36 comments

Funny Historical Fiction Fiction

Author's note: The return of Dr. Ingalls, psychotherapist to historical figures. His first appearance was in "'Tis a Lie!" way back in September (Contest 57), featuring his session with George Washington. In the comments, I'll put a note about what is true and what is fiction in this one.


Dr. Ingalls is tapping his pen on his legal pad as he waits for his next client. He looks at his phone. The client is already eight minutes late and Dr. Ingalls underlines the observation he made the previous week.


Routinely late for appointments.


At ten minutes, he adds an exclamation point.


At 12 minutes, he hears a door slam and two familiar voices shouting, one in Spanish and one with a pronounced Boston accent. Dr. Ingalls sprints through his office and takes the stairs two at a time. In the lobby, he sees his incoming client waving a boney finger in the face of his previous client and bellowing. 


The doctor catches the phrase Playa Giròn, and knows his current client is going on about the Bay of Pigs Invasion again. Unfortunately, this time, his outrage is directed at the very man who authorized it back in 1961.


Comandante! Mr. President, please!” Dr. Ingalls tries for a tone both commanding and calm. The two men turn to him.


“Apologies, Doctor,” says John F. Kennedy. “I was waiting for my ride when Mr. Castro arrived. We have some, er – unresolved business.”


Fidel Castro flicks his hand in Kennedy’s general direction, as though swatting an annoying fly. He picks a thread off his olive green military uniform and stiffens his shoulders.


“Thank you, Mr. Kennedy and thank you to the Yankee empire,” he says. Dr. Ingalls cringes, familiar with his tone, which implies quite the opposite of gratitude. “Thank you - because you made us believe, you made us reach heights at the end of all these years, and you crowned the blood of all the Cubans who have fought and died with the degrading defeat of your cynical bloc, your cynical attempt to destroy us.” Castro’s voice gathers power as he speaks and he ends, again waving his long index finger in the air.


“Well then,” Dr. Ingalls says. “Mr. President, I’ll see you next week. Comandante, please come with me.” He ushers Castro through the elevator.


Imperialista yanqui!” Castro roars at Kennedy as the door closes. 


In the office, Dr. Ingalls settles into his chair, pen poised over his legal pad. Castro leans back against the couch and strokes his beard. The session goes something like this:


Dr. I: Well, that was unusual. How are you feeling after seeing President Kennedy?


FC: How do I feel? He tried to overthrow me! He tried to kill the Revolution! He approved an operation called the Bay of Pigs. Do you know that?


Dr. I: Yes, I’m aware, Comandante. We discussed that a few weeks ago, remember? It seemed, at the time, that you had managed to achieve some closure with respect to that conflict. Did seeing President Kennedy trigger some emotions?


FC: It was another Imperialist failure. The Revolution lives! We will never stop defending our ideas or our system. The methods imposed on this unipolar world by U.S. hegemonism worsens the situation everywhere. They have forced governments to sell all the people’s properties, state properties; they have nothing left, many states have sold everything and are now in the hands of large private corporations.


Dr. Ingalls contemplates Castro over his glasses.


Dr. I: Tell me, Comandante. After 60-plus years, you still feel very passionately about the Revolution. But you ceded power to your brother –


FC: I was quite ill and could not continue leading my great nation. Raul was the natural choice to carry on. The Castro brothers – we ARE the Revolution.


Dr. I: Is Raul as committed as you are?


FC: You dare question my brother’s loyalty? I would not ask that again, Doctor.


Dr. I: It’s my job, Comandante. 


FC: Raul Castro was by my side the day with attacked the Moncada barracks in 1953. We were arrested together. We fled to Mexico together and planned the Revolution together. He was with me when we returned, gathered our men and took Havana in 1959 – together! Raul has never wavered.


Dr. I: How would you characterize your relationship?


FC: I am the face of the Revolution, of Cuba. Raul is my loyal comrade.


Dr. I: Would you say he lives in your shadow?


FC: He follows orders. He does not disagree. We are in lockstep.


