Wild Roses

On the border between Millbrook and Pleasant Valley, just off Route 44, there’s a little patch of woods where my boyfriend hanged himself. It happened in 1977, before suburban sprawl spread its tentacles into these small, quiet towns. Strange that that little patch of woods is still there today.
 
Last Wednesday evening, on a sudden irresistible whim, I braked my new Lexus hard and pulled over to the shoulder. I walked into the woods in a skirt and two-inch heels, bare-legged, ticks be damned.
 
It had been nearly forty -- four zero! -- incredibly long years since I had been here, but still I thought I could find the tree. I was wrong. Every tree -- oak, ash, pine -- they all looked like the one, all big and dark and rough-barked. The low sun filtered through the leaves to make complex shimmering patterns and shadows. The deeper I walked, the more I was assaulted from every side by the thorns of wild rose thickets as tall as my head that choked the air with sweet perfume.
 
It had been early June then too, but there had been no wild roses.
 
Barbs snagged my skirt, threatened my ankles and arms. A scratch on my wrist started to bleed and I brought it to my lips. Blood never tastes the way I expect it to… which was exactly the same thought I had had when I tasted his blood. I bit his shoulder till he yelled at me. I could tell he wanted to hit me but he didn’t. It was right here, somewhere here, the first time we ever made love, and a month before his final visit to this place.
 
I sucked the wound on my wrist. His blood or mine -- no difference on my tongue. That was when he spoke to me. I heard it with my ears, as real as the rustle of my clothing or the snap of sticks beneath my shoes.
 
“Janey,” he said. I stopped walking.
 
Paracusia. Over the years, I had treated many patients who suffered from it. Their auditory hallucinations had sometimes been indicative of serious mental disorders, other times not. Paracusia was thought to be aligned with stress or trauma, so why me, why today? I started a quick mental scan of my body: heart rate, breathing, sweat. Then I heard him again.
 
“Janey, your science won’t have the answer. Let it go.”
 
Paracusia was not uncommon. Even my husband -- who wanted to be my ex, that bastard -- even he, the high-ticket, ultra-sane corporate lawyer, had sworn that occasionally he heard his father speaking crisp, clear advice into his right ear. The advice of the rapacious CEO.
 
I breathed deep the heavy scent of wild rose, exhaled slowly, and turned toward the voice. There he was, leaning casually against the thick trunk of an oak, smiling. He was a grown man, a man ten or fifteen years older than Billy had been then, a man with more muscle on his frame and none of that teenage awkwardness, but not yet showing the wear of middle age. Black jeans, gray sneakers, snug-fitting gray t-shirt dappled by sun. A lock of dark hair like a comma on his forehead. Handsome. I was suddenly aware of my crow’s feet, incipient jowls, thickening waist. I could be this young man’s mother.
 
He had the instantly familiar air of sweet-sad-edgy that I had never forgotten. This was unmistakably Billy… the perfect Billy.
 
Impossible. Impostor or hallucination, which was it? This experience didn’t fit anything I knew of visual hallucinations: not delirium, DLB, peduncular hallucinosis. Neither Bonnet nor Anton’s syndromes. A shiver of fear went through me: was I slipping into psychosis? How would I know?
 
“Who are you?” I said.
 
“Don’t do that, Janey,” he said. No one had called me that in decades.
 
“You’re not Billy Rounder.”
 
“That’s who I was. That was my role in this edition.”
 
I thought I should ask myself, How did this stranger know me? I didn’t want him to be a hallucination. Beyond the rainbow sparkles of a mushroom trip in college, I had never experienced hallucinations; I didn’t know what to expect.
 
He kept talking. “My time onstage was brief but important. Catalyst. Provocateur. I changed a lot of people’s stories, or so it appeared. Yours, for instance. You thought you wanted to be an airline stewardess, remember?”
 
I had many years of practice maintaining a self-analytic view from here inside my head, but this… this was intensely convincing. The mind can do amazing things.
 
“Come on, you know me, Dr. Talbot. Just be honest with yourself.”
 
In case I was conversing with my own imagination, I decided to focus on the words. “Did you say ‘this edition’?”
 
“There’s an endless number of other versions where Jane Talbot is, let’s say, a divorced single mother waiting tables at the Pleasant Valley diner, or a high school social studies teacher, or a flight attendant, wife of Billy Rounder, the actor. Or wife of Billy Rounder the insurance salesman, or plumber, or junkie.”
 
