The incessant beeping of my alarm clock woke me. I flung out a hand and hit the stop button. The clock showed 9.00 am. Yawning deeply, I swung myself out of the bed. I went the en-suite bathroom, looked at myself in the mirror. A brown haired, sharp featured face stared back at me, early morning grizzle evident. Not bad for a thirty three year old.
After shaving, washing and dressing, I made my way downstairs to the kitchen. My beautiful wife Jane was already there, preparing bacon and eggs for breakfast. Her black hair was tied up in a bun. Her slim figure looked amazing to me, even at this hour.
I sat at the table and she served me up a large helping. She sat down opposite me with a piece of toast in her hand.
“What time is your first appointment at today John?” she asked.
“Eleven”. I had a private practice as a shrink which I ran in an office at the back of my home. I tried to keep my work life separate from my home life. That was part of the reason I had retired as a cop and taken up private practice. The other reason was that I just couldn’t take it anymore. The cases were getting worse and worse. Being a homicide detective was tough work.
“How many are there today?” she asked.
“Just three, each for an hour. Then I have the rest of the day to myself”.
“To us babe, not just you” she said with a smile. I loved her smile; it added even more beauty to her already beautiful face.
I finished my food and got up from the table to put the plate in the dishwasher. Then I kissed Jane and went outside.
Our dog, Spike, jumped up on me and I rubbed his fur vigorously. We went for a walk then, strolled up the street. We headed for the park where Spike could run wild. As we rounded the corner, two police cars shot past, sirens blaring. I had the thought that this time last year, that would have been me.
My first client that morning was a woman called Catherine Watson. She entered my office and I told her to take a seat on the couch. I pulled her file up on the computer in front of me. This was her fourth time seeing me. She was in for counselling after the death of her husband and young daughter. They had both been killed in a multi car pile-up two months back.
She had been severely traumatised after the incident and had been referred to me. It was up to me to help her get over their deaths and get back to a normal life.
“So how has the past week been for you Catherine?” I asked her as I moved to sit opposite her.
“It’s been a little easier... but I still can’t get them out of my mind. The image of their bodies just lying there dead in the hospital morgue still haunts my dreams”.
“That’s only natural. You suffered an extremely tragic loss, one no one should have to suffer. But you need to try and block those images from your mind. You will never truly forget you husband or daughter, but you can at least block out the horrifying images of their dead bodies. Tell me more about your week. What did you do?”
She proceeded to tell me of the various happenings from her week. She had managed to get out of the house more. She had even managed to visit the site of the crash; a huge thing for her. We were making progress.
Her friends and family had continued to be extremely supportive she told me, calling in to check on her and keep her company.
When her hour was nearly up I stopped her.
“Okay Catherine. You have made excellent progress this week. You even managed to visit the crash site. I am very impressed and proud of you. At this rate, your counselling will be considerably shortened. Now over the next week I want you to keep getting out of the house. I would also like you to talk to your employer about going back to work. It will do you good, believe me”.
I pulled a pamphlet from my desk and gave it to her.
“This contains information on techniques for blocking out those images we spoke of. I would like you to read it and try them out. I will check on your progress next session and if they don’t work, I will try hypnotising you so you forget those images”.
I stood and so did she. We shook hands and she pulled me into a hug.
“Thank you so much for all your help Dr. Jordan. I don’t know what I would have done without it. I might not be here, let’s put it that way”.
“It’s a pleasure to be of help Catherine”. She smiled and went to start the next week of her recuperation.
My next appointment was with a man called Chris Byrnes. He was a recovering alcoholic and had done some time in prison for assault. I had the task of getting his life back on track. He had to be proven sane and sober before he could go back to work.
He spent his hour with me talking about how the alcohol had ruined his life. He was a new patient so I was going straight to the root of the problem. At the end of the hour I had a lot of info on his current situation, as well as his past.
He left and I moved back to my desk to check my next appointment. It was a woman named Karen Williams. She had suffered a traumatic experience where she had become trapped in her own house and had thought she had smelled smoke. She could not get out as she had always kept the doors tightly shut and locked. She had suffered a nervous breakdown. I was helping her to recuperate and get her life back to normal. Over the course of her treatment, she had divulged a lot to me about how the experience had affected her. This was going to be her last session.
I looked at the clock on the wall and it read 2.10. She was late, unusual for her. She was normally early. I was slightly concerned. Was she regressing, going backwards. I paced the small office and when I next looked at the clock, it read 2.22. I was now very worried. Had she simply forgotten, or was it something worse.
The phone on my desk rang and gave me a fright. I went to pick it up and wondered if I was about to get an explanation. I did... and it chilled me to the bone.