"He's a friggin' lunatic!" "And how do you feel about that?" My eyebrows jumped to the top of my forehead. I looked at him, sitting smugly across from me. His perfect teeth flashed at me; I bet he paid good money for that smile. He leaned forward, towards me, close enough that I could smell the mints he guzzled just before our session began. He pressed his fingers together, steeple-style, and waited. I started calling him Chomper, on account of those teeth. And the he in question is Dr. Bradley Yang, my therapist. Yup. Therapy. Say it with me. My husband is crazy, and I'm in therapy. Ain't that a trip? "What do you mean, how do I feel? He's nuts! Why else would I be here? Aren't you supposed to give me advice?" I sat back heavily, flopping as hard as could. Which was no easy feat, considering that the chair was made of Italian leather, and was so cushiony that I sank deeper into it every time I shifted my weight. My feet dangled a good 2 or 3 inches over the plush, expensive carpet. At least I assumed it was expensive; Lord knows they'd never put anything like that on the floors of my apartment. I ran my index finger around the inside of my collar, trying in vain to lessen the sensation that I was slowly losing my air supply. The soft material was beginning to stick, rapidly downgrading from Medal of Honor to albatross. Why I wore a red silk blouse in ninety-degree weather was far beyond me. Well, not really. I can sum it up in two words: It's Michigan. One of the quirks of the climate here is that you never know. Why am I in therapy? I ask myself that. A lot. I used to be sane. Before I met him. My husband. Cantrell L. Milling. I'm convinced now that the L stands for "Lost My Mind." Wonderful guy, he is. Left me, and our year old son one morning about three months ago. Woke up one morning, packed his bags, and moved out. The fact that my ex-football player father sat in the living room may have played a small, insignificant part in his decision. What can I say? I'm daddy's little girl, and a real man can only take so much of his baby girl being mistreated. That's what I like to think, but I guess I should admit that my parents were there as much for Cantrell's safety as mine. Because if he and I were alone, I was liable to have stabbed him. Hence the therapy. Apparently, I have anger issues. And who wouldn't after the time I had? Put up with late nights out, yelling, cursing, and crying; see how you feel once the rent money has been spent bailing your brother-in-law out of jail. "I only ask, Mrs. Byers-Milling, how you feel about it, in order to help you move past your anger issues. Humor me. Please. How do you feel about what you just said?" Here, Chomper sat back in his chair, and crossed his long, muscular legs. Right over left; I notice things like that. I never knew why; I just do. Habit, I suppose. Of course, if it were left up to me, I wouldn't have named him Yang. Mandingo, maybe, but definitely not Yang. That name brings to mind a little Asian dude what a bad haircut and squinty eyes. Chomper however is a fine example of a foine Brother Man. Grr. "Mrs. Byers-Milling? Your husband? You think he's, erm, mentally challenged. You were telling me how you feel about that?" he prompted. ****. Crazy husband. Right. "Let's see...." I tried to be diplomatic. "When I say he's a lunatic, I feel hoodwinked." I wanted to tap my foot, only my feet weren't touching the floor, and somehow, I got the feeling that swinging my legs wasn't allowed in such a grown-up setting. "How so?" He cocked his head as he scribbled a few lines on his yellow pad, and then placed the tip of the ballpoint pen between his juicy, kissable lips. Ooh, horny, maybe? Had it been that long? I stared at with him with what I hoped was a thoughtful, intense expression. "I was led to believe he was normal." "And he's not? Normal, I mean?" "Like a six-legged dog, maybe. Normal is relative; just not his." Chomper looked confused. I couldn't help it; I busted out laughing. Something alarmingly cold and hazy flickered in his eyes. Hmph. He's probably not used to people laughing like crazy folks in his office. Then again............ "Mrs. Byers-Milling?" The look in his big, brown eyes softened. As quickly as it flared up, it was gone. Aw. Now he actually looked hurt. "Oh, cut it out, Chom.... Dr. Yang. I'm probably younger than you. My name is Risa." I flashed him my best smile, the one I used when I met Cantrell. That thought made me stop smiling. Quickly. I went back to fussing with my collar. I felt safer that way. My hands were moving, so I was being purposeful. Looking around, I could see why Dr. Yang came so highly recommended. Framed degrees and awards covered most of the space. What space wasn't used for advertising his expensive education was occupied by huge paintings, all depicting scenes of Black family life. I pretended to study them while I struggled to wrap my lips around the haphazard thoughts in my brain. "How much time do we have left?" Suddenly, I was anxious to get this off my chest. I had to tell someone; might as well be Chomper. I know for a fact that Cantrell's insurance was paying a fortune for these visits. What they didn't pay, he did. As bad as it may sound, that made me feel so much better. "How much time do you need?" He looked interested again. It could have been the top two buttons on my blouse that I opened. Or, maybe, he was genuinely hoping to help me. I snickered. Yeah, right. I see him watching me. Cantrell used to watch me like that. Oh, yeah. Him. "Between you and me, buddy, this may take a while." I kicked off my shoes, curling my legs underneath me. Taking a deep breath, filling my lungs with hot, stale air, I readied myself to speak. If he really wanted to know............ See, I met Cantrell 5 years ago at the hospital. He was working; I was visiting. Obviously, nothing happened then; he could have been fired had he pursued it. After all, I was a patient. Luckily, we had a mutual friend (*****) who re-introduced us later on. Why she failed to tell the both of us that she was in love with him, I'll never know. I won't ask her, because she's on my short list of people to mow down with the SUV I plan to buy at some point in the not-so-distant future. Do I sound bitter? Back then, he seemed normal. His family seemed normal. And the moon is made of green cheese, too. The whole family is nuts. We're talking mixed variety, with salt. They're like a freaking Planters convention. My first clue should have been when they told me he was "special." I learned much too late, that "special" is an euphemism for "out of his rabbit *** mind." Brother needs to come with warning labels. You know, "ATTENTION: Do NOT, for any reason, try to use logic, good sense, book smarts or comments about his controllin' *** mama in conversation." Mr. "It's All Good" turned into Mr. "You Have to Baby Me 'Cuz I Can't Think For Myself" by the end of the first week. I should have known, then. But, come on, you see this stuff, and you think there's nothing wrong. Maybe they'll change, maybe you're jumping to conclusions, maybe they're just testing you. Testing my **** nerves, more like it. I was called fat, lazy, un-ambitious, un-intelligent, ungrateful, and scandalous. But I finished school. I lost weight. I got the better paying job. I gave birth to the kid! Scandalous? He has no idea. Chomper was staring at me. "What?" "We're almost out of time. I'm going to give you some anger exercises to do. Start keeping a notebook; record every moment that you feel this bitterness overtaking you. And when you come back -" "Bitter? Me? Bitter? No, not me." I shook my head. "I don't agree with that assessment, Tooth Boy. Take it back.." I struggled to my feet, feeling me hands clench and unclench at my sides. I cracked my neck, and stared at him, planting my feet in a fighting stance. "Mrs. Byers-Milling, please calm down." Chomper also rose, his pad falling from his lap to the floor. It landed with a muted thwack, bouncing slightly. "Please, have a seat." I stuffed my feet into my shoes, shaking my head vigorously. "Nuh-unh. I'm done here. You said we were out of time, anyway. I'll just see you on Tuesday." I grabbed my purse, and headed for the door. My left temple started to throb, and the pain spread to the base of my neck; a sure sign that my blood pressure was up, if there ever was one. "Mrs. Milling?" I stopped short of the door, and turned slightly, cocking my right eyebrow. "Make it this Friday, instead. It sounds as if we have a lot of ground to cover." I nodded, and pushed my way into the daylight. Dr. Yang's office is located right in his home, poor trusting soul. He doesn't even have a receptionist or anything. Folks can just walk right up to his first door. I bounded down the stone steps located to the right of the porch, almost skipping to my car. The vehicle wasn't new; it was about four years old. A cute little black Saturn; it got me from appointment to appointment, and got my son to and from day care, so that was good. Pushing the button to unlock the doors, I waited for the reassuring flash of the headlights to let me know that the alarm was working. I pulled open the driver's side door, tossing my purse into the back seat. Sliding in, I worked the seatbelt over my pregnant belly. After hearing the click of the mechanism engaging, I reached over, and pulled the door closed. Mentally reviewing my to do list, I realize that I’m off to the doctor now. Then perhaps I'd pick up my son and do some shopping. And knowing that I got those perks, like insurance, and shopping money, just because I was still Cantrell's wife, and not his "baby's mama" as Black folks are wont to say, made spending his money that much sweeter. God, it's good to be me.