Nintendo Game Counselor #1 – Mario’s Bad Dreams

Subject: Fratelli, Mario.
Initial session transcript

So, what do I do, I just, I mean, do you wanna ask me questions? I never been to a shrink, all I ever seen is movies and stuff, so–

Okay, uh, yeah. I been having weird dreams.

Yeah, for, jesus, I dunno, years now. Years and years. Seems like I have the same dream again and again, like it’s on repeat, except–

Yeah, yeah, recurring dream, I guess that’s what you call it yeah. But I mean, does it have to be the same every time or it’s something different that you call it? Because there’s all these, y’know, these changes from one time to the next, it’s not like its the exact same thing every time. Sometimes it’s all in black and white, sometimes I can fly, sometimes everything feels like it’s just, I dunno, it’s flat, like the world’s got no depth. Izzat still count?

Okay, it’s, the basic thing is every time I realize my girlfriend, she’s been kidnapped.

Sometimes I see it happen, sometimes it just, it’s like I knew somehow it had happened. Or I’ll get a letter — hey, can people read stuff in their dreams? I heard that wasn’t something that you can do, like your brain when you’re asleep doesn’t know how–

Yeah, unusual? I guess I’m lucky then or something. I dunno. I’m not much of a reader in general, I gotta be honest. Feels like maybe its wasted on me.

Right, yeah, I’ll get letters from her. And it’s like, you got kidnapped but you’re writing me a nice note, what is this guy who kidnapped you? You’re buddies, he’s like, sure, I’ll just stick that in the mail for you?

No, I don’t know who the guy is. Nobody I know. He’s not really a guy, I mean, he’s actually this lizard thing, like a big lizard man. I end up fighting with him sometimes, though most of the dreams I’m just running around, uh, I dunno. It’s crazy bullshit, it’s just dreams, you know?

Well, it’s like…look. I’m not a violent person. Okay? I’m not some asshole who likes hurting people, I’m a talk you out of a fight if you get drunk and get in my face, we’ll end up having a drink together ninety-nine times out of a hundred. Just the kind of guy I am. I’m not a fuckin’ thug.

But these dreams, I dunno, I stomp the shit out of a lot of stuff, and it don’t feel right. I mean, it’s not people, I’m talking like, I’ll see a giant turtle walking by, big as a St. Bernard, and I just get so fuckin’ scared and I don’t know what to do and I just crush the shit out of the thing, breaks its shell under my feet. Over and over again, one after another. Beat one to death with the carcass of the last one I killed.

It ain’t right, it’s just, I’m not a fuckin’ thug, I’m a good guy, I–

No, I, uh, look, sorry. I don’t mean to get all worked up about it, you know, I don’t mean to be so defensive. It’s just, like I said I’m not used to this therapy deal, you know?

My family, we don’t talk about stuff. You got a problem, you figure it out for yourself. I know probably everybody’s a little fucked up but you just deal with, you don’t put it on other people. I only came here because this shit’s affecting my work, I’m losing clients because I can’t sleep for shit and I’m fucking up my schedule. I mean, I can’t really afford this but I can’t afford fucking up my business either, so whaddaya do.

Plumbing, yeah, I run a little plumbing company. Me and my brother, just the two of us, basically a freelance thing, yeah. It pays okay but it gets pretty slow sometimes.

Yeah, I got a good relationship with him I guess. He’s my kid brother, right? Lou, he’s a good guy. We’ve always been close. Like twins almost, my folks always said, ‘cept he’s too tall and I’m too fat so it’s not exactly like people are gonna get us confused.

Yeah, he does show up in the dreams sometimes. Like sometimes I’ll be me and then sometimes I’ll be him, but I don’t think it’s that I’m him really so much as I’m just watching. I mean, you put it that way, really a lot of the time it feels like I’m just watching even when I’m me, like it’s something happening to someone else. Like I’m watching it all on TV or something.

And you know the worst part, the dreams are always, you know, they’re terrible, I’m killing all these things and my girlfriend’s missing and nothing makes any fucking sense and it’s like I’m racing against some clock so I have to keep moving, I gotta keep moving. And then I’ll fuck up, I’ll fall down some goddam hole in the ground or I’ll get shot or some fucking thing will get its jaws on me, and I’ll die. Just, fuck, I’m dead now, and I think that’s it, that’s the end, I’m dead, but then it’ll just start all over again and I worry that it’ll never end and I’ll never wake up and I’m just terrified the whole time.

