Moses Prison, Upstate New York 1997
Ronaldo is headed to see Dr. Everett Milner, a black man from the inner-city of Detroit.
Joven thinks this will be a good match but much to his chagrin, the black doctor, when he sees him, proves to be more patronizing than any of the white ones.
Milner has a pipe, thick glasses, a blazer with suede elbow pads, a bow-tie and an oxford accent to boot. Ronaldo’s thougts: What could he possibly know about me?
“Good morning Mr. Dominguez,” grumbles Milner looking at a clipboard with past evaluations on it.
He find Milner’s tone insulting.
Why does he have to talk to me like I’m outta my mind or something, Joven thinks. Or like I’m a lost little kid stuck in a tree. “What’s up doc? You here to tell me what’s wrong with me. How fucked up I am?”
“No I’m here to help you understand, or at least try to understand from my standpoint, a professional vantage point, why you hate the world.”
Joven laughs uncontrollably.
“Is something funny?” Milner asked, clearly annoyed. “Is this attempt to re-direct your emotions maybe? Avoid the issue at hand so to speak.”
“Please your killing me,” Joven says, eyes watering with hilarity. “That Psycho babble jargon, good stuff doc, good stuff, you ever thought about taking that on the road.”
“Ok that’s quite enough,” Milner growls. “Now should I come back at another time or do you want to waste time. This is outside of my normal purvew, you’re a special case a sociopath, pyschopath, possibly Bi-Polar, possibly, well I’m here at the behest of the federal government, which I’m doing a joint research project. As much as it may trouble you to hear, you’re well a hamster.”
“Tell me something new man. Look probe away poindexter, I didn’t ask for this,” Joven says in a more serious tone. “Warden said I had to do it.”
“Okay fair enough but I undestand from your files…yes, I understand that you wanted counseling, you requested it. Is this true?”
“Then please let me help you. I’ve gone over your files vigorously, you’re an exceptional young man and I just want to get to the root of whatever it is that’s going on in there.”
Joven loosens up. Maybe he isn’t so bad after all.
Milner clears his throat. “The prison psychologist tells me that you feel paranoid. Why do you feel this way? Do you feel like you’re alone. Special, persecuted unlike any other person?”
“That psychologist was sexy don’t you think? I could hardly keep my eyes off her. The way she moved. Those lips when she said those big word, I must admit I was aroused. Seriously though I think she was paranoid, that she would end up butt naked on her hands and knees in my cell or something. Maybe taking it like a doggy, a sweet little psychologist doggy. Oh Joven Oh Joven!”
Ronaldo’s having fun now.
Milner’s annoyed, bumpy flight to the middle of nowhere for this? Kid must think he’s on television or something. Milner decides he’ll humor him. But he’ll do it methodically.
“I can’t help you if you don’t cooperate please answer my question.”
“Okay, lighten up. Maybe you need some ass or something. Anyway, yes it’s all around me. The world is a dangerous, beautiful and terrible place. Shit is real to me because it’s my reality.”
“I hear that you’re having trouble sleeping, a re-occuring dream perhaps?”
“Perhaps? Listen, you actually get paid for this bullshit? Do you even give a shit what I say?”
Joven is suddenly becoming impatient and angry. He starts rambling about the “president, the guards, the cartels, everybody is in on it! and so are you,” he says to Milner, pointing an accusatory finger.
“Mr. Dominguez please calm down.”
“Where are you from?” Joven asks in a sporadic voice, even though he knows the answer.
“What relevance does…..”
“Answer the motha fuckin’ question!”
MILNER’S NOTES: “TYPE A SOCIOPATH; RAMBLED THOUGHTS; QUICK TO ANGER”
“It looks like I’ll have to come back when you have calmed your nerves, guard, guard!”
“You’re not going anywhere,” Joven exclaims loudly, springing up, shutting the door and locking it.
Milner is terrified as he put his hands up to try to calm Ronaldo down. The doctor then returns slowly to his seat and activates a small cassette recorder.
Joven smirked and sat back down. All the world is a stage, he recalls, thinking suddenly of, what’s his name SHake-a-spear, for some dumb reason. He loves to ham it up, put on performances, just to mindscrew people. Dr. Milner is no exception.
