Books written by Ray Sullivan

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Parallel Lives Chapter 6

While Jack had been feeding John’s cat, John had been in deep conversation with Dr Sam Jackson, resident psychiatrist with the local hospital trust. Sam had spent almost four hours in total talking to the dishevelled man sat in his office. Flicking through the copious notes made on yellow foolscap paper, Sam decided to call it a day with the man.
‘Well Mr Staples – John – I think we have spent far too much time on this session, but I have to admit I found the whole, er, discussion fascinating. I would like to propose that we meet again later in the week to try and explore your claims in more depth.’
‘You think I’m mad, don’t you?’ said John with obvious disappointment in his voice. He had thought that this man had believed him, and had been prepared to continue all night if necessary. Sam sat up, shocked.
‘Good God, not at all. I think you deserve to have some tests performed, some detailed analysis, but I don’t think you are mad in either a clinical or contemporary meaning of the word. But I realise that you have had a pretty long day, and the mix up last night can’t have helped. I believe a decent night’s sleep will do you the world of good, and will help you with our next session. I will prescribe a mild sedative to help you sleep.’ With that Sam started to type John’s prescription, which was for a sedative substantially stronger than conventionally considered ‘mild’, and as he did so he continued his speech. ‘In fact I think I may be able to put you in touch with a person who understands your particular problem, an ex-colleague of mine from way back. If you make an appointment for, say Thursday or Friday, then I should have been able to make contact with him by then, and at least have found out the best way to proceed.’
John sat dazed following this statement, not expecting such unconditional support. For years he had toyed with the idea of trying to explain his problem, but had realised that most normal people would regard him as a lunatic or a crank. They certainly wouldn’t believe him without doubt; even Mr Howells had been openly sceptical yesterday, and he had been John’s first choice for some time. At least Jack Howells hadn’t laughed at John, a characteristic entirely in keeping which was probably why John had considered talking to him before the accident, but he hadn’t believed him either, that much was obvious. John had opened up because of the shock of the accident and had found the experience positively cathartic, which had made today’s session so much easier than he could have imagined. He became aware that Dr Jackson was still speaking.
‘You can pick your prescription up at the pharmacy, just down this nearest corridor. Read the instructions on the label and don’t, I repeat, don’t attempt to drink alcohol or drive after taking one of these tablets. You don’t need to stay here tonight, despite what you’ve been told, that would be overkill.
‘My receptionist will fix you up with that next appointment. I’ll sign you off work for a week as well, we’ll call it nervous stress if you’ve no objections. Can you afford sick leave?’ John nodded, stood up and turned for the consulting room door. Just as he was about to open the door Sam called him back. ‘Just one more thing. You say you have written all of this down in a notebook?’ John nodded.
‘Yes. It’s at home.’
‘I don’t suppose you could bring it with you, at the next session?’ Sam smiled disarmingly, seeing the doubt cross John’s face.
‘Yes, I suppose I could, but it won’t contain anything I haven’t told you this afternoon. Not substantially, anyway.’
‘I realise that Mr Staples, you’ve been extra-ordinarily detailed today. It’s really professional curiosity. When anybody writes an account of events, and I mean anybody – you, me, anyone in this hospital or outside for that matter – we tend to recall different things compared to when we tell someone verbally. There are various reasons for this, one being the fact that long explanations are easier spoken than written. On the other hand, a written account tends to be more accurate about those items reported, possibly because the extra effort warrants greater consideration. It doesn’t change what you’ve said, or what it means, but there are technical points of interest I have in your notebook. You’ll get it back, I’ll probably have it photocopied during our session, if you’re agreeable.’ John watched Sam’s eyes throughout, and saw nothing but steady, careful returns, an unwavering stare that reassured and reinforced John’s need to trust this man.
‘I’ll bring it,’ John said, turning once more for the door.
As the door closed Sam spoke to his receptionist, informing her that she was to fit Mr Staples in on Thursday or Friday, even if it meant cancelling other appointments. She was to allow at least three hours. He also asked her to contact a Dr Michael Watson for him.
‘Is he part of this hospital?’ she asked, not recognising the name.
‘No, he works for one of the Government laboratories, in Hampshire.’
‘A doctor?’ she asked, not really caring, just conversing while she wrote the details Sam was passing to her.
‘Hmm, yes. Of theoretical physics.’ Sam said, before putting the phone down. It had been a long time since he had had a need to speak with Michael, and he assumed that the project that had consumed both men several years earlier was still in operation. If it wasn’t, he suspected it would soon be.


Copyright Ray Sullivan 2011

The characters, places and events described in this novel are fictitious and any resemblance to persons, places or events, past or present, is coincidence.  All rights reserved

Parallel Lives is published in paperback and as an eBook

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