The afternoon sun attempted to shine in to Dr. Fraud’s thirteenth-floor office window, but the blinds were uncharacteristically closed. Normally he kept them vertically aligned and casting shadows like prison bars, apparently unaware of the effect it had on the more delicate of his patients. Inside his office, which was warming up steadily like an oven, and to which he was, like a boiling frog, oblivious, he was sat alone, staring at his laptop screen. He’d closed the blinds because the sunlight bouncing off the screen was giving him a headache, but now in the relative darkness the computer was causing headaches of its own.
His claw-like fingers scraped at the mousepad and the cursor on the screen dragged itself lethargically over to the folder he wanted to open. His thumb clicked the mouse-button twice, and the cursor was replaced by a rotating hourglass. Dr. Fraud sighed. He was sure that it shouldn’t take this long to open a folder.
Two minutes later, the screen changed colour to indicate that the folder was open, and gradually a list of filenames appeared. Dr. Fraud ran his finger down them, his yellowed nails scraping away at the delicate LCD screen with a high-pitched sound a bit like a zipper undoing at high speed. Each filename was the name of a patient, and most of the filesizes over in a column on the right were surprisingly small. Dr. Fraud found the file he was looking for: Kristiana Brown, and laboured over getting the cursor over it so that he could open it up. She would be arriving at his office for her eighty-third appointment in a little under half an hour.
The file opened a little over five minutes later, by which time Dr. Fraud had made himself a coffee using the portable electric kettle in the corner of the office and added a fifth of cheap scotch whiskey to it. He sipped it, muttering in German under his breath as he read through his record of eighty-two appointments with Kristiana. The file was not especially long; it read simply:
Woman, aged 32. Aged 33. Aged 33.5. She doesn’t like her age being mentioned down to two decimal places. She has dyed her hair today. She didn’t like me mentioning it. Woman. Woman aged 33.5. Woman. Who is this verdunkelte woman?
He sighed. For the life of him he couldn’t remember anything about her and his notes on her file didn’t help him. Why hadn’t he ever written anything more about her?
He left the file showing on the screen so that he could add to it when she arrived, and checked the time. His watch had stopped again, and he took it off his wrist and shook it, slightly frustrated. The strap snapped on the third shake, and his watch fell to the static-creating carpet. As he bent down to pick it up, the intercom on his desk buzzed and his secretary hiccoughed over it.
“Dr. Fraud? Dr. Fraudy-wardy! You have a, a wom…, a wom…, a girly here to see you.” Dr. Fraud sighed, picked his watch up and pressed the respond button on the intercom.
“Send her in,” he said in his clipped, German-accented English. “And make an appointment for yourself to talk to me about your drinking problem.”
“Sure thingy-wingy!” sang his secretary, and turned the intercom off. The door to his office opened, and Kristiana Brown walked in.
She was short, had mousy-brown hair, grey eyes and grey lipstick, and seemed to almost blend in with the shadows. She stopped as the door closed behind her, and looked around, clearly unable to see well in the dim light. She took a hesitant step forward, then another and another, and fell over the chaise-longue that Dr. Fraud preferred his patients to sit on. As she softly cursed, he sat down at his desk, turned the egg-timer on, and laid his fingers on his keyboard.
“My dear, so good to see you again,” he said, barely listening to the baseless platitudes he was speaking. “How are you feeling today?”
“Sore, Doctor,” she replied, wriggling around as she laid herself out on the chaise-longue. “I’ve just fallen over your furniture.”
“That sounds like a latent Electra complex,” said Dr. Fraud, arching his clawed hands ready to start typing.
“You say that about everything, “ said Kristiana. Dr. Fraud yawned, and suddenly he remembered why he never managed to write any notes on this woman. She was so boring he feel asleep after the first five minutes of the appointment, and she apparently never noticed.
“You’re thirty-three and a half,” he said, reading his woefully-insufficient notes.
“My age again?” said Kristiana, her voice a dull monotone. “Really Doctor, must you tell me how old I am every time? Are you conditioning me to tell my problems to anyone who mentions my age?”
Dr. Fraud started thinking about that, wondering how hard it would be, and completely ignored Kristiana as she started talking about her kleptomania and low self-esteem problems.