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Dr. Beatty’s office is typical, almost Spartan, except for all the toys. Toys are everywhere, peeking out from between the books and protected behind seat cushions; almost hidden, in a strangely familiar way.

When my lawyer hears about “the incident”, as he calls it, he thinks the DA will offer me probation; the charge, of which I’m clearly guilty, is “Attempt to obtain a controlled substance by fraud”. It’s a felony, so before the DA can offer me probation instead of a prison sentence, my lawyer needs a letter about “the incident” from this psychologist, Dr. Beatty.

In other words, if the DA agrees to give me probation, my lawyer and I won’t say that pretty little white girls are sodomized down at the city jail.

Then as long as I don’t get arrested again, all I have to do is see this doctor once a week. And I know I should be grateful and as simple as that sounds—once I’m in Dr. Beatty’s office, I’m obstinate and rude, and to everything he asks I say:

“What d’ya want me to say?”

Beside me, peeking out from behind a seat cushion, is a toy, a stuffed lion with a tag that reads: “Hi! My name is Clyde!”

I curl my lip and try to snarl a little, "Awwww...this for my inner child?”

Dr. Beatty rolls his eyes: “Let’s start more simply then—tell me what you were in jail for.”

I roll my eyes and trying to be insufferable, I pick Clyde up and raise his arm and punctuate each word with a lion paw: “Attempt-to-obtain-a-controlled-substance-by-fraud. Scrip-forging. Percocet.” In sing-song, for Dr. Beatty’s benefit I add, “Because-I’m-an-addict. And-that’s-what-addicts-do.”

Clyde swipes a paw in his direction, and for a moment I would rather go to prison than abandon this toy lion.

“You signed a release form at your lawyer’s office. I’ve read your records. Trying to forge prescriptions is pretty stupid. You’re not stupid." He reaches for the toy. "But you’re no lion either.”

Pulling Clyde away, I spit a “Fuck you” out to Dr. Beatty.

“Fuck you too", he says. Then almost softly, "Tell me about that night.”

My lip quivers, I cannot speak.  Angry tears run down my cheeks and soak my lion's fur.

“I watched you looking around the office a little while ago," he says. "You saw the toys, the stuffed animals hidden between the books…you saw that lion, tucked behind the cushions—you’re always on the alert…or at least, you try to be....did you notice they were all facing outward, towards the door ?  I never move them; someone put them there that way, on purpose.  Tell me: why do you think someone put them there like that?”

Because they've learned, I want to say, and I see myself that night. Bleeding. Torn. Weak and small and trying not to cry.  I want to answer Dr. Beatty but in a tiny voice I say, "what do you want me to say."

“I guess you don’t really have to say anything…you know, I keep these toys here for children who come to see me…they come here scared...angry...I always ask them if they'd like to take one of those toys home, but they never do. Most people believe that children who've been abused need to feel protected.  But there's something they need more...I think, you know what I mean."   

Dr. Beatty’s office is typical, almost Spartan, except for all the toys; I tuck the lion back behind the cushion.

For now I just say "Yes."

But I know what Dr. Beatty means.

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