He tapped a thick fountain pen at his pad. The beat was intermittent and drove Bob mad. Steely eyes peered through round lenses. “How do they make you feel?” he asked.
Bob scowled. He hated the books lining every shelf of every case on every wall. It was such grandstanding. “I don’t like them,” Bob said.
“Why?” The question was instant, preloaded.
Bob leaned back in the leather chair. It was soaked with oily opulence. Bob rubbed at his jeans as if trying to rub the oil out. “I don’t trust them. I don’t believe them. I think they lie to each other in order to lie to themselves.”
Scribbles took to the page. Bob couldn’t see the words but they seemed to be placed in a delicate, fluid fashion. “Go on,” he said.
“It’s cannibalism,” Bob said, “a closed loop. They swarm around each other in larger and larger numbers, but they all seek the same thing. The goal hasn’t been achieved. There’s no sincerity in it. They create the illusion of success by finding more people seeking the illusion of success. The more they are, the greater the success.”
More scribbles, and a check mark? The glasses tipped down and the narrow green eyes looked straight through. “Is it possible that you’re projecting?” he asked.
Bob scowled again. “Projecting what?”
“Well,” he said, “perhaps you think these things to protect yourself from exposure. Could you be inflicting your own sabotage in order to never be seen? Is your art so precious to you that you forsake all else? Is outward failure your definition for internal success?”
He sat up with a glare. The therapist only looked on as Bob drew a cigarette from his pocket and gave it a light. It seemed the no smoking policy wasn’t as stringent as first implied. “What are you trying to say?” Bob asked, sucking in and blowing out. “That I’m some sort of self-loathing artist who wants the success all to himself and no on else? That my lack of personal success is being twisted into a validation that everyone else is crap, and that I’m the only one with some goddamn god-given talent?” Bob drew his breath again, burning the ember bright. “Are you trying to say that maybe, just maybe, I’m destined to fail because I secretly want to fail so I can prove some twisted point to myself that I’m right?”
“Perhaps,” he said, scribbling again. “Or, it could be that you’re just a prick.”