Books written by Ray Sullivan

Monday, 5 November 2012

Parallel Lives Chapter 14

Sam had woken up with excitement in his stomach, a sense of purpose he had missed for a number of years. He still enjoyed the challenge of clinical psychiatry as much as ever, but he had been so enveloped in his secret world that it had left a huge gap in his life.
When John Staples had been referred to him on Tuesday he had been irritated; it had been an ideal opportunity to catch up on the ever mounting tidal wave of bureaucratic nonsense crashing repeatedly upon the rough rocks that remained of the NHS. He had always prided himself on his thoroughness and rarely allowed the paperwork to accumulate; however, much of the present pile’s purpose was only there to demonstrate how well, or badly, the department ran. It would, along with several other man-years’ worth of administration, serve to allow number-crunchers and management-suits the scope to produce charts and tables largely unread and understood by no-one. What they wouldn’t achieve, Sam was convinced, was a better health service, merely a more substantially documented one.
Sam had intended to give this man a few minutes of his afternoon, ascertain that he was in need of a rest and a few cups of tea, and then send him on his way. Initially this seemed to be the case, however it was something that John had said, a phrase that rang back to Sam’s days working on the project with Michael. It had been said in a different context at the time, but had struck Sam way back then when they believed they had identified their first and, as far as Sam knew, only level-three candidate. As Sam lay back in his bed, half listening to the drone of the radio and edging himself towards starting his morning ablutions, he remembered the moment he stopped nodding and started listening. It was as John’s eyes had welled up for the second time.
‘In one life I will know everything about you, in another we will not meet, but in this life I will have to feel my way forward until I can work out which parts of my memory about you I can trust.’ John had, in his barely articulate manner, managed to convey the sentiments that she had put across so eloquently back then, her trust and feelings laid bare before him. Although he had been flattered that she had chosen to feel that way about him, he had not reciprocated her emotions. He had tried, though, to prevent some of her trauma. The techniques used had been experimental and some of the drugs used to probe her mind almost unknown chemicals back then. Many had subsequently come through official, conventional clinical trials in recent years, with their properties being well documented, and Sam was sure that they could now be administered at little risk to the patient with this new knowledge.
Rolling out of bed he shivered his way through to the cool bathroom, sweeping a dressing gown up from the largely ornamental bedroom chair as he passed. As his mouth foamed with toothpaste he paused to consider again; a train crash the previous night had killed thirty two people, including a noted playwright and a leading Civil Servant, a radio announcer had stated in the adjacent bedroom. Any doubt about what he had started on Tuesday was dispelled with the knowledge that he could reduce the amount of tragedy in this world. As he scrubbed his left lower molars he could feel the old arguments, the quandaries and the paradoxes rearing up in his mind, intruding like near but not dear relatives at a family funeral. Raking his gums violently, enough to cause speckles of blood to rest on his lower lip, he fought the thoughts with the old weapons, the logic and the righteousness, the need to accept the pragmatic compromise for the greater good. Spitting pink froth into the sink, Sam returned the toothbrush into it’s colour co-ordinated holder, to stand guard protecting his enamel for another day. He was right, and he was looking forward to meeting Mr Staples again today.


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

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