A man in his early 30s left his apartment at 6:45pm on Tuesday, October 31st. His name was Castel Salgado. He had dark hair, dark eyes, and brown skin. His parents were Argentinian. He was American. His face still portrayed youthfulness, was round with gentle features. His body was lithe; he took care of it, though was certainly not physically gifted. He was dressed in a costume. The costume was Sigmund Freud.
Castel Salgado was going to meet an old european-american friend, Jared Patterson. They'd met in college. They'd both been psychology majors. During post-grad, Salgado went into clinical practice, while Patterson went into research. Salgado ran his own psychotherapy clinic now. Patterson worked for the government.
The pair lived in different cities, but kept in touch via email. They liked to exchange articles they stumbled across during their various reviews of the current psychology literature. These articles were ones they found noteworthy for being either good or bad, or otherwise topical. The two men sometimes talked about their personal work as well, but Salgado couldn't break confidentiality, and much of Patterson's work was classified. Occasionally they would, like everyone else did, make a genuine effort to talk about movies, television, and current events.
Sometimes they had periods where they didn't talk for a while. It never seemed to bode ill for their friendship. They both were quiet men, and didn't much bother each other with vacant well-wishes. It was during a particularly extended period of quietness that Patterson emailed out-of-the-blue, saying his research had brought him near Salgado's area of residence, and that he'd like to meet "as soon as convenient." The email excited Salgado, but also left him curious. There was one line that briefly stood out to him: "There is a matter I have wanted to discuss with you for some time now." Salgado wondered why his friend had never brought up this mysterious matter in their emails, which seemed an appropriate medium for discussing most topics, especially for two introverted friends living at a distance. Fortunately, Salgado did not address this point in his reply, stating only that he was excited to meet.
Castel Salgado got into his Volkswagen and turned the ignition. The fake, scruffy white beard he wore as part of his costume was already starting to itch again. He'd taken it off after work, but knew his friend would get a kick out of it, so had donned it again with an impish thrill. He was looking forward to seeing Jared very much.
Castel found a place to park about a block away from the building they were meeting at. He locked his car and began to walk down the busy sidewalk, fingering the chain of the pocket watch he was using as a prop. Some of the people he passed were also dressed up for Halloween. Castel smiled at a pair of werewolves as he walked by. His spirits were light with the fancy of the holiday and with the prospect of seeing Jared again for the first time in years.
He entered a restaurant, which was on the ground floor of a moderately-sized skyscraper. Castel didn't know or care what the other floors hosted. It was a hotel building, maybe. He saw the side of Jared's head in the back of the room, and moved swiftly to take the seat across from him, smiling happily. "Hello!" greeted Castel. "It's so wonderful to see you again!"
Castel was slightly taken aback when Jared looked up to meet him. His eyes were puffy with sleeplessness, and his unshaven face helped to frame his haggardness. Jared replied without humor, "The hell are you wearing?"
Castel bounced back from the lack of cordiality. "It's my Halloween costume!" he said with a grin. "Do you like it?"
"Freud's theories were highly sexist," said Jared flatly, reaching for a sip of water.
"Well, my patients seemed to like it," retorted Castel, feeling put-off. "Besides, no one would have recognized me as like Kurt Lewin or– or Margaret Floy Washburn."
"You're also not white enough to be a famous psychologist," said Jared.
"That's racist," said Castel.
"Obviously that's my point." Jared shook his head. "You and I both know the field of psychology would be half of what it is without the contributions of scientists of color, like Francis Sumner and the Clarks – both household names to us esoteric nerds. But institutional oppression, especially before these historical figures fought to change the field's attitudes, certainly wasn't working to turn them into recognizable Halloween costumes." Jared's interest in the topic suddenly vanished, replaced with a dark stare directed at some distant thought. "Look, I don't have time to debate a goddamn outfit," he muttered, and met Castel's eyes with an accusatory expression.
Castel shifted uncomfortably. He removed the beard and stuck it into his pocket. "What's gotten into you?" he confronted. "Halloween was our favorite holiday back at–"
"Would you shut up about Halloween already?" Jared cut in. "Like I said, I don't have time for this–" he made a dismissive gesture with his hand "–frivolity."
This was not the Jared that Castel knew. The clinical part of his mind began to churn. Symptoms of mood change and agitation could come from such a myriad of both biological and environmental factors that Castel wasn't sure where to begin. Normally, he'd press the patient for more information. He decided to do so, but cautiously, lest Jared catch on to him and become more upset. "Since when don't you like a good debate about psychology's history?" Castel asked.
Jared sighed. "Sorry," he said, sounding truly sorry. "I still would, I've just…" His voice trailed off momentarily. "There's something else I need to talk to you about." They met eyes, and Castel felt like he was being truly seen for the first time in their exchange.
"Okay," said Castel softly. "Wh-what is it?"
Jared lowered his head and ran a hand through his light hair. "Let me think of a good place to start," he muttered, staring at the tablecloth.
There was a long silence while Jared thought. Castel looked around, wondering if a waiter was ever going to come offer them menus, at least. He didn't know that Jared had ordered some appetizers then requested that the waiter leave them alone as much as possible. Catching Castel momentarily off-gaurd, Jared issued an order, "Give me your phone."
"Just give it here." Castel placed his cell phone into Jared's open palm. Jared stood up and brusquely disappeared with it, then came back empty-handed.
"Umm," said Castel.
"I just put it in my car," said Jared. "And in the din of this restaurant, we're too far away for anyone else's phones to pick up our voices. We should be safe to discuss sensitive intel now." Jared reached into a coat pocket and pulled out a small audiocassette recorder. "This will give us a secure recording, which you may want later," Jared explained, pressing the record button. "But promise me you'll guard it well. In fact, tuck it into your coat pocket right now, before anyone sees."
Castel's concern for Jared's mental health was only increasing. "Jared," he said compassionately, picking up the recorder and putting it in his breast pocket. "I don't know if–"