From the author of the best seller - Elephant Speak
Ryan sat in the waiting room listening to his Walkman and
staring blankly at the stack of magazines piled on the coffee table. He had to
wait a while because he was early for his appointment, as usual. He hated the
weekly visit to his counsellor and his parents were well aware of his feelings.
He’d spun so many lies to get out of going, even to the extent where he’d
once accused his counsellor of abuse. His parents followed up this accusation
only to discover it was another lie and this made them even more determined to
make sure he kept up with the visits.
Ryan used to be a member of the Slick Gang, a
tight-knit group of troublesome kids who wreaked havoc in the streets of
Parramatta. He had a scar on his right thumb – courtesy of a gang ritual –
to prove it. The rule was, once a gang member, always a gang member. Their
initiation involved slicing the new member’s thumb with a Stanley blade then
pressing it to the thumbs of each gang member as a ‘blood brother’ ritual.
The Slick Gang were rivals to other factions such as
the Homeboys and the Parra Boys.
Ryan’s mates weren’t too impressed when he cut the
gang, but he had no choice; he had to stay out of trouble to stay out of
detention. Since Ryan had washed his hands of the group he’d received death
threats and had been beaten up numerous times. He’d been lucky so far. Rumour
had it that some of the gang’s members in the past had met with bad fortune,
their bodies showing up in Parramatta River weeks after they were reported
missing. The threats Ryan had received were of a similar nature.
Even reporting these threats to his parents hadn’t
washed, although he showed the physical scars from the bullying. They still
insisted he show up for his weekly counselling sessions. His counsellor had been
kind enough to move his session times so that even though he had to pass by the
gang’s hangout areas on the way to the office, his parents could pick him up
when the session finished, thereby ensuring his safety.
To Ryan, every session was like the movie Groundhog
Day because it was always the same; he’d arrive early after doing his best
to avoid the Slick Gang, the receptionist would be out the door at five to six,
and Lucas Jordan, his counsellor, would appear soon after ready to start the
session. Even today, being the start of a new program, he was early, the
receptionist had left, and he waited for his session to commence. The only
difference now was the requirement to turn up on Mondays instead of the usual
session later in the week.
‘Ryan,’ the receptionist had said, ‘Lucas will
be out to see you shortly. There are some magazines there for you to read.’
He’d heard it all before, countless times. He’d
read all the outdated magazines before as well. Countless times. He decided to
wait and play with his fingers, pick his nose, drink cups of chilled water from
the cooler, fiddle with his Walkman or walk around in the waiting room, like
he’d done before… countless times.
He turned down the volume on his Walkman and flicked
through the magazines. He wanted to check if Jordan had decided to update the
collection. No such luck. They were the same as before.
A noise to his right caught his attention. It was a
metallic click. He turned to the source and noticed that the door to Jordan’s
office was slightly open. Curiosity was Ryan’s middle name. It was why he was
here to see Jordan because his excessive curiosity got him into trouble with the
cops. He was curious about the voices coming from the room. They were only faint
and frustration settled in. He wanted to hear what was going on.
He headed across the waiting room to the office door.
It was open enough for him to see inside and he quickly scanned the room.
Jordan’s desk was slightly to the left of view and the gold medallion that sat
on its small glass stand caught his eye immediately. Jordan had explained that
the medallion was made of pure gold and his father had handed it down to him
before he died. It was a commemorative medal for services in the field of
psychology, or some such crap. Ryan didn’t care for its meaning; he was more
interested in its value. There was no way he’d be able to steal it, even
though he was a clever thief.
Ryan turned his attention to Jordan and his patient,
just to the counsellor’s right. They weren’t aware of his presence. He still
couldn’t hear clearly but it was better than when he was sitting down. All
he’d heard then was muffled voices. Jordan was talking with another kid, Greg
Waller. He knew Greg and it had been a while since he’d seen him. Greg had
been hanging around with the Slick Gang when Ryan started mixing with them and
as far as he was aware Greg was still a member. Now that he knew Greg was seeing
Jordan he was keen to hear what his session was about. The voices still
weren’t clear enough so he pressed against the door, hoping it would silently
swing open wider.
Satisfied that the gap was wide enough, he looked
towards Jordan and Greg. The conversation he overheard shocked him.
‘I know I must kill her,’ Greg was saying
‘Greg, do you really mean that?’ said Jordan
‘She wants to harm me.’
‘What makes you say that?’
‘I’m not just saying it. I have to kill her before
she harms me!’
Ryan shook his head in disbelief and continued to
listen. Greg was talking about killing a cop. It sounded like he was really
going to do it. Excited by the proceedings, Ryan moved slightly forward again,
only an inch, but it was enough to push the door. It squeaked.
Jordan spun around in an instant. Ryan was as quick as
lightning, rushing back to his seat in front of the reception desk, hoping that
he hadn’t been seen. Jordan’s head popped through the door and Ryan looked
up from his magazine, headphones planted firmly in his ears, his heart thumping.
Jordan stared at him coldly then looked around the rest of the vacant room.
Shit, he caught me, thought Ryan. I’m dead.
Ryan turned his attention back to the magazine, not to
read but to avoid eye contact. He thought that looking at Jordan would be
showing guilt. Jordan walked over to the reception desk and stood there for a
Close one, thought Ryan. He’s just come out to check
messages or something.
To Ryan’s horror the counsellor turned and came over
to where he sat. Ryan kept his eyes fixed on the magazine.
‘Enjoying the magazine, Ryan?’ asked Jordan in a
Ryan looked up. ‘Yeah, but I’ve read it before.’
‘They’re a bit old, aren’t they,’ Jordan
Ryan knew he was safe. There was no way Jordan would
be this nice if he’d caught him snooping in on a session. He knew they were
supposed to be strictly private.
‘They are old. Maybe you could get some new ones
in?’ Ryan wanted to keep the conversation around the magazines. Even though he
was sure he hadn’t been seen he didn’t want to take any chances.
‘Maybe I should. What are you reading there? Maybe I
can get more of those in.’
‘It’s an article on sharks.’ In fact Ryan had no
idea what he was reading. The article was the last thing on his mind.
‘Hmm, interesting. Uh, Ryan…’
‘You understand that the sessions you and I have
together are strictly confidential, don’t you?’
‘You wouldn’t be happy if I spoke to someone else
about what goes on in our sessions, would you?’
‘I know I wouldn’t be happy if I were you. To have
someone know what goes on in your confidential session, things nobody else but
the police, you or me should know. You understand?’
‘Do you know what the consequences are of
eavesdropping in on another person’s session?’ Without allowing Ryan to
answer, Jordan continued, ‘Because these sessions are private you could be in
more trouble with the police. That means time in detention.’
‘I understand totally,’ Ryan said hastily.
‘I’d never do that.’
Jordan stared at him sternly. ‘I’m sure you
wouldn’t. I’ll let you get back to your article.’ He smiled. ‘I’ll
look into getting some fresh magazines tomorrow. How’s that?’
Ryan smiled back tentatively. ‘That’d be great.’
Jordan headed back to his office and pushed his door
open. He looked back at Ryan. ‘By the way, Ryan, that article on sharks is in National
Geographic.’ He then closed the door behind him.
Ryan looked down at his magazine. Shit!
He’d picked up a Scientific Weekly.
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