Dr. I: I understand how close you are and how important his loyalty is to you. But he made changes when you officially turned the presidency over to him in 2008, did he not? He instituted economic reforms that opened up private business. He improved relations with the United States, even opened a U.S. embassy in Havana and hosted the Obamas. After your death, he installed a new President – Miguel Diaz-Canel. Comandante, the era of the Castro brothers is over. How do you feel about your brother making these changes?


Castro removes a cigar from his pocket, lights it and blows smoke at the ceiling. 


Dr. I: I thought you quit cigars in 1985.


FC: I did. In solidarity with a government national health campaign. I reached the conclusion that the last sacrifice I must make for the public health of Cubans was to stop smoking.


Dr. I: But you have started again. You lit up when I asked about the changes your brother has made. Perhaps it bothers you more than you admit?


FC: The truth is, Doctor, that it disturbs me greatly.


Dr. I: Why?


FC: He abandoned the Revolution! He gave in to the Yankee imperialists! He walked away from the Presidency I had given him.


Dr. I: I am curious about your perspective. From my review of your brother’s statements and speeches, he continued to pledge loyalty to the Revolution, to the Communist party, despite his policy reforms. It doesn’t sound like he necessarily gave in. Do you disagree?


FC: I do.


Dr. I: Many newspapers say that your brother is very practical. That he adjusted to the times for the best interest of Cuba.


FC: The Castros are in the best interest of Cuba!


Dr. I: Is it possible that was once the case….but is no longer?


FC: What do you know about my people? You are part of the Imperialismo. It is really impressive what a filthy system capitalism is, that can't guarantee its own people employment, nor health, nor adequate education; that cannot prevent youth from being corrupted by drugs, gamble, and all kind of vices.


Dr. I: My opinion is of no consequence here, Comandante. My goal is to help you, and I feel that your relationship with your brother is weighing on you.


Castro stands and turns to stare out the window.


Dr. I: What would you say to Raul if he were here right now? If you could say anything at all.


FC: Do you see them, Doctor?


Dr. I: Who?


FC: The Cuban people. Tens of thousands are out there, filling the Plaza de la Revolucion, waving their flags, chanting “Viva! Viva!”


Dr. I: Why are they there, Comandante? 


FC: They are waiting for their Comandante, waiting for him to lead them in struggle and sacrifice and the fight, always the fight, for the spirit and virtue of the Revolution.


Dr. I: Is Raul there?


FC: He stands behind me, ever the loyal comrade, ever the loyal brother.


Dr. I: Is that-


Castro holds his hand up.


FC: Silence! The Cuban people are waiting.


He pauses and draws himself up to his full 6 feet and three inches. He begins to speak in a voice meant for thousands in an open-air plaza, and Dr. Ingalls wishes he could turn down the volume.


FC: Revolution is the sense of the historical moment; it is changing everything that must be changed; it is full equality and freedom; it is being treated and treating others like human beings; it is emancipating ourselves, by ourselves and with our very own efforts; it is challenging the dominant powerful forces within and outside of the social and national arena; it is defending the values one believes in at the cost of any sacrifice; it is modesty, selflessness, altruism, solidarity and heroism; it is fighting with audacity, intelligence and realism; it is never telling a lie or violating ethical principles; it is the profound conviction that there is no force on earth that can crush truth and ideas.


Dr. Ingalls finds himself hypnotized by the power reverberating through the room. The words flash in Castro’s eyes and vibrate through is voice as he lets some ring out and punctuates others with silence. He is building, as he has through thousands of speeches, to its dramatic end. His forehead glistens with sweat and his index finder jabs the air with fervor.


FC: Revolution is unity! It is independence! It is fighting for our dreams of justice! For Cuba and the world - that is the basis of our patriotism! Our socialism! Our internationalism! Patria o muerte! Venceremos!


He freezes, hearing the cheers of the crowd as they chant “Fidel, Fidel!” Dr. Ingalls observes his client. After a moment, Fidel turns to him.


FC: I feel remarkably alive, Doctor. I believe I am cured. No more sessions will be necessary.


Dr. I: I am glad you feel better, Comandante…..but I think there is a bit more work we need to do. Can you come back on Thursday? Same time?


