Thursday, May 21, 2015

It Wasn’t Me!

See if you can figure out what's going on in the short-short that follows before you get to the explanation at the bottom.
"Let's go do something. I don’t want to sit around and do nothing all day.”
That was Sarah. She didn’t hang with us all the time, but she was here now. She wasn’t as pretty as she ought to be, but she was okay looking.
“Whadda ya wanna do?” Bart was always here. If he wasn’t right in my face, he was lurking in the background. I didn’t like him much and privately called him Black Bart after that old highwayman. Besides, he constantly tried to take over the group and get me into trouble.
“Let’s go window shopping.”
“Nah,” Bart came back at her. “Let’s go shopping! Leave out the window part. Bet they’ve got some great new games down at Best Buy.”
“Don’t have any money,” I said. “Besides, I’ve got all the computer games I need.”
“Cain’t never have enough of them. More’s better. More’n that’s even more better.”
“You sound like a dipstick when you talk like that.” A new voice. Mitch was a pretty cool guy who didn’t show up nearly as much as I’d like. Funny thing, Bart sounded like my father when he was talking to me. Mitch was like him talking to someone else.
Sarah ignored them both. She did that sometimes. “Let’s go to Dillards.”
“They don’t have windows,” Mitch pointed out.
“Then we can walk around inside. That’s better. You can touch things. You can tell a lot about a dress by just feeling the material.”
“Yeah, let’s go inside. I need a new belt. Bet I can snatch one so’s they won’t even know,” Bart bragged.
“You’d steal it?” Sarah’s voice dripped with scorn. “That’s dishonest.”
“Nah, that’s practical when you don’t have no money.”
“Not practical at all when you consider the chances of being caught. You’re sixteen now, so they won’t just call mommy and daddy. They’ll throw your fanny in a cell.” Sarah reminded me of my mother when she talked like that.
“Gotta catch me first.”
“Sonny, wouldn’t approve,” Sarah said.
“Sonny? Who’s Sonny?” Bart asked.
“He’s the new kid. Seems okay … even if he is different.”
“How come I ain’t seen him?”
“You don’t know everyone in the neighborhood,” Sarah said.
“Whadda ya mean different?”
Mitch handled that question. “Well, he looks like us, but sometimes he sounds like Sarah.”
“Oh, one a them, huh? Better not hang around me. I’ll mash his nose in.”
“You’re such a barbarian, Bart. Nothing but a bigot.”
That sounded like Sarah, but not quite. I took a look around, but didn’t see anyone else. Then I made my mind up. “Okay, we’ll go window shopping, but not at Dillard’s. Let’ go to Wal-Mart.”
“Yeah, they have a bunch of games there,” Bart said.
“Okay, but if you go with us, you better keep your hands to yourself.”
“Just try keeping me away.” Bart’s tone held a threat.
“No stealing,” Sarah said.
Wal-Mart was okay. Lots of things to see, but there were always too many people for the narrow aisles. The place had a smell and a sound all its own. People. It was people sounds and people odors.
Sarah was disappointed because the women’s clothing wasn’t up to her standards. Mitch liked the automotive department, but I don’t know why. He didn’t even own a car. If Sonny had come along, he was quiet and off by himself somewhere. But I felt his presence.
Bart kept leading us back to the computer games section even though I resolutely walked on past. Finally, he was so insistent that I stood at the rack and scanned the games for something I didn’t already have. I spotted one: “Army Rangers in Fallujah.”
“Yeah. That looks neat.” Bart centered in on the one I was looking at.
Then just as I suspected he would, he snatched the game and tucked it into the waistband of his pants. After he smoothed his polo shirt over it, the bulge was hardly noticeable.
“Don’t do that,” Mitch said. “You’ll get us in trouble.”
“You don’t like it, pantywaist, get outa here.”
“That’s what I’m going to do.” He disappeared.
“Me, too. You’re disgusting.” And Sarah went away.
No sign of Sonny, so I don’t know if he’d ever been there. At any rate, it was just Bart and me who sauntered toward the exit. We didn’t even make it halfway through the door before a man stepped in front of us.
“Hold on there, son.”
“What is it, sir?” I asked.
“We take a dim view of shoplifting at this store.” With that, he lifted my shirt and plucked the Army Rangers game from my waistband.
I looked around, but Bart was nowhere in sight. I regarded the security man through half-dollar-sized eyes. “It wasn’t me! I didn’t take it.”
Note to Readers: Someone whom I know well was diagnosed with Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD) some years ago. The psychiatric community now calls the condition Dissociative
 Identity Disorder (DID). From what I read (and can comprehend) it is a condition not terribly well understood and very difficult to treat. It apparently has its roots in childhood abuse and involves either mistreatment by or disassociation from a parent (usually of the same sex). In laymen’s terms, the sufferer cannot cope in a normal way with his environment and develops other “personalities” to help him. As an illustration of how difficult this field is, the definition of personality is not universally agreed.

In the case of the individual I know, his earlier doctors attempted to “meld” the personalities, but even when that difficult and time-consuming effort was successful, previously unknown “identities” emerged to fill the void.

At any rate, the intent of this story was not to engage in a knowledgeable treatise (something I am not capable of doing), but to try – with my imperfect understanding of the process – to imagine what goes on in the head of someone afflicted with this debilitating disorder.

Thanks for reading. Be happy to hear from you.

New posts are published at 6:00 a.m. each Thursday.

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