Joven lights a cigarillo for effect more than anything else. He speaks:
“Not only do you think I’m crazy. You think I’m an idiot. Sit down man, the guards are at lunch. I’m not gonna hurt you. Now where are you from?”
“Detroit, I grew up in a rough neighborhood, dirt poor, maybe somewhat similar to your Harlem upbringing.”
“So then you somewhat understand my fear don’t you?”
“No not entirely. But I want to understand your fear. Do you want me to understand?”
“Okay then tell me about this re-occuring dream.”
“It’s this old man that’s…forget it. You should understand my fear but I’ll tell you why you don’t. You’re out of touch, your suede elbow pads are covering up your ashy black ass arms, your bowtie is cutting off oxygen to your dome. Look, when is the last time you’ve been back to your old neighborhood, Detroit?”
“I live in Detroit now, but this is not about me. Your smart enough to know that redirection and projection is a classic cry for help. I don’t have to tell you that. If you must know, I go back all the time, trying to understand the pathology, the souls of black folk as DuBois once wrote about. I’ll humor you. I work at Wayne State, I’m a medical physician and have a doctorate I live in Auburn Hills. That’s a little more information than you need to know but I’m trying to build a rapport with you. I want you to trust me as I trust you.”
“You don’t hardly trust me and it’s just like I figured. You ain’t been back to the real side of things. You ain’t been back to mingle with those who seldom conform to social norms.”
“Interesting. What do you mean Ronaldo? May I call you Ronaldo or do you prefer Joven as they called you on your block. Or maybe Mr. Dominguez perhaps.”
“Man whatever! Look at you, you’re a joke. Damn, you’re so out of touch with reality.”
Typical young brother, Milner thinks, smiling leaning back, like an amused father and lighting his pipe. He broke ranks with his profession, chuckling amusingly.
“Okay, I’ll tell you what I think, just as a man. Forget about the hardware on the walls for a second. It would seem to me that it is you who are out of touch young man. I see this all the time Ronaldo. And this may be news to you. It is not necessarily the fault of greater society or even myself that certain people tend to violate social norms and laws of this country’s municipalities. I’m no more to blame for your problems than you are for my idiocyncracies. Do you feel like a product of your environment? Maybe like the world owes you something because you came of age in the ghetto? It is you young man who may need to wake up and smell the coffee. Look at yourself. You’re too sharp to be locked up. And why do you make excuses for crooks, deviants with the same mental illnesses as yourself?”
Milner has him cold and they both know it.
Under normal circumstances Joven would have punched him dead in his mouth but he wants to be tactful and respect his professional opinion. He’s too proud to concede the truth in what Milner said though.
“Hmm sounds like you’re judging me. I thought your job was to offer an objective analysis. Yeah that’s right, a arroz-con-pollo nigger from Harlem said, ‘objective’ analysis.’ What’s wrong doc? Seems like you’re infusing personal opinion into this session. You know nothing about me what I’ve been through. As a matter of fact, you’re too old to understand the game. And you’re too brainwashed by that bullshit medical degree to empathize with a young man the same color as you.”
Dr Milner frowned, his texturized salt and pepper hair glistens in the light as he wipes his brow. He’s intrigued. This kid is likable for some odd reason.
“Son listen, I’m as real as one can get. I understand you perfectly. I fought my own people and others. Forty-years to get where I am now. And I won’t let anyone invalidate that. I worked hard son. Work! Something your generation has forgotten about. Your generation has it so easy. But you’d love for the world to think you have real problems.”
Broken record, the fed and all these other old as negroes tell him the same thing, Joven quips to himself.
Milner then takes off his glasses and wiped his eyes. He quickly gathers himself and clears his throat once more. Not revealing his empathy for the young man, he leans back and sees himself at a young age. Mad at the world and establishment, wanting to tear shit up. He turns now back to his notes, doodling.
A curious Joven looks over at the pad and then solemnly at Milner.
“You wrong about me,” Joven says in a soft genuine voice. “I did everything America says do. I was on the honor roll in high school, you believe that. I even went to a Junior College and got a two-year degree. I had the GPA to go to any four-year in the country.”
Suddenly he’s violently loud again, pounding his fist on the table for emphasis.
