Aichmophobia (Fear of sharp/pointed objects)

Aichmophobia
(Fear of sharp/pointed objects)

Well, first off, let me introduce myself. My name is David Sheckleman, and I am 6′ 4”. I weigh 215 lbs, have brown hair and green eyes. I am a 38 year old divorced insurance salesman from Kansas City, Missouri with no children. My ex-wife was my high school sweetheart whom I married when I was nineteen years old. We got a divorce two years later because I was going to college and had two jobs. She resented the fact that I was not spending enough time with her and so she left me for a man who had a fairly high position in a bank. Because of this, I refuse to do my banking with that firm. In high school, I played on the football team and was good enough to be considered for a scholarship at Duke University, but in my senior year, I sustained a knee injury that plagues me whenever the weather turns bad. I went to junior college and, after my divorce, put myself through college at the University of Kansas in Lawrence. I got my degree in Business and, with diploma in hand, managed to get a job with a prestigious company.
I’m sorry, what did you say? Oh yes, I make a comfortable living and am seeing a very nice woman, who…
What? Well, I’m not really sure WHY I’m here. I remember that I was talking to my therapist…
I was getting to that, be patient. Anyway, as I was about to say, I was talking to my therapist about a personal problem that I’ve have all of my life. I have a morbid fear of sharp objects.
Yes, sharp objects! It’s a real condition! It doesn’t just relate to things like needles and knives, but just about any sharp object, even a finger pointed at me. You ask, how did I manage to get through school without using a pen or a pencil? Believe me, it was very difficult. I had no problem when it came to doing homework, because I had a typewriter, but when it came to written tests, I had a doctor’s prescription for medication that helped me get through the ordeal. Thank goodness for computers, because without them I don’t know how I would get through my job, you know, filling out forms and so on.
You ask, what caused this condition? That’s a very complicated question because there are several schools of thought on that. The first one states that every person is born with a fear reflex which we inherited from our distant ancestors. It is a survival instinct; you’ve surely heard of the “fight or flight” instinct? Yes, well, that is one explanation. Another is more of an Eastern school of thought that says that any thing which we fear is due to karma. In my case, for instance, my fear of sharp objects may be left over residue from a past life where I was stabbed in a bloody war. I tend to dismiss this sort of thinking. The final thought is that it is from a reenactment from a childhood trauma which I have trouble suppressing.
Yes, well there are two types of therapy that I have gone through to overcome this fear. The first was hypnotherapy. I went to a hypnotherapist for about a year before I decided that he wasn’t really helping me. The second type of therapy involves conditioning. This treatment requires that I sit in a room with a “fear trigger” sitting across the room from me. The conditioning part comes in when the therapist sets something that has positive associations to me next to the fear trigger. Each week the objects are put a little bit closer to me and, because of the proximity of the positive to the negative, my subconscious will gradually associate the fear object with something good.
What? Yes, I guess that you could say that it is like the Pavlov’s dog syndrome, but I don’t get the treat until I overcome my fear completely.
Yes, it is very interesting. I do think that it is having a good effect on me in conquering my fear.
Well, I have been seeing Doctor Wellerman for six months now and I am about a foot away from touching a syringe. Of course, it’s empty. Why would you ask such a question? It’s not a matter of fearing the contents of the syringe, but the syringe itself.
I’m here because Doctor Wellerman asked me to come here.

The window in the cell closed at the precise moment that David Sheckleman convinced himself that Doctor Wellerman had asked him to come visit. Unfortunately for Mr. Sheckleman, there was no therapist named Doctor Wellerman. Mr. Sheckleman had been placed in the asylum after an armed robber had pointed a gun at him and he totally snapped. The robbery had occurred after the robber left Wellerman’s Bank, which poor David Sheckleman was just passing by. It also didn’t help that Wellerman was the name of his ex-wife’s new husband.

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Chapter 33: The Corporate Whore of Babylon (excerpt)

