The client is a balding, sunburned man with soft, forgettable features. Running late, he enters the office at 7:02 p.m. and nearly knocks a small Buddha statue from its wooden base. He closes the waiting room door behind him and pauses, unsure of the protocol. From behind his desk, Dr. Bell watches intently. Experience has taught him that a new client will give you 90 percent of what you need just walking through the door. Dr. Bell sees that Mr. Potter is mildly agitated—perspiration rings the armpits of his Hawaiian-print shirt and his breathing is rapid. Not unusual for a first-timer, Dr. Bell thinks. The psychotherapist smiles wryly and motions for Potter to sit on the green couch. Mr. Potter collapses into the cushions and sets his leather shoulder bag in front of him. His khaki slacks are a size behind the times.
“How long does this last?” Mr. Potter asks. “An hour?”
“Fifty minutes,” Dr. Bell says pleasantly.
The new client stares at Dr. Bell for a moment, takes a deep breath, and pulls a small-caliber pistol from under his shirt.
“Fine,” Mr. Potter says, waving the gun at Dr. Bell. “Then you have fifty minutes to live.”
An aluminum taste floods Dr. Bell’s mouth. Trauma patients have told him this is what true fear tastes like, but until now he’d never taken them literally. Sure, every shrink has stories about unhinged patients. A client in the middle of a manic episode once threatened to scratch out Dr. Bell’s eyes with her car keys if he didn’t introduce her to her soul mate, Johnny Depp, but nothing has prepared him for this.
Coherent thoughts vanish in the vacuum of fear. Struggling to find a way back, Dr. Bell takes a quick inventory. The landline is across the room on an end table, and, besides, what would he do with it? Propped against the wall, also out of reach, is his souvenir baseball bat, a gift from a professional ball player Dr. Bell helped get back on track after he washed out on coke and hookers. Should I yell, scream, lunge for the gun? Or can this guy be reasoned with? Dr. Bell wonders. Despite the beads of sweat on Mr. Potter’s upper lip, he appears relatively stable. His eyes aren’t darting and he’s not pumping his legs. His resolve appears to be genuine, possibly deadly. Dr. Bell tries to remain calm and go with what he knows. Talking.
“Clearly, you’re quite upset. I’m sorry.”
“I don’t like to see anyone in pain.”
“Really, Dr. Bell? Is that so?”
Dr. Bell looks into Mr. Potter’s eyes, trying to project empathy.
“Yes. I believe that’s why I chose this profession, Mr. Potter, and why, I suppose, I’m so highly regarded in my field.” Dr. Bell thinks he sees Mr. Potter relax just a bit. He presses on. “May I call you by your first name?”
“No, you may not,” Mr. Potter says firmly. “I know what you’re trying to do. It won’t work. I hated seeing her in pain, too, Dr. Bell.”
“Who, Mr. Potter?”
“Forgive me, I don’t believe I do. And, needless to say, for the purposes of this discussion, that places me at a serious disadvantage. Please, tell me who you are talking about?”
Mr. Potter crosses his legs and his pants ride up too high, revealing short, black socks. Dr. Bell can see that his new client’s shin is badly bruised and a bandage covers a fresh wound. Dr. Bell takes a long look at the man’s shoulder bag. A slot on the front flap has a laminated name tag of the sort frequent fliers fill out. Mr. Potter glances at his watch, purses his lips as if about to give the time, but says nothing. Dr. Bell tells himself to stay in control of the situation.
“Okay, Mr. Potter,” he says, as evenly as possible. “Let me try a different question. Why do you want to kill me?”
“Oh, I think you know.”
“I really don’t, and I must confess I have little experience with this. No one has ever threatened to kill me before. At least not seriously.”
“There’s always a first time, yes?”
“Mr. Potter, did you make this appointment in order to kill me?”
Mr. Potter does not answer.
He’s giving me a blank screen, no expression, no emotion, Dr. Bell thinks. Perhaps he’s imitating a trained therapist, maybe a therapist who has something to do with why he’s here? A bit of a reach, but …
“May I ask who referred you to me, Mr. Potter, another professional?”
“I’m not the type who feels the need to talk incessantly about his feelings, Dr. Bell. You’re the last therapist I expect to see in my life. And the clock, as they say, is ticking.”
It suddenly comes to Dr. Bell that Mr. Potter must have booked this appointment, the last available on a Friday, at least a week ago. He’s planned this well. A joke about needing to better screen first-time clients sweeps through Dr. Bell’s brain like a tumbleweed. He thinks better of sharing it. He has to crack Mr. Potter’s shell delicately, if it is in fact a shell. Fifty minutes isn’t a lot of time to do it. But Dr. Bell is starting to realize his life depends on it.
