“It wasn’t easy at all to keep my cool, I mean, this guy is a jerk, and every fu-friggin’ lunch break, this guy steals one of my mini-muffins. I seen him do it! I told him, y’know, I told him that the mini-muffins in the freezer were my mini-muffins, and that they were not communal. It didn’t change anything, but then I did what you said, Jesse, I did, I took a deep breath and I went through the steps. One-two-three, let-it-be. I mean, I was still mad, but I didn’t blow up at anybody.”

Jesse smiled and nodded slowly, giving the man a few seconds to continue if he had further thoughts he’d like to share. “I’m proud of you, Henry; that took a lot of self-control. I’d like to invite the group to join me in a brief round of snapping applause for Henry’s personal victory over anger.” He began snapping his fingers and four of the 11 people seated in the circle of chairs joined in. Frank had read on the Ynet fitness board that snapping was bad for the thumb joints, so he did not do the full snap and just put his thumb and pointer finger together.

Jesse the anger management coach was dressed in khaki pants and a salmon-colored V-neck sweater. He had a receding hairline, a slender, meek face, and a consistently neutral expression. He looked like he was about 35 years old, but his face was so smooth that he could have been younger. Frank did not like him. He was a soft man, the kind that avoided gyms and red meat. The kind that would die quickly in the old world.

“Now I’d like to do a round of word relation, just for fun. Let’s try to come up with as many words for and related to anger as possible. We’ll start with you, Sandra.”

“Okay, um, upset.

“Distraught.”

“Violent.”

Jesse paused the circle, raising a finger into the air. “Pardon the interruption; I just want to say that violent is really a great word for anger. You see, anger is a form of mental violence. Please continue.”

“Irritated.”

“Mad.”

It was Frank’s turn. “Pissed.”

“Frank, you weren’t here for this, but let’s try to refrain from using foul language at these sessions.”

“Oh, okay, annoyed.”                          Describe how you’re feeling right now.

“Infuriated.”

The circle continued until it was complete. Then the group moved onto discussing what causes them to get angry and alternatives to letting anger get the best of them.

“How the heck am I supposed to keep my cool, though, when it keeps happening? She just knows what gets under my skin and she keeps doing it!” David, a businessman whose girlfriend’s harassment had driven him to taking anger management classes folded his arms and stared at his feet. He took a deep breath and let it out, a technique that Jesse had talked about earlier. “Am I supposed to let her walk all over me?”

“Thank you for sharing, David, and I think that’s a valid question. One thing I recommend to you is finding a healthy outlet for the anger caused by these negative interactions with your girlfriend.”

Or you could dump her.

Jesse cleared his throat delicately. “I’d like to share a personal anecdote with the group that might shed some light on how I deal with difficult situations with my significant other. My wife asked me to open our relationship about a year ago, and this was a tender issue for me, something very much wrapped up in my own thoughts about masculinity and pride. It took me a bit, but I realized that such a change was for the greater good.”

Frank leaned forward, morbidly curious.

“I learned a lot about myself in the process of stripping away my ideas of ownership of my partner and the archaic notions I’d had about sexual monogamy. I think this year of allowing my wife—excuse me, being proud of my wife for sleeping with other men has even improved my practice of being an emotional management counselor.”

“Do you think that’s healthy for a relationship?” Frank asked, his eyes narrowed and eyebrows raised. His foot began tapping on the floor.

“Absolutely. In fact, I’ve been recommending to most everyone I meet that female-dominated one-sided open relationships are an excellent way to become more in touch with who we are as men. It’s certainly empowering for my wife, who has even let me participate in her risqué encounters, allowing me to view her making passionate love with other men.”

“What the fuck, man?”

“Careful, language. Frank, I was entirely where you were before I calmly and rationally looked at the benefits of the situation.” Jesse chuckled, uncrossed his legs, then re-crossed them with the other leg on top. “I did a simple calculation and found that the experiment in humility was far more valuable than restricting my wife’s sexual freedom. In fact, it was a win-win, so to speak. Just how in anger-inducing situations, it takes a brave person to let it go, I believe it takes a mature and well-adjusted man to embrace an open relationship. There’s a quiet courage in cuckoldry that is rarely found elsewhere. Now let’s return to the program, would anyone else like to share a story?”

