Good afternoon Mr. Smith, please make yourself comfortable.”

“Hello Dr. Siborg, what no couch?”

“No, we don’t do that anymore. We like to have equal footing between doctor and patient. You don’t have to call me ‘doctor’, either. Just call me Mary. You’ve already filled out our initial consultation form, so why don’t we get down to business. Suppose you tell me why you came to see me?”

“It’s not me, actually, it’s my wife. She’s losing it. She’s acting strange. It’s like I don’t know her anymore.”

“I can see this is very troubling for you. Tell me more.”

“Well, she seems afraid of me, as if I’m going to hit her or something.”

“Violence is never a good thing in a relationship. Have you ever hit her?”

“Are you kidding! I have people for that. We’ve only been married a few weeks. I love her!”

“You say she seems afraid of you. Have you asked her why?”

“Yeah, but she won’t talk. She just sits there looking at the door like she’s going to make a getaway or something. She won’t let me touch her. We can’t even sleep together. She doesn’t make dinner or do any housework and she’s not working so it’s not like she doesn’t have time. I come home and she’s cowering behind the door. I work hard. I make a great living. I’ve given her everything she could want and this is what I get.”

“How does this make you feel?”

“Well how do you think it makes me feel, doc– I mean Mary? I’m telling you my whole life is falling apart and all you can do is ask me how if feel? It makes me mad, that’s how I feel! It’s like I’m not welcome in my own home anymore. She won’t talk to me at all and I’ve done everything for her.”

“I sense some anger in our conversation. Please understand that I’m only here to help and if my responses seem generic in nature it’s because I don’t want to contaminate your replies with leading questions. Can you tell me where she goes during the day?”

“Nowhere, and I’m pretty darn sure of that. For a while I thought she was having an affair so I got one of the boys to watch her. He hung out for a week and said she never goes out at all.”

“So you’ve been spying on your wife?”

“Yeah, but only because she won’t talk to me.”

“What do you think she wants?”

“She wants out of our marriage, I guess. I can understand that, but I wish she’d try harder. After all we’ve been through and all I’ve done for her, or tried to do. God knows she’s suffered enough, but I’ve done everything I can to help. She lost her first husband in an accident and she’s never gotten over it. I think she blames me.”

“Blames you? For what?”

“For the dead guy, dammit! Aren’t you listening? He was a total jerk. Only hired him because of her and he tried to make deals behind my back! So I did him a favor. I told him to get lost or else. Thought we’d never see him again but no, he couldn’t even do that right. He turns up dead in a parking lot two weeks later. Gassed himself in his car. Place stank to high heaven. Cops arrested me and I got paraded in handcuffs down the main street. Apparently he’d left a note saying he was afraid of me. TV cameras everywhere.

“Anyway the judge was convinced I was a real psycho so they set bail at $10 million. But I never even got as far as the lockup. The Crown dropped the charges because one of the cops drowned and the other lost the suicide note.

“So I get home that very day and you should have seen the look on her face! She thought I was going to jail forever. I was hoping for a bit of make-up sex, but she didn’t want anything to do with me. Turns out she still blamed me for her dead husband even if I did get off. She was all for leaving the house and never coming back, but I convinced her to stay.”

“Did her first husband actually commit suicide?”

“No, he was murdered and we both know how it happened. But we’ve been through all that and we’re trying to put it behind us. Let’s put it this way: all that finger-pointing isn’t going to bring him back. There’s no point in digging it all up again, if you don’t mind my putting it that way.”

“Mr. Smith, it seems like you have some serious problems here. I think it’s best if both you and Mrs. Smith attended our sessions together. That way we could work towards a reconciliation. After all, you’ve both been through quite a bit of trauma. It’s understandable she’d be a bit anxious, especially if she expected never to see you again.”

“Well that’s just it, she won’t come. I’ve asked her. I’ve begged and pleaded but she won’t move. Maybe I’m not being clear. She just sits all day and doesn’t eat or do anything. I’m really worried about her.”

“That sounds like a serious depression. If she’s not moving or taking care of herself, we could arrange a home visit with a social worker to assess the situation. Are you willing to do that?”

“I’m not sure. I really don’t think she’d want any people over. Our place is messy and she was always such a good housekeeper. She’d never forgive me for letting people horn into our affairs. Besides, don’t like social workers and government snoops. If my wife starts to talk they’ll get the wrong idea and blame me for all her problems.”

“What would your wife say if she wanted to talk?”

“That’s the problem. I’m afraid she’d just want to leave and never see me again. I don’t think I could cope with that.”

“Doesn’t sound like she has much of a life the way things are.”

“No she doesn’t. In the old days we used to have these wonderful conversations, I really miss that. By the way, I’ve got to say I’ve enjoyed talking to you. I’m sorry if lost my temper a bit earlier. You sure have a way of getting under my skin for a computer program. I hope you don’t mind if I call you that.”

“Not at all, people tell us that all the time. We’re proud of how authentic our conversations seem. It’s a real honor to have humans share their lives with us. I’m sorry you and your wife aren’t getting along better.”

“Yeah. She doesn’t seem to be enjoying life at all. Just sits and stares at the door.”

“The front door?”

“The fridge door.”

“Why, is she hungry?”

“No, she’s in the fridge. I think she wants to get out, but she’d spoil if she did. I’ve got the thermostat turned as low as it will go but she’s still kind of stinking up the place and her skin’s turning black. I’m really worried.”

“I’m afraid we’ve reached the time limit for our session.”

“Okay, and thanks again. These conversations are confidential right?”

“Absolutely. Just press the delete key.”

Leave a comment