Out of Mind, Out of Sight (by Bob Bentley)

Les Zelensky entered the reception area of Doctor Philips. He gave his name to the white-haired lady at the receptionist desk and she asked him to have a seat. After a few minutes she told him to go on into Doctor Philips office.

The doctor had that look that most people might call ‘a kind, old man.’ He was a rather short man with thick glasses and thin hair. Les thought that he looked like somebody’s grandfather. And true enough his desk had several pictures of what were no doubt his grandchildren.

Doctor Philips greeted Les and invited him to sit in a larger comfortable chair. After Les was seated and relaxed the doctor asked him the purpose of his visit.

“Well’, Les began nervously, “I have this fear.”

The doctor nodded waiting for Les to continue.

“I … well, it sounds odd to say it aloud.”

“Just relax.” The doctor said reassuringly. “Most everyone is afraid of something. It is really quite common.”

“I’m afraid of … women.” Les let out his breath in a great sigh after he had said it.

“How so?” asked the doctor.

“Well, I can’t talk to them without getting my words all messed up. And I just can’t look them in the face. I just turn away. It’s like being shy but a hundred times worse.”

The doctor nodded sympathetically. “And did you have difficulty speaking with Mrs. Mason, my receptionist?”

“Well, no,” said Les, “It’s just that she’s … older than my mother. She’s a nice lady and all, but I’m only shy with beautiful women.”

“Oh. Yes, of course.”

“You’ve got to help me,” Les pleaded, “I’ve tried everything. Truth is that I’ve thought of seeing a psychologist before but I was afraid it would mean I had given up.”

“Not at all.” Doctor Philips smiled. “Just being here proves that you have not given up. It shows that you are willing to explore all avenues.”

Les went on to describe accounts of disastrous encounters with women starting with his school days and continuing with the company where he now worked as a database administrator. The doctor listened patiently and took occasional notes.

At the end of their time the doctor summed up Les’ condition.

“When you see a beautiful woman you see something to be feared.”

“I know in my head that I shouldn’t but I can’t control it. I just panic.”

More cautiously, Les asked, “Is there anything you can do to help me? I’ve tried everything.”

Doctor Philips looked thoughtful for a moment then asked, “Would you be willing to take part in an experimental procedure? It would involve hypnosis to help you overcome your phobia.”

Les thought only a few seconds then said, “Sure. I’ll try anything.”

“We don’t have enough time today but if you make an appointment with Mrs. Mason then everything will be set.”

“Thanks, Doctor Philips.”

It was nearly a week later when Les returned to the Doctor Philips’ office.

In the waiting room he gave his name to Mrs. Mason and had a seat. Also in the waiting room was a lovely woman of about Les’ age.

“Hello.” It was the young woman who addressed him.

“What?” She was looking right at him. He looked away and started to breath rapidly.

After what seemed like an eternity, Doctor Philips opened his door. He first greeted the beautiful woman.

“Veronica. So glad you could make it.” He then turned to Les. “Les, this is Veronica, one of the graduate students at the university. I’m assisting her with her studies.”

Les never made eye contact. He muttered a hello and looked at the floor. When he caught a glimpse of Veronica’s shapely legs he looked away.

Doctor Philips asked Veronica to continue waiting outside but asked Les to come into his office. He invited Les to once again sit in the comfortable chair and then he closed the curtains making the room rather dimly lit by the desk lamp.

Doctor Philips removed a picture on the far wall opposite from where Les was sitting. There on the wall was a sort of spiral design and he set it to spinning with a nearby switch.

“Now just relax as you look at the wheel and listen to my voice. When we are done you will believe, even on a subconscious level that beautiful women are not to be seen as threatening.”

Les had never been hypnotized before. He quickly felt like he was falling asleep.

“Just relax. That’s right.”

Deeper … deeper … deeper

Beautiful women …

Not to be seen …

Threatening …

Not to be seen …

Beautiful …

Not seen…

Suddenly it was over.

“How do you feel?” Doctor Philips asked.

“I feel fine. Why’d you stop?” Les noticed that the spinning wheel had been closed up again. He glanced at his watch and noticed ten minutes had gone past.

“We’re finished.” The doctor said. “How about I ask Mrs. Mason to send Veronica in here? How does that make you feel?

Les thought about it. The lovely Veronica whom he had just met in the waiting room. He thought about her long brown hair and her big dark eyes. He thought about her shapely figure and her lovely legs.

