Dr. Susan Feldman was a professional, and as such did not betray any sign of weakness. She sat behind her desk, arranging her papers, and ignoring her two patients.
“Hey, doc, we’re over here,” came a voice.
She had a button beneath her desk to depress and immediately two armed guards would burst through the door to assist her. No, she didn’t answer the man because that would give him the upper hand. His hands and feet were chained, with a loop going around his wait connecting them. His name was Rowe, Simon Rowe and he was on trial for potentially stealing a diamond ring.
She would answer him in her own sweet time.
“Yoo hoo,” came Simon’s rough voice.
“Can’t you see she’s busy?” came another female voice.
This was an odd one, too. Her name was Adele Spears, and she was, in the eyes of the press, the heroine who was responsible for Simon’s capture. Quite an impressive feat actually, for a totally unimpressive heroine.
Adele was a drab woman with mousy brown hair, an almost rectangular face, she was slightly overweight, and only five foot three inches, compared to Simon’s impressive six-foot four inch frame. Simon also had a shaved head with various disgusting tattoos on it such as a cat eating a canary, which Dr. Feldman found quite distasteful.
She looked up at them.
“You might be wondering why you have been called to this meeting, but the court wanted to understand further your motives, Mr. Rowe for this most egregious heist.”
“I ain’t got nothing to say,” said Simon.
“He never has anything to say,” said Adele.
“Watch your mouth,” shot back Simon.
“Make me,” said Adele.
“If I could get these handcuffs off for five minutes—”
“Yeah,” said Adele, “that didn’t work out so well for you last time.”
“You sucker punched me—”
“Please quiet, both of you,” said Dr. Feldman. “Our aim her is to discover your motive behind the diamond heist, nothing more. Now, Simon if you could just answer the question, we can be on our way.”
“Why am I here?” demanded Adele, leaning over her desk. “I demand to know why I have to be here at all.”
Dr. Feldman pushed her glasses higher up on her nose, and said quite primly, “You are here at the request of Mr. Simon Rowe.”
“Oh?” said Adele.
“Yeah, I wanted you here to hear my non-confession.”
“That’s just horse manure,” said Adele.
“I’m blaming you.”
“What? Do I really need to be here for this?”
Dr. Feldman sat erect behind her desk. Slouching would be a sign of weakness. She took off her glasses and pushed back an errant strand of hair, and then replaced them.
“Yes,” she said, “the court has so ordered it.”
“As I was saying,” said Simon, “I’m innocent.”
“Hah,” said Adele.
“You don’t even remember me, do you?”
“No. Why, should I?”
“We’re deviating from the topic,” said Dr. Feldman.
These two people were particularly difficult to keep on track, she thought.
Simon ignored her.
“Yeah, we grew up on the same street,” he said.
“That’s a load of manure,” said Adele. “Besides, what has that got to do with anything?”
“It has everything to do with everything. It proves I am innocent.”
“How does it prove your innocence?” interjected Dr. Feldman.
She felt the beginnings of migraine coming on.
“She bullied me as a child,” said Simon.
Before Adele could respond, Dr. Feldman gave a disbelieving “What?”
“Yeah, that’s right. She punched me in the face when I tried to give her flowers.”
“What?” exclaimed Adele. “I did not. That’s absolutely not true!”
“Stop it, you two,” said Dr. Feldman.
“Well, she did,” said Simon.
Dr. Feldman couldn’t understand how this big, strapping man could be so hung up on his past in general, and this tiny, average looking woman in particular. It really defied imagination. Unless Simon was going for an insanity plea… she decided to explore that.
“Explain more of you mean, Simon,” she said.
“Well, she punched me in the nose when I tried to give her flowers when we were kids—”
“I did not,” said Adele.
“And she humiliated me in front of the whole neighborhood.”
“I did not…”
But this time, Adele drifted off, remembering her past. Was it really possible that this jerk face was right? Nah, he wasn’t. But she did remember punching a boy in the nose when she was young. It was all coming back to her now. She was minding her own business, when this guy came up behind her and startled her. Whirling around, she did punch him in the nose. Served him right, though, for scaring her like that.
“Wait a minute,” said Adele. “You were that snot-nosed kid that scared me?”
“How could I know you’d react that way?”
Simon’s chains jangled as he turned to confront her with this last. His face twisted into a hurt look.
Could this big man really have been hurt by this little woman? thought Dr. Feldman.
“Well, what did you expect?” shot back Adele.
“I didn’t expect you to punch me!”
Dr. Feldman’s head started to throb. Her office was lit by fluorescent lighting, which if she remembered correctly, was worse for migraines, or was it incandescent lighting? She didn’t really know, and it was too late to do anything about it.
“Let’s get back to the robbery, if we can,” she said. “Several of the jurors are not convinced you’re guilty of this crime, and several are convinced you are guilty of this crime. Your explanation will perhaps sway them in your favor or not.”
They both shut up at that. A lot was riding on this. Adele was still remembering the time she punched him in the face. Was that a guilty look on her face?
“Yeah, well, I’m sorry I punched you in the nose and embarrassed you in front of your friends way back then. There, I said it. I’m sorry, okay. Jeeze you’d think you’d forget it after all those years.”
“Well, I didn’t.”
“So, what?” said Adele.
Simon turned his head (his chains made a jangling sound) to face Dr. Feldman.
“You see what I had to put up with as a child? Do you know what it’s like to be embarrassed in front of all your friends?”
Dr. Feldman tried her best to compose herself. These two bickering was giving her a full-blown migraine. In fact, her headache resonated at a 5.6 on the Richter scale.
“Simon,” she gritted her teeth, “Mr. Rowe, what does your childhood trauma have to do with the apparent robbery.”
