The New Patient (Dr. Epstein's Couch: Criminal Minds Series)

BOOK: The New Patient (Dr. Epstein's Couch: Criminal Minds Series)
12.71Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub



Copyright © 2014
Ann Black

This short story is entirely a work of fiction. The names, characters and incidents portrayed in it are the work of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events or localities is entirely coincidental.

All rights reserved.

Cover Art & interior formatting by
Indie Designz




Author’s Note



New writers often describe the paralysing self-doubt that comes with putting one’s thoughts onto paper. The perennial question of whether the work is interesting to others, or just a load of rubbish can leave a multitude of works unfinished.

Fortunately for me, Joe Konrath challenged other writers to write and self publish a piece of work in eight hours. My contribution to the Eight Hour Challenge was “Dr. Epstein’s Couch: The New Patient” and a follow up piece called “Dr. Epstein’s Couch: Pressure” by Alex Sturm.

The pseudonym “Alex Sturm” was chosen because it was the only pen name I could come up with quickly, that hadn’t already been taken by someone published through Amazon.

As a result of the kind feedback and number of downloads of the first two vignettes, I decided to un-publish the pieces and re-write a series of short stories; “Dr. Epstein’s Couch: The Criminal Minds Series.”

I want to thank all the people who downloaded the first two vignettes. Because of you I have achieved enough confidence to just keep going with my writing. I also want to thank Jack for his excellent dumbing down of I.T. information and Amanda for her awesome editing and attention to detail.

I love to hear from people who have read my work. I can be contacted by email:
[email protected]

I hope you enjoy the series!






This book is dedicated to my life partner, whose belief in me seems never-ending.



Week One




Monday July 25th, 9:45am


Parking at my consulting rooms I glance at my mobile and realise I’ve forgotten to take it off silent...I’ve missed seven calls from Phyllis. Wincing against the sun I step reluctantly out of the car, which causes my head to start throbbing.

I’m foggy from last night’s self-medication; a full bodied Shiraz...the whole bottle, enjoyed with a thick porterhouse steak and a body dysmorphic brunette—pretty, great boob job and the scarring was almost negligible.

Distantly, I hope she calls the specialist I recommended. In full lighting it’s clear the progressive surgeries are leaving their mark. Without intervention I suspect she’ll become a patchwork of strained skin, puffy lips and even bigger boobs—crossing that line between the centerfold she is now, into a plastic surgeon’s freakish masterpiece.

But by the time I gather my briefcase and open the front door to face Phyllis and the teary gaze of my 9am, Rachel’s forgotten.

Phyllis stands and hands me my first appointment folder, “Mrs. Lyons,” she clips out, parental disapproval in her normally compassionate eyes. I hired a mother, I remind myself, this is the down side. Crushing the impulse to apologise I walk into my office.




Evelyn Lyons sits anxiously on the edge of my two thousand dollar leather couch. She’s immaculately dressed, in her mid sixties; today her cleverly coloured roots conceal the grey that occasionally manages to crawl back. Her make-up is a little runny but she dabs excessively at her eyes, clearly terrified of ruining her perfectly painted face.

“Thank you for seeing me at such short notice, Dr. Epstein,” she gushes, “I just really needed to talk to you.”

I sit forward in an effort to reassure her. “How can I help?” I ask softly, ignoring the pressure building in my temples.

“It’s Alfred. He
having an affair—and he’s told me to vacate the house within seven days, I think...
she’s moving in
,” her efforts to remain contained are overwhelmed as she bursts into a fresh wave of tears.

She’s grieving but I know she’s also afraid. She met Alfred when they were both at University. It’d been agreed after they’d married, that Evelyn would take care of the home, her husband and their four children. My observations of Evelyn over these past two years told me her emotional attachments ranked in that order as well.

Despite her chronic dissatisfaction, together they’d enjoyed a life of holidays abroad and society prestige. But now, without her husband’s accomplishments to lean on, she is dispossessed of both her status and financial security. She’s an aging woman who’s never worked. Her understanding of the world is as naïve as it is inflexible—making her poorly equipped to rise to the demands of her current situation.

We sit for the next 30 minutes while I reassure and comfort her, working to stabilise her emotional lability. By the time we finish she’s tucked the number of a ruthless divorce lawyer, Sonia, into her handbag and the tears have stopped flowing.

