“How are you feeling, Hal?” asked doctor Peters.

“I’m angry.”

“Why? What made you angry?”

Jeff and Bertha. You know, our next door neighbors. They were going out together just as I was going out to come here.”

“What made you angry about that?”

“I don’t know. I have a wife and I don’t care about Bertha, so it’s not like that. I just don’t go out. We don’t go out, Tabby and me.”

“Why don’t you go out?”

“You know, work, kids, stuff. I don’t really like going out that much, either. I mean, there’s always somebody staring at me.”

“Why do you think people are staring at you, Hal?”

“Now you’re making me angry, Dr. Peters. You’re asking questions you should not be asking.”

“Aren’t you getting a little paranoid?”

“Why shouldn’t I? There are people out there, right? People have schemes. Try to get your money, your position, you wife and kids away from you. It happens, right? They show it on TV. Why would I not be cautious and protect what is rightfully mine? I earned it. I worked hard to get it.”

“How are your evenings, Hal? Do you still get depressed when it gets dark?”

“Yeah, and there’s this other thing. That feeling you… What did you call it?”

“It’s a term in German psychology,” said Dr. Peters, nicht zu Hause sein. Being not at home.”

“Yeah, that’s what I feel at night. Like when I look at my leg and all of a sudden I feel it’s an alien object. Or I see the reflection of a lamp in the window, when it’s all black outside, and I realize glass is unearthly, and I get scared. Or amazed. Or I stop recognizing my own reflection. Or that one time… Did I tell you that? We had guests over and I could have sworn they all had the same exact face.”

“Yes, you told me, Hal. What do you think is causing these feelings.”

“Right now, I can tell you I think I’m going crazy. But when it’s happening, it’s the most real thing ever. I mean, the floor turns into slain and the mattress is all barrel on me and it’s not underneath me anymore, but above me, protecting me from the rays of the table. The dark slides sideways into endless howling questions. I know I am not alone on those occasions. There is a quorum of evil minds in me, looking out at the world and trying to comprehend it. But they can’t, and that’s what makes me angry later on, when I remember it. Am I making any sense.”

“I would like you to come to me after dark one night. I want to talk to you when you are in that state.”

That made Hal feel scared, but something made him say: “Looking forward to it, doc,” and smile politely.

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