March 30, 2009


"You peel back the layers 
And get down to the inside 
But sometimes you lose sight 
Of what it was you were trying to find 
And it's that sort of thing 
That makes you think too much 
It's that sort of thing 
That makes you lose your objectivity"
-The Perfect Ending by Straylight Run 

He moved beyond the realm of pity and into annoyance and slight fear. A patient we'd been dealing with for a couple months at the clinic decided today that he wasn't happy. He called incessantly- at constant intervals, someone would pick up the phone to hear him state his name and his demands to speak with various people. What started off as aggravating became downright scary. His words meant little when mixed with expletives and circular arguments, until he raised the volume with "I will show up at your f-cking doorstep. You don't even know what I'm capable of!" Security came through the sliding doors, then the Urbana police, and then talk of police in the large town he's from. We watched the caller ID flicker on the phones, trying to determine the area code. We talked about hiding under desks, about using an emergency button. Although there were plenty of jokes made about the whole scenario, there were frightened undertones to every smile. We watched the doors warily.

It was in this frame of mind that I left work, walking out with a pregnant lady to our cars on the edges of the lot. A security guard sat in his car, scanning the scene, looking at the entrances. I pulled away quickly, and had to light a cigarette. When I got home, I could exhale and laugh a little more about the strange events of the day. I pulled up my email account, and scanned the messages. Most were unimportant. One caught my eye.

I knew it was coming. I knew would it would say. I considered deleting it-a Pandora's box, a stick of dynamite at my fingertips-before it was opened. But weakness or curiosity won over, and the words lit my screen. Barely past the thought of a man with a gun storming into the clinic and going on some gruesome shooting spree, I read phrases that could be used as bullets. I felt like I hadn't escaped the wounds after all.

Layered between "I love you"s and other candied letters were rough pieces of glass meant to choke on. It took a lot to get past the emotion in the note and actually comprehend the meanings. The obvious choice in a fight is to fight back. It's instinct, survival. I'm not sure what the options are now. I'm not sure what I want them to be. But two attackers in one day is not fair.

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