The 5 Stages of Grief

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Chapter 12, Dr. Reichmann

It took far longer to overcome the impact of Jeremy’s statement than was usual. Lunch had been fuzzy, but that was expected with the declaration of matricide swimming around in his head. And what to do about it? Jesus Christ! He couldn’t even recall which one of his colleagues had brought him the pizza slice as it could have been any one of countless people in the building. He shook his head to clear the noise. It would be best to stop focusing on it, let his subconscious do the work. He smiled, thinking, I might even remember who brought me lunch, then turned his attention back to his patient.

“I’m sorry Rachel. I must have missed that. You were saying?”

“I was saying,” she’s emphasizing every syllable, must have caught me daydreaming, “what an awesome guy Peter is.” Rachel stopped glowering at him, replaced it with a smile-beam that radiated towards him from across the desk. “I think he’s the one!”

“Excuse me? The one what? I thought his name was Josh?” He scanned his befuddled memory for traces of their last session, ticking them off on his stubby fingers as he recalled each point. Rachel: new mother, suffers from depression and Borderline Personality Disorder, hospitalized for a suicide attempt not five months ago, the father of her child’s name is – what is it? Josh! I knew I was right!

“Josh! That loser. The bastard ran the second Evy was born. If I never see that piece of shit again, it’ll be too soon.” She was fidgeting on the other side of his desk, her eyes darting this way and that. He wondered what she might be taking – he knew he hadn’t prescribed her anything lately. Not since the attempt, anyway. Even if it had been just a cry for attention you could never be too sure as it hadn’t been her first.

“What! Why are you looking at me like that Doc?” She smiled, turned her face on. She would be gorgeous if she weren’t so messed-up. She had a way about her. A saucy, sexy thing he was certain the guys couldn’t resist – not in the moment. If they only knew – run hard, run fast!

He smiled back, “Nothing dear. How long have you known Peter?”

“Well, we met the other week. Friday, I think. Or was it Saturday night? Oh, I can’t remember, you know how I black out. Anyways, we met at a club on a girl’s-night out and…”


He really didn’t need to hear the details as he’d heard this story from her many times before – some version of it anyway. A closed loop so to speak, playing the same tune over and over again. Girl meets boy. Girl woo’s boy with her naked parts and unbelievable sex. Girl clings to boy becoming his shadow. Girl freaks the boy’s mind by going from first-date to marriage and family-talk in weeks, days sometimes. Boy bugs-out and stops calling. Girl smothers him with calls and threats. Boy disappears without a trace never to be heard from again – not by her anyway.

For some strange and unexplainable reason, visits with Rachel always got him thinking about his wife and yet they were nothing alike, couldn’t be more opposite. He hadn’t seen her since Friday night, choosing instead to spend the weekend at the office. The blow-out they’d had was rare though predictable – same-old, same-old. Every once in a while he would gather up enough nerve to put his foot down about how she treated him, how she treated everyone, and she would cut his leg off at the groin in return. This one had been bad, real bad. He hadn’t even heard from her, not since early Saturday when she left that scorching message about cancelling the dinner party. The woman had a mouth when she wanted, worse when she was drinking and he could tell by the spitting vehemence in her voice that she was determined on getting smashed after the call.

Love her? He wasn’t sure he liked her. He did everything – the yard, the house, brought in the money, everything. She did the bitching, “Fred do this, Fred do that,” it never ended. Even the sex was no good – as there wasn’t any! Yet for some reason, she was like every other woman in his life, his mother anyway.

“So – can I get them?”

“Get what dear?”

“The painkillers Doc!” her look was incredulous. She held it until he broke eye contact, uncomfortable, looked down at his notes. “I need painkillers! My neck – remember? Haven’t you been listening to me? I’ve been pouring my heart out here.” She rubbed her neck, selling it.

He wasn’t buying. “Go down the hall to Dr. Jacob’s. Tell him I sent you and to put it on my bill. Let’s get some tests done first, take a look at your neck and see what the problem is before pumping you full of meds. That way, we can get down to the core of the issue.”

She knew he had her and wasn’t happy. “The heart of the issue, Doctor, is I have an extremely painful neck and I need some help with it – some medication. Jesus, what do I come here for if you’re not going to help me?”

The door opened and Grant’s head appeared. “Hey, Doc – I did what you said.”

“Oh, excuse me?” Rachel shot the new intruder a look to peel paint, though continued to massage her neck. “I am in pain here and need the Doctor at this time. And if I am not mistaken, this is my time – isn’t it Dr. Reichmann?” she turned to him, shot him the look.

Grant flashed his smile, the charming one, the one that incinerates women’s panties through their clothes. “I was only following the Doctor’s orders myself. Sorry to have barged in – my bad.”

This is interesting. Dr. Reichmann leaned back in his chair, watching the dynamics unfold before him as if at a tennis match, his head moving from one player to the next, each of them trying to best the other with a winning shot.

“Oh – don’t be silly.”

