The 5 Stages of Grief

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Chapter 17, Carl

Walking into Dr. Reichmann’s office was nothing if not surreal.

“Who are you? Where did you come from?” Just two of the many questions blasted at him in rapid succession. He wasn’t entirely sure who had surprised whom more, as the looks upon their faces resembled shock, surprise at the very least.

“I’m Carl. I came for my appointment with Dr. Reichmann,” he said, looking from one to the other. All three seemed to be on edge, unsure, shaken, like cornered animals not knowing what to expect next. “He’s expecting me,” Carl added, “though I can sit in the waiting area until you’re done – if that would be better?”

It was the little fellow, good looking, possibly a doctor himself, who appeared in charge. “Yes, that would be fine – the waiting room I mean.”

Sitting there, alone, gave him plenty of time to think, put his thoughts into words for the Doctor – keep his emotions in check, practice the techniques he’d been taught. Dr. Reichmann was always telling him to stand up for himself, assert himself, his wishes, more often, not be a doormat to his self-centered wife. But no matter what the Doctor told him, no matter how emboldened he became while in session, it all seemed to peter-out on the way home. She seemed to sense it too, like a dog smells fear. Then she would go on the offensive, sucking the wind from his sails with a few choice words, reasserting her dominance.

It was never long before he was just a sniveling weakling again, begging for her forgiveness, doing whatever she told or asked of him and pleading for her to stay, not to leave him.

This last week had been the worst. An all time low even for him.

She had gone to a club with her girlfriends. He’d no idea which girlfriends or which club, as she’d told him it was none of his damn business – that she would get home when she got home and that he should be waiting for her when she did – period.

Even though it incensed him, infuriated him, he’d merely bowed his head and did as he was told.

He noticed she had dressed particularly sexy that evening, showing much more skin than was necessary but had kept his mouth shut not wanting to incur any more of her wrath than was necessary. The wait was painful, excruciating, but it was nothing measured against the humiliation he felt when she finally came through the door to their home a little after four in the morning, quite disheveled, very inebriated and utterly inflexible.

“I’m moving out Carl. I’ve taken a lover – a few actually – and no longer want you around. You’re a coward and you make me want to puke.” She was standing in front of him, her hand clutching his chin for balance, her spit and sodden breath stinging his eyes, singeing his nose. “You are to sell this house within the month and send me the money. All of it! Am I understood?”


“But, nothing!” she shrieked. “You will do as you are told – nothing more, nothing less!” Then her grip softened. She stroked his cheek. “That is, unless you want me to stay? Is that it? Do you want me to stay?” He nodded his head yes. It made him sick. He disgusted himself.

“That’s a good boy,” she cooed. “I will take my lovers here then. You will make us comfortable, attend to our needs. This is acceptable to you?” She stared into his eyes.

He didn’t answer. He’d just stood there, weeping.

She grabbed him, hard, below. “This is acceptable to you? I asked you a question, now answer me or I leave right now!”

He nodded his head, too afraid his voice would give out, give him away.

“Very good.” She smiled. “We shall begin immediately.” She pushed him down to the floor and perched herself upon the edge of the couch. With one hand in his hair and the other lifting the hem of her short skirt, she pulled him towards her, opened her legs, wide. He noticed the matted hair immediately, the glistening leftovers of whoever had been there before him. She gave his hair a firm jerk, tugging his face towards her, mashing his lips, his nose, his startled mouth into her oozing, dripping mess, “Now be a good boy and do as you’re told. After all, isn’t it better to accept what others have left you than to not have me at all?” He could hear her giggling while he attended his new responsibilities.

“Carl?” He looked up towards the Doctor, who looked even worse than Carl felt. “They are gone now, you may come in.”

Carl followed him into the office and took the offered chair in front of the desk. “Are you all right Dr. Reichmann? Is everything okay?”

The Doctor was shaking his head. He’d obviously been crying. “No Carl. Everything’s not okay…. Nothing’s okay.” He buried his head into his hands. His shoulders began to tremble.

Not knowing what to do, Carl sat, waited. It took a while.


“I’m terribly sorry Carl. I’m not in much of a state to help this afternoon. I’m afraid I need to reschedule – if that’s okay with you that is? Unless it’s an emergency of course?” Dr. Reichmann lifted his head and peered at Carl through watery eyes. “Is it? An emergency I mean?”

Carl thought a moment. He’d spent all that time preparing what to say to get it right. He looked at the Doctor. He’s been so good to me, listening to me when no one else would. “No Doctor, it’s not. Another time is fine.” Then he rose and left the man alone, closing the door behind him.

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