Dr. Mel Waldman
Covered with masks, my olive-hued face is
chimerical-unreal. I wear masks and I am the masks I wear.
Here, in this tiny tomblike room in the drug clinic, I sit
on a broken armchair and listen to the harrowing words of the other. You are the
other that wears masks of innocence. And you are the masks you
You glare at me. Your frenzied black eyes drill a hole of
terror in my pounding heart. Your massive body and malignant thoughts fill the
“Why are you looking at me like that?”
“How am I looking?”
“Very angry, evil.”
It’s late in the afternoon. He’s my last patient. The
clinic’s closed. People are leaving.
I glance at the phone on the desk.
“Try making that call and I’ll kill you,” the soft-spoken
man says dispassionately.
Time crawls and no one comes to check on us. We are alone
in the clinic.
My hands lie on the desk about a foot from the phone. His
furious eyes dart across my face and land on my bony-fleshy symbols of freedom
“Keep your hands where they are,” he orders, eyes rolling
back and forth in a tempest.
My hands are still. A malicious smile spreads across his
face, a seething cauldron of madness.
Time slows down and almost stops.
The oceanic silence devours me.
Against my will, my hands tremble. His wicked smile widens
and the rushing waves within his eyes vanish. And now, calm cold eyes gaze at
me, stab and cut my spirit, slice my brainwaves, and rape my soul. My frenzied
eyes sail across the room and rush into a vacant universe.
Suddenly, a bestial laugh shatters the horrific silence.
(Is it his or mine?)
He rises, turns around, opens the door, and saunters off.
(Does my terror free him? Does it save me?)
No one believes my story.
“He’s a harmless fellow,” they insist, but transfer him to
another clinic down the hall.
Decades pass. Perhaps, he’s still out there, next door.
(But now, the mammoth man lives inside my head, in a tiny room
of terror, where he reveals
who he really is and I discover who I am behind closed doors.)
Dr. Mel Waldman, email@example.com, of Brooklyn, NY, wrote BP #74’s “Masks
of Innocence” (+BP #72’s 3-poem set, “Inside the
Slaughterhouse,” “Scorpio,” & “Strange Highways”). He is a
psychologist, poet, and writer whose stories have appeared in numerous
magazines, including HARDBOILED DETECTIVE, HARDBOILED, DETECTIVE STORY
MAGAZINE, ESPIONAGE, THE SAINT, DOWN IN THE DIRT, CC&D, PULP METAL
MAGAZINE, INNER SINS, YELLOW MAMA, and AUDIENCE. His poems have been widely
published in magazines and books, including LIQUID IMAGINATION, A NEW ULSTER,
THE BROOKLYN LITERARY REVIEW, THE BROOKLYN VOICE, BRICKPLIGHT, THE BITCHIN’
KITSCH, CLOCKWISE CAT, CRAB FAT MAGAZINE, SKIVE MAGAZINE, ODDBALL
MAGAZINE, ON THE RUSK, POETRY PACIFIC,
POETICA, RED FEZ, SQUAWK BACK, SWEET ANNIE & SWEET PEA REVIEW, THE JEWISH
LITERARY JOURNAL, THE JEWISH PRESS, THE JERUSALEM POST, HOTMETAL PRESS, MAD
SWIRL, HAGGARD & HALLOO, ASCENT ASPIRATIONS, and NAMASTE FIJI: THE
INTERNATIONAL ANTHOLOGY OF POETRY. A past winner of the literary GRADIVA AWARD
in Psychoanalysis, he was nominated for a PUSHCART PRIZE in literature and is
the author of 11 books. Four of his mystery, fantasy, and horror stories were
published by POSTSCRIPTS, a British magazine and international anthology, in
November 2014. He recently completed an experimental mystery novel inspired by
one of Freud’s case studies and is looking for an agent. He has been inspired
for decades by his patients and their heroic stories of trauma and survival.