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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. Except...here'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 Jew...no 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 like...my 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. Like...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 odds...logic...sense...it 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. Only...like...everyone knows that one day the beam won't be there, but what I'm saying...what I mean...is that I think it's gonna be soon. Like...next time. Like...later today...I mean, soon. The beam isn't gonna be there, and I'm just gonna...just...you 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.