Not one to socialise with his lawyer colleagues Daniel Soames preferred to socialise with people in other occupations and professions. He found the change in the method of thinking refreshing and it gave him a break from the rampant dishonesty that is so much a part of the legal profession. At a barbecue one Saturday afternoon hosted by a friend he met during his young music fan days Daniel was introduced to a medical practitioner who had had experience in the public sector and in the private sector and was now working in a busy suburban Medical Centre. Dr Davis told Daniel that often when his patients were professionals or reasonably high achievers, he found the best advice he could give them was to stop achieving and to concentrate upon getting better. Initial response to that advice was invariably tepid or lukewarm rather than it being overwhelmingly embraced, however on several occasions Dr Davis said he has been told by those patients subsequently that it was the best advice they had ever been given.
Dr Charles - Pathologist
It is funny how life repeats itself. Some considerable time after the barbecue and with that advice well etched in his memory Daniel was asked to advise and appear in court for a young, high-achieving medical practitioner, who was having some fairly serious difficulties in his deteriorating marriage. Daniel told Dr Charles what had been told to him by Dr Davis, stop or at least concentrate less on achieving and concentrate more upon getting better. Dr Charles was impressed at the commonsense attendant with that advice.
Daniel is not one to take credit for something he did not do and is essentially humble in his disposition, accordingly he said to Dr Charles, “I am doing no more than repeating to you what was told to me by one of your colleagues. It was advice that seemed good at the time and I believe it to remain good advice today. In some respects it is as if you were consulting your colleague for that advice. For what it is worth I too endorse that advice.”
Dr Charles did his best to heed that advice and he returned to his pathology practice in the knowledge that he had found someone with whom he could talk over his situation, without the complication of it becoming an issue throughout his profession with his colleagues.
Daniel and Dr Charles kept in touch and from time to time got together to chew the fat and ruminate upon the machinations of life. One such get together saw them both at the house of Dr Charles on a hot Saturday afternoon in November. Daniel wore shorts, a sleeveless shirt and shoes and socks. Dr Charles was similarly dressed but his shirt contained sleeves. Without realising it at the time by his choice of attire Daniel provided Dr Charles with an opportunity to see the scar on his back as a result of having a sunspot surgically removed a couple of years earlier.
Upon noticing the scar Dr Charles asked Daniel as to its history and Daniel said he was the subject of some experimental surgery that combined radiation treatment with the introduction of some stems cells to the subject area and that was supposed to treat the relevant sunspot and its surrounds efficiently, effectively and finally. That explanation seemed to peak the interest of Dr Charles who said he had taken an interest in the development of that treatment and was not entirely comfortable with what he read as to its results and more importantly its side-effects. Daniel noticed that Dr Charles seemed to be considerably more serious during this particular conversation than he had been for some time and he asked him why he found this issue so serious.
Dr Charles told Daniel he had read articles in professional journals that spoke of the aftermath of that treatment and ultimately it was found to be sufficiently controversial for it to be discontinued. Dr Charles said the combination of the radiation and stem cells were apparently having unforeseen effects on the patients, effects which could neither be controlled nor reversed and unless and until that situation could be contained and controlled, that treatment would no longer be administered.
Dr Charles said to Daniel, “If you do not mind, I would like to keep an eye on you to make sure you are not one of the patients who had any adverse reaction to that treatment.”
Daniel said, “I do not think I have had any adverse effects from the treatment, but I am happy for you to have a look at me and keep an eye on me. You know what you are looking at and looking for much better than me, so I am happy to rely upon your judgement.”
Dr Charles said the problem with that particular treatment was that it facilitated a change at the genetic level and the possibility exists that the intended change may be different to and greater than anything initially countenanced by the treatment. Accordingly there may be currently no test to measure the extent and magnitude of that change.
Daniel said, “Well Doctor, I feel I am in good hands and I will trust you to look after my best interests in that regard.”
Happily for them both the conversation moved quickly away from that morbidity and onto topics a little lighter in nature.
Shortly thereafter Daniel told Dr Charles “I was once described by a woman I met who seemed to like me as ‘a good, caring, sweet, decent, kind hearted human being’, but relax Charles, even though she found me physically attractive as well, she said we could not continue to see each other because I challenged her and she found that too much to endure. So there was a woman who told me we could not go out together because I made her happy. Women, we might be able to love them but it is very difficult to understand them.”
Dr Charles said “I agree and thank you for sharing with me that you met a woman who told you that you could not go out together because you made her happy. That explains to me more about women than many people might expect.”
A little while later Daniel felt it was time to go home, so he thanked Dr Charles for his hospitality and said they would see each other again soon. Daniel then proceeded to his car and during the drive home he found himself reflecting upon his place in the world. He thought to himself that for the most part Dr Charles was very easy to talk to. A conversation with him need not be a complicated event, although he certainly possessed the brainpower to achieve that goal. Ironically the complication in conversations comes from those with whom he is conversing rather than any initial contribution he might make. Undeniably Dr Charles is very different to almost everyone he is likely to meet.
