Jean would like to see some follow-up of the psychiatric analysis of the Mounties made in ĎStrange BedfellowsĒ, and being the eternal Benny/Meggy shipper, sheíd like to see it result in something between them. She said she wasnít interested in Turnbull, but sorry, the Moo needs him to set it all up. (The Mooís kind of repeating a theme-Turnbull-wise-as you will see but, dang, heís handy when heís smart.)
Meggy and Benny Get Their Heads Shrunk
A Play In Four Scenes
(in order of appearance)
Doctor Tung† (the psychiatrist in ĎStrange Bedfellowsí)†
(Turnbullís office, shortly before Dr. Tung leaves the Consulate after examining the staff. The curtain opens to Turnbull working at his desk. Dr. Tung enters.)
Tung:†† Constable, may I have a word with you?
Turnbull:†† Doctor? Anything I can get you? Some tea?
Tung:†† Some answers.
Turnbull:†† Of course, Doctor. Anything at all. But Constable Fraser might be the better person if thereís something you need to know about . . . well . . . anything. Or the Inspector. Well, I donít mean he knows about the Inspector, I mean . . .
Tung:†† Iíve been evaluating people for more than a generation now, Constable.
Tung:†† My guess is youíll want me to keep your secret. But your governmentís paying me to report on all three of you. Persuade me why I shouldnít tell them the truth.
(Turnbull goes to a drawer, takes out a plasticized card, shows it to Tung.)
Turnbull:†† Because they already know. One branch does, at any rate. But not the branch that is paying you, probably.
Tung:†† (looking at the card) Then, we have a situation here.
Turnbull:††††††† It would help me a great deal if youíd tell the Inspector I have the mentality of a block of Swiss cheese.
(Tung studies the card and then hands it back to Turnbull.)
Tung:†† Alright, considering.
Turnbull:††††††† I appreciate this, Doctor. While you are here, thereís something Iíd like to ask you. (Motions Tung to his visitorís chair.)
Tung:†† (sitting) Yes?
Turnbull:†† Would you allow me to buy some of your time?
Tung:†† You want to book an appointment? Certainly. All you have to do is call my receptionist. I believe your RCMP medical plan covers a certain number of sessions. Youíd have to check. I imagine a man in your profession has to deal with a great deal of stress.
Turnbull:†† Itís not for myself. Iíd like to buy a couple of sessions for Constable Fraser and Inspector Thatcher. But Iíd like them to think Ottawa ordered it.
Turnbull:†† Because I like them. And they like each other.
Tung:†† And what would that have to do with buying them some therapy sessions?
Turnbull:††††††† A long shot. Theyíre both such troubled people, each in their own way. Theyíll avoid getting together as they should. Maybe if even one confronted his or her issues, they might make a move.
Tung:†† Youíre right, itís a long shot. I wonít lie to them, Constable. If you can persuade them to call for an appointment, Iím willing to bill you for their time. But, I wonít take part in any further deception.
Turnbull:†† Doctor, you surprise me. I thought youíd storm out in righteous indignation.
Tung:†† Well, as I said, I know how to evaluate people. You donít need any medical training to feel the tension in the air when they are both in the same room. And they would both benefit from some therapy. Troubled in their own ways, as you say.† But once they are in my office, they are patients like any other. Iíll deal with them on that basis and as I see fit.
Turnbull:†† Thatís already more than I was expecting. Doctor, I appreciate this.
Tung:†† (Rises to leave) Iíll leave it to you to arrange. It will be difficult, but I suppose you get paid to do whatís difficult.
Turnbull:††††††† I do indeed. And thanks again for keeping that particular fact to yourself.
(Dr. Tung exits, Turnbull returns to work. Curtain.)
(Doctor Tungís office. Standard office stuff, to include at minimum: a door leading into the room, a chair for the doctor, a chair facing for the patient, a window, a telephone, a coat/hat stand. Curtain opens to Tung on his own chair studying some notes. Then he puts them down, picks up the telephone, dials.)
Tung:†† (into the phone) Alright, Jean. Send her in. (Thatcher enters, smartly. Doctor rises to greet her.) Good morning, Inspector. Please come in.
Thatcher:†† (extends her hand for a handshake. Very professionally.) Doctor. (They exchange a handshake.)
Tung:†† Please have a seat.
Thatcher:†† (She sits.) Thank you. (Pause) Doctor, Iím not sure I understand the necessity for this. I mean, if you found something wrong with me, wouldnít it have been in your report?
Tung:†† Thereís nothing wrong, Inspector. But even a well-adjusted person can benefit from a chance to . . .
Thatcher:†† Let off some steam?