“Yeah,” said Adele.
Dr. Feldman almost said, “Shut up,” but at the last minute bit her tongue.
“Well,” said Simon, “I walked into that jewelry stored with the best of intentions. I asked the clerk to show me a diamond ring—this person—(here he jerked his thumb at Adele)—and she immediately got suspicious of me because of how I looked.”
“Well, you do look… suspicious,” said Dr. Feldman. “After all you’re a big man with tattoos all over.”
“Yeah,” said Adele.
“But I came into there with pure motives.”
“I bet,” said Adele.
“I was picking out a ring for the woman I wanted to marry.”
“I bet,” said Adele, again.
“And then, I dropped the ring she was showing me, and I bent over to scoop it up, and when I got up, she punched me in the nose again. Just like when we were kids.”
“Yeah, but you were going to steal it.”
“I was not.”
“You were, too.”
“I was not!”
“You were, too!”
“Stop it,” screamed Dr. Feldman.
“Well, after all these years being apart, I was going to ask her, you know maybe if she would…”
“Let’s back on topic, please,” said Dr. Feldman, who by then was dealing with a headache of magnitude 6.7 on the Richter scale.
“But this is on topic,” declared Simon. “I was going to ask her to marry me, but when I dropped the ring and scooped it up, she thought I was stealing it, and punched me in the nose to stop me.”
“That must have been embarrassing,” said Dr. Feldman, but in a low voice so as not to hurt her head.
“Exactly! Just like when we were kids!”
“Was not,” said Adele.
“Was, too!” maintained Simon.
“Wait, did you say you were going to propose to me?” said Adele.
“Please, let’s stay on topic,” said Dr. Feldman holding her hands to her forehead to quell the pain.
“Shut up,” said Adele.
“Yes, I was going to ask you to marry me. Ever since we were kids I’ve been, you know, in love with you… and well, yes, I was going to ask you to marry me, even though—”
Dr. Feldman had enough. Forgetting all evidence of professionalism, she strode around the desk, and shouted, “I’ve had enough of you two!”
At which point, Adele had enough, too, and stood up and punched her in the nose. Dr. Feldman reacted by falling on the floor, knocked out. Simon stared at her in shock, then turned his gaze back to Adele, and said, “I love you. I always have, since childhood, although you didn’t even remember me.”
At which point, Adele softened, smiled, wound up her arm and socked Simon in the nose.
“Why did you do that?” said a hurt Simon, with his hands over his nose. “That really hurt.”
“I felt like it,” she said, smiling.
Moral: You can’t solve everything with a good sock in the nose, but sometimes, it just feels right.
The next morning a new doctor came in. At least, he said he was a doctor, but he wasn’t wearing a white gown.
“Hello. I’m Dr. Froid. Not the one you expect. My name is French. “Froid” means ‘cold.’ So if you’re more comfortable with that, you can call me Dr. Cold.”
I shake my head. I don’t want a cold doctor. I want someone who is warm and caring.
I can’t see the cop’s reaction until the cold doctor opens the curtain between us.
“How about Dr. F?” asks the cop. “That sounds better to me. Or just plain ‘Doc’?”
The doctor stiffens, so I guess I’ll just call him Doctor.
“So how are we doing?” the cop asks.
“Oh, I’m not a medical doctor. I’m a psychiatrist. I often check in on patients who have been involved in a serious accident.”
“If we had only fallen one floor, would that still have been a serious accident?” I think the cop sounds sarcastic. He wasn’t that way in the elevator or yesterday. His head injury must be getting to him.
The doctor ignores his question. “First, tell me what you are feeling.” He looks at me.
“Pain?” I respond. “I have a broken leg, a broken arm, and cracked ribs.”
“Well, that makes sense.” He sits down on the end of my bed, putting weight on my cast. “But I mean emotionally. You’ve just experienced a traumatic incident. You might have a concussion, but that’s a medical condition. I’m more worried about PTSD.”
“Well, I haven’t been in a war, so I think I’m OK that way.”
“Are you having flashbacks? Nightmares? Anxiety?”
I don’t respond to him, but I am certainly feeling anxious about the contents of my backpack and being in the same room as the cop.
“No flashbacks. No nightmares. I think the pain pills are taking care of that.”
The doctor stands and turns to the cop.
“How about you? Any flashbacks? Nightmares? Anxiety?”
The cop shrugs. “I’ve been through worse falling off my bike.” He hesitates. “Well, no, I only broke one leg when my bike went off the bridge.” He grins. “But I didn’t have any nightmares after that, either. I just didn’t cross that bridge again.”
“Ah, avoiding the scene of the accident. Have you talked to anyone about it?”
“Well, I just told you. Does that count?”
The doctor shook his head. “Tell me about the event. What happened?”
The cop sighs. “Technically, it wasn’t an accident. A car came at me, and I swerved to keep from being hit. On the street, that would have been fine, but this was on a bridge with no railing.”
The doctor raises his eyebrows. “No railing? How could that be?”
“Because the day before, a car went off there and took out the railing. It was snowing, and the car hit an ice patch.”
I see his lips turn up as he continues, “The wrecker had not yet removed the car, and I landed on the hood. Otherwise, I would probably have drowned.”
The doctor asks us both more questions. I was evasive, and the cop seemed to not be cooperative. He wasn’t taking this seriously.
After the doctor left, I asked the cop, “Was that for real? Did you really fall off a bridge and land on the hood of a car?”
He laughed. “Doesn’t that sound like something that would happen to someone who was in an elevator when it fell?”
I had to admit that it did. “What do you suppose he will write up about us?”
The cop’s voice was soft when he answered. “That you’re hiding something and I’m a smart aleck.”