You have to watch what you say here because everything you say means something and somebody’s always telling you what you mean.

“Step off,” I tell this nurse when she tries to get me to eat.

“You mean, thank you for caring,” she says. “You’re welcome.
“I need a lighter,” I tell her, and she goes, “You mean you want a lighter. Dream on, sweetheart.”

So I take their medicine and walk around in socks the way they make you and stay real quiet.

“Hello, America,” he goes. “I’m Dr. B.” He holds out his hand, but I play like I don’t even see it. “I’ll be your therapist while you’re here at Ridgeway.” He drops his arm like it’s no big thing and dumps his skinny butt in a chair behind his desk. “You can sit anywhere.” He doesn’t have any tennis balls or messed-up eyeglasses or an attitude like those other ones back at Applegate. He’s just regular. I stay standing. “We’ll meet at this time for forty-five minutes every Tuesday and Thursday.” I keep my back right up on the door. He’s all calm, like it’s cool with him. “Our sessions will be confidential. Are you familiar with the rules of confidentiality?” I don’t bother answering. “Confidentiality means what’s said in this room stays in this room.” He stops a second, looking at me, close.  “Except for three things.”  Looking at me straight up.  “If you tell me that someone is harming you,  if you express the intent to harm yourself, or do so, or if you express the intent to harm anyone else, or do so. Those three things don’t stay private between us.”

“That’s it?” I go.

“ ‘That’s it,’ what?” he goes. Not in my face.  Just normal.

“That’s all you’ve got, if I say I’m going to off yself?”

“Is that what you’re planning?”

“Huh?”

“Are you planning to kill yourself?”

“That’s not what I asked.”

“I know that’s not what you asked. He’s leaning forward on his elbows, like he’s interested, like he for real even cares.

“It’s no big secret, doc,” I go. “How the hell you think I got here?”