He notes Jacob’s slouch, the heavy load weighing down his shoulders. Not that most of their visits he’s happy-go-lucky by any means, but today gravity has caught him in its grips, and even the dark circles under his eyes seem stretched, as if reaching for the floor.
“How are you doing, Jacob?”
He shrugs. “Bad day. Bad week. Bad year.”
“You taking your meds?”
Jacob gives his head a shake. “Come on, Doc, we’ve talked about that. They make me feel loopy.”
“But in the long run, they’ll help you get better.”
“If you say so.”
It’s then Samuels notices a tightly folded paper that Jacob is flipping in his hands. Over and over it goes, his fingers and thumbs working it as if it was one of those fidget things. Jacob’s eyes, wide, yet dull, stay on the paper, never missing a turn.
“Still having the nightmares?”
Jacob lets his head rise, albeit slowly. He nods. “They seem to happen every day.”
Dr. Samuels makes a quick note, gives it a thought, then erases it and jots down something else. Most of his contemporaries use iPads or tablets, but for him, nothing beats a Number 2 pencil and a yellow legal pad.
He points at Jacob’s paper. “What is it you have there?”
The flipping stops, and the room seems to take on an eerie silence. A light tint of red creeps its way up Jacob’s face.
“It’s a list. One I started putting together some time ago.”
He looks away, takes a breath – a long one – then looks back. His eyes are moist and Samuels wonders if some horrid memory of Iraq has captured his patient, pulling him back into one of his deep, dark holes.
“Can I see it?”
Jacob again looks away, but only for a moment, then finally nods. Rising, he sets the paper - now more wadded than folded – on the doctor’s desk.
Samuels opens it and leans back. In scribbly handwriting it reads:
“I don’t understand, Doc. The government pretended there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and we raced off to war, leaving guys like me to come home all messed up. Yet here, when crazy, angry people buy real WMDs and shoot up a school, no one does a damn thing...”