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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Outlook (06/02/11)

TITLE: Groove Things
By Troy Manning
06/08/11


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The trouble with nuts is that they’re never all they’ve cracked up to be. Verlayne once overheard someone say this about her and she repeatedly played it in her head like a broken record; she played it over and over; again and again she played the same thing. The good thing about repetition, though, is the way it helps with the habit-formation process. Verlayne had come to know something about habits. She knew, for instance, that some were good and that some were bad. Bad habits, she was taught, are the results of negative self-talk. If you allow your thoughts to say degrading things about yourself, you will never amount to much; you won’t get anywhere in life; in fact, you’ll go nowhere fast. She learned to put those kinds of thoughts behind her like bad dreams.

One night, Verlayne had a vivid nightmare. She dreamt she was a disc jockey at KKKK and every record she pulled from its sleeve turned out to be the same one. The first song on the record was about the time Rafael Osuna told her Phil Stoddard had a crush on her when he really didn’t. The second song was similar except that, in this one, it was Phil who said it was Rafael who had the crush on her. In the third song Phil’s last name was Osuna and Rafael’s was Verlayne. It was all terribly confusing and by the time the record was over, she didn’t know whom to like.

When she woke up, Dr. Hayashi had just given her an injection. She liked Dr. Hayashi but she didn’t much like his needles. Sometimes she tried to pull away from him and the needle jumped around on her arm like on a broken record. Now they usually strapped her down and put a mask over her mouth so she wouldn’t spit. She knew that young ladies don’t spit because her mother had told her this many times; if she told her once, she told her a thousand times in fact. Verlayne tried very hard to break herself of this habit because she knew it was a bad one. She was always quick to apologize to Dr. Hayashi whenever she did that to him, and he was always so quick to forgive her that she couldn’t help but like him. She still felt bad that she never apologized to Rafael when she spat at him after his lie about Phil liking her. She didn’t feel quite as bad about having done that to Phil, though, after his lie about Rafael since she overheard him say to Jimmy Weller that the trouble with nuts is that they’re never all they’ve cracked up to be.

She liked Jimmy because he stood up to Phil. And Jimmy later agreed to be her campaign manager when she ran for treasurer. He even made all her “Verlayne for Treasurer” signs. On one of them, he had written it five times so she cut it apart without telling him, making four more signs. She was very good with math and details. Verlayne was told so many times that she was a good treasurer that she enrolled as an accounting major at college before switching to psychology.

Rafael and Verlayne dated for a while at Vanderbilt, but she broke it off after realizing they were falling into many of the same unhealthy patterns. Their many spats had grown tiresome and he kept picking her up in the same car. She considered calling on Phil but suspected she would be better matched with someone who didn’t keep repeating his senior year of high school. She didn’t really see Jimmy as a viable option since she knew he had some entrenched obsessive-compulsive tendencies to resolve. Though she thought she could help him redirect his perspective through positive self-talk, she felt a doctor-patient dynamic would be an unstable foundation for a serious relationship. When she confided this to Dr. Hayashi, he said that since she was now the ward’s top therapist she already had enough nuts to crack. While she refrained from spitting at him, she lost professional respect for Dr. Hayashi and no longer liked him in the same way.

When Verlayne later married Jimmy, she found they were actually quite compatible. In fact they had a few children; one after another after another; three, for the record.


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Member Comments
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Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 06/09/11
This is an interesting piece, although I think some of it went over my head for the most part I enjoyed the character and your subtle sense of humor.
Linda Goergen06/11/11
Fascinating stream of consciousness piece in that while the MC voices her outlook, many other outlooks are also woven in! Complex, captivating read!