Truth. Justice. Minesweeper.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

My doctor was giving me a hard time the other day. I was in there because I have this cough that's been bugging me for a while, and he wouldn't prescribe anything for it.

"Look," he said, "you should be as healthy as a horse. I don't like prescribing medication for healthy people."

"I just want to get rid of this cough," I told him. "It's been months now."

He put down his pen and clipboard and held out his hand to me. "I'll make you a deal. If you go two weeks where you get eight hours of sleep a night, eat three meals of nourishing food a day, and spend a reasonable portion of each day getting fresh air and light exercise, and your cough still doesn't go away, I will not only prescribe something for it, I will buy it for you out of my own pocket. Shake on it?"

I didn't shake. "I sleep. I eat. I just don't have a lot of time, that's all. Things are crazy at work these days."

He didn't look impressed. "How much sleep did you get last night?"

"Uh... about three hours. But that was because I had to get up early to come in here." And because I had the getting-shot-in-the-head nightmare again.

"It's ten-thirty in the morning," he told me. "When was the last time you got six hours sleep in one night?"

I couldn't remember.

"Okay. What did you have for breakfast this morning?"

"I only had time for a glass of water before heading out," I said.

"And what did you have for supper last night?"

"I forget. Stuff I had lying around."

"Think back," he told me.

"Half a can of Pringles."

"Dennis. You've got to take better care of yourself. This cough you've got is just the beginning of what could happen."

"I told you. Work is really hectic these days. Once things settle down, I'll be able to rearrange things a bit more."

"All right. Well, tell me about the rest of your life. Last time we talked, you were getting a new apartment. Did that work out?"

"Actually, no," I said. "The afternoon I was going in to see the new place, I got called into work unexpectedly." Fell-Swoop had just busted out of prison, and Greyghost needed me to work the phones.

"You also mentioned something about getting a car."

"Yeah. I keep meaning to go out to a couple of dealerships but I haven't been able to make the time."

"Anything else going on?"

"Not really. Mostly just working, but..."

"I know," he said. "You can't talk about it."


"You know, everything you tell me is confidential. I have other patients who do classified government work, and--"

"I keep telling you I can't talk about it," I said.

"I think you should talk about it with somebody," he said. "It sounds like there's a lot of stress in your job, and it might relieve some of it if you could talk it over with someone. I could recommend--"

"I really can't talk about it. At all."

"What about with a girlfriend? I know you told me you broke up with a girlfriend, but... is there anyone new?"

I shook my head.

"Anyone on the horizon?"

"No," I said. "I'm... I don't know. I don't really feel like talking to people at the moment. There are some days where I don't see anybody all day. I had a couple of those in a row last month. I think I went about sixty hours without saying a word to anyone. It was actually kind of nice."

He waited for me to talk. Eventually I couldn't take it anymore and filled in the silence with:

"...which I know isn't good for me and I have to get out of my room and be with the people."

He nodded. "Dennis, you're in here talking to the wrong guy. I can't do anything for you. You know what's good for you, and you're the only one who can make sure you get it. If you do, you don't need my help, and if you don't, I don't know what I can do that will help." He stood up. "Okay?"

I coughed, pointedly, but the conversation seemed over anyway.
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