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"There's No Place Like Home-Delivery"
Robbin Nickaell

"Doctor, your two o'clock is here."

"Fine, Janice, give me five minutes then show her in. Okay?"

"Certainly, Jim. I mean, Doctor Mathers."

The psychiatrist gave the intercom a surly look, thought about admonishing Jan for her casual remark then shrugged it off as he wolfed down the remainder of a soggy Philly beef and cheese sandwich. His stomach roiled, retaliating against the grease bomb as a couple of antacids were swallowed for preliminary measures. The last thing he needed was a gas attack when a client unveiled their deepest fears, or desires.

After some pillows were fluffed and the AC adjusted, he rolled his shirtsleeves and prepared for a long sit. Everything appeared in order as he scooped up a pen and pad then reclined in the overstuffed office chair. A pair of reading glasses teetered on the edge of his pointed nose. The appointment book said "Dorothy" at two. Let's see if his client chose to be "Dorothy" or some other character for the day. Until the door opened, he never knew who, or what, was waiting on the other side. Her surprises were endless.

The knob turned and Dorothy timidly entered. She was breathtaking, down to her red ruby slippers. If ever there was a perfect match for Judy Garland, this was it.

"Mr. Wizard, I came like you asked," she said. Her perfect red lips pouted fully as she curtsied.

Her innocent beauty was stunning as she perched on the edge of the leather couch, a basket cradled in the crook of her delicate elbow. Every detail possible was taken into consideration when she dressed the part, down to the braided pigtails and blue jumper. Amazing! He never paid a lot of attention to that anomaly before now. Jim quickly jotted down the remarkable likeness for future reference.

"And how are you today, Dorothy?" The doctor took great care to not appear humored or shocked by her appearance.

Big brown eyes stared back in wonder. Petulant lips trembled. Bare knees bobbed.

"I'm fine…I guess."

"And how are things at home?"

Dorothy fumbled inside her basket, nervous.

"Dorothy?"

"I'm sorry, Mr. Wizard. I've been lost for a very long time, and I really want to go home now."

This was a common reaction from all patients. Inevitably they wanted to leave as soon as they got to their session. It was Jim's job to prevent that from happening. He smiled warmly, and she responded in kind.

"That's better. Now, how are things at home?"

"Well, Toto died."

Hmmm, a death. Perhaps it's an acceptance of a past trauma.

"That's too bad. Can you tell me what happened?"

"Well, I dunno. I think some nasty old snake bit him. Or maybe he was poisoned by the Wicked Witch of the West."

The Wicked Witch of the West was one of Dorothy's neighbors, an unfriendly one at that. Jim had ascertained that this individual gained great pleasure by teasing Dorothy's dog whenever they got the chance. Considering that Dorothy lived like a recluse in the desert, it was ironic that the two ever encountered one another.

"What did you do with Toto after he died?"

"I buried him in the field of poppies. He's safe now from that wicked old witch." Tears sparkled in her dark eyes. She grabbed a tissue and dabbed at tiny trickles.

Had she cut the dog up and ate it, followed through on some lengthy burial ritual, or at least had the animal stuffed, Jim might have had something to work with, but a simple burial didn't help at all.

"Have you had any visitors lately?" The pencil tapped quietly against his leg.

"Well, Auntie Em came by, but she didn't stay long. She brought me some crullers, then said she needed to leave and tend to Uncle Henry. I asked her to take me with her, but I don't think she heard me."

The doctor grabbed a bowl of candy and offered it to her. She passed. He, on the other hand, needed his daily chocolate fix and proceeded to indulge in a sugar high. It was the only thing that could possibly keep him awake through this monotonous routine. Dorothy wasn't making any progress at all. His disappointment was evident as he doodled on the pad.

"Oh, and I saw the Tin Man yesterday."

Surprise! They'd hit pay dirt. Jim's attention immediately returned to the beauty before him. The Tin Man was familiar territory, perhaps forbidden. He was determined to find out more.

"How did that come about?" The doctor was coy, careful to avoid showing any excitement or anticipation.

Dorothy chewed on her lower lip as hands fumbled inside the basket.

"He came in a white chariot. I remember. It was white, and it had an F and an E on it. I think it meant From Em. Because he brought me this box and inside were my beautiful ruby slippers. See?"

She clicked her heels together while admiring the dazzling shoes. Jim had to admit, they were classic.

"So tell me, Dorothy. Did this Tin Man do the same thing to you that the last one did about two years ago? Do you remember that?"

Jim was very close to achieving a major breakthrough here. The Tin Man incident, an unfortunate rape, was responsible for the Dorothy fantasy to begin with. Jim was certain of it. All he had to do was uncover some consistencies between this incident and what happened to her before. A few key words would do it.

"Yes, I think so. That was so long ago, Mr. Wizard."

"I know, dear. But try very hard to remember for me if you can."

Jim was pushing her, but they were too close to a breakthrough to risk backsliding now. No more Mr. Nice Guy. If the tears came, then so be it…

* * *

"Hold it! What kind of dumb ass story is that? I thought you were gonna tell me a horror story?"

The pudgy driver grabbed his soiled jeans from the front of the van and struggled into them. A nude prostitute reclined on a packing blanket before him. She smiled seductively at the fat man and licked her lips.

"I don't want to hear about some psycho bimbo."

Chubby flipped her two twenties.

"Here, we're paid up now. I need to make some deliveries so get dressed and get the hell out of here."

"But don't you want to hear the ending?" she asked.

"It depends. Is it any better than the beginning, which really sucks up to this point? It sucks almost as badly as you do."

The prostitute pulled on a pair of lace panties as she cast him a wicked sneer.

"Oh, yes. The ending is ever so much better."

"Well, make it quick. I'm running behind schedule and I don't want my boss on my ass. So hurry up, bitch!" With a grunt he climbed into the driver's seat and clamped on a company ball cap.

In slow motion the beautiful brunette reached into her basket and retracted a long glistening knife. She methodically fingered the blade as she stood, her bare breasts reflected in the rearview mirror.

The driver gasped like a beached fish as the keen blade slicked across his bristled throat. A river of blood shot forth, coating the windshield in a red mist.

"My name's Dorothy, you asshole! Don't forget it!" said the prostitute as she yanked the ball cap from the slumped man's head. She admired her trophy, then plunked it into her basket, dressed, and exited through the back door with a smile.


* * *


Jim gave the young girl a few moments to regain her composure then he resumed.

"C'mon, dear, tell me--did this Tin Man do the same thing to you as the last one?"

Dorothy grinned. It was not innocent by any means, and Jim squirmed. She reached into her basket and pulled out one hat after another and laid them perfectly in a row on the coffee table before the psychiatrist with the company labels facing forward. Each one had the same logo embroidered on the brim-- "Federal Express".

She licked her lips as she retracted the glistening knife.

"Yes, Mr. Wizard, the Tin Man did the same thing to me as the last one, and the one before that, and so on. And you're doing the same thing to me as the last Mr. Wizard. You're prying into my thoughts and revealing my secrets, so now I need to find a new Mr. Wizard."

Jim reached for the intercom, but the young woman stopped him.

"Don't bother. Janice has already been sent to the Land of Oz. Now it's your turn to join her."

Dorothy's evil laughter blended with Jim's screams as she plunged the knife into his chest. With a click of her heels, Dorothy exited the office, the basket cradled in the crook of her arm. Carefully she tucked the doctor's glasses deeper beneath the pile of hats, then skipped down the hallway with a pleased grin.

 

 
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