Chapter 1


“I’m not supposed to be here!” Robert Sanchez spoke the moment Seema Pourshadi walked into the room.

“Seriously, this is wrong! I’m not supposed to be here. Really, I don’t know why I’m here. I never requested this.”

Without a word, Seema went and sat behind the desk facing Robert.

“No offence to you and what you do, but I’m not supposed to be here.”

Seema simply smiled and nodded. Her reaction surprised him.

“Oh—Okay then. So me being here—this is a mistake?”

Seema kept smiling as Robert rambled on. “You see, when Benny said I had an appointment with you after my session, I thought you were a new specialist I had to see—you know, going to talk about the new—Argh! Anyway, it doesn’t matter, it’s pretty obvious you are a…a…you know—Anyway, I’m sorry. Benny must have made the mistake. I’m not supposed to be here, right?”

“Okay. But Mr. Sanchez, do you know where it is you’re supposed to be?”

The question stopped Robert cold. He knew it was not meant to be anything more than just asking him what room he was supposed to be in but the innocent question forced a dawning realization that other than the multitude of doctors’ appointments and physio sessions, he really didn’t have any other place that he was supposed to be. The purpose of his days had changed. He had now become the one seeking help from other people.

Seema waited for Robert to answer her question. It soon became obvious that he was lost for words, so she spoke. “Benny didn’t make a mistake, Mr. Sanchez. He was the one who told me I needed to see you.”

“No, Benny would not have done that! He knows! I told him. We talked about it. He knows.”

“Knows what, Mr. Sanchez?”

“Can you please stop with the ‘Mr. Sanchez’? I’m not here for a job interview!”

“All right, ‘Roberto,’ is it?”

“Just call me Robert.”

“Oh, Robert, that’s such a great name! All right, Robert, you were saying Benny knows something. So what does he know?”

Robert squeezed his eyes shut and took a deep breath, trying to calm himself down. Other than his parents, very few people ever called him Roberto. The name had suited him more when he was in his twenties when his dark brown hair was all slicked back and he sported a very stylish Clarke Gable moustache. But now at forty-eight, a clean-shaven Robert with a receding hairline was a much closer match to Alan Alda during his last days in MASH.

“Look, he just knows, okay?” Robert held his hand up as if to signal he wanted this conversation to be over.

Seema just nodded in agreement.

“Don’t do that, okay?” Robert looked at Seema who just stared back at him.

“Okay—look, please just don’t do that!”

“I’m sorry, do what?”

“That…that…nodding your head all the time, like you know something I don’t. I’ve worked with a lot of people, you know, and I know what this is. And I’m sorry if Benny asked you. That just makes him another…Damn him! Great! Another person I can’t trust around here!”

“I don’t think he meant you any harm, Robert. Please don’t think Benny was being untrustworthy. I wouldn’t want to—”

“—But he knew! I told him. We talked about it so many times.”

“About what, Robert?” Seema asked calmly in her pleasant Middle Eastern accent.

“About this! About seeing any kind of shrink, therapist, mind doctor. I don’t know, whatever the hell you call yourself. ‘Cause he knew! He damn well knew that I don’t want to be here!”

“Well, if he knew that you didn’t want to be here, do you think Benny knows where you want to be, Robert?”

“No! No! And what the hell kind of question is that? Just stop it, all right?”

“I’m sorry, Robert, stop what?”

“All these damn questions! Look, I don’t think anybody knows where I want to be, all right? For God’s sake, I don’t even know where I want to be anymore!”

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