And now for a relatively minor character from The Infinite Middle, the sort-of book I'm working on.
Last time on Mental Health, we met Tom:
Let's see where Tom is now:Tom was the sort of guy who had never mastered the use of question marks in writing, because he never changed his intonation to ask a question when he spoke.Who do all these people think they are, he thought to himself, sitting on a bench at the park. When will I finally snap.
Tom looked in the mirror and splashed cold water on his face, letting it drip from the tip of his nose and dry without intervention from a towel. There was a towel on the floor, but its cleanliness was, even by Tom's low standards, somewhat suspect. He was as deep in thought as he was capable of being, and somehow this always included a shift to referring to himself in the third person:
Tom has an anger problem, which fuels his drinking problem, which fuels...his anger problem.
That was essentially as far as he ever got. He made one final remark to his mirror-self as he buttoned his brown work shirt:
What are we going to do about this Tom guy.
Tom had climbed a mountain, once, around the time he'd stopped going to high school. After reaching the top, he'd found it far too slow and boring to walk down the way he'd come, so instead he found a deer trail zig-zagging down, steep and narrow and even vertical in places. To young Tom's great surprise, he quickly discovered that although it was easy to increase his speed on this trail, it was hard to maintain a constant speed and nearly impossible to slow down or stop. He legs began to announce loudly to the rest of his body that they couldn't be coordinated at this speed, and something would have to change very soon.
Tom saw his out– a thick-leafed bush to the side of the trail ahead– and he took his chances on it, hoping it contained no sharp sticks or snakes, throwing himself at it to cushion his barely-controlled descent.
He was lucky, and emerged from the bush's embrace with no impalation and only a few scratches. While walking down the rest of the way, Tom saw that he would have soon come upon a steep patch of large, loose rocks which slid downwards when touched. The bush had been much kinder to him than the rocks would have been.
Tom thought about this sometimes, while driving his delivery truck around town or as he drained yet another bottle before or after work. He thought about it and hoped that there would be a bush to jump into soon, because he couldn't keep this up much longer.
How long do I have before I hit the rocks, he wondered.