The Only Game in Town


Photo © Al Forbes 2015

“Hello. You must be Dr Martin Smith, I’m Professor Phoenix. I always enjoy giving visitors the tour of my long-stay psychiatric facility. Its state-of-the-art facilities, progressive methods and outstanding success stories are gaining us international recognition. We use our own funding, and I encourage my staff to use the most progressive methods. No-one is beyond hope.”

A man playing solitaire acknowledges us as we pass. “Six months ago, that gentleman was unable to communicate with anyone. Now he runs a self-help anxiety support group. We focus on Positive Psychology, as a means of complementing, not replacing conventional psychology. The results speak for themselves.”

Soon, the tour is over. Martin stops taking notes on his clipboard and shakes my hand. He seems impressed. I return to my table with some of the other patients.

I know that Dr Smith isn’t just another visitor – he’s assessing me for potential discharge. I’m happy to appear delusional – if I appear too ‘normal’, they might release me. I’ve still got work to do here.

My unofficial therapies seem to work much better here than the prescribed ones. But they’re unlikely to be adopted into the mainstream, any time soon. Until then, I’ll stay here and let them take the credit for my results.

I walk over to a quiet corner where a man sits alone, staring at the wall. I sit down next to him, take out a solitaire game from my pocket, and start to explain how it’s played.

The story was inspired by the photo, provided for Sunday Photo Fiction June 7th 2015, by Al Forbes. Please click the logo for more details.


 To view other entries click the link here.

17 thoughts on “The Only Game in Town

  1. Great story! I like to read stories like this. I just wanted to point out a typo in the 5th sentence in the first paragraph. I thought you might want to correct that. I liked the ending with him helping the man staring at the wall.

  2. I think someone on the “inside” would probably understand it better as they have interactions and experiences with whatever it is that needs to be treated on a daily basis. Although, many apparently believe they are not ill so that could act as a counter argument. Either way, what is needed at times can be a humanistic and holistic approach.
    Interesting take!

  3. Great story, Steve… as one who has been on the “inside” many times, I can attest that sometimes the best help came from other patients 🙂

  4. Pingback: Compelling Posts — Week of June 22 – June 28 2015 | The Rattling Bones

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