The 5 Stages of Grief

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Chapter 14, Marcus

“Why, it’s simple, really. After all these years as his patient – you did know I was his first, right?” No one made an indication one way or the other. He continued, “All the wonderful things he did for me, like bringing me out of my shell and giving me purpose, meaning to my life. Teaching me how to assert myself, make myself heard, instead of living like some wallflower at the mercy of those around me, their wills and purposes stifling my every thought. It was Dr. Reichmann who did these things for me, helped me come alive. Yet when I looked at him, when I was able to see him past my own self-interests, I came to realize that he was living the very life he helped me escape.”

“How so?” It was the Doctor, Dr. Alexander he said his name was. He was with the-little-redhead, the pretty one, Assistant District Attorney or something like that. He liked her. He expected the Doctor to continue, but he didn’t. He didn’t speak much at all actually, just listened and Miss Tattershall spoke even less than that. At least they’d left that big cop outside this time. Marcus didn’t like him and he could tell the man didn’t care much for him, either.

“His wife was mean.” He could play that game too. He smiled. The fewest word’s game.

He hadn’t anticipated Miss Tattershall getting angry. Nevertheless, she did. “His wife was mean? His wife was mean so you killed her? Peeled the skin from her body strip by strip then cut her head off, mean – that kind of mean? What about Debbie Wilkinson – your secretary? Was she mean, too? What kind of answer is that, ‘his wife was mean?’” She was stomping about the room in her tall heels getting angrier and angrier, Marcus could tell. It was a little frightening actually. Not big cop frightening, but frightening all the same. Women could be so unpredictable.

He shook his head. “No, not that way – really mean! She treated him badly and he was such a good man, maybe even a great man. He helped me so much, as I already mentioned. I just wanted to do something nice for him. You didn’t see the way she treated him – like a dog, even worse than a dog. She did the worst things imaginable. Someone had to do something. He was too kind to do anything about it for himself.” Visions of her antics and abuses flashed in his mind, a maleficent strobe bristling his nerves. Nevertheless, the redhead’s next words brought him back to the moment.

“And the secretary? What was her crime? Why did she deserve such a horrible death?” At least she stopped pacing, calmed down a little. Dr. Alexander stood to the side, watching, writing.

“She was under the wife’s spell, under her power. Mrs. Reichmann even hired her and told her what to do. She would phone and report on him then give him orders from his wife. He didn’t dare disobey. It wasn’t supposed to be like that. He is such a brilliant man. He was the doctor – he should have been in charge. They were one and the same, the both of them. It had to be both or none – something had to be done. It was a gift – don’t you see? A gift for a friend. He brought me life and in return, I saved his.” Saying it out loud, explaining it like that made him happy. It was all so simple, all you needed to do was look.

They stared at one-another for quite a time, some unspoken language. He could see they were lovers. It was obvious if you cared to look. They thought they were hiding it, keeping it secret, but he could tell. They had kind hearts, he could see that also. He would trust them – at least a little.

“They found the broken branches in the back yard – the other body?” She looked at him, head tilted in question.

He sat, pretending not to know anything – what she was talking about, referring to. Maybe she was bluffing?

“Oh, come on! Really? You’re going to pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about? That this is all new to you? – a big surprise? Gloria Thompson, the house-keeper – ring any bells?”

She was getting angry again. He found it amusing how her temper went up and down so quickly – the stereotype delightful as she was from obvious Irish decent – though he didn’t tell her as she looked mad enough to strike.

At that precise moment, he believed his best course of action was simply no action at all. He sat still, didn’t say a word.

“We found her, you know. When I say us, I mean Sergeant Whitmore found her, down an old well in the back. It was all sealed up so we didn’t think to look there, didn’t even realize there was another body until the Lieutenant figured it out. You have to give it to him, the both of them really, good police work.” She shook her head in appreciation. “But why the housekeeper? What did she do?”

He looked into his lap. He was not proud of this, it wasn’t in the plan. When he answered, it crawled out scarcely a whisper.

“I’m sorry. We couldn’t hear you.”

“She was in the way,” he said and began to cry.

It was strange, lead character in a Twilight Zone episode strange. Here he sat, bawling his eyes out like a little girl who’s torn her party dress and all because of the house cleaner. The one he’d bumped on the head twice. For the other two, the ones he’d peeled like fresh fruit, he felt no remorse. The opposite actually – he felt joy and the tug of expected praise for a job well done.

Dr. Alexander let her run with this one and she got her little red head up to full steam in no time and although the Doctor was technically the one in charge – at least that’s what Marcus figured, at least until he made his diagnosis then it was all her – he seemed more than happy to let her take the reins. To stand back and watch or observe as he so often referred to it.

It was a little unsettling, though not in a bad way. As Chloe – she said I could call her that – usually felt the need for battle to make herself heard, at least that would be his read. And yet, from where he was sitting, the Doctor appeared more than happy to fill in whatever role was best suited to get the job done, to put his ego aside, upon a shelf. Better still – she believed him! The man did look genuine though. And although there was no way to be sure it wasn’t a tactic or ploy, some trick to get what he wanted – Marcus didn’t believe it, not from him. It was real. She believed him.

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