The second hand on the grandfather clock ticks away and Mr. Potter seems to grow larger, more intimidating. Despite the urgency of the situation, Dr. Bell knows it is imperative to not let the clock rule him. He wants more than to just kill me or he’d have done that already. Let him have his theatrics for now. The need to speak will build. He’ll tell you why he’s here eventually. He’ll have to, or what’s the point?
Dr. Bell flashes back to his student days, when a gifted supervisor used father transference to reduce him to a whimpering puddle. Dr. Bell crosses his legs, struggling to appear above it all, but his knees feel weak and his fingers tremble slightly.
“Forty-six minutes,” Mr. Potter announces, “and seven seconds.”
Dr. Bell takes a deep breath and releases the air quietly, allows himself a thin smile. His stomach settles. He holds the smile as best he can and tries to affect something just shy of disdain. “Okay, then. This is your time, as we say. What do you want to talk about?”
“I don’t want to talk about anything. I want you to do all the talking.”
“What is it that you want me to talk about?”
“You know, Dr. Bell.”
“No, I don’t, Mr. Potter, and I fear that our time will go by in silence if it’s left up to me to guess why you came here, other than to threaten to kill me. But maybe that’s the best place to start. Why don’t you tell me why you believe you want to kill me?”
“Because you’re a fraud, Dr. Bell.”
“Why do you think so, Mr. Potter?”
“I think you know.”
“I really don’t, and we’re in danger of getting stuck in this circular dialogue, but let me try something else. Let’s presume that I am a fraud, which we all are to some degree. What does that mean to you?”
“It means that I’m going to kill you.”
“Do you kill all frauds, Mr. Potter, or is it just me for whom you reserve that honor?”
“Maybe I’m starting with you.”
“So what comes next? Politicians, CEOs, clergymen … Jodie Foster? Is someone speaking to you, Mr. Potter, telling you that you’ve been chosen to do these things?”
“No, Dr. Bell, I’m not schizophrenic, paranoid or otherwise. I haven’t lost my job, my home, my standing in society. I’m not mad at the world. I’m an average man, Dr. Bell. But sometimes, average men have to do extraordinary things.”
Mr. Potter raises the gun. The barrel is a deep, dark well. Dr. Bell’s bowels suddenly stir. He notices Mr. Potter’s hand is not trembling.
“One shot through the front of your skull and you’re done, Dr. Bell. I understand you fancy yourself a Buddhist. What do you imagine occurs next? Will it be a joyful reconnection with the one consciousness? Or perhaps just zip, nada, nothing? Tell me, I’m curious. You see, this is not really my fifty minutes, it is yours.”
Dr. Bell tries to process quickly. “I understand” you fancy yourself a Buddhist. Not “I see” you fancy yourself one. He’s either done his research or heard about me through someone else. He mentioned a woman earlier, having seen her in pain. His wife? His girlfriend? His mother? Dr. Bell struggles to think of a female patient with the same last name. Too many faces, too many names. Someone terminal, perhaps? Someone from the cancer ward? He draws a blank. The years of practice are callusing me. The faces and names and problems and patterns are all running together.
If he’s realized anything over the years, it’s that each and every one of his patients is sure that he or she occupies a new and entirely unique spot at the center of the universe and Dr. Bell has become all too aware of how crowded it is at that spot. Did he believe anything was different from one week, month, year, or life to the next with his patients? Did he even care anymore? Every week they pay their hundred and fifty dollars a session to say and hear the same things, and every week they leave satiated like crack addicts only to come back with that hungry, desperate look in their eyes realizing they need another fix.
Mr. Potter lowers the weapon. “Where did you go just now?” he asks, leaning forward, but not in a threatening manner. “When I did that with the gun, what did you see? Feel? I’d really like to know.”
Dr. Bell swallows. “Mr. Potter, you just mentioned putting a bullet through my skull. You’re pointing a gun at me. So, naturally, I felt afraid. Buddhist or not, I’m not looking forward to dying here, today, and in this way. Understandable, yes?”
“Yes, quite understandable. But we don’t always have a say in what happens to us, do we, Dr. Bell?”
“You’re speaking of karma?”
Mr. Potter shrugs.
Dr. Bell tells himself to keep Mr. Potter talking. Get him to give you his first name. Make yourself a human being. It’s easy to hurt an object or a symbol, but not
so easy to hurt another human being.
