By Dan Rademeyer


The thick lenses of the doctor’s spectacles reminded me of the solid bottoms of two milk bottles as he began to polish them on a piece of chamois. Everything in the room, even the man himself, breathed solidity. He was well into his sixties, a few years older than I was, but he was as ageless as a man of thirty, even though he had a slight inclination to corpulence. He was healthy of colour, a man who had harnessed life to his own bidding. And I was a wreck of a man who had ruined my life with alcohol.

He was a famous specialist on neurosis. My nerves were in shreds. He was the judge and I was waiting for the sentence. I gripped the edges of my chair and a shudder went through me.

He had touched every nerve in my body with a long examination. He had put me through medical tests to which I had responded with the faith of a toddler learning to walk.

There was a solidity even in his sympathies as he made me confess to a life of debauchery.

I was a big man physically but felt like a rag of a man in that solid room with the heavy Persian carpet, the leather bound volumes, the few rare expensive prints in costly frames. And I felt small as he pushed the bronze ashtray towards me and offered me a heavy blend of cigarette from a gold monogrammed case.

* * *

During the examination my mind flitted back to the time a month before when I had been discharged from a hospital with the sentence which a little woman doctor had given me: a sentence that I would be a cripple until the day of my death. She was a charming young thing, with the figure of a Cinderella and big, brown eyes. She had taken a personal interest in my complicated case of alcoholism and her sympathy had warmed my heart.

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