“Right, the multiple worlds interpretation, quantum theory. Not sure I buy it.”
 
“Ah, but the web of stories is magnificent… a vast mesh of reflective jewels… you’d love it, Janey. The whole thing infinitely replicated, each instance slightly different, the roles re-scripted for varying effect.”
 
“Roles. As in the theater?”
 
Billy had wanted to be an actor. His plan was Dutchess Community College -- the best his parents could do -- then the New York City life of auditions and waiting tables. School was almost out, Billy’s senior year, my junior. We’d been at Tommy Krasnow’s party all afternoon, smoking weed. Billy lifted a bottle of wine and a blanket from the house and we hopped over the fence and scrambled into the woods in the twilight. Somewhere in this patch of forest right here, we spread the blanket, started making out. That’s the night I tasted his blood, and lost my virginity.
 
Then it was late; the wine was gone. Billy was driving me home, but in our mind-fog we turned up a dark offramp onto the Taconic State Parkway, going the wrong direction. Came over a rise and hit a family in a stationwagon, head-on. My collarbone eventually mended; my scalp still has a scar. Billy was almost entirely unscathed. But the family had a five-year-old girl who was killed. I guess Billy couldn’t live with what he had done. A month later he came back to this spot with a rope, and that was the end of us.
 
“Of course. Roles. And a script. Someday you’ll see it for what it is.”
 
“A play? I’m just speaking my lines right now?”
 
“Look at you -- a really good role: Dr. Jane Talbot, PhD. Renowned clinical psychologist, helper of hundreds, healer of illness and injury both emotional and mental, one of the good guys in this particular story. A role to be grateful for, and you’ve played it well. Not that you had much choice.”
 
“You’re saying there’s no free will.”
 
He smiled. “Well... free will is an idea that makes for convincing performance, don’t you see?”
 
“This doesn’t fit. Billy was always quoting Sartre back then.”
 
“I still do.”
 
“But what was it he said? I am free in every way, free to behave like a fool or a machine, to accept or refuse… man is condemned to be free, et cetera?”
 
“All still true… but even more important, he said that freedom is what we do with what is given to us. So… I’m giving you something, Janey. You can learn from me like Arjuna learned from Krishna.”
 
“I don’t know that story.”
 
“Look it up. Basically, even if the outcome may be known, you still have to fight the battle. That’s what living is. Billy Rounder gave you one challenge by dying. Now I’m here to give you an even bigger one. How will you live? The challenge is to play your role fully, passionately, to act as if you have free will, fully engaged. Now you might say, but if I do that, it’s because I’m merely playing a scripted role, I have no choice. And I say, so what? If you act anyway, with the knowledge that you have no control over your actions, you are elevating everything to a higher plane. That is real performing, real living!”
 
I thought: Who is this talented impersonator? And why is he tormenting me? At the same time, I thought: I am having a philosophy debate with a phantom, realistically conjured by my own mind. Fascinating.
 
I wanted to challenge him. “So… if life is a play, you’re breaking the fourth wall right now, or slipping out of character or something. Revealing the artifice. Isn’t that against the rules in this theatrical afterlife of yours?
 
His laugh was kind. “Ah, Jane, it’s all part of the script, that’s all. We’re moving into metatheatre now. Why not?”
 
Then, without the slightest warning, a wave of ancient emotion crested over the dam inside and flooded my eyes. Another self, aghast, watched as, like a little girl, I threw my arms around his neck and sobbed into his shoulder. I couldn’t help myself, I gasped and shuddered, “Why did you leave me, Billy?”
 
His body was solid and real, for which one part of me was grateful, the other surprised. I felt his hands on my back and heard his voice, low and breathy, in my ear. “I’m sorry, Janey. I never wanted to hurt you.”
 
Then he whispered more, on and on, but what he said, I don’t remember. When I opened my eyes, my head was leaning against my forearms on the steering wheel of my car, parked by the side of Route 44 in the gray light of dusk. On my wrist was a nasty scratch just scabbing over.
 
That was Wednesday. Now it’s Sunday. I sit alone in an empty house, looking out at the rain. Tomorrow, finally, I’ll sign the divorce papers that I’ve been obstinately refusing to look at, acting as if I wasn’t familiar to the point of exhaustion with the traps of avoidance and denial, so obvious in others. I’ve decided to let go. To look ahead, not back. My patients deserve a better me.
 