Thatcher:†† Deal with a few minor things? Minor. Nothing really important.
Thatcher:†† Even the best adjusted person Ė it wouldnít do any harm. Even if some were Ďrock-solidí.
Tung:†† Even so.
Thatcher:†† Then, I agree to participate. I suppose youíll want to start with some history.
Tung:†† We can begin however you like. Iím at your disposal for the next fifty minutes.
Thatcher:†† Well, thereís nothing I really NEED to discuss.
Tung:†† But, since youíre already here . . .
Thatcher:†† Since Iím already here, thereís no sense in wasting Ottawaís money. (Fidgets a little. They sit in silence for a few beats.) I have been concerned about my mother. I suppose that would be appropriate to discuss here.
Tung:†† Of course.
Thatcher:†† Since she and Dad split up she depends on me for, well, emotional support. To be there for her. All the time. Iím happy to take care of Mother but sometimes it can be . . . I donít know . . . taxing? Would that be a good word?
Tung:†† Would it?
Thatcher:†††††† I think so. Something thatís taken out of you, isnít it, a tax. And itís a duty. An obligation. I guess itís a good word for it. Itís taxing. Very taxing. Anyway, Mother is used to having me around, or was. It was a hard decision to accept this post in Chicago. Itís something Iíve wanted to try, diplomatic work. But means leaving Mother on her own. Sheís in Toronto, Mother is, and I could have easily stayed. Thereís not shortage of assignments there. I was thinking Iíd stay in Chicago maybe two years, three at most.
Tung:†† But . . .
Thatcher:†† Nothing. Iím definitely not planning to let anything keep me here longer than I have in mind. I have obligations at home and thatís that.
Thatcher:†† And if somebody want me to . . . well, never mind, itís not important.
Tung:†††††††††††† If somebody wants you to . . .
Thatcher:†† Okay, if you insist . . . take on new obligations, Iím not prepared to do that.
Thatcher:†††††† I mean, just because heís . . . just because maybe hypothetically somebody . . . well, I just donít have time for that. Itís not like there arenít plenty of men I could have back home. Iím not a loner, Doctor. And Iíve been told . . . well . . . I donít like to be the one to say it, but I suppose youíre supposed to be honest with a psychiatrist.
Tung:†††††††††††† It does help.
Thatcher:†† Then, I have to admit that some people . . . some men . . . have told me Iím . . . I donít know . . . attractive. So itís not like Iíd end up alone just because I donít want to start up with one particular . . . I mean, if I know Iím leaving, wouldnít it make sense to stay free?
Tung:†† Would it?
Thatcher:†††††† I think so. And itís not as though he couldnít have his pick of women if he were lonely. Itís not on my head.
Tung:†† On your head?
Thatcher:†† That heís lonely. Iím not responsible for the emotions of my staff now, am I? (pause) How much time have we used up. Are we nearly finished?
Tung:†† We have more time.
Thatcher:†††††† I donít see this is really going anywhere. Thereís really not a lot of point in going on.
Tung:†† You were saying it was a difficult decision to leave Toronto.
Thatcher:†††††† I know what youíre doing. Youíre trying to get me to talk about my mother. You think I have some guilt feelings about leaving her. Well, I donít. Iím totally aware of my own emotions.
Tung:†† Of course.
Thatcher:†† When I said I was concerned about her, that didnít mean I regret my decision to leave in any way. It was the right thing to do, even if it was just a little selfish. I made a conscious decision. Sheíll be okay for a few years while I get the experience I need for my career. I have this all planned out, Doctor.
Thatcher:†††††† I donít need anybody disrupting my plans at this point, even if he is . . .† (stops dead)
Tung:†† Even if he is . . .
Thatcher:†† Nothing. Nobody. A person. A hypothetical person.
Tung:†† (after a pause) You donít like having your plans disturbed.
Thatcher:†† Does anyone?
Tung:†† Youíd be surprised. Iíd had patients that hate their own plans. Iíve had some that donít even have plans.
Thatcher:†† That doesnít make sense. How could a person live like that?
Tung:†† They do. Some of them.
Thatcher:†† Well in my opinion thatís just silly. (She thinks about it.) You canít just drift through life. If you do, it may take you someplace you donít want to be. You could end up trapped.
Thatcher:†† Exactly. Letís take an example. Constable Fraser, letís say. Just as an example. I studied his file when I arrived. Well, it would make sense for me to do that. Heís my deputy.
Tung:†† Perfect sense.