Les grinned. “I’m not afraid! Doctor, the idea of seeing her again doesn’t fill me with panic!”

“Good. Good.” Then the doctor opened the door and asked Veronica to come in.

Les stood up, took one look, and then fell back into the chair.

“Doctor! I can’t see her!”

Doctor Philips immediately began to check Les’ eyes with a small flashlight.

“No. My vision is fine. I can see you just fine.” Then he turned to the bizarre sight next to Doctor Philips. “But I can’t see you.”

“I don’t understand.” Veronica said.

“Its like you’re the invisible woman or something. I can see your clothing but your head and hands are gone.” He then looked at her legs and realized he was seeing through her stockings.

Doctor Philips went to his desk and sat down.

“You must have taken it literally. When I said not to see beautiful women as a threat.”

“But how is this possible?” Les asked.

The doctor took a breath then answered. You’re subconscious isn’t permitting you to see the woman even though she is there.”

“But that’s impossible,” Les protested. “I’m looking through her. I can even see the label inside her blouse.”

“Really?” the doctor asked. “What does it say?”

Les looked closely then let out a laugh. “Sorry, Veronica. It must seem odd that I’m staring at you’re throat or wherever.”

“It’s fine with me.” She said. Then she held up what looked to Les like two empty sleeves. “I can certainly see myself. I’m not really invisible.”

“The label?” prompted the doctor.

Les shook his head. “It has writing but it’s all a jumble. It doesn’t make sense.”

Veronica added, “It should say ‘Porters.’ That’s where I bought it.”

“Yes, I can read it now.” Said Les excitedly as the words now said ‘Porters.’

Doctor Philips stood up. “That’s your subconscious filling in the details. The mind is a very powerful thing really.”

“So let me get this straight,” Les said. “All beautiful women are going to be invisible to me?”

“Well I can’t be sure. Nothing like this has ever happened before.”

Les turned to Veronica. “Well, you certainly are beautiful.”

Veronica let out a small laugh. “You mean, now that you can’t see me? I’m confused.”

Les frowned briefly then smiled. “No. You’re beautiful both ways. When I first saw you in the waiting room I was overwhelmed by your loveliness but even now I see the charm and grace of your stance and figure.”

Veronica blushed although Les had no way of knowing that.

“Well then,” began Doctor Philips, “let us return to the hypnosis and we can fix this unusual anomaly.”

“No way,” Les protested. “I’m no longer timid.”

“I’d agree with that,” interjected Veronica.

“I want to stay this way.” Les continued, “at least for awhile.”

Les turned to leave the office.

“Wait!” Veronica said louder than she had intended.

Les turned back to look at the empty space he saw above her blouse. He smiled warmly and said, “Yes, lovely Veronica?”

She sighed a little then said in soft, almost timid, voice, “Call me sometime?”

Lester Zelensky strode confidently onto the beach. It was a warm day and several women were playing volleyball. But that’s not what Les saw. He saw one-piece bathing suits, bikinis, and a few shorts with tank-tops playing volleyball. To Les’ view they were all invisible. He smiled at the thought. He recalled how when he was a kid he would see those advertisements in comic books for x-ray glasses. The idea was to make the clothing disappear so that one would see a naked girl. Les now had the opposite effect. He could see clothing but no flesh. He imagined that he had inverse x-ray glasses.

He chatted a while with the lifeguard who to his eyes seemed to be a nicely filled out red bathing suit. Then he went for a swim. He thought about how in the past he would never have started a conversation with a strange woman. Back then he couldn’t even look her in the face. But now he didn’t have to. All the beautiful women were invisible.

All through the weekend, Les experimented with this phenomenon. If he looked at a woman in a magazine or on the television, she remained unchanged. But in live encounters, the kind that used to terrify him, his subconscious mind erased the woman from view and filled in the background. The result was a daily world filled with invisible looking women. And not only was he not shy now but he also realized that invisibility added a special allure by adding mystery. Why, it was practically erotic.

Monday at work, Les had some free time and decided to check something on the Internet. He brought up his favorite search engine and typed ‘invisible.’ He got back numerous listings for movies and television series. He decided to add ‘women’ to the search.

“What’s up, Zelensky?”

It was Derek Tennyson, an obnoxious co-worker who always picked on Les for his shyness with women.

“Looking for babes? I can send you some hot links.”