When did I actually decide these things? I don’t really know. I just read in the Times an article about recent brain imaging studies that show signals in the frontopolar cortex indicating a decision to take a course of action, but the signals happen as much as 10 seconds before the person is aware of having made the decision. Our so-called “conscious” choice actually comes after the decision has already been made, the action already initiated. This inner awareness we call a self is not steering the car at all. Something else is.
 
Maybe an actor would call it a script but a computer engineer would call it programming. What name should a psychologist give it? I’ll just reshape my private definition, and keep on calling it free will. I’ve heard that improves one’s performance.
 
Also, the Internet gave me a new term today: Rosa virginiana -- how fitting. My virginity gone, then slowly came the roses, with their innocent pale pink blossoms, vicious hooked thorns, dense perfume like an opiate: one part love, two parts pain. Now they’ve taken over the woods all around us here, an alien invasion. No more open forest floor with a vista of tree trunks. All now an impenetrable tangle, pretty but cruel. Clearly the work of… whom? A new set decorator, a new art director? The world changes, and we rise to meet it. The play goes on.
 
 
©Brent Robison 2017

On the border between Millbrook and Pleasant Valley, just off Route 44, there’s a little patch of woods where my boyfriend hanged himself. It happened in 1977, before suburban sprawl spread its tentacles into these small, quiet towns. Strange that that little patch of woods is still there today.
 
Last Wednesday evening, on a sudden irresistible whim, I braked my new Lexus hard and pulled over to the shoulder. I walked into the woods in a skirt and two-inch heels, bare-legged, ticks be damned.
 
It had been nearly forty -- four zero! -- incredibly long years since I had been here, but still I thought I could find the tree. I was wrong. Every tree -- oak, ash, pine -- they all looked like the one, all big and dark and rough-barked. The low sun filtered through the leaves to make complex shimmering patterns and shadows. The deeper I walked, the more I was assaulted from every side by the thorns of wild rose thickets as tall as my head that choked the air with sweet perfume.
 
It had been early June then too, but there had been no wild roses.
 
Barbs snagged my skirt, threatened my ankles and arms. A scratch on my wrist started to bleed and I brought it to my lips. Blood never tastes the way I expect it to… which was exactly the same thought I had had when I tasted his blood. I bit his shoulder till he yelled at me. I could tell he wanted to hit me but he didn’t. It was right here, somewhere here, the first time we ever made love, and a month before his final visit to this place.
 
I sucked the wound on my wrist. His blood or mine -- no difference on my tongue. That was when he spoke to me. I heard it with my ears, as real as the rustle of my clothing or the snap of sticks beneath my shoes.
 
“Janey,” he said. I stopped walking.
 
Paracusia. Over the years, I had treated many patients who suffered from it. Their auditory hallucinations had sometimes been indicative of serious mental disorders, other times not. Paracusia was thought to be aligned with stress or trauma, so why me, why today? I started a quick mental scan of my body: heart rate, breathing, sweat. Then I heard him again.
 
“Janey, your science won’t have the answer. Let it go.”
 
Paracusia was not uncommon. Even my husband -- who wanted to be my ex, that bastard -- even he, the high-ticket, ultra-sane corporate lawyer, had sworn that occasionally he heard his father speaking crisp, clear advice into his right ear. The advice of the rapacious CEO.
 
I breathed deep the heavy scent of wild rose, exhaled slowly, and turned toward the voice. There he was, leaning casually against the thick trunk of an oak, smiling. He was a grown man, a man ten or fifteen years older than Billy had been then, a man with more muscle on his frame and none of that teenage awkwardness, but not yet showing the wear of middle age. Black jeans, gray sneakers, snug-fitting gray t-shirt dappled by sun. A lock of dark hair like a comma on his forehead. Handsome. I was suddenly aware of my crow’s feet, incipient jowls, thickening waist. I could be this young man’s mother.
 
He had the instantly familiar air of sweet-sad-edgy that I had never forgotten. This was unmistakably Billy… the perfect Billy.
 
Impossible. Impostor or hallucination, which was it? This experience didn’t fit anything I knew of visual hallucinations: not delirium, DLB, peduncular hallucinosis. Neither Bonnet nor Anton’s syndromes. A shiver of fear went through me: was I slipping into psychosis? How would I know?
 
“Who are you?” I said.
 
“Don’t do that, Janey,” he said. No one had called me that in decades.
 
“You’re not Billy Rounder.”
 
“That’s who I was. That was my role in this edition.”
 