Thatcher:†† Heís just drifted from one assignment to another, all over the north, no pattern, no plan, just drifting. And now look where he is. In Chicago, where he doesnít belong, where he has no business being, not suited for urban living, not suited for diplomatic work. Completely out of place. Completely alone. I mean, itís no business of mine, but he must be perfectly miserable. (Pause) Why are we talking about Fraser? This has nothing to do with Fraser. We were talking about plans.
Tung:†† And we were also talking about feeling trapped.
Thatcher:†††††† I see what youíre trying to do. Youíre trying to get me to admit I feel trapped. Well, I donít. I was explaining to you the importance of having direction in your life. Iíll bet thatís what a lot of our patients need. Direction. When people have direction, they donít end up places they donít want to be. You see how important that is? Of course you do. Sorry, I didnít mean to be patronizing or anything.
Tung:†† You werenít.
Thatcher:†††††† I get like that sometimes. Bossy. I guess I overdo it sometimes. Of course you really canít get anywhere on the Force, as a woman, unless youíre seen to be tough. I guess women in authority have to overdo it a little. The men donít respect you, otherwise. Sorry, youíre a man. I didnít mean all men, I meant Mountie men. Although, come to think of it, donít most men admire strong women? Look at my namesake, for example. Iron Lady. Thatís what they used to call her. Vecchio used to call me ĎDragon Ladyí. Now the new guy . . .† I mean, now his new name for me is ĎIce Queení. Thatís a compliment to me in a way, isnít it? That they respect me so much. Of course it never quite loses its sting. Iím not a cruel person, Doctor. Am I? Wouldnít your tests have shown if I were a cruel person?
Tung:†† They would. And youíre not.
Thatcher:†† But I have to pretend to be! Donít they see that? I mean, are they really that stupid, to think that I LIKE being the Dragon Lady? Iím a nice person, outside of the Force. Iím a kind person. I take care of my mother. I devote myself to her. Nobody seems to understand that I have to . . . (Pause) Sorry, Iím getting carried away.† Iím . . . just give me a minute. (Long pause) Are we finished with this yet?
Thatcher:†† The session. Do I really have to stay the whole time?
Tung:†† You donít have to do anything you donít want to, Inspector. But one thing Iíd like to bring to your attention. Sometimes Iíve noticed with my patients that the most productive sessions arenít always the most pleasant ones.
Thatcher:†††††† If Iím uncomfortable with something, it means itís important?
Tung:†† Itís not a fixed rule, but sometimes it happens. And feeling trapped is also pretty common these days.
Tung:†† Very much so.
Thatcher:†† Some people are so messed up. (Small laugh) I guess I donít have to tell YOU that. All the better for you.
Tung:†† Iím a doctor, Inspector. I like to see people well.
Thatcher:†††††† I never thought about that. (She thinks) Iím a policewoman. Maybe thatís why I like to see order. (Thinks more) Could it be the other way around?
Tung:†††††††††††† I donít know. Could it?
Thatcher:†† Thatís called Ďreflectingí right? (Doctor smiles) See, Iím onto you, Doctor. I know your tricks. Youíre trying to trap me.
Tung:†††††††††††† I assure you, Iím not trying to do that.
Thatcher:†† Well itís not going to work on me. So guess thereís not much point in going on with this. Would it be alright if I just left now?
Tung:†††††††††††† If thatís what you would like to do.
Thatcher:†† Am I supposed to sign something?
Tung:†† No, everything is arranged.
Thatcher: †† Then, I guess Iíll just be on my way. (She rises. Dignified. Professional. Extends hand again, Tung shakes it.) Good-bye Doctor. Thank you, this has been very helpful. (Exits)
(Same setup, Tung alone reading first, then calling receptionist)
Tung:†† Alright, Jean, send him in. (Gets up and opens door to Fraser. Fraser enters, Ďmarchesí to the patientís chair and stands beside it, at attention, his hat under his arm. Tung extends his hand for a handshake. Fraser takes it, formally.) Good afternoon, Constable.
Fraser:†† Good afternoon, Doctor. (As if reporting to a superior)
Tung:†† You can leave your hat over there if you like. (Points to the coat/hat stand. Fraser hangs up his hat and then returns to his position.) Make yourself comfortable. (Fraser shifts to Ďat easeí.) Please take a seat.
Fraser:†† Thank you kindly, Doctor. (Sits, stiffly, awaiting further instructions.)
Tung:†† Well, Constable, this session is really yours to do with whatever you wish. In case there are any topics, issues, you wanted to discuss.
Fraser:†††††††††† I was given to understand that I was supposed to report for therapy.
Tung:†† ĎReportí isnít exactly the word I would use. My services are being made available to you to use however you like.
