Mary & Monica Ch. 1

Art By Rudolph Belarski

Guy Hardy woke up at 6:30 A.M. to begin his routine for the day. Rolling out of his queen size bed, he turned towards the to the french bay doors that led out to the balcony of his apartment. His living space was on the forth floor of the five floor brownstone that he lived in providing him with a good view of the town which is one of the reasons that he moved there. Guy always begins his mornings staring out of the transparent doors to admire the sunrise. The swirls of colors always fascinated him; just the way the orange light of the sun and blue of the atmosphere managed to create a mix of rosey red, soft pink, or a heavy plum brought radiance into his drab life that lacked any color of the sort. No excitement, no absurdity, no outrageous nights like the ones he would have when on shore leave which would consist of being accompanied by a beautiful stranger.

Guy pushed the thoughts of his current state of life out of his head as he threw on his undershirt, nylon shorts, and running shoes to go on his morning run. Each day he would start with a six mile run around the park he lived ten minutes away from followed by a series of abdominal and gluteus workouts and then stretch his body to keep his body limber and free from any aches. Guy sat on the concrete legs parallel to each other, his back bent forward, and arms extended while trying to mentally prepare himself for the day. He ran through all the points he had to make sure to reexamine with his patients and started his exercise. “Gloria dealing with grief of dead cat, Carl still not finding any friends, Mark struggling to come to terms with divorce, etc…” Guy checked off in his head. Being a therapist had its rewards, but it has become a drag lately for Guy as he grows increasingly tired with the familiarity of life that he has been accustomed to especially the dullness of his patients problems.

“I could get another cat, but it wouldn’t just be the same. My father and mother were never there for me, I had no one to tell me they were proud of me or that they loved me. I gave my wife everything and it still wasn’t enough….,” his patients worries and woes went on, on, and on. Approaching his final mile, Guy pushed hisself harder to drown out the constant complaints that his patients thrown at him letting the drum like sound of his heart and blood pumping fill his head. Each thump coursing through his skull made his body vibrate like an earthquake, giving Guy a high that he had never felt brought on by anything or anyone. “Especially Isabella,” he swished the name around in his thoughts tasting a bitter twist in his mouth and decided to quickly shake it off before he worked himself in a frenzy that no exercise could relieve. Guy finished his workouts, stretched, and fast footed his way back to his apartment disrobing as soon as he got through door and tossed the clothes into the hamper.

The mirror caught his eye when he set foot into his bathroom prompting Guy to stop and notice the US Marine’s tattoo on his left shoulder that he embodied into his flesh during his second year of his eight year stint. His physique was one parting package he maintained from his time with the Marines. Looking closer in the mirror, he took stock in his features deciding against shaving today and to keep the five o’clock shadow. His coffee shaded hair had was taking on more gray on the sides. In his twenties, his hazel eyes were known to light up a room, but now, they were just another dull feature taking away the whatever remnants of excitement and youth he clung onto. Staying out late on especially on shore leave which brought scores of women who threw themselves as soon as a marine set foot on port. Those days seemed long forgotten for Guy and couldn’t imagine anything as close to recreating the life he had in the marines considering he’s currently at the ripe old age of thirty-five.

Guy took a quick shower, dried and styled his hair in his usual then pondered what suit to wear. Again he was trapped in the dilemma of dullness as wearing anything to extravagant or flashy may overstimulate some of his more fragile patients. Rolling his eyes at the thought, he made his way to his closet with regret and felt his life slip away as soon as he slid the door. Staring in the closet but not paying attention to his actions he grabbed the first suit his hand touched pulling out a light gray tailored suit with a navy blue tie and black oxford shoes that had immense luster but was lost. “Just like everything else I come into contact with,” Guy thought. His attire complete, he grabbed his black leather briefcase, morning paper and left the apartment complex.

Throwing his hand out he managed to nab a cab on his first swing. Guy got in and was hit with a foul odor of stale piss and cigarettes. Everything about the cab screamed death with its driver looking like he wasn’t too far off from kicking it. A man between the age range of fifty to sixty with hardened features. His face looked like a torn piece of leather that had seen the harder fights of life and the man’s hair was fraying faster than overstretched fabrics on the man’s double barreled figure.