I thought I should ask myself, How did this stranger know me? I didn’t want him to be a hallucination. Beyond the rainbow sparkles of a mushroom trip in college, I had never experienced hallucinations; I didn’t know what to expect.
 
He kept talking. “My time onstage was brief but important. Catalyst. Provocateur. I changed a lot of people’s stories, or so it appeared. Yours, for instance. You thought you wanted to be an airline stewardess, remember?”
 
I had many years of practice maintaining a self-analytic view from here inside my head, but this… this was intensely convincing. The mind can do amazing things.
 
“Come on, you know me, Dr. Talbot. Just be honest with yourself.”
 
In case I was conversing with my own imagination, I decided to focus on the words. “Did you say ‘this edition’?”
 
“There’s an endless number of other versions where Jane Talbot is, let’s say, a divorced single mother waiting tables at the Pleasant Valley diner, or a high school social studies teacher, or a flight attendant, wife of Billy Rounder, the actor. Or wife of Billy Rounder the insurance salesman, or plumber, or junkie.”
 
“Right, the multiple worlds interpretation, quantum theory. Not sure I buy it.”
 
“Ah, but the web of stories is magnificent… a vast mesh of reflective jewels… you’d love it, Janey. The whole thing infinitely replicated, each instance slightly different, the roles re-scripted for varying effect.”
 
“Roles. As in the theater?”
 
Billy had wanted to be an actor. His plan was Dutchess Community College -- the best his parents could do -- then the New York City life of auditions and waiting tables. School was almost out, Billy’s senior year, my junior. We’d been at Tommy Krasnow’s party all afternoon, smoking weed. Billy lifted a bottle of wine and a blanket from the house and we hopped over the fence and scrambled into the woods in the twilight. Somewhere in this patch of forest right here, we spread the blanket, started making out. That’s the night I tasted his blood, and lost my virginity.
 
Then it was late; the wine was gone. Billy was driving me home, but in our mind-fog we turned up a dark offramp onto the Taconic State Parkway, going the wrong direction. Came over a rise and hit a family in a stationwagon, head-on. My collarbone eventually mended; my scalp still has a scar. Billy was almost entirely unscathed. But the family had a five-year-old girl who was killed. I guess Billy couldn’t live with what he had done. A month later he came back to this spot with a rope, and that was the end of us.
 
“Of course. Roles. And a script. Someday you’ll see it for what it is.”
 
“A play? I’m just speaking my lines right now?”
 
“Look at you -- a really good role: Dr. Jane Talbot, PhD. Renowned clinical psychologist, helper of hundreds, healer of illness and injury both emotional and mental, one of the good guys in this particular story. A role to be grateful for, and you’ve played it well. Not that you had much choice.”
 
“You’re saying there’s no free will.”
 
He smiled. “Well... free will is an idea that makes for convincing performance, don’t you see?”
 
“This doesn’t fit. Billy was always quoting Sartre back then.”
 
“I still do.”
 
“But what was it he said? I am free in every way, free to behave like a fool or a machine, to accept or refuse… man is condemned to be free, et cetera?”
 
“All still true… but even more important, he said that freedom is what we do with what is given to us. So… I’m giving you something, Janey. You can learn from me like Arjuna learned from Krishna.”
 
“I don’t know that story.”
 
“Look it up. Basically, even if the outcome may be known, you still have to fight the battle. That’s what living is. Billy Rounder gave you one challenge by dying. Now I’m here to give you an even bigger one. How will you live? The challenge is to play your role fully, passionately, to act as if you have free will, fully engaged. Now you might say, but if I do that, it’s because I’m merely playing a scripted role, I have no choice. And I say, so what? If you act anyway, with the knowledge that you have no control over your actions, you are elevating everything to a higher plane. That is real performing, real living!”
 
I thought: Who is this talented impersonator? And why is he tormenting me? At the same time, I thought: I am having a philosophy debate with a phantom, realistically conjured by my own mind. Fascinating.
 
I wanted to challenge him. “So… if life is a play, you’re breaking the fourth wall right now, or slipping out of character or something. Revealing the artifice. Isn’t that against the rules in this theatrical afterlife of yours?
 
His laugh was kind. “Ah, Jane, it’s all part of the script, that’s all. We’re moving into metatheatre now. Why not?”
 
Then, without the slightest warning, a wave of ancient emotion crested over the dam inside and flooded my eyes. Another self, aghast, watched as, like a little girl, I threw my arms around his neck and sobbed into his shoulder. I couldn’t help myself, I gasped and shuddered, “Why did you leave me, Billy?”
 
