"So, Mr Drews, I hear
you're tired of pretending you're sick."
"I'm not pretending anything of the sort!" Simon Drews snorted, his sunken checks flaming in indignation.
The attractive psychiatrist's momentary glass-green eye stare seemed to pierce his soul.
"You're not?" Her rhetorical question held mock surprise; her fine, dark brows rising in doubt. She leaned back in her leather chair, folding her hands to press into a steeple in front of her red lips.
"I daresay you're very presumptuous for someone who says they can help me. Are you even a real doctor?"
"That's what the paper says hanging outside in the hallway. The one that reads 'Doctor of Neuropsychiatry'. Would you like to see it?"
Simon bristled at her patronising smile and snorted again. Attractive or not, he was beginning to doubt whether he should waste another minute of his precious little time with this beautiful, but cynical woman. "Did you receive my medical records?"
She flipped open the folder lying on her desk and held up Simon's records. "These ones? Yes, I did," she answered with a congenial smile, "I even read them."
Simon clenched his teeth at her patronising remark. "Then how could you possibly think I'm pretending anything? Do I look like a hypochondriac?"
Saying nothing, she leaned closer to peer at him. As lovely as her smile was, it tried his patience. How dare she! As if peering at him like that would make this horrid illness go away. What a preposterous thought! He was seriously ill. Simon fidgeted in his leather chair. Pretty or not, he didn't take kindly to some foreign woman telling him all his months of suffering were nothing but a figment of his imagination.
"If it's all the same to you, I'll like to see the healer now." He swallowed hard, trying to compose his nerves.
"Are you sure?"
Simon gasped. "I don't know I'm bothering to talk to you anyway. I came here to see the healer. Is there any reason why I'm even bothering to talk to you?"
"Yes," she continued to peer at him.
Simon waited a beat for her explanation, but she didn't offer one. This woman was being impossible, and Simon didn't know what to make of her. He fidgeted again. She was in attractive in a way that made him feel self-conscious.
Oh, I do wish she'd get on with it, he thought irritably. He hadn't felt this self-conscious in a doctor's office since the time he'd screwed up his courage to ask his attractive dentist to go out with him. Is she flirting with me or just mucking about? he wondered in irritation.
He cleared his throat. "Look, I don't know how you do things in your country, but I'm a very sick man. My doctor thinks I've only got six months at the very most."
She quirked a half-smile. "Yes, that's what it says in your records."
"Aren't you going to do anything?" he demanded, desperate to put an end to the rude was she was staring at him.
"What makes you believe I'm not doing something right now?"
He gasped again. "Is this what this is all about? Pardon me, but I don't need therapy. I've already tried it, along with every kind of medication there is. I've had group sessions, diets, formulas from the chemist, massage… I even went to a Reiki healer. You're my last hope. I'm down to your healer or the undertaker. Now, are you going to let me see her or not?" Simon blustered, his voice growing louder as he ticked off the failed remedies on his fingers.
The slender woman lowered her long lashes. "I understand, Mr Drews. You are tired of pretending you're ill."
Her accent slipped into German again, mispronouncing his name 'Draves' instead of 'Drews'. Otherwise her English so well-spoken Simon might have taken her for an Australian or an American.
His eyes narrowed in poorly-concealed outrage, the corners his mouth pulling tight. "I'm not pretending! I'm a sick man!"
She observed his outburst with the passiveness of someone waiting for a traffic signal to change, offering him neither explanation nor any words of consolation.
He groaned in resignation, giving up. "Oh, what's the point?" he wailed, "My mistake. I shouldn't have come here in the first place. It's just that I thought… "
"What did you think?" Her green eyes growing brighter .
Simon shifted in his chair, sighing. "I'm a dying man, Dr Neumann. I came to see your healer, because... well, at this point I haven't got anything left to lose." He sighed again, fighting back the tears, feeling that familiar agonizing ache in his belly again. Unconsciously he pushed his hand against the pain. "I've got two little girls at home and no wife. Please, I don't want them growing up as orphans. I need to see your healer. I'll do anything. Get down on my knees and beg if I have to."
"So," her smile seemed more an ironic smirk, mocking him again, "You do believe she can help you give up the notion that you're ill?"
Simon felt like screaming at her, but bit his tongue, pulling his palm to his face. "Why in God's name would I pretend any of this? I mean… look at this place... why would anyone in their right mind come all the way out here..."
"In the middle of nowhere?" she prompted, the smirk widening to a white-toothed grin.
"To be honest? Yes! And pay a bloody fortune to see some healer no one's ever heard of? Why would they do that if they were pretending?"
She gave a quiet chuckle before she penned some notes in German in his file.
"You'd be surprised at what some people do, Mr Drews."
He scowled. "Are you trying to talk me out of this madness?"
"I don't believe I can, Mr Drews. That's what Regina does. Helps people find an end to their madness."
She finished jotting and looked up, those green eyes now radiating warmth and reassurance. A confident smile touched her lips. "Tomorrow evening eight o'clock, Mr Drews. Tomorrow evening Regina will put an end your madness."