Both of Frank’s legs were jumping up and down now. His head was shaking side to side involuntarily. He stood up and left the circle.

He pushed open the doors to the restroom and started yelling obscenities. “Fucking faggot motherfucker, how the fuck are you gonna let your wife fuck other men, what kind of a bitch ass, fuckin—” His arms were shaking as if electricity was flowing through them. He punched a stall door. He was laughing in disbelief at the stupidity of the situation. Every day that passed, it seemed he was living more and more in a cartoon reality.

He stared at his fuming reflection and saw that there was another man in the restroom.

Kill him.

Frank stared at the man who stared back with wide eyes. The man hurriedly left the restroom and Frank resumed his pacing and heavy breathing. He had to let this rage out. Just like the cuck anger management coach had said to the other guy, he needed an outlet. He took a final deep breath, left the restroom, and returned to the circle. He would get through this class for the credit, then get drunk and forget all about it. That would work as a temporary dam for his torrent of rage at liberal idiocy, but he would have to find a better solution soon.

***

Frank rode the subway back home from the anger management session and was thankful to not run into any further degeneracy along the way. He was still fuming not only from the lecture on cuckoldry but also on the concluding exercise, which was five minutes of positive thinking and “Woosas.” Some of the people on the subway car thought he was a crazy person by the way his head kept jerking to the right and left and how he was muttering to himself.

A man pushed to the edge…

He got off the subway ride and went straight to the gym, thankfully he had the forethought to prepare for this by wearing exercise clothing to the session.

Frank got behind the deadlift bar on the floor, loaded to weigh 430 pounds, ten more than his previous max. He cranked up his music to the point where the treble was like daggers in his ears and gripped the bar. Except the bar was not made of metal: it was flesh and hair, a human head attached to a body. Jesse, the anger coach’s body. Frank put his feet shoulder length apart, stepping on the man’s gay-ass sweater-wearing arms and pulled. Flesh ripped and the man’s head was still prattling on about emotional maturity as it was forcibly decapitated by Frank. He dropped the bar and flung off the blood from his hands.

The rage propelled him through his workout. The rest of his lifts were incredible; improvements across the board. When he got back home he had his protein shake, took a quick shower, then fell onto his bed, exhausted. After some time resting, he got up and made himself some dinner: a half-pound of asparagus and some pork chops flavored with tikka masala spice. It was delicious.

His thoughts traveled to school and life. Once he graduated with his bachelors from George Washington University in a year, he would head to dental school for four years and then he would intern for a year or two before getting a job as a dental hygienist. However, when he looked in the mirror—whether it was the large mirror walls at the gym or the one in his bathroom—he didn’t see a future dentist: he saw a disgraced Viking, a broken-hearted barbarian, forced to adhere to the handicapping, restrictive rules of society in order to make a living. He wanted to chop wood and slay members of an opposing clan, not do paperwork and inspect molars. One day, he wanted a family, and he supposed that he needed a job and a paycheck to make that a reality, but by then, when the United States had an autistic, transgender, disabled person of color as the president, the world might not be any place for his children. Not to mention with woman-favoring divorce laws in place, getting married at all was gambling with everything you owned.

The world’s fucked.

He went to his computer and checked Ynet. He went to the fitness board, then the lovely-ladies board to gaze at gifs of bouncing asses for a few minutes, then left as he thought about what he looked like at that moment. A fat sow in front of a feeding trough, thick booty pictures were his slop which he lapped up regularly. He closed the window. Maybe just one more…he quickly searched Google Images: fat booty yoga panst hot. Then shook his head and closed the window again.

He checked his email. Nothing new, but he was reminded of the schizophrenic who had berated him in a pseudo-inspirational email speech almost a week ago. He reread the email which had concluded with the line:

This is an opportunity you will forever regret ignoring.

Frank was curious as before, and, no longer put off by the message, he thought about finding a new outlet for his anger. The gym was good, but it wasn’t enough, and perhaps he needed to take action of another kind to appease his inner barbarian.

He wrote back.

Okay, I’m interested,

what can I do to help?

***

This is an excerpt from Goddel M. Robert’s new novel, Harv and the Big Collapse.

For all installments from Harv and the Big Collapse, click here.