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Too Long Among the Dead

Too Long Among the Dead

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Too Long Among the Dead

Lunghezza:
190 pagine
2 ore
Pubblicato:
Apr 27, 2014
ISBN:
9781611525946
Formato:
Libro

Descrizione

Psychiatrist Haleigh Hugo thinks he’s found the perfect setting for his experimental treatment plan -- an isolated home in the middle of a small lake in the high Sierras. Dr. Hugo’s office mate and life partner, Guy Sanford, is unconvinced that the benefits of the treatment plan outweigh the risks, but soon gives in to the charm and boundless enthusiasm of his lover.

Dr. Hugo’s subjects are six female patients who have failed to make what he considers significant progress in one-to-one therapy. They all share something in common: grief over the loss of a loved one, a psychological barrier that prevents them from moving on. Hilary Colbert lost her life partner to a serious illness; Jennie Travers no longer trusts her unfaithful husband; Meeda O’Connell’s infant son died in his crib; Vera Field wakes from a coma to learn her father has committed a senseless crime: Sarah/April Preston no longer knows who she is and suffers from a loss of identity; and Emily West has psychic abilities yet longs for a normal human existence.

The six patients, overseen by Dr. Hugo and Dr. Sanford, descend on Devonshire, a simple mountain home on the lake for a weekend of intense therapy. Yet within the walls of the home lies a terrible and painful secret that haunts anyone who comes near.
Pubblicato:
Apr 27, 2014
ISBN:
9781611525946
Formato:
Libro

Informazioni sull'autore

Paul Alan Fahey, author of the writer’s resource, The Short and Long of It, and the Lovers and Liars gay wartime romance series, is also edited the 2013 Rainbow Award-winning nonfiction anthology, The Other Man: 21 Writers Speak Candidly About Sex, Love, Infidelity, & Moving On. For more information, visit paulalanfahey.com.

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Anteprima del libro

Too Long Among the Dead - Paul Alan Fahey

Endings

Part 1: Doctors and Patients: What They Talk About

Chapter 1: Dr. Haleigh Hugo

Wednesday Morning

You’re insane. I won’t listen to a moment more of this drivel. Mrs. Roosevelt jumped up and headed for the door.

Outside at her desk, Ms. Katherine Lansing looked up from her typing. Not a good session?

The man’s nuts.

Totally, Ms. Lansing said. I do understand, dear.

I’m not your dear.

Ms. Lansing frowned. But you still have twenty minutes on the clock. Why not go back in? You’re allowed a full fifty minutes every session.

The man’s a phony. Behind all his fancy leather chairs, cherry wood desk, and framed diplomas, he’s…well. She waved her arms around. He’s just full of hooey. Can you imagine what goes on in that man’s head? I certainly can’t.

His head. Yes, that would be a problem. Sometimes I just go with the flow. It’s all right, I’m sure. We will see you again on— She glanced down and flipped a page in the doctor’s appointment book. Looks like he’s got you scheduled for Tuesday next. We’ve had to move a few patients around to get everyone seen before the…um…event coming up, but we’ll fit you in. Would you like me to write— She looked up at the empty space across from her. From somewhere down the hall, she heard retreating footsteps followed by the faint ding of the elevator bell, and then a door opening and closing.

* * * *

How did she seem? a soft voice asked from behind her.

How do you think? Ms. Lansing responded, without turning around. She’d worked for Dr. Haleigh Hugo several years, and it was a given she’d earned the right to say what she felt, when she felt it. She was obviously very upset. What were you thinking? You’re going to lose all your patients if you keep on with this…what do you call it?

Progressive therapy.

I think you must be mad, Hal, just as she said, and what most of us have already suspected.

No, no, he said. She got the message. Means we’re right on target with her therapy protocol. Little by little the egg will walk.

What kind of nonsense is that? What egg? Eggs don’t walk.

Chickens do, in time. Old Ethiopian proverb.

Uh—huh. Like I said. Mad.

Katherine, you know we pride ourselves on the avant-garde, on the ultramodern therapeutic strategies that bring new hope to…well…seemingly hopeless cases. That’s what brings patients through our door.

Yes, and out again, like Mrs. Roosevelt.

Never let it be said we aren’t forward thinking.

She paused a moment, then said, Most of the time. You’re forward something I’m sure. I just don’t understand your methods, and this silly role-playing with your patients—Mrs. Roosevelt included—is bound to get you and Guy into a great deal of trouble with the AMA one day, or anyone else who’s crazy enough to look too closely into your methods.

