The Man with no Subconscious Mind
Fin de Siecle Vienna, or thereabouts. The ancient moon hangs over the city like an afterthought. Mists spirit around the towers and government buildings of the Rathaus district. Cakes and pastries lie in contented twists on thin paper sheets under cover of the darkness that always seems to inhabit Kärntnerring Street. Nearby, in his private studio, Dr. Sigmund Freud absent-mindedly toys with two hairy plums and a big lump of greasy Bratwurst. He has quite lost his appetite. He cannot quite figure out why.
His quest for an answer is diverted when there is a loudly confused knock on the door, and Freud's assistant, Egor, appears in the half-light of the outer chamber.
'What is it, Egor?' Freud asks, his food now quite forgotten.
'A new victim, Master, has arrived...'
Freud disguises his annoyance behind a false smile.
'Now ... now ... Egor, what do we call them?'
'I give up Master. Please don't strike me. What is the answer?'
'Patients. Egor. Patients.'
'Er.. ok, Master, but let me know when you want to tell me the answer.'
Freud finds himself struggling. He exhibits a curious, yet powerful temptation to place a small piece of putty in an elastic band and fire it at Egor's head. He resists. Some things, he decides, are simply meant to be futile.
'Never mind, Egor. What's the victim's name?'
'Big Dave, Master'
'Ah, most interesting.'
Freud writes down the name 'Dave' on a fresh piece of paper. Underneath he writes 'Big?'.
'And where does this Mr Dave originate from, Egor?'
'Dagenham, Master. East London. That's in England, Master. He says he's a fish monger. Please don't tie my shoe laces together.'
'Not this time, Egor, not this time. Let us examine our patient then. Please, show him in.'
Egor scuttles off into the gloom and Freud is left to himself for a few moments. He returns to his meal. Gingerly, he picks up one of the hairy plums and puts it in his mouth. It doesn't taste as bad as he had imagined. He is about to swallow when he looks up and sees Big Dave
standing before him. Big Dave is dressed in a purple shell suit. Across the front is written 'Fishmongers do it first thing in the morning.' Freud coughs on his plumb. It shoots out of his mouth and fires across the room, lodging between the thighs of a small Buddha in the corner.
'Alright mate?' says Big Dave, 'You want to get that seeing to. Might get a nasty rash from that.'
'It's this food', says Freud, 'I can't seem to keep it down for some reason'.
'You should try some Hake with that, mate, or a nice bit of Turbot. Not the friendliest of fish, your Turbot, but tastes good with Bratwurst. Name's Big Dave. Don't believe I've had
Austria's most famous psychiatrist now eyes up Big Dave with some amusement. The thought dawns on him that this new patient doesn't actually know who his new psychiatrist is. He elects to find out.
'Do you know who I am, Mr Dave'?
'Not a clue mate. Just came to the first revolutionary talking cure office I could find.'
'So, then ... what would you think if I now say the magic word ... Frrrrreud'?
'Freud mate? Eggs, I reckon. Bacon, sausage.. cup of tea, baked beans, nice but of freud fish... Is this part of the test?'
Privately, Freud is piqued. But he refuses to let this show.
'Yes, Mr. Dave. This is part of a special test. I invented it. Its called the Voigt Kampf test. It is designed to provoke an emotional response. Tell me, in the simplest terms possible, about ... your mother?'
'My mother? Let me tell you about my mother. She's a lovely old dear, lives on the Hackney Road. Makes a smashing cup of tea. Likes her Bingo. 'Course, they all know her down there. Loves a good natter, does my mum. Rabbit rabbit rabbit, nineteen to the dozen. Makes a nice cake too. Lots of people tell me, Dave, your mum makes a lovely cake, and a nice cup of tea, you look after her now... and I say, 'course I look after her, she's my mum. I mean, you've got to look after your mum, 'aint you, I mean, stands to reason, don't it, I mean...'
'OK, Mr. Dave, you can stop talking now'
'Oh, alright then mate. Next question..'
Freud thought for a while. It gradually dawned on him that he had no next question. In desperation he looked down at his notes. He read 'Big?'. This single word unlocked a trap-door in Freud's imaginative villa of curious rooms. It lead him to the biggest question in his arsenal. The question that he privately labelled: 'The hand grenade'. It was this question that he asked next.
'Tell me, Mr Dave, what thoughts come to mind when I say the magic word ..... breasts...?'
'Ah, now your talking mate. That's easy. Two pounds fifty for four. Special offer at Tesco's.'
'Chicken, mate. Four breasts for the price of two. Goes down lovely with a bit of monkfish. Its amazing, really. I don't know how they do it. When you consider the price of chicken and everything...'
From somewhere outside his private world, Freud heard a distant snap. He looked down and found that he had broken his pencil into two neat pieces. He found this significant, though he could not yet determine why. He was becoming increasingly disturbed by this Big Dave
character. It seemed to him that every theory he had invented would soon have to be re-written.
'Mr Dave, tell me, have you ever had an experience of a nature that I call - 'unheimlich'?'
'Bless you, mate.'
'No, no, Mr Dave, unheimlich..'
'Bless you, mate'
'..means 'uncanny', 'strange', 'weird'...'
'Uncanny mate? I'll tell you what's uncanny. Its the way the punters always run out of money just before buying that last piece of Cod. I know their game, alright. They think that a fishmonger is a soft touch or something. I mean, do they know what it takes to run a fish shop? Billingsgate at five am, mate, up before the rest of 'em, I am. Sorting through the Pike and Flatfish, trying to do the best by my customers, and then all they do by way of a thank you is to try and diddle me out of my last piece of Cod. Now, that's bleedin' uncanny, that is.
'Mr Dave. I have an announcement to make.'
'Oh yes, mate, what's that?'
'You have no subconscious. None what so ever. I do not know what is there in its place. Probably a great big hole or something.'
'Is that good then, mate? Will it help me sell more fish?'
'That, Mr. Dave, I do not know. But I am afraid our session must draw to a close. I assume you came here with some kind of a problem?'
'Yes, mate, I'm scared of Haddock. Don't know why. Makes life difficult, being a fishmonger and all though, if you see what I mean'.
'Well, Mr Dave, I suggest you replace Haddock with something else. For I cannot cure you.'
'Never mind mate. Thought it was worth I try. Reckon I'll sell crab sticks instead. Thanks for giving it a go now. Watch out for them plums. If you ever need a nice bit of Sole, and your round Dagenham way, let us know.'
'I will Mr. Dave. Egor will show you out.'
Freud picked up a small bell and rang it. Egor appeared at the door, and Big Dave took his leave. It was then that the psychic shock wave reached Freud. Everything he had previously thought was completely wrong. Everything. The world, which had previously seemed to retain
some shape, was now rendered into chaos.
To comfort himself, Freud pushed the remaining Bratwurst up his nose and shoved a plum in his ear. Then he crouched down and hopped around the room pretending he was a rabbit. Outside, in the corridor, Egor paid big Dave twenty quid, as promised, and showed him out. And when he was alone Egor lit a cigar and allowed himself to laugh, finally.