Was that Rachel saying that? And nicely, with a smile and a bat of her eyes? If he didn’t know better, he’d have thought she was thinking of someone other than herself – if he didn’t know better.

“We were just finishing up here, I think?” she looked at her watch. Yep – ten to the hour. He’s all yours.”

“Please don’t hurry on my account. Ah?”

“Rachel. It’s Rachel.” She rose from her chair, her hand extended.

“Very pleased to make your acquaintance Rachel – I’m Grant. You come here often?” He winked, laughed, thumbed his chest, charm oozing from every pore, smile twinkling, raising her hand to his lips, kissing it. It’s his eyes – they look ravenous, like a big cat closing on prey. They never know what hit them.

“Excuse me Grant?” Fred interrupts, decides it’s best. “What’s this you’re saying about doing what I said? I don’t remember asking you to do something – anything?”

Grant spoke, but solely with his words as his eyes never left Rachel, not for a moment. It was as if they’d traveled to some distant land where they were the only two and society could not interfere. Fred was mesmerized. He had never seen either of the two spend a second thinking of anyone other than themselves.

“Oh, you didn’t – you didn’t ask, I mean – it was my interpretation. You told me to clean up my shit – oh! I’m sorry Rachel, I meant to say, clean my life up, get my house in order so to speak, no loose strings left about to trip me up. A clean slate is what I think you called it, Doc?”

Fred was staring. He mouth might even have been hanging open. “I did? I mean – I did. And?”

Grant held her gaze a moment longer before breaking eye contact. Rachel turned to stand at his side as if by silent command, her eyes gleaming, sparkling with life, all thought’s of her neck appearing to have vanished.

“So I went down to the cop-shop. I figured that was as good a place as any to start.”

“And?”

Grant shook off whatever lust-stupored haze he’d been in. “That was the strange part Doc. Nothing! They’d never heard of me – so I get the fuck out of there before they change their minds. Sorry Rachel.” She beamed at him as if he were reciting Shakespeare in perfect tongue.

“Right, right.” Fred chirped, having no recollection whatever of what Grant was talking about. Even so, he wasn’t about to stop the young man as it seemed sound advice. He was just pissed that it wasn’t him who’d thought of it. “Continue.”

“Continue what? As I said – I go down to the station and there’s this hot broad,” a quick glance at Rachel. “I’m sorry again Rachel, I must sound like a foul-mouthed prick.”

“No apologies needed,” she smiles, reaching to take his hand. “You should hear me sometimes. I’ve been known to drop the odd bomb – isn’t that right Doctor?” She doesn’t as much as glance at him. “Besides, some women – men too, don’t get me wrong – just grab your eyes. I mean, you have to look – right?”

Grant nods, flashes his smile. Rachel beams as if she’s getting her picture with a rock-star. “So there’s this wicked-hot little thing and we just sort of bump into each other. She asks me if there’s something she can help me with, something I’d like to tell her. And I say yes and we both sit down and I start rymin’ off my charges, telling her that I want to clear them up, get a new start. You know – like you said.” He looks to the Doctor as if for approval. Fred nods his head and goes along.

“So this little firecracker – and she looks like one too! So short she could play handball against the curb and this flaming red hair and her body! Doc, I mean hey-oh, if you know what I mean!” Grant just about looses it, adding hand-curves in the air, getting excited, then remembers Rachel’s quietly standing beside him. “No offence Rachel. She was nice looking is all, decent body but not nearly as fuckable as yours.”

Well, doesn’t that just seal the deal, Dr. Reichmann thinks, watching Grant strip Rachel’s body with his eyes, her face lighting up like a carnival ride, music and all. One backward compliment and it’s as if he’s composed a sonnet for her.

“So anyways, Her-Hotness takes down my name and all the stuff that I told her, then tells me she’s gonna put it in the system and will be right back – not to go anywhere. Then – what felt like forever, I mean ten, maybe even fifteen minutes later – she comes back with this dude and they tell me I’m not in their copper-system and that’s it. Isn’t that fucking great!” Grant glances towards Rachel, possibly concerned about offending her with his language but she’s staring at him in adoration so he turns to face the Doctor instead.

“Yes, that’s marvelous Grant.” Fred smiles at him, genuine. “A clean slate then. Good place to start building your life from.”

“That’s what I was thinking, Doc, and now’s as good a time as any.” He looks at his watch. “Ah-shit, it’s five after. You probably have another patient waiting.” He turns to Rachel, “You want to grab a coffee or a drink or something?”

She melts, bob’s her head, taking extra care to get the maximum bounce from her hair – then they walk out the door leaving Dr. Reichmann somewhat stunned, definitely speechless, though he doesn’t have time to ponder what just took place.

“Are you ready to see me now Dr. Reichmann?” Bethany’s mousy little voice peep’s through the crack in the door. He can’t see her, but he could identify her squeak anywhere.

He looks into his extensive mirror, straightens his shirt and wet’s his hand to smooth down his hair. “Certainly Bethany. Come in and make yourself comfortable.”

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