Hal flashed her a dazzling smile.

Ms. Lansing knew Dr. Hugo was extremely popular among his women patients. And, of course, the men, too, were attracted to his rough dark looks, slim build, and devil may care attitude. Everything about him absolutely screamed male model. GQ and Esquire be damned!

My methods have worked time and again, he said. You’ve seen the results, and in that woman’s case, the…uh…Roosevelt woman—who at times actually thinks she is Eleanor Roosevelt—giving in to her delusions and fantasies, is the prudent way to help her.

But I thought psychiatrists were supposed to rid people of fantasies. Why play in to them, encourage your patients in their false beliefs? Isn’t it all a bit…dangerous?

It can be I suppose, but we won’t know until we try.

Well, for now, let’s try and keep the we out of it, Ms. Lansing said. By the way, Guy came in while you were chatting up the First Lady. He was asking for you.

I’ll see him straight away. He gave her a soft brotherly pat on the shoulder, and then let her get back to her computer, and a to do list that would keep her busy for most of the morning.

With no patients scheduled until early afternoon, her boss was free to do whatever he liked. She shuddered at the thought.

Chapter 2: Office Mates

With his head bent over the desk studying his notes on a yellow legal tablet, Dr. Guy Sanford glanced up when his partner came into his office and quietly shut the door behind him. Hal, I’m worried. I think—

That’s your problem, Guy, you think too much. Same for most of us so-called psychiatrists. He walked over behind Guy’s chair and ran a finger across the nape of his partner’s neck. Mmm. You’re quite warm. Have a temperature?

I’m fine. Just—

Worried. Yes, I know. He put his hands lightly on Guy’s shoulders. You need a little pick me up. How about a full body massage.

Right here in the office? You’re crazy.

Yes, Ms. Lansing said something of the sort a moment ago.

My God, it’s only ten AM. You’re insatiable. We barely slept last night.

"Yes, well, you can’t lay all the blame at my door. Seems you had quite a lot to do with it yourself." Hal started to massage Guy’s shoulders.

You know where that leads, and we’ve got far too much to do planning this ridiculous trip you’ve cooked up.

"We’ve cooked up."

Guy tried to resist, but briefly gave in. He dropped his pen on the pad, and leaned back into the moment, into the pleasure of his partner’s touch. Then, Hal, stop. He swiveled around and his mischievous smile met that of his lover’s. He pointed to a chair on the other side of his desk. Sit.

Hal put up his hands in surrender and complied meekly. Just my way of wishing you good morning.

Yes, well, we’ve already done that in the privacy of our home.

All right, Hal said. Tell me your concerns again, but I warn you I won’t change my mind. An excellent opportunity has presented itself, and we’d be fools to pass it up. We’ve got our subjects—

Patients, Guy said. Please force yourself, if at all possible, to be a little less clinical.

Yes, patients, thank you. Hal settled back and crossed his legs. Okay, shoot.

Don’t tempt me. Guy made a gun with his finger.

Go on.

You’re taking six of our female patients with serious emotional problems—

Handpicked, I might add, by both of us, Hal added.

Guy waved his comment away. "All right. We’re taking them for a weekend in the Sierras with all costs covered by our practice. Right so far?"

Yes, late September is one of the best months as far as rates go.

Guy tried to ignore the obvious gleam in his partner’s eyes. Then the plan’s to board a boat, motor to a small island, and settle ourselves into a mountain home in the middle of a goddamn freezing lake.

Little boat, kind of a launch actually. And it shouldn’t be that cold. Yet.

We drop them down into a completely unfamiliar environment and what? Just wait and see what happens?

Yes, mainly. Thanks to our monthly group meetings, the patients all know each other and seem quite comfortable talking about their—how did you so politically put it—ah, their emotional issues. Don’t forget we have the funds for the trip. Even Ms. Lansing has agreed to go along as chaperone, quite wholeheartedly.

How did you manage that little miracle?

A raise and a little something extra in her Christmas stocking. Not as much of a challenge as you might think.

Guy felt the worry lines furrow his brow. Be serious. This getaway or whatever the hell you’re calling it could backfire on all of us.

Yes, but I doubt it. Just think positively, Guy. If we’re successful, you and I have much to gain.

What exactly?

Well, you never know. This could turn into a revolutionary treatment that sparks co-authored articles in the most prestigious journals, and all sorts of good things. Just think of the medical conferences with our names at the forefront. Keynoters. You and I will be famous like Freud and Jung. We’ll be touted as great innovators in psychiatry and medicine.

