“Most of the laugh tracks on television were recorded in the early 1950s. These days, the people you hear laughing are dead.
—Chuck Palahniuk, "Lullaby"
"We don't have to talk about it if you don't want to, of course."
"I thought that's what your job was about: talking?"
"Actually Mrs. Chelsea, I would say that my job is about trust. I can't expect people who don't trust me to talk about sensitive things with me. So this session is entirely in your hands."
"I'll talk about it. Therapy was my idea, after all. They said that since there was just the one incident it wasn't really necessary but...I thought it was a good idea."
"All right then. Tell me what happened."
"It was just a drawing on the sidewalk. A stencil, you know? Artists leave them around the city, sometimes, and I was out shopping with my family when my son pointed it out. It was a skeleton wearing a top hat, and it had the word 'Saturday' underneath it. What do you think that means?"
"It sounds like Baron Samedi."
"He's a loa; a voodoo spirit. He watches over the dead and he's usually represented by a top hat and a skull. 'Samedi' means 'Saturday'. So this drawing frightened you?"
"I had a kind of fit when I saw it. They called it an anxiety attack. They even took me to the hospital."
"And what did they find out?"
"They said there's nothing wrong with me physically. They talked about stress and lack of sleep. And they said I should take it easy but not to worry unless it happened again. But I'm worried anyway."
"Has anything like this ever happened before?"
"Once. The same day...that my son died."
"You said your son was the one who noticed the stencil?"
"That's my youngest son, Dylan. I had an older son, Jonah. But he's not with us anymore. He was murdered five years ago."