His body was solid and real, for which one part of me was grateful, the other surprised. I felt his hands on my back and heard his voice, low and breathy, in my ear. “I’m sorry, Janey. I never wanted to hurt you.”
 
Then he whispered more, on and on, but what he said, I don’t remember. When I opened my eyes, my head was leaning against my forearms on the steering wheel of my car, parked by the side of Route 44 in the gray light of dusk. On my wrist was a nasty scratch just scabbing over.
 
That was Wednesday. Now it’s Sunday. I sit alone in an empty house, looking out at the rain. Tomorrow, finally, I’ll sign the divorce papers that I’ve been obstinately refusing to look at, acting as if I wasn’t familiar to the point of exhaustion with the traps of avoidance and denial, so obvious in others. I’ve decided to let go. To look ahead, not back. My patients deserve a better me.
 
When did I actually decide these things? I don’t really know. I just read in the Times an article about recent brain imaging studies that show signals in the frontopolar cortex indicating a decision to take a course of action, but the signals happen as much as 10 seconds before the person is aware of having made the decision. Our so-called “conscious” choice actually comes after the decision has already been made, the action already initiated. This inner awareness we call a self is not steering the car at all. Something else is.
 
Maybe an actor would call it a script but a computer engineer would call it programming. What name should a psychologist give it? I’ll just reshape my private definition, and keep on calling it free will. I’ve heard that improves one’s performance.
 
Also, the Internet gave me a new term today: Rosa virginiana -- how fitting. My virginity gone, then slowly came the roses, with their innocent pale pink blossoms, vicious hooked thorns, dense perfume like an opiate: one part love, two parts pain. Now they’ve taken over the woods all around us here, an alien invasion. No more open forest floor with a vista of tree trunks. All now an impenetrable tangle, pretty but cruel. Clearly the work of… whom? A new set decorator, a new art director? The world changes, and we rise to meet it. The play goes on.
 
 
©Brent Robison 2017

POST RECITAL

Talk Icon

TALK

TN: Brent has decided to go all Jungian on us today. He said he'd handle the author interview alone, but not because he is interviewing himself, exactly. He went into a small dark room and sat for a long time until he was able to encounter someone he calls his “anima.” According to Carl Jung, the anima is the female archetype that exists inside the unconscious of every human male. Brent’s anima interviewed him about this story. This is what happened.
 
BR1: Hello... Is that really you?
 
BR2: Yes. Thank you for bringing me up into your consciousness. It feels nice.
 
BR1: You’re welcome. I wanted you to interview me about this story because… well, I think you helped write it.
 
BR2: I don’t think that’s precisely true, but I’m happy to discuss it with you.
 
BR1: I was hoping you would ask me some questions.
 
BR2: It’s interesting that you think I helped write it. Is that because you chose to write in the first-person voice of a woman?
 
BR1: Yes.
 
BR2: Well, first tell me -- why did you make that choice?
 
BR1: Hmm. Well for one thing, I was wanting to have more female voices on The Strange Recital.
 
BR2: Okay, that’s a commendable goal, but it’s rather utilitarian, right? What was the real inspiration for the story?
 
BR1: It’s kind of mysterious, as these things usually are. I was driving home from the therapy group that I’ve been in for eight years -- which, by the way, is led by a very successful psychologist who’s a woman, but not at all like the narrator of the story -- and as I passed this woodsy area on Route 44 going from Millbrook into Pleasant Valley, the opening clause of the first sentence appeared in my mind. I mean, it’s common that I write mental descriptions of things I’m seeing, everywhere I go. But I didn’t know where it was leading until the words “my boyfriend hanged himself” popped into my head. The female voice I had been looking for was suddenly born. I sort of assumed that was your doing.
 
BR2: There you go again.
 
BR1: Am I wrong?
 
BR2: In my world, there’s no wrong or right, it’s all much more subtle than that. Actually, I suppose I did help you a tiny bit. But your male self was there controlling it all along.
 
BR1: Really, how so?
 
BR2: Let’s actually look at the story. You created this smart, successful woman to be your narrator. Okay, good intentions. And you really got inside her head and her heart.
 
BR1: Thank you.
 
BR2: But...
 
BR1: Um… what do you mean, but?
 
BR2: The story is essentially a teaching scene: one person imparting wisdom to the other, who lacks it. A superior position and an inferior position. And which gender is which?
 
