Not wanting to be rude, he chomped down on one of the peanut-butter snacks. A drink would have been useful to wash it past his dry throat, but why waste time with asking. Thinking it only fair, he began by telling the actor of the three psychiatrists who'd died while Solomon was in mid-treatment. One had expired quietly in his chair, just as Solomon was about to kick off a session. Surprisingly composed, Solomon had called 911, and then respectfully faded away, later writing a letter to the man's widow. Only in the weeks that followed did he grieve.
Three psychiatrists. Each one dead and gone. There was a slight flicker of concern on the actor's face, and why wouldn't there be. But then that, too, faded away.
"It would be ego to think I had anything to do with the deaths, don't you feel?"
The actor shrugged and spread out his hands, palms up, as if to say, "How can we tell? If only we had the answer to such questions."
A perfect response, thought Solomon.
He continued: "The last doctor who bit the dust felt it was important to deal with my feelings about money."
Bit the dust. Solomon was aware he'd used an attention-getting phrase, a little jokey, perhaps to defuse the pain he'd felt when he'd lost Mel Glickman, an important figure in his life.
"And then, of course, the prostate caught up with him. Brilliant man; brave, too. Continued his practice to the end, although it was hell to see him squirming around in the chair. I could barely concentrate."
Was it possible that the actor winced and did a little reactive squirm in his own chair? Such empathy, Solomon felt. Incredible.
He continued along. "So we never did get around to covering money, although something strange just happened, just now, right here in your apartment."
The actor's eyes widened a bit, with what seemed to be authentic curiosity.
"For the first time, I flashed on my mother's first words to me about money. I was a boy of 5."
Now the actor leaned forward, chin in hand, an elbow on his knee.