The Mind-Body Problem Revisited

By Charles Levin
Edited by Neil MacNeil

“It’s always the same, always on my case. ‘Do this. Do that. Oh, no, don’t do that. Faster.’ Without me, what’d you got? An uptight vegetable. I make things happen. I’m all about action, baby! Yeah, sometimes I do get sick, and it is usually his fault.”

The room is barely lit and seems to have connective tissue in the air. He sits in an overstuffed leather chair, and she’s relaxed on a velvet couch. He wears an eye patch underneath his tussled gray hair. One blue eye shines from his face. Her auburn brown hair spreads languidly on the pillow behind her head, a perfect pose, like a fashion magazine layout.  But a sliver of her prosthetic ankle shows beneath her faded blue jeans. He’s taking notes. A cloud of acrid cigarette smoke hovers above.

“Go on,” he says.

She glances at his diplomas hanging on the wall. “I need rest. To slow down. Always pushing me. If I don’t get a break, I might get sick, or even worse, fall down! All I hear is, ‘You have way more to give than you think. You always sell yourself short or just plain give up. Well, I won’t let you give up.’ I hear that all the time. And it goes on like this, day after day, month after month. Year after year. Doesn’t he know I am doing my best? Sure, sometimes I get lazy. But you have to admit, I’m in pretty good shape. We work out at the gym–together of course. We do everything together. Although come to think of it, I do a lot on my own.” 

“’Like what?” The eye patch asks.

The patient continues. “Touch a hot stove and pull my hand away in a millisecond. Reflexes. That’s all me. Blink an eye–it’s me. True, I sweat a lot, and sometimes I itch like crazy.’” She pauses and runs a hand through her hair. “But I do the scratching.”

He looks up from his notes, waiting for her to continue.

“Despite our differences, it’s a good arrangement. We get along, mostly, except when I got that terrible rash. Scratching only made it worse. Bloody, in fact. And colds. But that’s not my fault. Why should I be blamed for colds?”

The psychiatrist blinks his one good eye. “How does that make you feel?”

“Where do you suppose all this stress comes from? Not from me.” She reaches into her purse and pulls out another cigarette. He leans forward to light it, then hesitates. “You know smoking’s not good for you. You really should quit.”

Who Enjoys Sex More?

She ignores his comment, takes a deep draw on the cigarette, and blows out a smoke ring. “And it’s not because you’re a man and I’m a woman,” she continues. “Gender has nothing to do with it. Well, OK, not a lot to do with it. Speaking of which, when we have sex, who enjoys it more? Me, of course!”

He scribbles in his pad. “Go on.”

“But he gets to keep the memory of it. To fantasize about it. Truthfully, I like it when he does that. I get titillated and aroused. I share that sensation with him and he savors it too. That’s the one time we don’t fight. Oh, and when we go for a walk, or a run, or a swim, we’re both in heaven. I love the exhilaration until…” She takes a deep drag from her cigarette. “Until I get tired, and he keeps pushing me.”

The doctor taps his pen on the notepad. “How does he push you?”


“He’ll say, ‘Come on, you can do it. Just another 6 miles. Piece of cake.’ He’s all about control–controlling me! What does he imagine, I’m a child? We’re 35, so I know most of his tricks by now. I’ll just stop when I need to. What can he do about it except…maybe drugs?”

The doctor looks up from his notes and furrows his brow. “What drugs?”

“Uppers, downers. You know very well. Whatever it takes to get me to do what I don’t want to do. It’s going to kill me one of these days.”

The doctor adjusts his eye patch. “We all die sometime…”

She sits up, startled. “Like that eye of yours. If you hadn’t taken that pink pill, I wouldn’t have lost my balance and fallen down the steps and…” She lifts her leg to reveal more of the black titanium below her pants cuff.

“I’m sorry.” The doctor flips over his wrist and peers at his watch. “Our time is up.”

Her face reddens, and she trembles. They stare at each other in silence for a long minute.

The doctor takes her warm hand in his. “Shall we go home now?”

“Yes, like we always do, together.”


Catch up on my original fast-paced thriller NOT SO DEAD and the Sam Sunborn Series They are available on Amazon and
If you like short reads you can really finish, grab a copy of my short story collections: The Last Appointment: 30 Collected Short Stories
Or my children’s adventure book: Nougo and His Basketball.

And read for FREE some of Charles Levin’s short stories:

I’m Processing
Books Unread
Nora Delivers the Package
The Permission Slip
10 Life Lessons I Learned from Playing Poker
Missing the Ghost in the Palace Theater
Moon Landing Memories
Word Drunk

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