“But I made a choice!” I chose not to conform. I didn’t want to fake it in a fake university. I’m a realist. This is a artificial world so I don’t belong. Tell me, what education do you speak of doctor? Because I can’t think of any kind that would have been of more value than what I got in the fuckin’ world, the streets. I made a choice. Some choose to live like saints. No sex. No alcohol, very little material wealth. Fuck that! Are you blaming me because I wanted it all and did any and everything to get it. But you know what. God let me live so I could taste life and then suffer the consequences.”
Calmly he sits back, clearly winding down and clearly ending his soliloquy.
“Even you sir, must someday be judged. So who are you.”
Dr. Milner finishes writing, tears a sheet from the pad and stands up with a stern face.
“Here is a prescription to help you sleep and help you calm down. If my professional diagnosis is correct. You have what’s called a bi-polar disorder. You see, you’re under the dillusion that everyone is out to get you. Up one day, down the next. Let me tell you something and this is from a man who rioted in the streets like a mad man looking for justice. The only injustice that has been done you has been self-imposed. Your violent behavior and rebellious manner is a perfect indication of that. You know you’ve gone out of your way to perpetuate the very stereotypes that keep people of color down. And how dare you imply that you have been divinely inspired to be a criminal.”
Joven lights another cigarillo even though one is already burning on the ash tray in front of him. Obviously no one understands him. He sinned just like everyone else. He’d used the capitalist system against the capitalists, yet he was the one who was evil and a shame to his community. How could this be?
“Oh yeah, I forgot. You’re part of the talented tenth, ain’t that DuBois? You’ve underestimated me from the time you walked in, everybody has, that’s why I’m rich bitch!”
When he says ‘talented tenth,’ again for no reason in particular, Joven’s fingers make quotation marks.
“Man you’re just mad because I understand your profession and you can’t dazzle me with your jargon and make me fill bad about myself. You’re mad because I’ve been on the covers of magazines. You, like all the other jealous assholes, sellouts and establishment flunkies, are mad because at age 20 I got more money than a pro athlete without ever having played a damn thing. Look, I ain’t paranoid at all. It’s just reality. Real, reality. Not scientific, theoretical reality. How many can say they’ve done what I’ve done. I’m worth more dead than some
people would ever be alive, money or no money? Get the outta here with this bullshit man. I got all the time in the world and you’re still wasting it.”
Ronaldo looks down at the paper Milner handed him skeptically and then rolls his eyes cynically.
“Depakote, huh?” he says referring to the prescription. “Is this some kind of medicine. A drug to put me to sleep forever, make me oblivious to my own reality. Why not just give me some weed.”
Again he leans back, balls up the paper and hurled it, hitting Milner square between his eyes and knocking his glasses to the floor. Now Ronaldo was laughing with rage.
“You academics and pseudo scientists kill me. How can you say that I’m crazy.”
“I’m not saying you’re crazy,” Milner answersm still calm picking up his glasses and wiping them off.
This further angered Ronaldo and he now thinks the shrink is patronizing him. So he gets up and walks calmly toward Milner.
“Guard, Guard! Gu..,” Milner yells with futility.
But Joven covered his mouth and placed the index finger of his other hand on his own lips, “Shhhhhhh,” he whispred.
“It’s ludicrous to opress a group of people with lynchings, racism, poverty and turn the other way when it comes to letting drugs into our communities. Then you turn around and give that same group of people derivatives of those same illegal drugs that you made legal in order to silence independent thinkers and people you just can’t figure out and don’t want to. Then you make illegal drugs so profitable that desperate people don’t care about real work anymore that’s the truth. Me I just like the gangster life and that, too, is the truth.”
Joven backs off him and walks over to call the guard to open the door.
With a cigarillo hanging from the corner of his lips like Cagney or Edward G. Robinson or Bogie in Casablanca he chuckles at Milner.
“You’re nothing but a legal drug dealer, an educated pimp trying to sweet talk people into thinking their lives are fucked up. Doctor Milner, thanks but no thanks. I don’t need your kind of help.”
With a loud shriek the door swings open and Joven walked out.
Milner followed slowly.
Incredible, Dr. Milner thinks to himself. Stokes came up chewing on a sandwich. The guards really were out to lunch.
“Amazing,” Dr. Milner said sarcastically to Stokes while shaking his head. “Simply fascinating.”
“See you next time Doc,” Stokes said, trying to make up for the fact that he was away from his post.
“I won’t be back guard, I don’t think I can do anything with this kid,”
TO BE CONTINUED!