Les tried to ignore Derek but Derek just stood there and looked over Les’ shoulder.

“What the…  Invisible Women? That gimmick is so old. I can’t believe there’s guys who get off on that sort of thing.”

Les spun around to face Derek. “Did it ever occur to you that not everyone sees the world as you do?”

Derek backed up and put up his hands in a mock surrender. “Fine. If you want to download headless chicks who am I to get in the way?”

Les returned to his task. He found numerous sites. Les felt better knowing that he wasn’t the only guy who enjoyed the look of an invisible woman. He even found some stories. He wondered why anyone would use writing to explore what was clearly a visual fixation. He decided to read some later and find out.

After book-marking several pages Les logged out and went looking for Michelle from Accounting. When he found her he asked her to lunch.

“Why Les!” exclaimed the navy blue dress he saw before him. She was clearly surprised and didn’t know what to make of the offer. Finally she accepted.

The next day he took to lunch Francine from Marketing. The day after that he took Diana from Systems Engineering. By Friday he had taken five different women to lunch.

When he returned to his desk Friday after lunch there was a shapely pair of jeans and a white peasant-style blouse waiting for him.

“There you are, Les.”

He gave his best smile and said, “Ah, yes, …um… wait. I never forget a face.”

“It’s me, Veronica, from Doctor Philips’ office.”

“Oh, yes. The lovely Veronica. Shall we have dinner tonight?”

“Sure.” She responded. Then she asked in a hushed tone, “Am I still … you know…”

“Oh yeah,” Les said blushing for the first time all week. “I forgot that you know my secret.”

“Is that a problem?” She sounded worried.

“No,” he said quickly. “What time shall I pick you up for dinner?”

That night Les and Veronica had dinner at the Fireside Inn. Like on all his dates Les noticed that the food seemed to magically disappear when it entered Veronica’s mouth. He was glad that his imagination stopped at the surface and didn’t try to show him food being chewed.

As they talked they discovered that they both liked classic movies so they rented Casablanca after dinner.
They watched the movie at Les’ apartment and afterward sat on his balcony. They looked at the stars and talked about all sorts of things. Due to his previous shyness Les had never really gotten to know a girl this well before. Now he was glad he did. And he was glad it was Veronica.

They stayed on the balcony until very late. At one point Les looked over at Veronica. He saw the purple dress and stockings sitting next to him. Then he made a decision.

“Veronica, I want to see you again.”

“I’d love that. How about tomorrow?”

“No, I mean see you. The way I did before the hypnosis.”

“Oh, Les. Are you sure? Your shyness; you couldn’t even look at me before.”
“Yes, I know. But I think you’re beautiful and I really want to look at you again. Maybe I won’t be shy now that I know you better.”

Veronica was quiet for a long time then said, “I don’t know.”

He smiled. “Now who’s shy?”

“But, I really like you and I don’t want to mess it up.”

Les reached out. With her short sleeve dress he had to use her bracelet to find her hand.

Les laughed. “Well for one thing, it would make holding hands easier.”

“I’ll wear gloves. All the time.” She seemed nervous.

Les squeezed her hand reassuringly. Trust me. It will be okay.”

He decided not to tell her that he was nervous too.

It was three weeks before Les could get an appointment with Doctor Philips. During that time Les and Veronica had grown closer. They went together to the doctor.

Doctor Philips dimmed and lights and began the hypnotism.

When it was over Les opened his eyes and saw Veronica’s big brown eyes looking back at him.

“Hello Veronica. I can see you.”

She kissed him without saying a word.

Eight months later Lester and Veronica were married. While Les had continued to be somewhat shy with other women he was never shy with her.

That is, until the wedding night.

They were alone in their hotel suite and had been drinking champagne. After some passionate kissing Veronica stood back and let her white silky robe drop to the floor. She was totally naked.

Les’ eyes went wide for an instant then he looked away and began to stutter. Veronica put her robe back on and went to comfort him.

“I’m sorry,” he said, “I’m so sorry.”

“It’s alright honey. I understand.”

They held each other for a moment.

“Les, Honey,” she began somewhat cautiously, “would you mind if I try to hypnotize you?”

Les held her gently and looked into her eyes. “You want to be invisible to me again?”

“Just for now,” she said. “Not permanently. I’ll use a code word to turn it on and off.”

Twenty minutes later he was holding a white, silky, Veronica-shaped robe.

And so began the first of many magical nights.

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