The lieutenant had been slow to start talking, but once he began, the haunts from his past poured forth like the first wave breaking through the dike. The doctor generally limited the sessions, especially the early ones, to an hour, but he was still taking well into the second hour. He covered his days at boot camp, how he finally felt he had found his purpose in life, and the importance of following orders.
When he finished talking about the awful day when everything went to pieces, he sighed, took two deep breaths, and closed his eyes. The doctor noticed the lieutenant’s right hand begin to tremble. The shaking rattled up the lieutenants wrist, elbow and soon his entire arm was shuddering. The doctor made a few notes and then watched as the right hand came up to the lieutenant’s mouth, like it was holding a cigarette cupped between the 3rd and 4th fingers. The lieutenant took a long drag on the memories of smoking with his men and the shaking stopped.
“You know Doc, I just remembered a weekend in Paris, before the war.”
“What made you think of that moment?”
“I’m not sure Doc, it just wedged its way in through all the mud, fire, and tears of the war.” He took another drag.
“Would you like a cigarette?”
“You see Doc, you can’t get this brand here in the states, so I’ll stick with mine, if it’s all the same to you.”
The doctor opened a small wooden box on the coffee table and pulled out a cigarette for himself. He lit it and said, “Go on, tell me about Paris.”
“It was a couple of years before the war. I had an uncle doing some business over there and he asked me to come along. The funny thing is, I don’t remember him being there at all.”
“Oh? What do you remember?”
“I remember Cole Porter. I didn’t seem him in person or nothing like that. I just remember hearing his songs every night at this cafe. You know, Night and Day, I Get A Kick Out of You, and You’re The Top, were some of the biggies. The best song though, by far, and those Frenchies played it every night, Let’s Do It. Heck, I even liked that song as a kid.”
“I have that record. I like it too. What else do you remember about Paris?”
“It rained one day, not hard, but steady. I was walking someplace and ducked under an awning. A moment later a woman joined me. She said hello and a bunch of other things, but I only understood “Bonjour”. She was real pretty. I just let her talk and smiled. Gosh, I haven’t thought about Odette in years.”
“This has been a very good first session. I don’t want to stop, but I simply must keep my next appointment.”
“I understand, Doc.”
“If you would like, we could get together after dinner?”
“Okay. I’ll be in my room. You’ll come find me?”
“That will be perfect. I look forward to hearing more about Odette. Maybe I’ll see if I can dig out that record. Would you like that?”
The orderlies came in and escorted the lieutenant back to his room. The doctor made a few more notes and then made a call.