“Of course the world is often a random place. That fact does not prove or disprove the idea of karma,” says Dr. Bell. “But that’s a moot point right now, for this isn’t at all random. You came here with a purpose. I’m trying to figure out what brought you to this place. What drove you to come here and terrorize me in this way?”
Mr. Potter scratches his nose with the barrel of the gun.
“Tell me your first name,” Dr. Bell says. “I’d like to be less formal, especially under the circumstances.”
Mr. Potter stands up and shakes his head. “Just keep talking,” he says, pacing in front of the green couch.
“Okay, I’m thinking that if you came here just to kill me, you would have done it by now. So why don’t you tell me what else it is that you’re looking for? You said I’m a Buddhist. Who told you that? And does this person have something to do with why else you’re here?”
“You know who that person is, Dr. Bell, and you now have forty-one minutes and thirty-two seconds to tell me why you did it.”
Dr. Bell feels his forced calm giving way to a tempest of frustration, his anxiety flaring into anger. He shakes inside with as much outrage as fear. Dr. Bell has to fight his urge to charge the man with the gun, to do violence to Mr. Potter for the way he is being violated. But he knows that could be a fatal mistake.
Mr. Potter seems to register this wave passing through Dr. Bell. He takes half a step back and levels the gun. He finds the edge of the couch with one hand and sits down. Smiles.
Dr. Bell takes a deep breath and reminds himself not to telegraph his feelings. “So, we know someone in common. Or, you think we do. Is that correct?”
“Yes, Dr. Bell. It is. Continue …” Mr. Potter takes another theatrical look at his watch. “Time, after all, isn’t on your side.”
“Was this someone a patient of mine?”
“She was. Her name was Katherine Cook.”
“Katherine Cook. I don’t recall seeing anyone named Katherine Cook.”
“Try harder. She sometimes went by Katie.”
“Can you describe her to me?”
“She was beautiful … beautiful, and full of life. Until she met you.”
“So you say. A young woman named Katie Cook. How long did she see me, for how many sessions?”
“Long enough to be destroyed.”
“By me, I assume, in your worldview, which I’m beginning to think of as increasingly aberrant. Tell, me, Mr. Potter, what happened to your leg?” Dr. Bell scowls, framing the question just shy of an accusation.
The sudden change of topic confuses Mr. Potter. He glances down at his bruised leg and the small bandage, clearly startled. His gun hand goes lax and Dr. Bell thinks it’s now or never if he’s going to go for the weapon. But before he can make his move, Mr. Potter pushes down his pants leg, his face flush, and regains himself.
Something is there, thinks Dr. Bell.
“I want you to tell me precisely what happened,” Dr. Bell says. “Did you hurt someone?”
Mr. Potter purses his lips like a goldfish at the edge of the bowl. He struggles for breath. His face reddens, tics associated with shame and anxiety, clearly a regressive response. Dr. Bell knows it’s time to play his highest card.
“What have you done, Martin?”
The sudden use of the man’s first name peels back another layer of defense. Mr. Potter’s composure melts, his face is that of a scared child. Dr. Bell reminds himself that he’s walking a fine line. Children are easy to break down, but they also act impulsively and without thought of consequence. And this one is carrying a gun. Dr. Bell eases up a little.
“It’s there on your name tag,” Dr. Bell says evenly. “Martin Potter, 3712 Moorpark Street, Apartment 11, North Hollywood … I can’t quite make out the ZIP code.”
Dr. Bell hopes this traditional disarming move, using Mr. Potter’s first name, placing him at his address, identifying him as a person with a life outside this office, will blunt his aggressiveness, give Dr. Bell the room he needs to exploit Mr. Potter’s insecurities. Clearly, Mr. Potter exhibits signs of regret. But where has this taken him? Is he suffering from a character disorder, severe perhaps? Is he projecting his own guilt onto Dr. Bell—reaction formation? Dr. Bell softens, leans forward, and lowers his voice.
“I’m sorry if I snapped at you, Martin,” he says. “I’m deeply worried, and not just about my own safety. About you as well. Have you perhaps already hurt someone else?”
Mr. Potter stares back dully, traumatized. His fingers loosen a bit and the gun sags in his hands as if it’s suddenly a great weight. Dr. Bell again considers going for it, but he’s making progress breaking Mr. Potter’s resolve. Best to stick with it.