As Castro strides out, appointment card in hand, Dr. Ingalls scratches out a few quick notes. “Denial, delusions, living in the past” he writes.


The doctor turns his attention to his next client. He pages through the file for “Shakespeare, W.”


“Ah yes,” he murmurs to himself. “Existential identity crisis. Doubts about reality.”


He hones in on a particular statement he has underlined and starred: “Wonders if he is the true author of his plays?”


February 12, 2021 16:58

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36 comments

Kristin Neubauer
17:08 Feb 12, 2021

Author's second note: Again, I am way behind on reading your work and responding to all your very kind comments - I will get on it today! As a video producer for Reuters' Latin American desk, from 2000 to 2006, I spend many hours listening to Castro speeches. We brought in Cuba's state TV signal and it was part of my job to listen to the speeches for any news. I probably listened to over a hundred before he stepped down in 2006. As for what's true and what isn't....True that Fidel turned over power to his brother Raul in 2006 when he ...

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17:48 Feb 21, 2021

When I first read about Dr. Ingalls, I felt drawn to him. He can meet with past "important" people and can talk to him. In fact, to help them. I am in awe of this doctor mostly because you have a way of creating really intense characters. That's pure magic. I got to see the inside life of a man who is torn between the past and his feelings about change and i got to understand the void in it. Beautiful. Oh, and I think I'm at the edge of my seat. I'd want to see a session with Shakespeare.

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Julie Ward
19:22 Feb 13, 2021

One of the things I absolutely love about your writing, Kristin, is that it can be completely fanciful while being so rich with information. You have a such a knack for it, and it makes for such an interesting and entertaining tale. I think that Dr. Ingalls is a fantastic character and the stories, of course, are endless. I can't wait to hear more!! I really love knowing the backstory on this one too - I mean over a hundred speeches? Wow!

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Kristin Neubauer
20:23 Feb 13, 2021

Thank you so much, Julie! I have such fun mixing up Dr. Ingalls with these historical figures. Yes, the many many speeches. We also had to listen to the speeches by Hugo Chavez on Venezuelan state TV - he also spoke for hours on end. One night, I got stuck listening to a Fidel speech from about 5 pm to 9-ish....and then Chavez started speaking. From 9-ish until about 2 am! I was practically banging my head against the desk. 🤣

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A.Dot Ram
21:29 Feb 12, 2021

This is such an interesting take on the prompt! I would read more from Dr. Ingalls. You really brought Castro to life, and I love all of the background knowledge that you incorporated. It's a sympathetic portrait (not entirely, but yes), and I like that about it. It's fun to look at history from a different angle.

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Kristin Neubauer
22:28 Feb 12, 2021

Thanks! I try not to do the same thing too much, but I've giggled my way through these two Dr. Ingalls stories and won't be able to resist doing another down the road. I know I would feel very different about Castro if I had a closer connection to Cuba. The Revolution has brought the country to its knees....Cubans are really suffering in such poverty with little hope of digging out. He and Raul were violent, uncompromising men who imprisoned, tortured and killed their opponents. But from where I sat, safely in DC on the desk, listening ...

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A.Dot Ram
22:36 Feb 12, 2021

Dr. Ingalls made it work. His wry diagnoses. It set the right tone to explore this stuff in a lighter way. It's super helpful/responsible to put the fact checking note you did, though.

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Kristin Neubauer
23:19 Feb 12, 2021

Thanks - gosh, there's no way the journalist in me could allow someone to walk away thinking any of the fiction in the story was real. That would really upset me!

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Bianka Nova
21:39 Mar 18, 2021

Hi, Kristin! I'm writing this as an FYI to let you know that I'm running a free promotion for my novella Thirsty by Nature tomorrow (March 19th) so that anyone can get it as an ebook on Amazon. I'm still behind with the publishing of my second one, but I thought you might enjoy reading this one in the meantime. I would love to know what you think. :)

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Kristin Neubauer
19:50 Mar 19, 2021

Congratulations Bianka!!!! What an amazing accomplishment! I just looked it up now - the cover art is beautiful. The problem is, I don't have a Kindle! Will it ever come out in hard copy? I will absolutely buy it if it does. I read the sample page that Amazon puts up and I'm already intrigued. I hope I can find a way to read it at some point!