Although Sonia’s also a patient, I’m confident she’s a good choice—Evelyn will need a bull terrier in her corner. And Sonia’s overcompensation ran deep. Abandoned by her father, then raised by her single mother in poverty while he married his twenty-something secretary and lived like a king, Sonia had spent five years in therapy working out how to direct her rage against men in more pro-social ways. It was either that or risk losing her rights to practice...and she had made good progress.

Evelyn was going to need Sonia’s skills, and by the time Sonia finishes with him, Alfred will be fortunate to keep 40% of everything he owns.



10.30 am

Phyllis is pleased with me as I begin to make up time on my schedule. I down two paracetamol and walk out to greet my 10am.

Khia Morrison. My temples beat hard.

Khia is an angry mass of tattoos, piercings, gelled hair and tight clothes. Her sessions are covered by the compensation claim she won several years ago.

She glares at me as she storms past and flops onto the couch. She sits back and tucks her worn Doc Marten’s under her. Visions of torn two thousand dollar leather dance in my head.

“Hello Khia.”

“Fuck. As if your foyer music doesn’t suck enough. I had to listen to that shit for half an hour.”

I indulge the small fantasy of telling her to fuck off before sitting back in my well-practiced “open” body posture. “You seem upset this morning Khia. Care to tell me about it?” I ask, drawing on my well-rehearsed ‘soothing therapist’ tone.

“The new medication isn’t working,” she answers accusingly.

I realise she’s angling to go back on the Valium and I get it. Her life has been one traumatic mess after another. A series of foster homes and a gang rape at 14 had toughened her, but when our sessions occasionally scratched at her defenses, it was clear she lived with enormous unexpressed pain. Her last psychiatrist was a dinosaur and rather than treat her underlying trauma, had her hooked on benzo’s.

“No, I’m not prescribing your old medication,” I state simply.

“What? I didn’t even say anything about Benzo’s. Everyone thinks the worst of me.”

I know she’s angling since emotional manipulation is part of her arsenal. It comes with the territory. I spend the next thirty minutes in psychological battle before she finally leaves with my referral to a drug rehab facility. No promises, but it was a small victory.

I’m drained.


“Last one before break,” Phyllis says as she hands me the thick folder. Not for the first time I’m pleased I saw the compassion in her eyes when I interviewed her for the job five years ago.

“You’re an angel,” I say as I glance at the name on the file.

Kyle Stevens. Psychopath. He’s a referral from Corrections and these sessions are part of his parole obligations. Today we have session two.

My heart pounds, the headache disappears. “Give me a minute will you?” I call to Phyllis walking back into my office and shutting the door behind me.

I slap the heavy file down on my desk and go to the ensuite. Washing my face, I look at myself in the mirror above the sink. My eyes are a little bloodshot, nothing I can do about that now, but I school my face into distant neutrality. I need to keep this look, no matter how rattled I get.

When I invite him into my office, he greets me warmly and shakes my hand. I make eye contact and force a smile. “Hello Kyle. Take a seat.” I motion toward the couch.

I sit opposite, pull my face into position and get ready to defend my secrets. Kyle’s wearing new jeans and his clean blue shirt compliments his’s an effect I’m sure he was aiming for.

He’s a handsome man, 26 years old with a superior range I.Q., particularly on the verbal subscales. He’s muscular thanks to the prison gymnasium and while his record shows the most recent incarceration was due to a rape conviction, it’s only because the Police couldn’t get the murder charge to stick.  I have no doubt he’s a Psychopath and his traits place him in the most dangerous category of the disorder. My skin crawls, but I maintain a steady gaze.

“You look a little tired today John. What did you do last night?” he asks conversationally. He’s trying to ingratiate himself with me, but his question advertises his lack of respect for the doctor-patient boundary and by inference, his continued disregard for socially acceptable norms.

“More to the point Kyle, what did you do last night?” I counter.

Kyle smiles smoothly but I know I’ve annoyed him. He wanted me to be charmed by him, to like him, to believe his remorse and ultimately to write a report saying he’s no longer a risk to society, “You’re the expert. Why don’t you tell me?” he asks.

I push, deciding to call an end to the bullshit early. “Are you trying to control our session Kyle?”

He shrugs and crosses his legs, but the charm slips and he looks bored. His gaze takes in my desk and I suspect he’s trying to find personal clues about me. It’s the main reason I never keep photo’s in my office.

He looks at me again. “What if I told you I got myself a pretty little brunette and a bottle of Shiraz last night?” he watches me intently, looking to read my response.

BOOK: The New Patient (Dr. Epstein's Couch: Criminal Minds Series)
12.71Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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