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He stabbed his therapist in the eye with a spork.

A Question of Promise #10

a comic by thuyen nguyen


Quest’Dein Mental Complex Ah, Eric. On time; as always.

k! knoc knock!

Absolutely not.

You sound happy about that.

Today’s the last day, eh?

six sessions with me is a lot better than jail time, I assure you.

I’d just prefer that the visits weren’t policemandated.

Don’t like visiting your cousin?

Don’t think I’m not grateful, Eliza.

So, where are we off to? Wanna go back to the pool hall? I’m leading 3 to 2-

Gotta give the police my report, and I can’t just make it up.

Sorry mate, but we’re working today.

Working?

Let’s have a chat. Step into my office. Which means...? 01


So... now what?

lIE DOWN ON THAT COUCH.

...

M.

SLA

sERIOUSLY?

wHY? yOU AFRAID OF SOMETHING?

THEN jUST SIT DOWN LIKE A GOOD BOY.

hARDLY. i AM A mAN, AFTER ALL.

mAN. sURE, SURE.

lET’S GET STARTED... COMFY? Yeah...

So Eric, planning to fake another kidnapping? Sure? No.

Sure? Yes. Yes!

02


Client is well-adjusted male with no history of problem behaviour.

How old are you again?

24 years old with a high level of education and in a stable relationship.

24. k Clic ick cl

k Clic ick cl

She moved in with you recently, yes?

Who, EDen? Nah, it was Eve who moved in.

Oh right, Eden is your girlfriend. And Eve is...?

usually people make a joke about “love triangles” when I mention eve.

Love triangle? Frankly, I’m surprised you have a girlfriend at all.

Eve is... a friend of a friend.

Oh really?

well I don’t see a ring on your finger.

I have high standards. 03


Hang on - You already have a housemate, right?

Umm... yeah, him.

The one that was trying to kill you.

He doesn’t want to kill you anymore?

Yeah, and he and Eve are friends, so she moved in.

It was a misunderstanding.

I see.

This is the love triangle you were talking about?

There is no love triangle, especially in this configuration.

That’s a shame.

Your housemate; what was his name again?

Oh, that’s right: Dice. Tell me about him. Dice.

Umm...

What do you want to know?

...a recent conversation you had with him.

Tell me about...

04


Why do you speak English?

Because I ended up here and not China.

Two days ago

But you and Eve speak in English too.

Three?

You combine all three depending on your relationship with the person.

Don’t you have some native “water” language?

One is for general conversation.

We have three.

Another is for formal situations, and the last is between lovers.

Sounds complex. So Eve talks to you formally?

Yeah...

I wanna hear what it sounds like!

I’m intrigued. Say something in “water-ese.” I’m not here to entertain you!

05


Well, can you imagine what the bottom of a waterfall sounds like?

I’d describe it further, but the time required to do so is beyond my interest.

It’s tonal, so the same word changes meaning depending on how you say it.

Loud splashing... White noise...

Three languages, eh? I barely get away with just one!

There you go. It’s something like that.

That said, I studied Vietnamese in primary school. Badly, I might add.

“ma” means “Mum.” if I say “ma” like this, it’s “horse.” But if I say “ma” like that, it means “ghost.”

One more time. What’s “Mum”?

And “ghost”?

“Horse”?

“ma.”

“ma.”

You’re just screwing with me, aren’t you?

“ma.”

06


He sounds like a very interesting guy.

That’s one way to describe him.

he did!

Really? How would you describe him then?

son of a bitch!

Angry?

How about you just say it to my face?

if i wanted to kill you, you’d be dead by now.

Scheming?

Dice is... rough around the edges, but beneath that...

Spiteful?

I'm sorry, Eric. I could have ended this yesterday.

eric, my friend, she was too beautiful for just one person to have.

she belonged to the world.

saddle up. let’s ride.

07

...He is a good friend.


He sounds like someone I’d like to meet.

I’m intrigued.

That’s very honest.

He’s a rather private guy.

Prefers to stay at home. Not a fan of crowds.

He’s short.

sweats a lot too.

Three housemates in an apartment.

Dice and Eve are in a relationship?

Any fights typical of shared housing?

08

What does he look like?

And bald.

They’re not a couple, if that’s what you mean.

Well, last week...


Eric’s Bathroom

! ock ! Kn nock K

I’m taking a bath, Eve!

Do you know where Dice is?

Haven’t seen him.

p!

bur

He he.

Yo.

Holy crap!

09


How long have you been in here?

You are old enough to know better.

Tsk, tsk. How about you act your age?

Our strategy meeting.

Look who’s talking.

I’m not hiding.

I am preparing myself.

Another one? Is that the only thing you and Eve talk about?

Long enough to tell you this:

I’m not in the bath hiding from someone.

For what?

What are you Strategizing about anyway-

What are you looking at?

10


The human body is an eye sore.

Smooth flowing lines...

Tell me about it! Shaving, fingernails, hair cuts...

Men aren’t pretty, that’s for sure.

Much like yourself.

A lot of upkeep for something this bad!

Although there’s always plastic surgery!

Anything you’d like to change about yourself?

The female body is a work of art.

I must admit; the thought of shaving daily makes me ill.

That said, gotta accept me for me.

Having one of those might be fun.

You’re not seeing it at its best.

But perhaps a bit bigger though.

11


It’s good to hear about two grown men comfortable with their sexuality.

Only because you’ll keep it a secret between us.

Well, we don’t make it a habit to bathe together.

I find it heartening that you would even admit that.

I am legally obliged to, yes.

How about you give me Dice’s number?

What?!

So, eric...

He sounds like a fun guy to be around.

are you serious?

Umm...

Ah...

He’s an ex-con.

He stabbed his therapist in the eye with a spork.