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Bianka Nova
21:44 Mar 19, 2021

Thanks! Actually, the cover image is royalty-free, but the design was done by a friend of mine who used to work for a publishing house. ;) This book is the one I published last year, but since I'm still getting the hang of book marketing, I'm not planning on doing the printing option yet. Maybe if I see there's some more interest at some point. In the meantime, there's a Kindle app that you can use for your tablet or phone; you don't need to have the actual ebook reader :)

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Kristin Neubauer
21:58 Mar 19, 2021

Oh really? I had no idea! I will get it and download the book and leave a five star review. Thank you!!!

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Doubra Akika
19:10 Mar 08, 2021

Kristin! This was so beautiful! I love how intense your characters are and how you're so good with historical events. It marvels me! I always end up getting information and enjoying the whole piece along the way. I'm honestly in awe. As usual, this was magical. Your writing gets better every time I read. If you ever get the chance, would you mind checking out my recent story? I would love your feedback. Hope you're staying safe!

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Kristin Neubauer
02:22 Mar 09, 2021

Thank you so much, Doubra! I do love incorporating my versions of history, such fun to play around with the characters. Please drop a line whenever you post a new story! I always love to read your work but get so caught up in the everything, that I don’t always remember to look for new stories. But I will def read if I know there’s a new one out!!

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Doubra Akika
05:43 Mar 09, 2021

It was honestly my pleasure.

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Daniel R. Hayes
19:01 Mar 05, 2021

Hi Kristin, I actually read this story last night, I'm a bit of a night owl. Anyway, sorry I didn't get a chance to leave a comment, so I thought I would now. I thought this story was very good. I loved the way you wrote it, and I was hooked from beginning to end. I also liked how you introduced this story and the included notes. This is masterful writing at its finest. Great Job :) I look forward to reading more of your stories.

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Kristin Neubauer
19:06 Mar 05, 2021

Thanks so much, Daniel! I always have fun with Dr. Ingalls and his historical clients. I appreciate your reading and hopefully, I'll manage to write something this week. We'll see if it happens. But I will certainly be looking for yours!

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Daniel R. Hayes
19:12 Mar 05, 2021

You're welcome, good luck on your next story. I'll keep an eye out for it. In the meantime it looks like you have a lot of stories that I can read, which I look forward too. Have a great day.

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Thom Brodkin
23:30 Mar 01, 2021

I can only read your new stories when you write them. 😀 I wrote one this week I just put up. Give it a read and some honest feedback.

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Kristin Neubauer
18:11 Mar 05, 2021

I hope I will write something this week. It depends on how things go with Sally, my dog. I'll let you know if I manage!

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Thom Brodkin
18:35 Mar 05, 2021

I read your comment on my story as well and the only truly important thing is your dog. I lost a mini schnauzer on October 31st. He was only nine and it ripped out my families heart. We still have his sister and we flew a puppy from Oklahoma to our home in Virginia. The two of them keep us smiling but we still miss our little guy. I’ll pray for you and Sally.

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Kristin Neubauer
18:45 Mar 05, 2021

Thank you so much. Sally had heart surgery when we first adopted her in 2015. She's been checked by the cardiologist every year and been fine. But she had a staggering incident yesterday that could be indicative of a more serious problem. The cardiologist can't see her today, but they given her an appointment at the CVCA surgery center in Leesburg on Monday, in case she needs it after her exam on Mon. I'm having a hard time not freaking out, so reading these stories is a welcome distraction.

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Thom Brodkin
19:36 Mar 20, 2021

How is your dog doing? I came over here to read a story and ask you to read mine and then I realized I hadn't checked in about Sally. In my defense I'm a guy and we're notoriously unreliable. I hope all is well. If you forgive me and have a second let me know what you think about "Grace and Mercy". It's kind of unique in that a friend and I gave each other the prompt the city and the main character so we had to write about what we were told. I hope it came out well. 😊

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Kristin Neubauer
19:53 Mar 21, 2021

Thanks for asking about Sally. She is doing better. The vet started her on betablockers and we have to keep her from going from 0 to 100 in half a second. We are working on that. She has to get a tooth extracted on March 30, which I'm nervous about with her heart problem. But the cardiologist approved it, so fingers crossed it will go smoothly. I am working on a story for the flowers prompt - i am hoping to finish it by Friday, if I can just get work and school out of my way!