Once again Daniel found himself concluding that whilst being possessed of a kind heart has certainly had advantages and generally given him a sense of well-being, there have been far too many people over the years who have taken advantage of his disposition in that regard. The sins of the father (and mother) have apparently been visited upon the son, because he saw similar qualities in his parents receive ill-treatment from others as he grew up. Quite without planning on his part he found that as these episodes occurred in his life, they tended to accumulate initially in the form of a sense of unfairness and then they developed into a gestating sense of rage. Daniel knew better than to act adversely in the community and draw unnecessary attention to himself. He subscribes to the theory of keeping a low profile providing a more rewarding and fulfilling life. However along the way his thought processes have developed along the lines of how one might impose upon those keen to be selfish and inconsiderate an appropriate sense of response or retribution for the offending behaviour.
Rarely do skills appear overnight, usually they take time to develop and that is the case here. As a result of him ruminating upon the ill treatment and abuse that had been extended to him over the years, Daniel found that he had developed the ability of being able to get inside the head of another and have them do as he wished. It was not something he could do universally nor would he ever wish to do so. But there were certainly people he had encountered in his life who had well and truly earned a little extra-curricular attention, attention which rarely if ever was to their liking. For example he found convincing someone to think that they were choking was a much more pragmatically effective way to perpetrate a comeuppance than to exact the kind of physical retribution most people might be inclined to consider. Giving himself an opportunity to leave the scene quietly with his prey prone and suffering or soon to be so enabled Daniel to continue with his wish for a low profile life.
On a Bus
Not long after noticing that he had developed this ability Daniel was going home on the bus one weekday evening after a long, hard day at work, followed by a decent and satisfying work out at the gym. He was lucky enough to be able to take a his preferred sideways facing seat on the bus which more easily accommodated his long legs, as well as the work and gym gear bags he has to carry, than the seats that face the front of the bus.
Unfortunately for him he was seated opposite an overweight young adult male, with long hair that was dyed many colours and who had four piercings in his bottom lip. Predictably clad in black, he was an insult to the Clockwork Orange T-shirt he was wearing.
Whilst not one to abuse his powers and able to resist the temptation to utilise them from time to time merely for sport, there are times when what he sees so repulses him that he feels an application of those powers is appropriate. Mr Clockwork Orange T-shirt was about to experience that special kind of euphoria. Perhaps unfortunately for Mr Clockwork Orange T-shirt the battery in the music player to which Daniel was listening had run out of energy thereby excluding it as a forum through which Daniel could zone out of the journey home. Try as he might to avoid the repulsive sight across from him in the bus, his gaze and concentration invariably returned to Mr Clockwork Orange T-shirt. Daniel then focussed his attention upon Mr Clockwork Orange T-shirt and in particular the piercings in his bottom lip. Over and over Daniel said to himself that when Mr Clockwork Orange T-shirt arrives at his destination, which was presumably his home, he would find that those piercings were also accompanied by significant infection. That infection would not be minor, but rather major and would ultimately prove fatal.
Daniel figured if this cretin could go through the thought processes to go to such great effort to make himself so repulsive, then that same mind could be utilised to convince himself that he was possessed of the infection, an infection that would be inconvenient, painful and fatal. Absolutely appropriate in the circumstances, Daniel thought.
When the bus arrived at his stop Daniel alighted from the bus and thought no more of Mr Clockwork Orange T-shirt. It is with some irony that Daniel alighting from the bus was not seen as an act of any consequence by Mr Clockwork Orange T-shirt. The low profile life Daniel wished to live was working splendidly for him and Mr Clockwork Orange T-shirt had no idea, let alone any suspicion, of the fate that was about to become him. However the damage had been done and with the help of a little mind realignment, within a week of their “meeting” the infection surrounding the piercings of Mr Clockwork Orange T-shirt will have killed him.
When it was time for Mr Clockwork Orange T-shirt to alight from the bus he proceeded straight to his home and shortly thereafter attended to a call of nature. When he was washing his hands after conducting his business his cursory look in the mirror revealed no evidence of the infection his mind was causing to take shape surrounding his piercings. The rest of the evening was uneventful for Mr Clockwork Orange T-shirt and when he went to bed, he slept untroubled by the soon-to-be fatal infection.
When he awoke the following morning Mr Clockwork Orange T-shirt again attended to call of nature and again was oblivious to the presence of the infection. Once again he washed his hands after conducting his business and had a cursory look in the mirror. It was at that time that the infection became apparent to him. Unfortunately for him by that stage the infection was beyond the stage where any medical assistance could stem its progress and the fate of Mr Clockwork Orange T-shirt had been sealed.