Patient Record

Lying won’t help me find the answer to my problem. I’m an honest person by nature. There’s a cheap ballpoint pen chained to the clipboard, and I use it to print my answers on the questionnaire. Name: Sylvia Taylor. Height: 5 feet 7 inches. Weight: 134 lbs. Age: 32. Hair color: Red. And by golly, it doesn’t come from a bottle.

The next question: “Reason for visit?” That makes me giggle even though it’s not funny; I’m scared shitless of everything. The reason I’m here is that I’m living in a constant state of jitters. When I drive to my assignments, sit in a restaurant, or visit my off-site storage locker—I’m nervous as hell. Even when I lock myself in a restroom stall, I get spooked. That’s it, I’ve had enough of this shit. I need a doctor to tell me what’s wrong.

I’m a little early for my appointment. Doctor Ronald Higbee is a psychiatrist, highly recommended by my OB/Gyn. I already paid $500 cash for what his people refer to as my “initial review” and five follow-ups.

The guy at the cashier’s window assures me that my insurance will cover my office visits. My co-payments are locked in at $100 per visit.

A paneled mahogany door to the right of the reception counter opens at 9:00 a.m. A man about six feet tall, with salt-and-pepper hair and sky-blue eyes, flashes a pearly set of choppers at me. He wears a dark blazer and light gray slacks.

“Miss Taylor? Hello, I’m Doctor Higbee. Please call me Ron…and c’mon back, please.”

He steps to one side, and I pass through the doorway into a room with two large windows overlooking the city. The view from the 27th floor is breathtaking.

He gestures toward a pair of taupe-colored wing chairs and motions me to the one nearest the window. “Please, make yourself comfortable.”

His chair is to the right of mine and a little behind it. I can see his face only when I lean forward and turn my head. I’m thinking he arranged the furniture this way on purpose.

It smells good in here, and I wonder if that’s him—his aftershave.

The bouncy carpet muffles sounds. When we speak, it’s like we’re whispering—so quiet in here. I almost wonder if he’s still in the room with me, and I lean forward to check.

He is.

The Concern

“Now, Miss Taylor, tell me why we’re meeting this morning.”

“Well, doctor, err…Ron, I dream the same dream every single night of the week. From the minute I fall asleep to the second I wake up…it’s always the same thing. It repeats and repeats and never lets up. I’ve become a wound-up ball of jitters—even while I’m at work.”

The doctor leans back and takes a small leather-bound notebook from his inside jacket pocket. He clicks the top of a silver pen.

“Please tell me all about your dream, Sylvia. Describe everything.”

I glance out the window, and the green tops of distant trees look like cutout pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. The window drapes are the color of deer-skin, and I resist the urge to walk over and pinch the velour between my thumb and index finger. My wing chair is comfortable, too. When I snuggle back and melt into the chair’s warm embrace, I feel wonderful. Almost aroused.

“Okay, doc, you asked for it.

“The minute I drop off to sleep, I find myself on a stage…preparing to give a talk on global warming. Now, I’m a journalist, not a scientist. So it’s not really my thing. But anyway, there I am. I stand behind a lectern and wait as the audience files into the auditorium. I’m all nerves and jittery, and I get edgier while I wait for everyone to get seated…I begin to shiver. You see, my clothes are gone and I’m standing there, bare-assed. No blouse, no shoes, nothing other than my red hair. And now everyone knows that my hair color is natural.”

The doctor looks up from his notepad and back down again. I can only imagine what he’s writing in his little book. …

I hope you enjoyed the first part of my story, if you’d like to learn more, click on the book:



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