Chapter Thirty-three

Arriving in Pocatello, Henson drove up to an all night gas station to fill up. Gladd and Dali got out of the van and stretched their legs. On the drive, Gladd told Evering that when he got back home, that he should gather some clothes and his family and go to somewhere safe. Evering said that he had a wife and a ten year old son and that he would probably take them to his brother-in-law’s place in North Dakota. Gladd asked him if his brother-in-law was reliable. “Yes, sir. I’d trust him with my life.” “You sure will.” Gladd replied. After paying for the gas, the men got back into the van and headed out of town. The sun was starting to creep into the sky. Alex passed out some sandwiches and sodas that he had bought at the gas station. Normally, Gladd would be leery of eating food from such a source, but it had been twelve hours since the last time he had eaten. It would be another three hours before they pulled into Boise. Once there, the men would go their separate ways: Gladd and Dali to LA, Evering to his house, and Henson planned to go home to catch some sleep. Gladd offered to drive so that Henson could get some rest and his offer was accepted. Gladd did some of his best thinking when he was behind a wheel. When they arrived in Boise, they drove to the hotel where Gladd had stayed and picked up his luggage from the manager’s office. Henson then drove to the airport and dropped off Gladd and Dali. Henson would then drive Evering to his home and then head home to get ready for work. The two men went up to the counter, bought their tickets (fortunately, Dizzy had found their wallets and keys and put them in the envelop) and waited forty-five minutes before catching their flight. Both men agreed that they would wait until they got home before they went over all of the information that Dizzy had given them. Gladd told Dali when they got to LA that they would have to stop at a friend’s house to pick up his pet parrot and he would see if Alex could stay there for a few days. After taking into consideration what had happened the last time Alex had gone to his home inSanta Monica, Gladd felt that it would be safer for Alex to stay somewhere else. Alex agreed with him. Having taken care of these arrangements, the two men caught some sleep. It was a nice sunny day when they arrived at LAX. They went to the parking garage to pick up James’ car. James checked the engine first to make sure that it hadn’t been tampered with. Satisfied that everything was alright, they got in the car and headed for Chang’s house. When they got there, Ned was just leaving the house to go to work. “Well, it’s about time you got back. I was starting to worry about you.” “Yes, well it’s a long story, Ned. I’ll have to tell you about it later. Ned, this is my friend Alex Dali. I have another favor to ask of you.” “It’s nice to meet you, Mr. Dali. Why don’t you both come in and have a cup of coffee. I’m in no real hurry to get to work. It’s not like I have any important people to meet.” “Thanks Ned, that would be fine.” The men went into the house and Ned asked his wife to fix some coffee for their guests. The men sat down at the kitchen table and, at that moment, David Chang walked into the room. “Uncle James, you’re back. Do you want me to bring Sasha here? I have a confession to make. I let Sasha watch TV with me and he seems to have discovered a couple new expressions that he likes.” “Oh, yeah. Like what.” The boy’s cheeks turned red and he looked down. “Well, he now says ‘Bite me!’ and ‘Suck it!’” “That’s just what I need, a parrot with a fouler beak then when I left him. You’ve got to quit corrupting him, David.” Gladd said semi-seriously. David knew that he was joking, so he shyly smiled. He then turned around and went to his room to get Sasha. Ned said: “I’m sorry about that James.” “Don’t worry about it. I was starting to think that that bird wasn’t trainable any more.”

Agyrophobia (Fear of Crossing the Road)

Agyrophobia (Fear of crossing the road)

“Be sure to be back before sunset, girl, or Satan will get you and make you one of his harlots.”

“Do not worry, mother, I will not forget”.

Doreen always went through this routine with her mother every time that she either had to run an errand or went out to pick flowers. This time she had to go over to the next village and pick up some cloth that her mother’s friend had promised her. Doreen had left the village an hour after the sun had risen and she did not believe that there would be any situations which would cause her any major delays. Doreen was fourteen and she had what her mother called “a happy heart”. Every one in the village would greet her with a smile on their faces whenever they saw her. Doreen had taken a basket with her in order to carry both her lunch and the cloth that she had been told was not very heavy for a girl her age. She enjoyed doing things for her mother, since her father and two brothers spent most of the day in the fields. Even though an extra hand in the fields would have been helpful, Doreen’s parents wanted their only daughter to grow up and, with God’s help, attract the attentions of some lord so that she would be protected throughout her life and, knowing their daughter’s proclivity for generosity, would be a help to her family.

