A crystal globe, the size of a plum, adorned the heavyset desk in a musty, den-like room, full of books, some dog-eared, some yellowed from never have being opened. An intimidating couch lay perpendicular to the desk, where many a tales were told. The venerable doctor, adjusted his bespectacled frame and asked once again, “So what did you do afterwards?”
Was that for the couch to tell? Or was that for the doctor to assume? It replied, in between sobs, “I lay the bottle aside.” The doctor gasped at this prospect. He was so enthralled with the tale the couch had told so far that he half-expected the bottle to have been emptied. Shaken from his reverie, he further enquired, “And why did you do that?” The couch had no answer. Except big, fat rolling tears. The doctor assumed it was from the shock of coming so close to wielding the powers of the bottle. He contemplated if he should perhaps use a different approach. He steered clear of the oracular subject and very deliberately asked, “Did you regret it?”. The couch sat up, wiped away the tears with the shirt-sleeve and said, “Not one moment, not at all.” Perplexed, the doctor asked, “So, what do we do now?” The couch said, “I was hoping you could tell me.”
Exasperated, the doctor opened his notebook and began reading his notes out loud. Cringing as the words came out, the patient in question closed his eyes and saw the mist, the lake on the side of the road, the absence of people except in cars, the rain, the little cottage, the branches under which he stood. the pair of hands he had held. As the spiel continued, he, the patient, recounted how he had kissed those hands and then, almost out of romance, torn open the thorax and revealed a bloody, beating heart. Horrified at the recollection, he asked the doctor to stop. He woefully said, “I know I should regret it, but I do not. Cure me!” The doctor ran his dexterous fingers through the few strands of greying hair on his head and said, “Time, my dear, time!” He let him sob and sob some more. He did not offer a glass of water, nor coffee, nor a tissue to wipe away his tears. He let him cry.
After some time had passed, the doctor very simply asked, “Does that feel better, son?” He received a slow nod in answer. Not knowing what to do or say next, the doctor waited patiently. The silence in the room was comfortable. Comfortable enough to be lured into the magical world of dreams. The patient on the couch, now well-rested and reassured of the doctor’s prowess, recounted the tale, albeit with a shiver running down his spine. He recalled the many good-byes, the many nights, the many drives, the many telephone calls, the many promises, the many glasses of vodka, the many laughs, the many dreams. He laughed at his musings. He said with a satisfied smile on his face at last, “You know, I came so close, but I did not do it.” The doctor agreed. He realised that even if he was dissimulating the encounter, there was a speck of sincerity that he believed was pardonable. He signed the release forms and let him go.
Daunted at the prospect of letting loose a maniac, the doctor suddenly opened his eyes, much like a body being exhumed from rest. He looked around and inspected the room, the chair, the empty couch, the books, the notes. He heaved a sigh of relief. The rain thudded against the windows. The almost empty bottle of whiskey lay open, the smell mingling with the mustiness of the room. He wiped away his own tears, smiled pensively and gazed at the sombre tears from the skies.