The 5 Stages of Grief

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Chapter 9, Grant

Grant burst into the office, a barrage of attitude and A.D.D., at precisely ten am.

“Get the fuck out, bitch! You’re using up my dollar.”

Holly’s face was pure terror, her eyes as big and round as a cow’s waiting in the slaughter line. Once she recovered enough to close her gaping mouth, she quickly grabbed for her coat and purse and began to rise. Frantically scanning the room with electric eyes for the exit and other possible lunatics crouching in hidden corners, waiting to pounce.

“Sit down Holly, we are not quite finished yet.” She froze mid-stand, uncertain of what she was to do next. Dr. Reichmann continued, unfazed, “Please step back into the waiting area, Grant. The young lady and I are still in session – as you can see. I will come and get you when we are finished.”

“What the fuck?” Grant hit the doorframe, angry, confused at not getting his way, the look of bewilderment infringing like a rash upon his face, the awareness of what he must look like – then overcompensation on his transition to cool in attempt to make sure he looked good in front of the female. Any female. “It’s my time Doc, kick the little pussy to the curb. I won’t stand for being disrespected like this!”

“Nor will I, Grant. Now, please do as I asked, which I asked politely I might add, and step into the waiting area until the young – lady – and I are finished. Now, please!” He knew better than to raise his voice to the young man strutting and posturing in front of him like a peacock in full plume. Grant was the essence of drama. The last thing you wanted to do with a Histrionic Disorder patient was to play into their melodrama, which was all it usually was. If he were perfectly honest with himself, this appalling behavior was expected. Not that he’d calculated such an obnoxious entry, that was unexpected. Though had he thought it through or had his journal to see who the next appointment was, he would have made certain to get Holly out a little sooner. He wouldn’t have risked the possibility of a second meeting between them. Holly was clearly too fragile to be running into the likes of Grant. Not without weeks – hell, who was he fooling, months – of serious and intensive preparation.

Grant was a handful for the so-called normal, let alone the likes of Holly. No, that too was not quite right – they couldn’t handle him either. Even professionals, doctors like himself who specialized in the field, couldn’t handle him for Christ’s sakes.

Last week’s accidental meeting between the two had been traumatizing enough. The effects of it so severe on Holly, he’d kept an extra-close check on her via text messaging with the phone and direct-line he’d given her in case of emergency or felt the need to reach out. He had these systems, these emergency-cords so to speak, set up for most of his patients – the more acute ones anyway. At least the ones who would not abuse his willingness to be on call all hours of the day-and-night. Unlike Grant, who called any time he liked, no matter how many times he changed his number! But he hadn’t heard anything from her so had put the matter out of mind.

He’d made notes on the unfortunate meeting, but they were in his journal, the one he left or at least he hoped he’d left, at home. He usually brought his notes home with him at night. That way, if he ran out of time at the office he could transfer any pertinent information directly into them. There were also many cases where ideas, thoughts would pop into his mind while he was doing other things like watching television. This way, with his journal always ready and at hand, he could put the thought down and not tempt himself through laziness to leave it to memory. Which in his case, often meant tossing the idea or thought away. So, like the many other things on this day gone wrong, they, along with Miss Wilkinson, were not available to remind him of Grant’s appointment time.

A quick look at Holly confirmed what his heart already knew – this was going to be a very busy week, very busy indeed.

“And Grant?” he called out.

Grant was about to shut the door behind him when he poked his head back through the doorway. “Yeah Doc – what can I do ya for?”

“If you ever use that language in my office again – or treat anyone, whether it be a patient of my practice or my own person, with such ill-mannered and blatant disrespecta rectangular coffee table, t o – our relationship, such as it may be, will be over and I will personally see to it that you are never allowed to set foot into this building or these offices again. Am I making myself clear? Do you fully and completely understand what it is I am saying to you? That this is it your last chance, there will be no others.”

Grant’s face transformed to utter surprise. “Me? But, the bitch was—”

“Careful, you are about to burn a bridge you cannot mend. Think before you speak Grant. Or better yet, do not speak at all, go to the men’s room and refresh yourself. After that, take a deep breath then another and slowly count to ten. By the time you return, we will be finished here and my time will be all yours.”

The next moment, though only a few seconds in real-time, dragged on like that movie his wife had made him watch some years back, titled: Seven Years in the Theater, with Brad Pitt. It wasn’t called that of course, it just felt that way. Grants face still blazed with shock and confusion, with a splash of indignant victim thrown in for good measure. Tension radiated from every pore of his body as he fought with himself to keep from speaking, from lashing out, from transferring the blame as it was never his fault.

The silence that followed was thick, smothering you while stretching time. His temper tamed, Grant turned pulling the door shut with the maximum amount of force he believed he could get away with, without so much as a simple word. Providing you were willing to ignore the incoherent splutter he let out on the other side of the door.

He turned to Holly. Studied her carefully paying close attention to her face, her features, her body language, looking for cracks in the foundation, hoping to catch them before they grew, got too big to patch.

When he was certain she had not been permanently damaged from her unfortunate encounter with the life-sucking juggernaut also known as Grant, he spent a few moments comforting her before sending her on her way. In addition, he took the time to review his contact information in case she needed him.

Grant didn’t return for a full fifteen minutes, which was perfectly fine with him. He decided he could use the extra time to calm himself, utilize some soothing relaxation techniques. Not that he needed to. Being a doctor, an expert in his field, these types of encounters were no more than water on a duck’s back. He felt no trepidation in the least over the blow-ups and emotional roller-coaster rides he endured from his patients on a daily basis. This was what he was trained for. It didn’t affect him in the slightest.

