Chapter 7, Dr. Reichmann
“I must say Fred, you’ve certainly fit in well around here,” Dr. Mechnikov said, “and I mean that in a good way.”
“I honestly can’t thank you enough, Doctor. You have given me a new life, new hope. I don’t know if I can ever erase the horrible guilt, but you’ve helped me find the will to fight, to try and build a new life.” Fred lowered his gaze a moment then took a deep breath and caught his Doctor’s eyes once again. “I don’t know how I can ever re-pay you.”
“Nonsense, that you are sitting across from me and having this conversation is payment enough. What are your plans when you get out? I mean, the day is fast approaching – where will you be going? Tuesday, right?”
“Yes, Tuesday.” He couldn’t contain the grin that spread across his face, didn’t even try. He relished in the heat, the glow of happiness that came with it. “I will be staying at a halfway house, not far from here. I’m not ready to take the full leap yet… I’d like to dip my toe in first.”
“Yes, of course. A smart idea, I agree wholeheartedly. A lot has changed in the last five years Fred, it’s a whole new world out there. The good part is, people never do, not as a whole I mean. You’ll do brilliantly. Just take it easy and don’t rush yourself.”
“I’d like to visit if I could. When I am free of course and your schedule permits.”
“I would like that very much,” Dr. Mechnikov said, rising from his chair to shake his hand. “Thank you, Dr. Reichmann – for everything.”
Fred returned to his room. It was too early to pack, yet his suitcase lay open and half-filled with any clothes he felt he wouldn’t wear in the next few days, any items from his room he’d no immediate need for though could not bring himself to toss away.
He sat down on his bed, looked around at the four walls of his tiny room. “My God, has it been five years already?” he asked as if the room itself were another being, another living entity, which in a way it was. Outside of Dr. Mechlekov, this room and his own company had been his salvation. He could not bring himself to sit in the common room and watch mindless television like so many of the other patients. “Loser T.V. as he’d so often referred to it, like Jerry Springer or Judge Judy, candy for the masses so they wouldn’t have to bear the pain of thinking, examining their own lives.
Fred preferred to read, and had gone through more than three hundred books in the time he’d spent here. After all, he reminded himself, you are what you think about all day long.
The thought of saying goodbye crept through his mind once again. But to whom? He didn’t have any friends here, many of the patients either being too far gone to have a rational conversation with or just too nasty to waste the effort on. Having already said his farewells to the staff, he contented himself with picking up the book that lie on the nightstand beside his bed. Made himself comfortable and opened the book where he’d last left off.
So now they were in the robe again together and it was late in the last night. Maria lay close against him and he felt the long smothness of her thighs against his and her breasts like two small hills that rise out of the long plain where there is a well, and the far country beyond the hills was the valley of her throat where his lips were. He lay very quiet and did not think and she stroked his head with her hand.
Hemmingway was always such a lovely way to end the day.