Meeting the Doctor
Some of these human relationships and
fallacies that we have been mentioning may seem formidable hurdles
to you at the moment. But you will be surprised at how quickly
they become insignificant if you stop drinking.
IF you stop drinking... Do you want
to stop? Are you completely sincere in your desire to stop once
and for all?
Put it another way. Do you finally realize
that you have no choice but to stop? Are you convinced
that you would rather quit drinking than go on the way you are?
Robert V. Seliger, M.D.,
Alcoholics Are Sick People (Alcoholism Publications,
1945) p. 47
Clarence had run out of the money he borrowed from the bus driver
and when there were no free drinks he left the bar. He felt
somewhat bolstered by the effects of the alcohol. He slowly
unfolded the piece of paper that Dorothy had given him. Straining
to read in the unfamiliar sunlight, he read the address, 810
Second National Building. Looking at a clock in a store window,
he saw that it was almost twelve noon. Plenty of time to reach
the office by the hours of two to four P.M. He proceeded on
to another bar down the street for, maybe, "just one more, or
reached the Second National Building a little before two. He
went upstairs and walked directly to the doctor's office. He
read the name on the door. It was painted in black and gold
on the glass window. "Dr. Robert Holbrook Smith, Rectal Surgeon."
laughed as he thought to himself, "My, that's a new approach
to cure drinking." He paced the hallway. He hesitated, trying
to decide whether to go or stay. He knew that his problem was
most probably located in his head, but he thought that this
particular doctor worked on this "cure" a bit lower than that.
He paced for what seemed like hours; but, in all actuality,
it was probably just minutes.
Smith arrived just after the stroke of two P.M. He shook Clarence's
hand with a firm grip. That shook Clarence all over. Dr. Smith
said, in a loud, strong, booming voice, with a distinct Vermont
accent, "Young feller, you must be Clarence. You can call me
was taken aback. He thought to himself, "How did he know my
name?" He didn't stop to think that Dorothy probably had called
earlier. Which in fact, she had. She had called to tell the
doctor that her wayward husband might be showing up at his office
that day. She had warned the doctor that, if Clarence did indeed
show up, he would probably be in a state of intoxication.
took Clarence through his waiting room and office into another,
and smaller room. This room had a table and a couple of chairs
in it. Doctor Smith, "Doc," asked for him to sit down.
they were both seated, Doc proceeded to tell Clarence about
the doctor's own personal story of recovery from alcoholism.
Clarence, still suffering from the lingering effects of his
last "just one more," heard something totally different.
to Clarence's alcohol-fogged mind, that the good doctor was
telling him all of the events surrounding Clarence's own sordid
existence. "How does this man know all about me," he thought
to himself? "He must have been following me."
Clarence remembered the articles about the Mad Butcher. Panic
set in. The sweat began to soak through his pores, and he thought
he was about to become the Butcher's next victim.
about that time, the doctor told Clarence that he wanted to
put him away in a hospital so no one could get at him. The doctor
had probably said that to him because he had sensed Clarence's
panic, agitation, and paranoia. This was, however, at that very
time, exactly the wrong thing to say to Clarence.
that very moment, the name of the man in Clarence's dream became
very clear. Clarence suddenly remembered, the name of the man
in his dream on the bus - the name that had frightened Clarence
so much that it sent waves of terror throughout his whole body.
man's name was Robert Smith! What Clarence couldn't remember,
in his alcohol-induced fog, was that Robert Smith was the name
of the person who had found a body and was not himself a suspect.
And he certainly was not the same Robert Smith who was sitting
directly in front of him.
Smith, the Doctor Robert Smith who sat in front of Clarence,
sensed that this particular drunk sitting in the chair opposite
him was about to jump out of his own skin. Dr. Smith sensed
that Clarence was filled with unspeakable and unknown terror.
could get at me," Dr. Smith had said. That was the problem:
Clarence wanted, at that very moment, to be where everyone
could get at him. Everyone except for the Mad Butcher.
bolted out of his chair, nearly knocking the doctor over. He
ran through the office, bumping into patients who were waiting
in the outer office. He pushed open the door and ran down the
stairs and out into what he thought for sure was the safety
of the streets.
stop until he was far away and hidden in the confines of a darkened
tavern. His thoughts raced through his brain. They ranged from
relief to rage, and everything in between. Relief that he had
gotten away with his very life and rage over his wife, his loving
wife, who he now thought was in cahoots with the Mad Doctor.
The same doctor who, he thought, had been about to set him up
for a painful and gruesome death. The rage intensified, as Clarence
plied himself with alcohol; and then it subsided as he drifted
off into another alcoholic stupor.