great Northwest

Only you can weave peppermints and nipples into one story. Of course with my psychology background, I totally appreciate this story. Hope you don't run out of beams any time soon.

meow48 profile image

meow48 5 years ago from usa

i know people like this, both of these guys... and the shrink... it was perfect... they are the scariest mds ever known to mankind... stranger than fiction... really like this.. common sense does not prevail with them.. they are seemingly about cause and effect.

meow48 profile image

meow48 5 years ago from usa

ack, i lost half my comment... um, wore a pair of shoes i picked up on sale to work and they had the words, SATIN EFFECT... on them. one of the shrinks saw it and commented how inappropriate it was for a nurse to wear something with the words, SATAN effect on them... i was left speechless. hee.

Christoph Reilly profile image

Christoph Reilly 5 years ago from St. Louis Author

Meow: I think that shrink is the Devil. I'll tell you, I dated a shrink once, and nobody was ever in more need of a shrink than she. On the other hand, she had first hand experience with wackiness, so I guess she was qualified.

ltfawkes profile image

ltfawkes 5 years ago from NE Ohio

Very interesting.

I hope I don't sound completely lacking in compassion, but I think even the most well-balanced therapist in history would rapidly be driven nuts if he had to sit and listen to rants like this guy's all day every day.

You captured two very compelling personalities in this piece, Chris. The detached shrink and the self-involved patient. Each of them makes an awesome character.

Nice work.


klanguedoc profile image

klanguedoc 5 years ago from Canada

Fantastic. You got me hooked.

Vito Lombardi profile image

Vito Lombardi 5 years ago from California, USA

Hooked from the start. Great writing! The way you portrayed each character was a great learning tool for me. I will try something of the sort soon! Thanks for the Hub.

Christoph Reilly profile image

Christoph Reilly 5 years ago from St. Louis Author

Vito: Thanks. Glad you enjoyed it. Thanks for stopping in.

blondepoet profile image

blondepoet 5 years ago from australia

Good morning Captain Feathersword..mmm..was that his name.....'BP scratches her head....hell oops....that is the name of the bloke in The Wiggles...oih how I miss thy captain....our deep sea adventures....the frolicking in thy captains stateroom...oh my

Oh Christoph wow some new stories....this one exceptional,brilliant, perfection, just like every other thy has read xx

Christoph Reilly profile image

Christoph Reilly 5 years ago from St. Louis Author

Oh my darling. We pass like two ships in the night. Perhaps someday we'll collide.

kaltopsyd profile image

kaltopsyd 4 years ago from Trinidad originally, but now in the USA

haha, nice! This is way too engaging... as usual. :P

Great job again, Christoph.

-slowly climbing up the side of the Hub globe, K. Alto. :)

Christoph Reilly profile image

Christoph Reilly 4 years ago from St. Louis Author

Hi kaltopsyd! Long time no see. It's wonderful to see you again. I hope all is well with you.

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