The 5 Stages of Grief

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Chapter 11, Jeremy

Jeremy looked around the office, at the face of his doctor. This man had taken him through many difficult times already and in a relatively short period of time. This was a big decision indeed, one of the biggest in his life – monumental. It would expose him to an unbelievable amount of risk. To tell or not to tell, he smiled to himself, the play on words amusing him.

Since his mother’s passing, he’d found a love for reading and attacked it voraciously. He especially loved the classics, Shakespeare in particular. The neatness of the language, the tragedy of situations and the monumental life-decisions the characters faced. All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women, merely players… He pondered this a moment, turning it about in search of elusive meaning, perhaps a new epiphany in the old line. He was convinced of one thing however – adamant actually. There are too many words. The line should read, All the world’s a stage, the men and women, merely players, and if William were about today, I’m certain he would agree.

It was Dr. Reichmann who’d turned him on to the old bard. Apparently the master was one of his favorites also. Jeremy gazed up from his hands towards the Doctor, who sat waiting, patiently, not rushing him – never rushing him – yet not at ease, either. More apprehensive than anything else, Jeremy guessed.

Jeremy grinned through steepled fingers, weighing the moment. To tell Dr. Reichmann of the fortunate death of his horrible mother had been one thing – that had put him at risk enough – but to tell him where the actual body was, that was another. That was evidence, the turning of stones that would be, in all probability, better left unturned. But it’s Dr. Reichmann! If I can’t trust him, who can I trust? Besides, secrets such as these tend to eat a man up inside like cancer, render him paranoid, looking over his shoulder at every bump in the night. No, that would not do. He had to tell someone and the only someone he could possibly tell – even consider for that matter – was the Doctor, his one and only confidant, the closest thing in his life resembling a friend.

“Okay, Dr. Reichmann. However, I will hold you to the strictest of confidence – doctor-patient privilege. You may not utter a word under any circumstances, not to a soul. Are we understood? Will you swear this information to secrecy on your mother’s grave?” He smiled at the pun he’d just made, at his new-found confidence and wit.

The Doctor looked shaken. More disturbed than he was, that was for sure. Jeremy smiled again, thinking, Maybe all of this is for the best? He certainly felt better. He always felt better in the company of Dr. Reichmann, even if they did nothing more than sit, like this.

“You have my word Jeremy, as both a doctor and your friend. I would be lying if I told you I was not a little shook-up by all of this. Yet, as you mentioned previously, I am legally and professionally bound. I took an oath as a doctor on behalf of my patients – I hope that will suffice?” He looked sincere and as far as Jeremy could tell the Doctor had never lied to him before. Jeremy decided to believe him, to unburden his load on the good Doctor who’d already done so much to improve his life. Hell – to give him life!

“She is in the old well out back of my house.” The Doctor stared at him as if he hadn’t heard – or had, but wasn’t comprehending. “It hasn’t been in use since the city brought the water lines to our neighborhood over a decade ago?” Twelve years ago to be exact, he mentally corrected himself. It made him happy – being exact.

“I rolled her in an old rug she’d loved and carried her out there that very same night. I had to remove the lid before that of course, get everything ready, but then I just carried her out and dropped her in the hole.” He paused, smiled. The Doctor wasn’t smiling back. He continued, “There were a bunch of rocks lining the unused flower gardens nearby. Mother enjoyed it once – gardening that is – years ago, but her arthritis took all the fun out of it for her so she gave it up. I think it made her meaner.” Again, he paused, though this time it was more for reflection, consideration of this new hypothesis he’d somehow stumbled upon. He waved it off for later.

“Then I simply put the lid back on and the next day went and bought this remarkable clamp, one they use just for this purpose, to clamp down well-lids. Now that I think of it, I don’t know why we hadn’t done it sooner? It seems so frightfully irresponsible. Anyway, the strangest thing is that – even after all this time not a single person in the neighborhood, not one, has come to enquire about where Mother’s been. Why they hadn’t seen her about at the grocery store or at church – though she rarely went and even if she did she most likely kept to herself. Come to think of it, now that I’ve brought it up, I don’t believe anyone honestly liked mother. Maybe she was a bitch to everyone – not just me?” He stopped to ponder this a moment. It somehow made him feel better. “Yes, in all likelihood that was it.”

Dr. Reichmann sat motionless, staring at him, stunned. He waited, to give the Doctor an opportunity to comment, ask questions, anything. But he didn’t, just sat staring. So he continued. “Anyway, after going through her papers trying to figure out the bills – as it would do no good to fall behind after, as that alone would likely raise suspicion with Mother always the stickler for paying bills on time. ‘Best keep up appearances,’ she was always saying. It was then I came across the ownership of the house and guess what, Dr. Reichmann?” Jeremy looked at the Doctor – it was his turn to stare. “Well? – guess!”

That seemed to shake the man from his stupor. “I don’t know, Jeremy. Why don’t you tell me?” His voice sounded flat, but his eyes revealed amazement, wonder, so Jeremy continued.

“The house was registered in my name!” He leaned back, clasping his hands. “Actually, everything is in my name, bank accounts, savings, bonds – all kinds of things – all in my name. Even the bills, which are what tipped me off in the first place.”

Dr. Reichmann appeared recovered from his stupor, was now leaning forward, paying more attention, looking less perplexed. “But why? Why put all the bills – all the assets – under you?”

“Good question, though I expect nothing less from you, Doctor. And the answer, I am sure you will find, is particularly intriguing. I found her birth certificate and all her other papers – are you ready for this?” He paused a second for effect. “It looks as if she was here illegally! Can you imagine – all these years and never a citizen? I was born here, of course, so it only made sense to keep everything in my name. I don’t know what she did until I was legal age. I haven’t figured that out yet. However, the day I reached legal age everything was transferred to my name. I even found my little signatures on things. I don’t know how she managed to get me to sign – probably scared me into it – but there it was, my little doodle, and on official documents too.” Jeremy beamed. It felt enlivening to be clear of this burden, this darkest of secrets. He felt free, uplifted.

“I beg your pardon Dr. Reichmann. You were saying?” The Doctor had clearly asked him something while he was reveling in his new-found joy.

“I was asking where your mother was from – originally, I mean – her place of birth.”

“Germany,” Jeremy answered. “Who knew?”

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