BR1: But wait, if someone is returning from the dead, they naturally have knowledge to impart, so that’s just a function of the story…
 
BR2: Says the male author.
 
BR1: Oh no... I thought I was doing a good, non-sexist thing.
 
BR2: I don’t like pejorative labels. No need to put one on yourself. You meant well, but there’s always room for more self-awareness. Maybe next time, you’ll invite me to take a bigger role.
 
BR1: Yes, I will. I invite you now. In fact, I invite you to whisper in my ear on every story I write.
 
BR2: Well… okay, it’s a deal.
 
BR1: Thank you. Did you have any more questions about the story?
 
BR2: There are always questions, and that’s good. But I don’t think that sitting in the dark talking to yourself is a very good habit to get into. So I’m going back undercover now… see you later…
 
BR1: Well. Okay then. (SFX: shuffle, rustle, clunk). Ouch. Damn. Where is that light switch anyway?

TN: Brent has decided to go all Jungian on us today. He said he'd handle the author interview alone, but not because he is interviewing himself, exactly. He went into a small dark room and sat for a long time until he was able to encounter someone he calls his “anima.” According to Carl Jung, the anima is the female archetype that exists inside the unconscious of every human male. Brent’s anima interviewed him about this story. This is what happened.
 
BR1: Hello... Is that really you?
 
BR2: Yes. Thank you for bringing me up into your consciousness. It feels nice.
 
BR1: You’re welcome. I wanted you to interview me about this story because… well, I think you helped write it.
 
BR2: I don’t think that’s precisely true, but I’m happy to discuss it with you.
 
BR1: I was hoping you would ask me some questions.
 
BR2: It’s interesting that you think I helped write it. Is that because you chose to write in the first-person voice of a woman?
 
BR1: Yes.
 
BR2: Well, first tell me -- why did you make that choice?
 
BR1: Hmm. Well for one thing, I was wanting to have more female voices on The Strange Recital.
 
BR2: Okay, that’s a commendable goal, but it’s rather utilitarian, right? What was the real inspiration for the story?
 
BR1: It’s kind of mysterious, as these things usually are. I was driving home from the therapy group that I’ve been in for eight years -- which, by the way, is led by a very successful psychologist who’s a woman, but not at all like the narrator of the story -- and as I passed this woodsy area on Route 44 going from Millbrook into Pleasant Valley, the opening clause of the first sentence appeared in my mind. I mean, it’s common that I write mental descriptions of things I’m seeing, everywhere I go. But I didn’t know where it was leading until the words “my boyfriend hanged himself” popped into my head. The female voice I had been looking for was suddenly born. I sort of assumed that was your doing.
 
BR2: There you go again.
 
BR1: Am I wrong?
 
BR2: In my world, there’s no wrong or right, it’s all much more subtle than that. Actually, I suppose I did help you a tiny bit. But your male self was there controlling it all along.
 
BR1: Really, how so?
 
BR2: Let’s actually look at the story. You created this smart, successful woman to be your narrator. Okay, good intentions. And you really got inside her head and her heart.
 
BR1: Thank you.
 
BR2: But...
 
BR1: Um… what do you mean, but?
 
BR2: The story is essentially a teaching scene: one person imparting wisdom to the other, who lacks it. A superior position and an inferior position. And which gender is which?
 
BR1: But wait, if someone is returning from the dead, they naturally have knowledge to impart, so that’s just a function of the story…
 
BR2: Says the male author.
 
BR1: Oh no... I thought I was doing a good, non-sexist thing.
 
BR2: I don’t like pejorative labels. No need to put one on yourself. You meant well, but there’s always room for more self-awareness. Maybe next time, you’ll invite me to take a bigger role.
 
BR1: Yes, I will. I invite you now. In fact, I invite you to whisper in my ear on every story I write.
 
BR2: Well… okay, it’s a deal.
 
BR1: Thank you. Did you have any more questions about the story?
 
BR2: There are always questions, and that’s good. But I don’t think that sitting in the dark talking to yourself is a very good habit to get into. So I’m going back undercover now… see you later…
 
BR1: Well. Okay then. (SFX: shuffle, rustle, clunk). Ouch. Damn. Where is that light switch anyway?

Music on this episode:

'Alone' by Samuel Claiborne.

Used by permission of the artist.

'Drone Pine' by Blue Dot Sessions.

License CC BY-NC 4.0

'Hepasquare' by Rick Altman.

Used by permission of the artist.

THE STRANGE RECITAL

Episode 17111

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