Fraser:†† (Clearly at a loss. Sits considering what to say next for an uncomfortable period of time.) I should tell you, Doctor, Iíve never actually taken part in a psychotherapy session. I donít really know the correct way to begin. Iíve read about a number of therapeutic approaches. Perhaps if you told me your orientation. Are you a Freudian? Adlerian? Do you perhaps do Cognitive Therapy?
Tung:†† Would it matter?
Fraser:†† That you do Cognitive Therapy?
Tung:†† That I prefer any particular kind of approach. I just do and say whatever seems right in each case.
Fraser:†† Oh, the Eclectic Approach, then. (Relaxes) But, as I said, I just donít know the correct way to begin. My reading hasnít included transcripts of actual sessions, at least any in this century. I donít think anything earlier would really be an appropriate model, would it?
Tung:†† Youíre read a lot about psychotherapy?
Fraser:†† Iíve read a lot about everything. (His first smile. A small one.) My grandparents operated a library.
Tung:†† Really? Where was this?
Fraser:†† We travelled a great deal. All around the north, parts of China.
Tung:†† You travelled with them.
Fraser:†† My grandparents raised me. My fatherís parents. Dad was on the trail most of the time. He was a Mountie.
Tung:†† And your mother?
Fraser:†† Also murdered. But much earlier. When I was six. (Pause) You would probably find that significant, psychologically.
Tung:†††††††††††† I find it horrible!
Fraser:†† There were aspects that were indeed horrible, in both cases.
Tung:†† And you never had any counselling for any of it? Either as a child or later? (Shocked and honestly affected)
Fraser:†† Not really. You have to understand the way things are in the far north. There arenít many therapists around, perhaps in the large cities like Yellowknife or Whitehorse, there are some. But thereís also the mentality of the people. They like to think of themselves as self-reliant. Not needing help. Particularly not psychological help. I guess Iím guilty of that, too.
Tung:†††††††††††† I wouldnít use the word Ďguiltyí.
Fraser:†† Part of the culture, then.† I like to think Iíve adjusted fairly well to the various things that have happened to me in my life.
Tung:†† Various things?
Fraser:†† (Pronounces this next with finality) Letís just say it hasnít been entirely uneventful, all things considered.
(There is a pause while Tung thinks over what to do next.)
Tung:†† Youíre not married, Constable?
Fraser:†† No sir.
Tung:†† Ever been? Married or engaged?
Fraser:†† No. Neither.
Tung:†† Long term relationship of any kind?
Fraser:†† (Sheepishly) I guess that seems strange to you. A man my age, good health, stable job, looking the way I do. I guess people expect me to at least have a girlfriend.
Tung:†† Then, you are aware of your looks.
Fraser:†† How could I not be?
Tung:†† Iíve had patients that were very handsome but didnít seem to be aware of it. Only men. Women always seem to know.
Fraser:†† Oh, I know, alright.
Tung:†††††††††††† It bothers you.
Fraser:†† (After a pause) Youíre very good at active listening, Doctor.
Tung:†† Thank you. And youíre evading the comment. I said it seems to bother you that you are good-looking.
Fraser:†† When I was in my teens, they used to call me Ďprettyí.
Tung:†† Iím sorry. That must have been difficult.
Fraser:†† When you grow up in isolated communities, in a culture of , um, silence, there are disadvantages to being, um, male and pretty.
(Very long pause)
Tung:†† How old were you when you were raped?
(Fraser laughs. A whole range of different laughs: chuckles, guffaws, sniggers, chortles, tears in the eyes, wipes eyes, more kinds of laughs. A veritable symphony of mirth. Should end off with his head down, then raise head and look right at Tung.)
Fraser:†† Which time?
Tung:†† Dear God!
Fraser:†† Distinct disadvantages.
Tung:†† And no counselling.
Fraser:†† As I said before.
Tung:†† Constable, you should be talking to someone about this.
Fraser:†† Iím talking to you.
Tung:†† You know what I mean.
Fraser:†† Yes, of course. But Iím fine. Thereís really no more need to discuss it.
Tung:†† (Again considers. Picks another direction) Getting back to women.
Fraser:†††††††††† I guess I havenít had good luck with women. Most of the time I feel like Iím being hunted. Itís not pleasant. There was a woman once, that I loved. But it ended badly. She framed me for murder. Since then it seems all the women Iím attracted to are somehow, um, . . .† And the oneís that do want to settle down, well, I canít really explain it. Theyíre just so, I donít know. Relentless. It frightens me.
Tung:†† Itís called the Ďsecond wave of assaultí.
Fraser:†† Excuse me?
Tung:†† Very common in victims of abuse.
Fraser:†† (genuinely curious) Go on.