Yeah-right! Who am I shittin? If you believe that, I have a couple of houses in New Orleans for sale. Each has a pool in the basement! The door creaked open shaking him out of his reverie. He pulled a deep breath, held it then slowly exhaled, trying to get rid of any lingering anger, frustration. Grant’s head poked through the door sobering him quickly, turning his peaceful smile to a tight-lipped frown.

“What the fuck Doc? Is the bitch gone?” His eyes darted the room in search of Holly.

“Grant, I warned you—”

“Damn she was hot? Can you get me her digits? Hook me up?” It only took the tall, rascally good-looking twenty-three-year-old two strides to make it to the chair and drape himself over it as if the earlier incident had never even happened. Or maybe it had, but in Grant’s mind was too insignificant to expend energy on. “Is she a goer Doc – a nympho or something? I’d love to meet a nympho, I haven’t been laid in like – forever. Could use a juicy piece of—”

“Shut up.” It was the dead calm of his voice that got Grant’s attention. “You do not get to talk that way about, Holly. She is a good and decent girl, living in a horrible situation. Have some respect. Please, Grant – if not for her, at least for yourself.”

“Yeah, yeah – whatever. So what’ll it be this week, Doc? Last week was a fucking downer. I mean really, blah, blah, blah, whine, whine, whine – I thought this was supposed to be about me? I sure as hell don’t come all the way across town to listen to your shit. I mean really Reichmann, I’ve got enough problems of my own without piling yours on top –Jesus!”

Even after all these months, Grant still amazed him. The over-the-top language and rapidly changing emotions – when and if there was any real emotion at all – never ceased to surprise him. His over-dramatization of the simplest every-day events was like watching a cheesy off-Broadway play with each actor attempting to out-do the last, to become the center of attention. Even his manner of dress shouted – look at me! Quite simply, Grant had to be the centre of attention in all things.

Everything he did, every event that happened in his life, every little sniffle, was bigger, badder and more exciting or dangerous than everyone else’s. He was convinced he could come up with just about any name in the city of Baltimore – including government figures, sports stars, singers, actors, even business leaders – and Grant would say he knew them. Or at least knew a guy, who knew a guy, who knew them. If he wasn’t so abrasive and self-centered, he might, in smallish doses, be entertaining.

“—don’t need her anyway.”

“Pardon? I’m sorry Grant, I must have missed that.” It was horrible when he drifted off, but with Grant it couldn’t be helped. The only saving grace was, Grant would never believe you didn’t find what he was saying to be the most significant thing you would ever hear, at least that day, and unconditionally. After all, the subject of conversation was Grant, and he was amazing. Just ask him.”

“I was asking whether or not you got that shit cleared up or what – with the missus I mean? She sounds like a real ball-breaker if you ask me. I say, dump the old-bitch and go and find someone who puts ou—”

“Enough!”

“What? What-I- say? Jesus Doc, you don’t have to get all up-n-yer-panties about it. I was just sayin’. Conversation, you know, like you’re always preachin’ at me.” The look in his eyes was pure victim. How do you stay mad at that?

“A conversation goes both ways, Grant. This is not a conversation, merely a crude monologue. Now, let’s start back at the beginning, shall we? Possibly try to incorporate some manners and thought this time while we’re at it. What do you say? Are you up for it?”

Grant considered this awhile, as if he was deciding whether he’d just been insulted or not, before responding. A smile crept over his face. It always amazed Dr. Reichmann when he witnessed it’s unveiling. This brash, rude, blunt-instrument, with the temperament of a wolverine and the subtlety of a narcissist, had the most startling smile Fred had ever seen. It encompassed his entire face, lightning bolts tasered from his eyes. When he hit someone with that smile, full on, it was as if they’d lost all self-control, inevitably falling under his spell. Before he experienced it for himself, he used to think Grant’s bragging about his prodigious swordsmanship with the ladies was just that, hot air. As it sure as hell wasn’t his manners or language skills that overwhelmed them. Then he’d seen it and immediately believed. It was a powerful weapon and someone had disconnected the safety-catch.

Fred had been working with Grant for about six months, unlike most of his other patients whom he had been seeing for three to four years, some even longer. Grant had appeared out of nowhere – BAM! – just like his personality. Lately, he was never sure when the disruptive lad might pop in with or without an appointment – BAM! – and always when Fred was feeling most stressed or had too much on his plate – BAM! – there was Grant. The funny thing was, six months had passed and he barely knew a thing about him other than the obvious: six-two, lean and hard with longish brown hair that looked to be disheveled but Fred knew that could never be the case, as Grant worshiped his hair and made sure to have each strand in the optimum place for maximum impact. He had alarming blue eyes and a scar on his left cheek that looked painful when he was angry, yet added character and that bad-boy mystery when he turned on his devilish smile. The rest he’d learned from the file he had transferred when he accepted Grant as a new patient as a favor to a colleague and friend. His friend stating that the client showed extreme tendency towards Histrionic Personality Disorder and felt he was not qualified enough in this area to be of the best service. Dr. Walker inquired whether his – Dr. Reichmann’s – background and expertise were not more suitable as proper treatment for the patient was desperately needed if he was to stand any chance of leading a semi-normal life.

Of course, being the concerned professional he was – not to mention the obvious stroking of his ego – he took Grant on as his patient. He made another mental note, at least his tenth, to make sure he returned the favor to his dear friend, Dr. Walker.

Walker had been right on at least one thing though – this kid could be something if Fred could find a way in, get Grant to think of someone other than himself.

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