This story is written for pleasure and not intended to infringe on any copyrights. The story is fictional, a work of the writer's (somewhat vivid) imagination. The characters and incidents are not based on any actual person or experiences.

Stanley - Tuesday 5:15pm

by RosalindB

Pamela Singleton was assigned to me. The parole judge said I needed psychiatric care instead of a "cold jail cell." He said the police report indicated remorse and a possible history of abuse with a clear case of abandonment. The abandonment part must've referred to my father. My mother pleaded with the judge.

"He's all I've got Your Honor. He's just a shy boy. Never had a real chance as a child. It's just him and me. He wouldn't hurt a fly."

The prosecutor wasn't that convinced. He talked about all the damage to the theaters, the film studio, the book store. I feel really bad about the book store. Book stores are one of the few places I feel comfortable in. My mother whispered something to the public defender I was assigned.

"Your Honor, defendant's mother is willing to work out a payment plan to compensate the businesses damaged."

"But Mom, you can't afford that! Let me work Your Honor." How would a housekeeper pay for all those windows?

The judge banged his gavel.

"That will be enough. Defendant has stated he is willing to work to compensate the business owners for damages. The only way to do that is to sentence defendant to probation. Two years, Mr. Stover. Also you will undergo psychiatric treatment. As long as you review your progress with the probation department and meet all your counselor's appointments you need not see this courtroom again. Understood?"

"Yes sir. Thank you sir."

And that is how I ended up at Miss Singelton's office. It's my first meeting. She sounded kind on the phone. When I told her I was working, she said she would see me after work.

"Mr. Stover, I can fit you in at 5:15. Would that give you enough time to arrive after work?"

"Yes ma'am, plenty of time. Thank you."

"Do you have any other questions before we meet?"

"Um, just one. You see I'm on a payment plan with two of the theater owners. I have to pay for the windows. I-I just want to make sure I can pay you-"

She cut me off.

"No worries Mr. Stover. The probation department takes care of my fee. Just come in."

Outside her office door, I tried to stand up straight. I'd straighten my tie, but I didn't have one. Took a deep breath, then knocked.

"Come in."

I opened the door. Her office was nicer than I thought it would be. Gauzy light brown curtains covered the windows. The blinds were down, but cracked enough to let light in. Her diplomas hung on the wall. College diplomas are really big.

"Yes, they are Stanley. I always wondered why." Miss Singleton smiled at me. Oops.

"Sorry, didn't mean to say that out loud."

"It's okay Stanley. Please have a seat." She gestured to a chair in front of her desk. There were two of them. I took the one on the right.

There were two boxes of tissues on her desk, and a container with lollipops.

"Do you see children too Miss Singelton?"

"Sometimes, I can counsel a parent with a child. That was observant Stanley." She made a note in her notebook.

"Um, thanks." I looked down at the floor. Brown carpet. No stains. Must have just been cleaned.

"The office is cleaned regularly," she said. Damn, I did it again.

"It's okay Stanley. This is one place where it is okay to think out loud. As a matter of fact, learning to express your thoughts safely is one of the goals I had in mind for you. How do you feel about that?"

I played with my sleeve. For some weird reason I couldn't look her in the eye. "That sounds okay."

"Good. Once you are confident with expressing yourself, other social activities will become easier for you."

Social activities? "Um, Miss Singelton I don't have any social activities."

"So right now it's just work and home?" she made another note.

"Yes ma'am. You see I never really had any friends. I'm kinda fat and ugly." Went back to staring at my sleeve. I heard her put the pen down on the desk.

"Stanley, could you look at me?" I looked up. She had these big brown eyes, skin just a hint darker than a cup of coffee with cream, and her hair...

I couldn't figure out her hair.

"Are those braids?" I finally thought out loud without laughed.

"No they're twists. Not quite braids. Another good observation. However, I wonder why you feel you're ugly and fat?"

What could I say? Didn't she see me? In my borrowed sport coat. The mustache that won't grow. The hair that's trying to be curly but not quite there.

"Because I am. I even told the detectives that, and they didn't argue." Miss Singelton sat back in her chair. It seemed like forever, that she didn't speak.

"Yes, I read the police report. However Detective Friday didn't mention anything about fat and ugly. Only your costume. He did mention you said your father abandoned you and your mother. Also that you were bullied."

"Yes ma'am, that's true. I never understood why. I didn't bother anybody." I started to choke up. But I didn't want to cry in front of a stranger. Especially one with college degrees.

"Stanley-" she leaned on her desk. "Stanley it is okay to cry in my office. Sometimes we need to let things go. Tears are a way of doing it."

"Is that sort of like my taking the pictures to feel close to something? I-I've been thinkin' about that. My room is so empty now..." The tears were really rolling. And I just couldn't talk any more.

I didn't realize Miss Singelton had left her chair until she pressed the tissue into my hand.

"You know Stanley? I think this will be a good journey for you. Not easy, but good. We'll take things one week at a time. Are you ready?"

I blew my nose. "Ready."