“I said where to,” the driver said impatiently bringing Guy out of his daze.

“Sorry. Um Fifteenth Street please.”

“You got it,” the cab driver gruffed out then put the car in gear and set out for his destination.

Trying to take his mind off his current surroundings, Guy opened his paper and turned his attention to the giant font crammed onto the front page. “Son of Wealthy Pharmaceutical Industrialist Still Missing: Michael Ellenburg missing for two months,” the headline read and showed a picture of the missing heir. The man in the picture looked like he could be a patient of mine Guy thought. Judging from the look of the picture, Mr. Ellenburg didn’t really look like the type who would get himself into trouble; in fact he didn’t even look like he could attract a parking ticket because he looked so squeaky clean. Plain combed hair leaving no hair out of place, average face presenting no discerning qualities to it but these were the only features he could make out through the black and white copy. If being a therapist has taught Guy anything, never make assumptions notably on appearance alone.

The story reported Ellenburg is missed by many and are wanting a safe return home including his distraught wife, Mary. There was no picture of Ellenburg’s wife but Guy decided to break his rule on assumptions and theorized that she was typical wife of a wealthy man. They pretend to care and cry their crocodile tears hoping for a safe return all the while they hope their husbands didn’t change the will before they went “missing”. Apparently, Mary Ellenburg reported her husband missing when he didn’t come from his church small group and was declared missing after twelve hours. Authorities questioned the wife and she reported no strange behavior from her husband and that he went about his day as usual.

“Dat’s a rather puzzling situation ain’t it,” the driver wheezed.

Guy losing his focus poked his head out of the article and asked, “Hmm, I did’t catch that?”

“Dat guy disappearing. He’s been gone for almost two month’s now and ain’t no one seen him since. Kinda makes you wonder where he might turn up. He don’t look like someone who would be in gambling troubles or pick a fight with the wrong crowd. Dey tried to make de wife a suspect but found out she’s ‘bout boring as her husband is or was depending on how and if dey are gunna find him,” the portly man rambled.

Guy shook his head to indulge the driver and hopefully shut the man up, but he knew most people behind the wheel liked to ramble, since there are matters of disappearances and possible counts of infidelity with a fortune at stake. There was no pleasure to be found in idle gossip for Guy since most rumors just speculate to unreasonable accusations.

After fifteen minutes of pointless blather from the oversized cab driver and excessive head nodding causing a slight pain in his neck, Guy arrived at the tower of medical offices that housed his practice in downtown Seattle. He often sarcastically referred to the building as the mecca of healers. “Dat’ll be er uh $6.50”, the cab driver huffed out. Guy pulled out his wallet and gave the man $7 quickly exiting the car to breach the smell of death.

The cab driver barely gave Guy enough time to close the car door before taking off like a bat out of hell sending him stumbling to the building’s steps. Managing to catch himself, Guy’s body landed in a half bent over position with his hands over his knees clutching onto the gray slacks. Only the black and gray specs of concrete met his gaze as he did his best to pick himself up without any further involuntary staggering. “Well there goes my exciting moment for the day,” he solemnly thought. Following regaining his composure and smoothing out the wrinkles in jacket, Guy ascended up the stairs and pulled open the black solid lined metal door.

Upon walking in, Guy grew weary already as soon as his foot touched the onyx floor. The first floor was a lobby with a directory. On the second and third floors were pediatricians, up three floors from there were physicians, psychiatrists were the next two, and the last three were individuals. Guy’s practice was on the sixth floor.

“Morning Dr. Hardy,” two young nurses said as they passed him. “Morning”, he replied.

Guy did his daily salutations then made his way to the elevator. The elevator was jammed pack with people from most medical professions. Each were debating on the causes of what were going on with their patients, telling jokes about a catholic priest and rabbi going fishing, or regaling how stacked that new actress Tuesday Weld was compared to fellow blonde competition Cleo Moore. Guy didn’t care much for blondes, regarding them as to emotional and nonsensical when it came to having conversations with them. After ten minutes of listening to endless, menial conversations, Guy’s floor finally came and gave him an escape. Brushing past the remainder of people, Guy set foot on to the green hallway carpet and turned right to the first door that led to his practice.