An hour after she had left the village, Doreen went into a field which was covered in bright yellow flowers, and, not having had any breakfast before she left, sat down among the flowers and ate an apple. Overhead, the sun was shining and the morning air was warm enough for comfort. A few dragonflies fluttered around Doreen’s head as she sat in the field, and she laughed as she tried to catch one in her hands. She was startled when a bird swooped down out of the sky and caught one of the dragonflies in its beak just as she was about to capture it. With a sigh, Doreen rose up from her seat in the field and continued her journey. Within an hour and a half, Doreen knew that she was almost at her destination when she came upon the crossroads. During the day, the crossroads were considered safe but in the dark of night, it was considered an evil time to be caught in the crossroads. Everyone knew that the Devil would summon his minions and demons at the crossroads in order to bring death and misfortune to those who dared to travel them at night. Doreen, of course, knew all of this since her mother always warned her about the crossroads any time that she left the village. In her heart, Doreen knew that her mother cared about her, but really, some of the things that she said! The Devil? Why would the Devil waste time waiting at crossroads for unsuspecting travelers? Surely, the Devil had bigger fish to fry, like the sheriff’s men when tax time came around. Oh well, Doreen thought, I shall be home long before sundown. Doreen was in such a happy mood that she did not hear the sound of hooves heading in her direction. She had just stepped into the middle of the crossroads, when she was knocked off of her feet and her lithe body was sent sailing into the air. The moment that her body hit the ground all of the air in her lungs went out of her, but she did not experience this for very long because at almost the same moment, her head hit a stone and she passed out. The accident did not kill her, but by the time that she regained consciousness, it was two hours past sunset. At first, Doreen was not sure if she was dead or alive, but when the pain hit her, she knew that she was still alive. Shakily getting up from the ground, she felt the back of her head and felt the wetness of blood but she also felt that some of it had dried out. She, then, tried to stand up. Her legs were a bit wobbly, but she managed to stand and then looked around for her basket with the cloth that her mother’s friend had sent. The moon had not yet risen and it would not have been of any use since this was the time of the New Moon. It did not take Doreen very long to find the basket along with the cloth and a couple of bread rolls that the friend has given her. Doreen, having secured everything, then stepped out of the field that she had been tossed into and proceeded to go across the crossroads. She heard sounds in the darkness, but she recognized some as them as owls and other night creatures. Due to her injuries, Doreen’s return journey home took longer than it normally would, but she did manage to make it. Her mother became somewhat hysterical when she saw her injured daughter enter their hut, but she eventually had the presence of mind to soak a rag into some water and wash the blood away from her daughter’s head. Before Doreen passed out from fatigue, she managed to tell her mother what had happened to her as much as she could remember. Doreen’s mother sat by her bed all of that night to make sure that her daughter did not come down with a fever.

The next morning, Doreen woke up and saw her mother preparing her father’s and brothers’ lunch for them before they left for the fields. As she tried to sit up from her cot, she gave a moan. Her mother heard her, covered the basket with the men’s food in it, and brought a ladle of water over to Doreen. As she was drinking the water, her father and brothers came into the room. Her father grabbed the basket and, without saying a word of kindness or concern to her, pushed her brothers out of the hut. It was over a week before Doreen felt well enough to get up from her cot and go outside. When she did go outside, she did some minor chores, such as cracking beans and bringing water from the well. Everyone in the village, however, noticed that she was no longer the cheerful girl that they had known before. She would sit outside and barely acknowledge anyone who greeted her. She would not ever sing little songs that she had made up which had delighted those that heard her. Her mother tried to bring out her former self, but it was of little use. Her father, and occasionally her brothers, would glance quickly at her and then make the sign of the cross.

One day, as the chill of autumn was in the air, a traveling priest came to the village. His name was Father Bernard and he was making his monthly rounds to the surrounding villages since there was no major church in the area. He was a fairly healthy looking man, neither lean nor obese, in his early fifties and his tonsured hair was barely showing any gray. He had visited with some of the villagers, having gone first to the Chief Steward’s home, and hearing about Doreen’s predicament, decided to pay her and her family a visit. Since the time of year required every able bodied person to help with the harvesting, Doreen was the only one home when Father Bernard arrived. The priest found her sitting outside, looking sadly at the ground and making swirls in the dirt with her foot.

“Greetings, my daughter! I hear that you have had a harrowing experience. Wouldst thou care to speak of it with me?”

Doreen stopped her foot and slowly raised her head in acknowledgment of the priest. She said,”Yes, it was a horrible experience, but I am better now, thank you Father.”

“Aye, so you say, but I sense that there is more that you wouldst not speak.”

“Father, there ARE some things that worry me. Why do my father and brothers barely speak to me and seem afraid?”

“I believe that it is because, through God’s mercy, somehow you escaped the clutches of the Devil when you found yourself out at night at the crossroads. They may fear you because they still are superstitious about such things.”

“I thought that the story about Satan and the crossroads were a bit foolish myself, but their fear causes me great sorrow.”

“I should speak to them of this, if you wish it, my daughter. But, I am also concerned that the light of Joy does not shine out of you as others have told me about. Surely there must be more to your tale?”

“What dost thou mean, Father?”

“People have told me that when they would see you, your smile wouldst bring one to their faces and your songs wouldst seem as birdsong to their ears? What couldst cause you to no longer share these gifts which the Lord has given you?”

Doreen sat in silence for a minute or two and then said, “Father, if the Devil did not catch me at the crossroads, how can I believe that he exists?”

The priest’s face grew red at this statement and he was almost ready to jump up and hit the child for her blasphemy, but he managed to tame his anger. Anger never really converted anyone and Father Bernard felt that, as God’s local representative on Earth, it was his duty to see to every villager’s spiritual needs. The fact that a child of such tender years would question God’s purpose in allowing the Devil to exist must be answered in such a satisfactory manner as to strengthen her belief in God.