Mr. Potter falls back into the couch, which nearly consumes him. “I haven’t hurt anybody, Dr. Bell. In fact, I’m pretty sure you’ll be the first. And you can call me Mr. Potter, if you don’t mind. We’re not ever going to be on a first-name basis.”
“Fair enough, Mr. Potter. Why don’t you tell me about what happened to your leg then?”
Mr. Potter pauses, takes a deep breath. He regains some of his composure. “Very well, Dr. Bell, I will, since it does concern you and not indirectly.”
“Yes. You see, Dr. Bell, I hurt my leg when I walked into Ms. Cook’s apartment last Tuesday and found her …”
Mr. Potter’s voice trails off, his eyes close.
Dr. Bell tries to wait him out, a game of chicken played in tense silence. He is surprised to find his own nerve fails first.
“You found her?”
Mr. Potter’s eyes snap open like a man tied to train tracks who hears a loud whistle. “I didn’t do anything. I didn’t hurt her. It was you, I know it was you.”
“Ms. Cook. Tell me what happened to Ms. Cook,” Dr. Bell presses.
Mr. Potter grows more agitated. He waves the weapon like a dowsing rod and Dr. Bell flinches involuntarily.
“I found her that way. Hanging there. From one of those pull-up bars you put in a doorway? She’d tied the sash of her robe around her neck and … or so it appeared. … Maybe someone arranged it to look that way.” Mr. Potter lowers his head.
“Go on, Mr. Potter,” Dr. Bell says, voice thickening. “How did you happen to be at Ms. Cook’s apartment, were the two of you … friends?”
“I didn’t know her. But I loved her.”
Mr. Potter’s eyes cloud and he looks close to crying. “It was an awful thing to see.”
Dr. Bell says nothing, waits for more. Mr. Potter wipes his eyes and nose on his right sleeve. He looks up, angry now, and points the gun once more in Dr. Bell’s direction. Dr. Bell recoils.
“I know what you’re thinking, but it wasn’t like that,” Mr. Potter says. “I really did love her. From afar, yes, but it was pure and true.”
Bell takes a shot. “You’ve been following her?”
Mr. Potter reddens again. “Yes, yes. I followed her. I saw her in that supermarket at Burbank and Laurel Canyon, buying vegetables. She looked familiar, and then I realized I’d seen her in a commercial, the one for cat food.”
He waits for Dr. Bell to register a sign of recognition.
“I’m sorry, Mr. Potter. I haven’t seen it. I don’t watch much television and when I do it tends to be CNN or MSNBC. I don’t recall seeing this cat food commercial.”
“Ms. Cook was wearing a long-sleeved sweater,” Mr. Potter continues, as if Dr. Bell had said nothing, wasn’t even there. “It was beige, almost the color of her hair, and a pair of worn jeans. Those big blue eyes … I wanted to say something right away, but I was too shy. So I followed her to her car and watched her load the groceries. I knew it wasn’t right, but what was the harm so long as I didn’t harass her? Lots of men look at someone like that, all day long I’m sure.”
Dr. Bell just stares back, regaining some leverage.
Mr. Potter looks away again, flustered. “Well, I went back to the grocery store the next day at the same time, and there she was again,” he continues, looking beyond Dr. Bell into some darkened corner. “At first I just followed her around the store, watching her and wondering what it would be like to be with her … you know, shopping with her. Going through a day with her.”
Dr. Bell sees an opening. “But that’s not where it stopped, is it, Mr. Potter?”
“No, it’s not,” Mr. Potter says, mostly to himself. “I looked her up on the Internet, found her on IMDB, familiarized myself with her background. She grew up in Ohio. Went to NYU, where she studied theater. Came out here to follow her dreams, like a lot of us do, right Dr. Bell?”
“Would you say this was a healthy fixation, Mr. Potter?”
“Is love a fixation, Dr. Bell? I suppose it might be. But I did hope to talk to her one day, so why wouldn’t I be prepared? I went back to the supermarket every day at the same time and saw her there. She only ever picked up a few things. Sometimes it seemed like she just did it for the routine. Routines can be comforting, Dr. Bell.”
“They can be, Mr. Potter, but some are more appropriate than others. Did you ever speak to Ms. Cook?”
“I was too shy to approach her in the grocery store. I didn’t want to seem like, well, I didn’t want to intrude. Finally, I did follow her to her apartment building—”
“You followed her home?” Dr. Bell cuts in, accusingly.
“Yes, I did, but only because I was so enchanted. I watched her unload the bag of groceries. I sat in my car, telling myself to leave, that this was silly, but then she came right back out again and got in her car.”