“Morning, Dr. Hardy,” Suzanne greeted. Suzanne Parker was a lanky woman who gave the word prudence a new definition. Always with her curly brown-grayish hair tied in a bun, Suzanne dressed too appropriately for her fifty-seven year old age. Her clothes would never fall down past her shoulder or come up off of the ground. Adorning her purity was a thin gold cross dangling from her neck by a gold chain. Glasses framed her beady eyes adding to her morale namesake and appearance. Standing as the gatekeeper, Suzanne has worked a better part of her life as a secretary, primarily in the medical field, casting her judgmental gaze onto the patients but remaining discreet at the same time. Suzanne picked up her clipboard filled of notes and passed them along to Guy. “Thank you, Suzanne,” he gruffed out.

“Your 9 o’ clock, Gloria is here. She seems to be in good spirits today, I went ahead and put her into your office,” the bird like lady squawked out. “I wonder how many cats she went through this time,” Guy thought. “Thank you Suzanne, I’ll see her in a moment. I just have to go use the washroom,” he said with a bit of urgency.

Guy made his way to the office bathroom in a calm manner not wanting to seem like he was in a dire situation. After opening the door to the bathroom, he braced his back against the wall and slumped slightly. Haunched over he releases a sigh he subconsciously held in whenever he arrived to the office. “Is my life gonna always be like this”, Guy thought in exasperation. His morning routine consisted of this: walk into the office, get notes from Suzanne and annoyance as she lets patients into his office without his approval, rush off to the bathroom and try to mentally prepare hisself for today’s psychological boredom. He took deep breaths and did some minor stretching to maintain his energy for the day. Mentally preparing hisself for the mental fatigue for the day he splashed some water over his face and exhaled another heavy burden that just kept getting heavier with every breath.

(*********)

His day had gone by like any other, unfortunately. Whining on top of whining, and so on and so on. “At least Gloria got that new cat,” Guy thought. The biggest fear she had was what would her previous cat think of being replaced. “I don’t know Gloria, get hit by a car like he did and ask,” he annoyingly thought. While organizing his file, a knock on the door came.

“Is there anything else that you need from me today, Dr. Hardy,” Suzanne asked.

“Hmmm. Oh no, you’ve done plenty for today, go on home and I’ll see you tomorrow,” he faked his cheeriness while dying on the inside.

The frail woman smiled, “Have a blessed day, Dr. Hardy, and may the lord be with you.”

“Yeah, you too,” He said returning his attention to his files. The meek woman finally left the office, giving Guy the alone time he needed. He blankly put his files in place but kept asking himself what was missing in his life. Dissatisfaction seemed to be in every corner of his life; there was no satisfaction with his job, there was no satisfaction with how he was aging and becoming duller by each passing day. The life of the big man was being drained out of him.

“Excuse me, but are you Dr. Hardy,” a faint like voiced asked.

Being brought out of his day dream, Guy whipped his head to his doorway to see a woman standing there. At least he thought it was a woman. The strange figure presented herself in a most modest fashion similar to the pilgrims. Her clothes hung straight down her body, accentuating nothing to give any indication that she was a woman. The only reason why Guy could tell was because of her red hair tied into a ponytail and the oversized framed lady readers with a pearl like chain holding them. The woman looked frightened and unsure of herself. Confidence, another feature she was lacking in.

“Yes, I am,” he answered

“I hate to bother you, Dr. Hardy, but its rather urgent,” the woman said.

“I’m sorry but I’m closed for office hours right now, but if you call back in the morning I’m sure my receptionist can schedule an appointment sometime in the future,” he said while returning to his files.

“No, doctor but I’m sorry it can’t wait. My name is …. Mary Ellenburg. I need to speak with some one or else I’m gonna go out of my mind,” she pressed.