But everything’s got a smile on its face, you know, it’s like some sort of sugar high, nothing makes sense but everything’s glowing cheerful as shit and even when I look up, the fucking sun has this look on its face like it’s gonna die laughing. Except then it gets angry and starts chasing me too.

Every night lately it’s like this. I don’t want to go to sleep, you know? I just drink as much coffee as I can stand and watch shitty TV until its five in the morning and I end up passed out on the couch anyway and I have bad dreams anyway.

My girlfriend. Yeah, we’ve been together a long time. Forever, yeah, we met back when I was trying to go to school for a couple years. She’s a peach, I love her like crazy, I don’t know what she sees in me a lot of the time. Fuckin’ beautiful, always dolled up, I dunno how she ended up with some dropout pipe jockey. Says I make her laugh. I’m not gonna complain, what am I, crazy? You get lucky sometimes, you just gotta hold onto that long as you can.

Do I worry? What, like she’s messing around on me? She’s not some slut, whaddaya–

No, sorry. Sorry.

Nah, no, it’s not okay, I shouldn’t snap like that. You’re just askin’, I know. I guess you mean is it something I worry about mentally, like does it make me anxious? Like she’ll leave me? I dunno. I dunno, maybe, I mean, I ask myself how I got so lucky, you know, it feels like I could just wake up one day and she’d be gone, leave me a note, “Dear Mario, I just realized I’m dating a fucking plumber, gonna go find a good looking rich asshole with a Lambo, have a nice life”. I mean, she wouldn’t do that, we’re happy, she’s not some gold-digger, but, yeah, I dunno. I guess I worry. Who wouldn’t, gorgeous girl like her. But it’s just bullshit, it’s just in my head, you know. I’m just fucked up a little, everybody is.

Drugs? Nah. Nah, not really, no. I drink, I like to have a drink or two, sure, at night, watch some TV and unwind, maybe go out with Lou and have a couple down at The Toadstool. I mean, back in the day, a few times maybe, I, uh.

I mean, hey, uh, this is, this is confidential, right? You aren’t gonna, you can’t like rat me out if I say something about a little dope or whatever back whenever, young and stupid and all that shit, right? I can’t afford to get in trouble, you know, I–

Yeah, okay, good, the thing is, I smoked a little weed in college, not a big thing, not really my deal, but me and Lou were roomies with this guy one year, Cooper, he was always smoking up, he’d use whatever he could find for rolling paper, he had this thing where he liked to use a leaf and he’d get high, shit like that. Or he had this raccoon-shaped bong he’d used to get stoned. And that was pretty much every day with that guy. And we partook sometimes, you know, it was weird to always say no. Just made me feel kinda foggy though.

But one time Cooper’s got a couple friends over, one of them this bullet-nosed shitheel named Bill who was always like chasing you around the room trying to have a conversation with you no matter where you went. Really pushy asshole, never liked him. But so he pulls out a baggie and Cooper’s all excited suddenly and he’s all “yeah, let’s do this”. And we’d been drinking pretty much all day, I was far gone already or I woulda said no, but it was like, fuck it, you know?

So I guess it was mushrooms. Magic mushrooms, that what they call it? Psychedelics, whatever, hippie shit, not something I’d normally go in for, but we ate a bunch of ’em. And I don’t really remember the rest of the night too well other than I spent an hour half-awake with my head in the toilet at one point. Cooper had this turtle he kept in a glass fish tank in the bathroom, I remember just staring at that thing between heaves, like it was just me and it and fuckall else in the whole universe. I dunno, it was pretty fucked, I never touched that stuff again.

I pretty much dropped out after that year. I’d just met my girlfriend, and college wasn’t going so good for me anyway and it was costing money my folks didn’t have. Lou was always the smart one, if he had any confidence he’d be doing his own thing and not working for me. But yeah, I knew a guy who was looking for a second hand in his plumbing deal, needed someone to handle the overflow, I was always pretty good with a wrench growing up anyway. So I was maybe, you know, it was a pretty stressful deal all around for me I guess, all that shit going on, maybe that’s why it started.

But I been having these dreams on and off ever since.

Author: Josh Millard

I manage and help moderate the community website MetaFilter, where I go by "cortex"; in my spare time I get up to all sorts of creative nerdery on the internet and in Portland, Oregon.

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