Ex-con?

As in “criminal” ex-con?

12


Botanical Gardens

No Eden, though.

Later that day... There’s the fountain...

Must be running late.

I’m bored, Nature. Impress me.

p! chir irp! ch

What the hell, man!?

p.

Poo

It’s because I didn’t say “please,” right?

13


Hey-

Eric!

Eden, you made it.

Sorry I’m late. Blame the tram.

No worries. I just got here myself.

ish!

Squ

Why have got your hand on your chest?

Whenever I get in a tight spot, I recite a shakespearean sonnet.

a stanza or two will be enough to distract your opponent.

Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?

Eden, my love.

14

Ah...

Then you go in for the kill!

Thou art more lovely and more temperate:


Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,

And summer's lease hath all too short a date:

Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,

And often is his gold complexion dimmed,

And every fair from fair sometime declines,

By chance, or nature's changing course untrimmed:

But thy eternal summer shall not fade,

Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow'st,

Nor shall death brag thou wander'st in his shade,

When in eternal lines to time thou grow'st,

So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see,

So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

Wow, that was very sweet-

Is that bird poo?

15

yes.


To Eric’s Apartment So what’s the plan for tonight?

Thought we might go to a movie?

Sounds good!

Just need to drop something off for Dice.

Dice, I’m home!

What’ve you been-

Enough chit-chat, flesh bag!

I swear, you if don’t have it...

...I’m going to tear off your precious-

You got the goods?

I mean; Hi, Eden!

Jeez!

Hey, Dice.

16

How are you? Nice weather today, wasn’t it?


Why didn’t you tell me we had company!?

I doubt that would have made any difference.

Sorry, it’s quartz. A diamond metronome.

What’s that?

Quartz? I told you “diamond.”

And Your point is? A diamond metronome costs $1000.

Where am I going to get $1000 from?

Besides, quartz is just as good. And way cheaper.

You haven’t told me why you wanted it, either.

I like the sound.

Tick.

17

Tick.


I can imagine that becoming annoying after a while.

You don’t have to imagine it!

Isn’t it romantic?

Tick.

Enough already!

Do you have a heart?

Tick.

A regular rhythm.

Tick! Much like a heart beat.

As in “ba-bump”?

Heart?

Does your body need to circulate things?

Indeed, I do need to keep this water a-flowing, but it’s not a heart that does it.

Partial blame must go to our friend, the moon.

That’s why I’m taller in the mornings.

I see.

18


I haven't used a metronome since primary school.

I hated those lessons so much!

My dad forced me to learn the piano.

The teacher was such a bore.

That said, now I wish I could play the piano.

Nah, I’m too old.

Nothing stopping you from taking lessons again.

I always wanted to play the saxophone.

Everyone wanted to play the sax after that song came out!

"Lily was Here," eh?

Note to self: Google "Lily was Here."

How’d you know?!

Our school didn't have any saxphones, so I learned the recorder.

Not the sexiest instrument in the world.

19

Don't remember how to play it, to be honest.


Besides, the recorder isn't going to help you score girls.

I do love Van Halen's “Eruption.”

I’m in the wrong business!

Although, we are talking about you.

I should have learned the guitar instead.

And I can't say no to Santana, though I prefer their older stuff.

You're the only guy at a beauty school.

I'm surprised you got as far as you did.

Chicks dig guitar solos, right?

Note to self: Google those too.

The odds are already in your favour.

No offence. None taken.

Some P.Y.T. to follow you around, make you feel important?

Ah, Eric. Do you want a groupie?

20

Hi Eric!


How was your session today?

Eden! Hey Eve. Haven’t seen you in a while.

Yeah, nothing special.

Eliza asked about you again.

Really?

Of course she did!

She wanted to know what you looked like.

She's making sure she's dreaming about the right guy.

Flattery will get you nowhere.

I’ve dreamt about you.

I dreamt I was in a taxi and you were driving. But go on.

21

But he has no arms.


And I hate taxis, so none of it made any sense.

That said... Do you dream?

In your dreams, perhaps.

Yes. Well, not in the random human way.

If you squint your eyes, I look like Richard Croft.

It's kind of like-

So... What did you say to Eliza about Dice?

I don't think they need to know the details, sir.

I told her he was short and bald.

You wish.

Were you naked?

Thanks for the support, mate.

Hmm...

22

Like you had a chance.

Nah, you look like a sundae.


Eliza doesn’t know what Dice actually is?

She thinks he's an exchange student from Canada.

I do like maple syrup.

And as long as I don't go missing again, it'll stay that way.

And you won't be seeing her again after today?

Not officially, no.

I’m over it.

Yeah, sorry again about that.

I've learned to expect things like that living with you.

Eliza could always come over for a visit, though.

She is family, after all.

We're going out. Don't wait up.

Eric, look at the time.

23

Indeed.

Have fun, you crazy kids.


Later that night

zzz...

I don’t like it.

Relax. He won't say too much-

Eric continues to talk to others about you.

It’ll be alright.

He shouldn't be saying anything at all, sir.

Stop acting like a Guardian, please.

I don't share your optimism. This leak of info-

The metronome betrays you.

24

I'm not worried, so you shouldn't be either.


Counsellor Eliza's assessment session with Eric reveals private details of homelife with Dice. Afterwards, Eric tries to distract Eden in a most classical way and then goes home to deliver a requested, yet curious, gift. What does Dice need with a metronome?

Story, Art and Created by Thuyen Nguyen Copyright Š2010 Thuyen Nguyen www.devinquest.com | www.aquestionofpromise.com

A Question of Promise #10  

A comic by Thuyen Nguyen. Counsellor Eliza's assessment session with Eric reveals private details of homelife with Dice. Afterwards, Eric tr...