So,’ Dr Stelios Gobbe peered at the skeletal figure stretched out on his couch, ‘you’re not yourself, you say.’
Stelios winced. When Ulysses ‘Lardy’ Wainscoat has booked a session he’d explained his recent mutism to the receptionist, asking that he be given facilities to write his answers. What he hadn’t included in the information provided was the reason for his inability to articulate.
‘I mean,’ hurried on Stelios, ‘you explained this change of status had caused you to feel low and you’ve become,’ he hesitated, staring at the concave, basically nonexistent stomach and internal organs, before forcing himself on, ‘depressed.’
Ulysses laboriously scribbled on the pad by his right side. You’d be if you lost your living.
Not exactly what he was expecting. But then, thought Stelios, counselling someone so, so lacking in the customary soft tissue accoutrements was part of the novelty of his latest posting.
The patient was continuing to write. Stelios leant across to read.
I’d set my heart…
Stelios suppressed a snigger. Funny how you kept the cliches of the living, post mortem. He hadn’t given it much thought but hearing such an inapposite expression made him wonder why the departed didn’t have their own slang. He realised he’d drifted off again and Mr Wainscoat was looking at him oddly. He held up his notes for Stelios to read.
Such a mean trick. Why not take a rib?
‘Have you been a victim of a crime?’
If it had still been possible for the skeletal Mr Wainscoat to roll his eyes, Stelios would have guessed that’s what he was trying to do. Feeling out of his depth, he took the scribbling and started at the top. After reading for a moment he looked at the empty carcass in front of him. If he slumps any more, thought Stelios, he’ll come apart. ‘You’re worried you’ll lose your job?’
A barely perceptible nod which Stelios wished he’d not triggered as he feared he might have to fetch his patient’s head next time.
‘Because someone stole your jaw?’
Yes, that had to be a wince. Marvelling at the ability of his cadaverous client to manage a reasonable range of body language – his mind screamed ‘bone language’ but he forced the idea away – he coughed. ‘What, um, what job did you have in mind?’
By way of an answer, Ulysses jabbed a bony finger at the registration form that lay, unread on Stelios’ table. He studied the relevant paragraph. ‘In his pre death existence, Mr Wainscoat went by the name of James Blunt. He hopes to resume his singing career once he has mastered non-lung aspiration.’
Stelios looked at the anxious figure on the couch.
Well? What do you think?
He smiled. ‘I think you should see this as an opportunity to try a different path.’
I only have one skill. What do you suggest?