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Vicky S
19:47 Feb 21, 2021

I love historical fiction, even modern history, and you've made this come alive. I agree with the other commitments I've read. I like Dr Ingalls, would love to see more 😃

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Thom Brodkin
01:13 Feb 17, 2021

How is this possible. I am a history buff and this story was fascinating. You captured so much in such a short story. It is so unique. I love the feel of realism to it. I can easily hear Castros voice as I read. What more can I say. Magnificent!!!! I posted a new one today. I know a lot of people are begging for your time but when you get a moment let me know what you think. 😀

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Kristin Neubauer
17:11 Feb 21, 2021

Thank you! I have such fun playing around with Dr. Ingalls and his clients!

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H L Mc Quaid
13:11 Feb 15, 2021

Hi Kristin, A unique take on the prompt, and I'm glad to meet Dr. Ingalls. :) I also felt I learned more about the Revolution and Fidel (I didn't know he was so tall!). The writing was crisp, so I don't have much to offer on that, but I did catch a few typos. Did you mean "we" instead of "with" here: "Raul Castro was by my side the day with attacked the Moncada barracks in 1953. should be "gambling" here: ....corrupted by drugs, gamble, and all kind of vices. Now I'm really looking forward to the session with Bill the Quill. :)

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Kristin Neubauer
16:51 Feb 21, 2021

Thank you!! You caught some embarrassing typos on my part - I was flying through it way too fast. I need to make sure I catch those next time. I always have fun with Dr. Ingalls....I think he is my fantasy. Whenever I become a psychotherapist, I'd love to have historical figures (and literary figures) as clients!

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H L Mc Quaid
17:50 Feb 21, 2021

Well, they aren't that embarrassing. It's not like you left the 'l' out 'public' when writing about public libraries (yes, that did happen to a friend of mine). Also, it's clever using the Dr. to reveal non-fiction stuff (I might riff off that idea, for some my business-oriented articles). :)

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Kristin Neubauer
18:07 Feb 21, 2021

I did that in college. In a reference paper about public health, where I wrote the word over and over and over again. I think my fingers found themselves going in the same pattern every time I typed the word and the spellcheck didn't catch it because it was actually a word (this was in 1997 - long before auto-correct). I had a professor who had off-the chart standards and was all about precision and accuracy (had been a Naval officer). This was the fifth class I'd taken with him fortunately so we'd gotten used to each other. He handed t...

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H L Mc Quaid
19:00 Feb 21, 2021

😂😂😂

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Yolanda Wu
04:43 Feb 13, 2021

Dr Ingalls is back! He's certainly a character that stayed in my mind. You definitely carried through with his straight-forward questions, I can just imagine him in my head, sitting there with his clipboard. This instantly brought back my memories of your first one with George Washington. Once again, I love how rich this story was with the historical facts. You managed it just to the right degree, where even those who don't necessarily know the details of the events could still get a good laugh out of it. Your note referring to what was fact...

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Nainika Gupta
19:22 Feb 12, 2021

Hello Kristin! I see you are back at it!! YAY! *side note* I also did a JFK story (Lee Harvey Oswald's POV) But I absolutely loved this story!! From the title to the tiny details you put in, i think this was one of my favs from you!!! Amazing job! -N

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Kristin Neubauer
19:25 Feb 12, 2021

Ooooo....I just saw your JFK/LHO story....I'm going over there right now to read it! And thanks so much for your comment! I didn't know if I'd get this in today, but I really wanted to. I was finishing it while listening to the Senate impeachment hearing and trying to edit the video. Sigh - shame when work gets in the way. I'm going to read your story right now!

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Nainika Gupta
19:29 Feb 12, 2021

Yas! No problem!! :):) I'm glad you did!! it was amazing!! :)

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