Monday, February 10, 2014

Chapter 24 / The Taj Mahal

“I’ll miss one week, Warren,” says Andrew. “Two appointments.”
“You know the contract,” says Warren. They sit as usual in Warren’s office, facing each other in slightly but not completely comfortable chairs. 
“I haven’t missed one single appointment. I called you from fucking Waco.” 
“Were you going to call me from Truro?”
Andrew pretends to think for a moment, then says what he had already decided, which Warren knew that he had already decided. 
“No. Truro for one fucking week in July is my vacation. Truro for four fucking weeks in August is your vacation.”   
“Right. Five consecutive weeks. Ten appointments.” 
“Were you going to call me from Truro?”
They sit in silence then for a moment, almost companionably, knowing that Warren will not dignify that with an answer. 
“OK,” says Andrew, “let’s back up. A woman that I’m—I—care for deeply, that I’ve been dating for six months without sleeping with, that I’ve talked to almost every day, asks me if I’d like to go to this—seaside resort—with her. She doesn’t ask me to dig latrines with her in Cuscatlán or watch people die with her in Waco, she asks me to go with her to a nice house, in a part of the world that’s at least superficially civilized. She has one week, Saturday to Saturday, to get out of her own difficult life and she asks me to join her in that endeavor.
“And that’s not all. While this week at the sea shines in the distance for both of us like . . . the Taj Mahal, she is also . . . worried about it, uncomfortable with it. She doesn’t quite know what might happen there. And so she, thinking of me as a friend, has described her fears to me and has asked me to help her, if it becomes necessary.” 
Warren allows his face to show curiosity with this turn in the conversation. He is aware that Andy remains seated during this argument, his eyes on Warren’s. He hasn’t stood up and walked around as he usually does when working out something difficult. And Warren has a flash of thought that he will miss Andy when he, Andy, is gone, not for five summer weeks—while Andy has done well this year, other patients have not, and Warren, exhausted, wishes that August 1 were tomorrow—he will miss Andy when he finishes therapy, which, with any luck for Andy, will be in a couple of years. Before the advent of this argument, he had been thinking that in July he would tell Andy that after August, he should think about going to once a week.
“I can tell you about that if you want,” Andy has continued, “but let me finish my thought. So, since she really wants me to accompany her, she asks me in advance—even though she knows I will then think of it obsessively—she doesn’t say ‘hey, I’m going to Cape Cod tomorrow, do you want to come along,’ she asks me in advance so I can act responsibly toward my job and my shrink.” He bites off the last five words.  
“The point of the story is, I said yes immediately, as if I were an adult and could make my own decisions. And I’m not backing out. I don’t want to call you. If you fire me, I’ll get the meds somewhere else.” 
Warren’s face is impassive again, as he records mentally the change in Andy’s eyes, from direct to angry. But hearing I don’t want to, instead of I won’t, Warren asks if the radio station is OK with this. 
“Yeah. They told me I could take a week off after Waco and I didn’t, because the Mississippi was flooding. They’re sorry the Clintons won’t be in Martha’s Vineyard yet, but I’m saved, they won’t be. To tell you the truth, Warren . . .” Andy looks aside for a moment, then back to Warren. “I could use a vacation. Time to clear my brain.” 
“That’s the idea with August. You have four weeks off.” 
“And I’ll probably work the whole time. And the house rental is the last week in July and it can’t be changed. You know that. 
“Warren, for Christ’s sake, be happy for me, will you? This is the best thing to happen to me since . . . since she asked me if I liked to dance. 
“Here. I brought you something.” 
Andy is opening his briefcase. Warren is thinking that Andy will be in therapy two days a week for the rest of his life. From the briefcase Andy takes a small Tupperware container. Inside are six strawberries. 
“Don’t give me the No Gifts thing,” says Andrew. “I go to work, I feel slimy. I visit Annie and it’s strawberry season.” 
Copyright © Debby Mayer


  1. A good dialogue. Looking forward to the second part.

    1. Thanks, George. I look to get the rest up SOON, by the end of this week!

  2. Andrew's comments about Annie, especially the last one, are so touching. It's clear and believable that she has come to mean so much to him.

    It's interesting that Warren is becoming a character, too. I'm not entirely clear about his and Andrew's relationship. There's a contract that Andrew must come to 2 appointmentts a week? Written or spoken? Required by an insurance company?

    You certainly are good at implying layers and levels beyond. And since I've come to like Andrew so much, I care; I want to know.

    1. Thank you, Carol!

      I imagine the "contract" between Warren and Andrew as spoken, not written: if Andrew is going to do this therapy, he must show up every time. Also, Warren, as an MD, prescribes Andrew's meds and wouldn't do so without the talking therapy.