Now whose delusional, Guy said and sighed heavily. More like notorious. We could lose everything. All we’ve worked for over the years. One false step, one unforeseen disaster not dealt with properly, and our illustrious careers, and I say this in the most politically incorrect manner I can manage, will be swishing around the toilet bowl.

Maybe. But we’ll never know unless we try.

Stop repeating yourself. I have a feeling we’ll both live to regret it, Guy said.

I already regret lots of things.

Like?

I regret not meeting you earlier in my life.

Nonsense, Guy said. You’re only a tad older.

Try fifteen years. That can make a big difference. Later on.

We have plenty of time, Guy said.

Do we?

Yes, we do. He reached over the desk and took Hal’s hand, and then pressed it tight in his. Have your ever thought, and I mean this kindly, darling, that you might be the tiniest bit mad?

Often, Hal said, and then flashed one of his most irresistible smiles. All the time.

Now I really am worried.

We’ll be there to supervise the patients, provide support as we normally do here, and give the women our undivided attention.

Except when we’re screwing our heads off.

There is that. We may have to curtail our…uh, activities a bit. Just for the weekend. Yes, I see your point, but we should—

No shoulds allowed, remember? Guy said. Didn’t we learn that early on in Psychiatry 101.

That rule’s strictly for patients. Doesn’t apply here, not to you and not to me. Besides, this argument between us is getting old. Let’s change the subject. I have something for you.

Yes, I’ve seen it, Guy said, many times.

No, it’s something else, something you crave.

Guy shook his head. I’m not buying. Like I said, I’ve seen it.

Too bad for you then. I stopped in at The Cream Puff & Éclair on my way to the office. Hal stood up and turned toward the door.

Wait! Where did you hide it?

Mmm. Too late now. I can’t wait to sink my teeth into that fresh chocolaty dough. I’ll just ask Ms. Lansing if she’d care for— Hal was almost to the door, his hand on the doorknob, when Guy pulled him back and led him over to the couch.

The Seth Thomas on a small table in the corner ticked away in unison to the muted sounds of Ms. Lansing’s keyboard tapping in reception.

I thought you’d change your tune.

And you’ll tell me? Guy asked. I’m starved and practically salivating.

Yes, afterwards. Hal grinned and pushed Guy back on the couch, gently. He unbuckled his lover’s belt. You’ve been a very naughty boy, haven’t you?

Guy’s erection began to grow within the confines of the silk fabric of his Pierre Cardin trousers. Yes. I’ve been very bad indeed. Then he kicked off his shoes and slid his pants and briefs down around his ankles. I’ll do almost anything for one of those éclairs.

Hal laughed. I knew you’d come around. Then, burying his lips in the curly blond hair of his lover’s groin, he whispered, You just might have to share that sweet I brought you. I’m working up quite an appetite, honey.

Chapter 3: Walking Granger

Wednesday Afternoon

Guy caught a quick lunch at a nearby deli and rushed back to the office. Unfortunately, Ms. Lansing informed him that his one o’clock had called to cancel, and facing a good hour or so break, he decided to make use of his free time and review patient files.

From the file cabinet behind reception, he sorted through the alphabet and brought a stack of folders back to his office. Each file contained an intake questionnaire, a patient narrative, case notes, diagnostic testing protocols, and observational data. The narrative statements comprised what Hal—to Guy’s chagrin—referred to as the what I did over my summer vacation section of the file.

Before settling in, Guy poured himself a cup of coffee from the small coffeemaker he kept behind his desk, and then he sat down to make a list of the dubious winners: The six Hugo and Sanford patients selected for the weekend trip into the Sierras.

Hilary Colbert, age 53

Vera Field, age 31

Meeda O’Connell, age 43

Sarah/April Preston, age 65

Jennifer (Jennie) Travers, age 39

Emily West, age 28

Given that both psychiatrists routinely saw different patients, the bulk of the caseload often fell on Guy’s shoulders as Hal preferred to spend his work time reading psychiatric texts, medical journals, and theorizing about this and that.

Guy hoped a cursory review of the files would refresh his memory as to each patient’s presenting problem: the main reason they ended up at Hugo and Sanford’s door.

If, as Hal expected, their experimental study somehow came to the attention of their colleagues—a long shot but not entirely impossible—some semblance of scientific objectivity would need to be imposed at the outset and maintained throughout

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