Tung:†† Iíve seen it a number of times. The shame and anger take control.† Years after the actual events have stopped, people avoid healthy relationships. They feel that somehow they donít deserve them.
Fraser:†† Wait a minute. Let me understand this. (Gets to his feet. Starts pacing.) Youíre saying . . . oh, is it alright if I stand up?
Tung:†† Whatever makes you comfortable.
Fraser:†† (resumes pacing, goes over to the window, looks out, comes back, all through these next exchanges) Youíre saying Francesca . . . the others . . . what happened to me before . . . and thatís why I canít . . . (Considers) You know, youíd think that would be obvious. I canít believe I didnít think of it before.
Tung:†† Itís not obvious when youíre in it, Constable.
Fraser:†† Apparently not . . . but I . . . I think I feel a little foolish. Iím not considered a stupid man . . .
Tung:†† Your IQ is quite high. Iím sure youíre aware of that.
Fraser:†††††††††† I am. So why I have I never considered . . . all that anger . . . all that shame . . .† I thought I had come to terms with it. But perhaps Iíve just suppressed it.
Tung:†† Suppressing is one way of Ďcoming to termsí as you say.
Fraser:†† But not as efficient as I thought, it seems. You see, I always figured . . .
(the lights fall low to just the point where Fraser can still be seen pacing and gesturing, while Tung listens. Fraserís words are indistinct.† After several beats the light comes back up.)
Tung:†† Constable, Iím afraid our time is up.
Fraser:†† So soon?
Tung:†† You might want to consider some kind of therapy. Not necessarily with me. In a city like Chicago there are a number of possibilities: private counselling, group . . .
Fraser:†††††††††† I know, I know. Iíve just never thought of myself as a candidate for it. Doctor, youíve given me a lot to think about.
Tung:†† Thinking is what youíve been doing.
Fraser:†† Thatís true. Youíre right. But it just seems to me that . . . Oh, Iím sorry. You said time was up.
Tung:†† Thatís alright. Finish your sentence.
Fraser:†† (Thinks hard). Thatís just it. I just . . . I canít . . .† Oh dear.† I must seem so confused. Is that good?
Tung:†† Itís not bad. (Gets up. Fraser is still on his feet. Tung extends his hand.) Take care, Constable. If youíd like a referral somewhere, I can give you a few suggestions.
Fraser:†† (Takes his hand.) Thank you kindly, Doctor. I just might take you up on that.
(Inspector Thatcherís office in the Consulate. Thatcher is seated at her desk. Fraser is standing over her, they are both looking at her computer screen. Fraserís hand is on the mouse, causing him to have to stand very close to her.)
Thatcher:†† See, shouldnít that number (points to screen) be the same as that number? (points again).
Fraser:†† Yes sir, but you appear to have . . . (moves the mouse and studies the screen) Sir, may I . . .
Thatcher:†† May you what? Oh, here. (She gets up and lets him sit down to the keyboard)
Fraser:†† See, this cell isnít part of the sum over here. Did you add this column later?
Thatcher:†† Yes. I forgot the spring meeting budget. So I put it in after.
Fraser:†† Thatís the problem, then, sir. You have to either redefine the formula or else add the new data inside the range. Not on one of the ends.
Thatcher:†† Oh, I see. (She obviously doesnít see.) Iíve done this on all the spreadsheets, Fraser. And Ottawa wants these budgets by tomorrow. Iíll never get them all corrected in time.
Fraser:†††††††††† It really shouldnít take all that long, sir. If youíd like me to help Iím sure we could finish them tonight.
Thatcher:†† Thank you, Constable.
Fraser:†† (To himself) Second wave of assault.
Thatcher:†††††† I beg your pardon.
Fraser:†† Nothing. Sir, if weíre going to work late, perhaps we should have some dinner.
Thatcher:†† Well, Fraser, of course if I make you work late, Iím going to feed you. Iím not cruel, you know.
Fraser:†††††††††† I know. Actually, sir, what I had in mind was going out for dinner.
Fraser:†† For dinner.
Thatcher:†† Out, as in . . .
Fraser: †† Out. For dinner.
Fraser:†††††††††† If itís not too forward of me, sir. I mean if you think it would be . . .
Thatcher:†† No, no, no. I mean, yes.
Fraser:†† Yes, itís too forward?
Thatcher:†† Damn it. Youíre confusing me, Constable.
Fraser:†† Iím sorry, sir.
Thatcher:†† (to herself) Some people hate their plans.
Fraser:†† Then you donít want to work late. Understood.
Thatcher:†† No, Fraser. I want to work late.
Thatcher:†† And I do want to go to dinner.