“Tell me child, dost still believe in God?”

“Oh yes, Father, I do.”

“Good. Then if God exists as a source of joy in our lives, why would He not test our faith in Him? In order for Him to do so, He must allow the Devil some little power to test us. Remember that Satan was once one of God’s angels who, through pride, fell from grace. He was there even when our Lord, Jesus Christ, lived and if even our Lord can be tempted by Satan, then who are we to question the Lord God and his deeds?”

“I suppose that you are right Father. Thank you for your kind words.”

“Think nothing of it, my daughter. And I shall now go out into the fields and speak with your father, shall I?”

Doreen smiled and nodded her head. “May I go with you, Father?”

“Of course you may.” After Father Bernard had spoken to Doreen’s father, with some of the other villagers near by listening, life in the family went back to normal. The only thing that changed was that Doreen was never allowed near the crossroads by herself. A year later, with her parent’s blessing, Doreen was allowed to join a nunnery, where she spent the rest of her life.

 

Eight hundred years later, a girl was born in a town which sat on the ruins of the village in which Doreen and her family had lived. Her name, by coincidence, was also Doreen…Doreen Nunley. When she was just six years old, her mother sent her down to the local store to buy some cakes for their tea. This Doreen, at that age, was also a very happy child until that fateful day. Doreen had just crossed to the middle of the road when she was hit by a speeding car. She did not die that day, but she became a child with a more nervous disposition. Her mother worried about her and decided that she would never send the child out on errands ever again.

As Doreen grew up, she eventually got over her traumatic childhood experience. Or so she thought. It was her last year of high school and she was very worried about her exams. She, generally, was a very good student, but the thought of graduating and going off to college frightened her a bit. She had never gone out of the town that she was born in and the thought of new places and experiences had an effect on her. Her mother told her that she would have to leave the nest eventually and that it would be good for her to get out and see more of the world. The night before her first exam, as she was sleeping, she had a nightmare. It was of a young girl crossing a dirt road and being hit by a speeding rider on his horse. When Doreen saw the girl’s body go flying into the air, she started out of her sleep. It was unnerving, but she managed to go back to sleep ten minutes later. Her dream returned, but in this case, it was later and at night, and the girl’s hair was red with blood. She saw the girl look startled about something, but Doreen did not hear what had startled the girl. Somehow, Doreen did manage to hear what she thought was the girl’s thoughts. “The Devil will not get me, the Devil will not get me.” With these words still rumbled through Doreen’s head, the alarm clock went off and woke her immediately.

Doreen, after getting washed and dressed for school, went down to the kitchen and had breakfast with her mother. The words from her dream distracted her enough that her mother noticed and asked her if anything was the matter.

“No, it’s just some silly stuff from a dream that I had last night.”

“Oh, well, in that case, here’s your lunch and be off with you. Good luck on your exams today.”

Doreen grabbed her lunch bag and went out the kitchen door. Bernadette, her next door neighbor and best friend, greeted her at the gate. They walked and talked about other people in school and who was dating who. They only talked about the forthcoming exams as little as possible. Bernadette was good at keeping Doreen’s mind off of troubling subjects. In fact, they had become so engrossed in their conversation that they passed the street which led to their school. They laughed about it and decided to go up to the next street and take it to the school from another angle. They got to the crosswalk and waited for the light to change to their favor. Doreen happened to look up and saw that the street that they were waiting to cross was locally known as “The Devil’s Road” due to a local legend she had heard all of her childhood. The green man flashed and Bernadette tugged on Doreen’s sleeve in order to get her attention. Doreen, when she realized where she was, and remembering the words from her nightmare, froze in place.

“NO! No, Bernie, let’s go back! I can’t cross here!”

Bernie looked at her friend with curiosity and said,

“What are you on about? Why can’t you cross here?”

“It’s The Devil’s Road! I had a dream last night and I’m afraid that if I cross this street, that something bad will happen to me.”

“Oh, come on, Dorry, it was just a dream. Let’s go!”

But Doreen refused to budge no matter what Bernie said to her. Bernadette was just about to give up and lead her friend away from the street, when Doreen saw a priest walking towards the crosswalk. She stood there watching the priest walk across the road and waited to see if he made it all the way through. It was, in fact, at that moment, that a truck came barreling down the road. Doreen could hear some of the music from the truck’s radio, and looking quickly between the distance of the truck and the priest, Doreen acted. She ran quickly into the crosswalk, tugged at the priest’s hand, and led him to safety. Bernie stood there with her mouth wide open in disbelief, but quickly came to and ran over to her friend and the priest. A few feet before she got to where they were standing, Bernie heard the priest thank Doreen and she heard one other thing. The final verse from a song which was coming from the truck. It was the Rolling Stones “Sympathy for the Devil.”