Mr. Potter stops, raises his head again and stares directly at Dr. Bell. “She drove here, to your office, Dr. Bell.”
“So you say, Mr. Potter,” Dr. Bell says, turning in his chair, putting his back to Mr. Potter, “but why should I believe any of this? I don’t know you. I don’t know this woman you speak of. You’re obviously going through something and I’d like to help you—
“Please face me, Dr. Bell. I can shoot you just as well through that chair and I’ll be inclined to do it sooner than later if you don’t turn around so I can see you.”
Dr. Bell takes a deep breath and turns back around to face Mr. Potter. “Okay, Mr. Potter. You say this woman, Ms. Cook, came here?”
“Yes, here. I followed her here.”
“What day was that, Mr. Potter?”
“Tuesday … of last week. She was here for nearly two hours,” Mr. Potter says, fondling the gun. “Yet, these appointments last fifty minutes, yes?”
“But I don’t have a client named Katie Cook. There was no Katie Cook here last Tuesday. I’m positive, but if it makes a difference, I’ll check my appointment ledger.”
Dr. Bell flips backward through his calendar to the date in question and runs his index finder down the page. “No, no Katie Cook, or Katherine Cook, Mr. Potter. I’m sorry to disappoint you.”
“But you have an appointment booked with someone named Katherine, don’t you, Dr. Bell? Didn’t you? God damn it, didn’t you!”
Dr. Bell tells himself to stay calm, show nothing.
“Yes, Mr. Potter. I did book a double appointment, with a woman named Katherine Friedman, a relatively new client. I was just getting to know her. She double booked because she was going to miss the following week, going to Hawaii or something. Patients do that all the time, book double appointments. You understand, right?”
“I understand that you’re telling your story, Dr. Bell. I also understand that Katie Cook was Katherine Friedman’s stage name, but I’m sure you know that, don’t you?”
“No, Mr. Potter, I don’t know that. I don’t know anything you’re talking about. All I know is that someone whom I suspect is delusional is pointing a gun at me and talking in riddles.”
“What about that night, Dr. Bell? What happened later that night?”
“I don’t know,” Dr. Bell replies, feeling an icy ripple up his spine, “but I’m afraid you do.”
“I waited outside in my car,” says Mr. Potter, pointing his gun toward the window facing the street, “for two hours, Dr. Bell, while she was in here with you. Then I followed her home. I parked outside her apartment. I tried to get the courage to walk up and introduce myself, but just couldn’t do it, you know? I just couldn’t. I’m shy around pretty girls. Lots of men are.”
Dr. Bell could see Mr. Potter getting more excited, his pupils dilating now, his hands wavering, one foot tapping steadily. He’s coming down from some kind of meds, Dr. Bell thinks. He may already be having some auditory or visual hallucinations.
“May I change the subject for just a moment, Mr. Potter? If you don’t mind my asking, are you, or have you been on, psychotropic medication? Are you taking anything for stress, anxiety, PTSD?”
Mr. Potter sneers and grips the gun tightly. “You shrinks are all alike. Don’t try to twist things around. That’s not going to work with me.”
“I’m sorry I interrupted,” Dr. Bell says, soothingly. “Please continue. You were parked on the street outside when Ms. Friedman, or shall we say Ms. Cook, came to see me?”
The door to the waiting room opens, a buzzer sounds. Dr. Bell stiffens in his chair.
Mr. Potter raises the gun.
“Wait,” Dr. Bell says. “I haven’t scheduled anyone else.”
“Send whoever it is away or I’ll kill you,” Mr. Potter says under his breath, leaning forward but not standing.
“If you kill me there will apparently be a witness.”
“You are the murderer,” Mr. Potter hisses. “You killed a patient. How could anyone blame me for killing you?”
“I’ve killed no one,” Dr. Bell replies with as much even-voiced authority as he can muster. “I’m so sorry, but whatever you’re going through here, it has nothing to do with me other than the fact that I happened to treat Ms. Friedman the day you followed her home. They call that stalking, Mr. Potter. Let me help you. Perhaps I can prescribe something that will give you some rest.”
“No more pills!” Mr. Potter yells, almost infantile in his fury. “I’m tired of the damn pills. You guys have a pill for everything. I saw you.” Mr. Potter’s lips curl and quiver. “I saw you go into that girl’s apartment. I saw you run out a few minutes later and drive away. Something about the way you left made me fear for her safety. So I went to Ms. Cook’s apartment and found her. You tried to make it look like a suicide, but I know the truth, I know you killed her. What happened, did she threaten to take you to the professional board, cost you your license, tell your wife?”
Dr. Bell rises from his chair, puts his hand on his desk and speaks slowly. “I honestly don’t know what you’re talking about, Mr. Potter. Mr. Martin Potter, of 3712 Moorpark Street, Apartment 11. But I do know you’re very upset right now, and that things feel like they have gone … out of focus. Please don’t do anything rash when an event such as this is taking place. You’re not stable. During these … these breaks, things that seem certain to you are not at all what you think. The subconscious is out on parade in full daylight and the normal consciousness, reality, as it were, is in the shadows. Do you understand, Mr. Potter? Do you realize you’re just passing through something that won’t be here when you come back?”
“No, no. It’s not like that. It’s not how you say. I have proof. I’m not crazy, Dr. Bell.”
Mr. Potter reaches inside his pants pocket. Dr. Bell clenches and retreats to his chair.
“Proof? Proof of a manic episode?” protests Dr. Bell.
“You were there,” Mr. Potter says. “See?”
Mr. Potter holds up his cellphone, which is playing a short clip of video. Dr. Bell squints. “That simply isn’t me,” he says. “You have a blurred image of someone my general size and weight, Martin.”
He pauses for a moment. “Wait, and how did you think you knew what I looked like in the first place?”
“You walked her to the outside door, Dr. Bell. I saw you say goodbye to Katie Cook,” Potter says, triumphantly. “You hugged her.”
“I often hug my patients, Mr. Potter. It’s not something the board necessarily approves of, but it is a natural human response to a developing connection and not out of the ordinary with relatively new clients. Empathy, nothing more. And I resent the implication I’d get romantically involved with someone such as poor Ms. Friedman, or Cook as you know her.”
“Sure. Protest all you want. I know.”
Dr. Bell leans forward. “Mr. Potter, what I know is that you are off your meds, you’ve been stalking a beautiful young woman, and that you’re at minimum hiding valuable information from the police. Perhaps this was a suicide. If not, you may even be implicated in a murder. And I still want to know what happened to your leg.”
“Never mind my leg. Dr. Bell, why don’t you tell the truth? Your fifty minutes are just about up.”
“I’ve told you the truth, Martin. I can’t tell you anymore. I had a new client who fits your description. She booked a double appointment last week before she was to go away on business. And now you say this woman is dead and you are the only person who we know was at the scene of the death and you’ve admitted to me that you’ve been stalking her. I’m sure if I wanted to, I could go to the board and find a record of your psychiatric treatment.”
“Wait, wait, you’re turning this around on me.” Mr. Potter looks drained, his composure gone. “You, you’re the one. I know it.” Mr. Potter raises the gun with trembling hands. It wavers in front of him for what seems like an eternity. Something in Dr. Bell tells him this is it. He ducks behind his desk. A shot rings out and the bullet thumps into the wall above his head. The sound is dull, lifeless, like a staple gun shooting into a piece of wood. It’s not at all what he would have expected. Dr. Bell stays down and waits. But there is nothing more, only the sound of Mr. Potter running out the door.
Dr. Bell holds still for a minute. Silence. He thinks about what to do next. Gingerly he opens the door to the waiting room and finds a kid there cowering on his couch, looking like he’d seen a ghost.
“Who are you?” Dr. Bell asks.
“Look … I’m, I’m just here to sell magazine subscriptions. What … what just happened?”
“Wait here,” Dr. Bell says, locking the front door. “I’m calling the police. Did you get a good look at the guy? Could you describe him? He may be a murderer.”
“Yeah … yes. I think I so. Yes,” the kid stutters.
Dr. Bell goes back into his office and picks up his phone to call the authorities. But first he erases the message from Katherine Friedman, the actress who goes by the stage name Katie Cook, the one who’d left yet another rage-filled outburst on his office voicemail in which she said that they must speak about what was going on with them, how she’d had enough of his empty promises, how she was going to Hawaii for a couple weeks and how she expected him to have told his wife by the time she got back or she didn’t know what she would do, maybe she’d tell his wife, or maybe she’d kill herself; there was also something else about how the board might be interested in his methods. … Dr. Bell hadn’t listened all the way through. He was familiar enough with these rants by now, familiar enough to know these were no longer idle threats.
All that was left to do now was call the police. Then he could, for the first time in fifty minutes, thank god, or whatever you want to call it, for Mr. Martin Potter.
Graphic by Dan Peterka
Feb 16, 04:51 PMPurchase or Subscribe to Slake: Los Angeles
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