Chapter 3 – Dr. Phaedrus

Dr. Phaedrus was quiet, but not the type of quiet that would indicate humble wisdom. The snow white ermine gave off a wave of coldness, which the subconcious felt and understood it as… condemnation? Shyness? Patients seemed to be most sensitive to the doctors aura; a cloud of fear loomed over his name.

No one ever wanted to be evaluated by Dr. Phaedrus.

Yet the cunning stout disguised his lack of empathy so well and so naturally, the cold chill could easily be lost within a gently spoken phrase or deceptively warm smile. His coworkers didn’t pay too much heed to his coldness, mostly because he did not siphon his attention onto a detectable person.

Except for one.

Dr. Phaedrus took immediate repulsion to the odd woman who went by ‘Dr. Kuin’. Since the very day of her unannounced arrival and acceptance to the institution, her non sequitor practices and sometimes outright chaotic theories disturbed him. She followed most of the faculty’s rules, but she always seemed to find a subtle way of swinging her feet around their impending barriers, connecting with her patients on an emotional level in which he could not, and his occasional irritation escalated into a seething anger.

Frustratingly, no one else seemed to be willing to put an end to her antics. They always seemed to turn the other way when she did something just a little out of line, smiling and whispering to their friends something like “there she goes again.” He didn’t think the situation was the least bit funny. He despised the fact that Kuin’s absurdities and unprofessionalism seemed to have a positive effect on the patients. None of it made sense; how could she not honor the fine foundations in which the stoic institution was built upon and get away with it? Least of all with him in charge as Director of Psychiatry. She put a splotch on what he considered a flawless finesse.

But the point of true agitation was that Dr. Kuin was completely unafraid of him. Everyone at some point felt Dr. Phaedrus’s cold temper and learned to avoid his provoction, but not Dr. Kuin. It was as though beneath her chaotic surface of an aging, romantic feline of mottled shades of brown, black and cream fostered a calm entity with which he had no power. It mirrored the same aspect in which he chambered his hatred inside a gentle, slender man who took time out of his day to trim his cuticles and slick back his glossy white hair. Their inner cores opposed each other, while their outsides showed little signs of the inner turmoil. No one was aware of his keen contempt except of his colleague, and even she ignored it.

Today he spied her hurrying down the halls when she should have been evaluating patients. A scowl formed on his thin, narrow face. His deep, crimson eyes narrowed as he found her slipping into the filing chamber, carrying what seemed to be a painting? Already she was disrupting the system, and it wasn’t even 8 AM. He slipped in after her, allowing the door to close silently behind him. Inside was a cavernous library of files neatly packed into cubbies which made up long, monolith bookcases. Electric lights strung high overhead, reflecting against the stainless steel and marble floor. He followed the sounds of shuffling papers, and a murmured “ouch” from one of the many aisles, packed with confidential information of every patient housed there.
He rounded the corner to see Dr. Kuin’s back arched over a drawn out cubby of folders and nursing her thumb that had a fresh papercut. His yellow tipped tail flicked impatiently as she continued to thumb through the folders with her uninjured hand, muttering “Where is it?”

“Why are you not evaluating patients?” Dr. Phaedrus asked, and was pleased to see her jump at his voice.

“Dr. Phaedrus!” she looked up at the glowering director with wide eyes that were magnified by her glasses. “I’m setting up an art therapy session this afternoon.” She watched the director try to harness his surprise.

“You can’t be serious.” he said, and she stiffened her bottom lip indignantly. “I cannot allow you to do that, we haven’t a spare room for such frivolity and you’re not authorized to set up appointments on other doctors time frame-”

“Art therapy is /not/ frivolous-” she interjected, but he continued on in a stronger voice, overpowering her.

“Furthermore, it would disrupt the schedule of our right wing patients, who have not the free time with all of their other activities going on. You expect others to drop everything for your sudden epiphanies?”

“But I’m only planning for two patients today.” This statement even threw him more off track, and she continued on while he still overcame his surprise “I realized that this situation might not prove well in the schedules of others, so I thought I’d create a social experiment with two patients who showed artistic amplitude. While that is going on, I will evaluate the rest of the patients of the ward, and as such select the ones out of the many who show artistic interest. It will be killing two birds with one stone you see, of course, assuming the first session goes off without a hitch, which I’m sure it will.” Dr. Phaedrus hated her smile, which grew with each breathless word.

“And…” he spat out the ‘D.’ “Who are your first two guinea pigs?”

“Patient 924 of the left wing and patient 1031 of the unstable ward.” The ermine snorted.
“Of course, I should have known that this impulsive action had something to do with patient 1031.” Dr. Kuin frowned with a dismissive wave of his hand. The director of psychiatry seemed to be the only one who had sensed Dr. Kuin’s connection with the patient she had brought in not long after her arrival, which was probably due to the fact that he was the only one paying close attention to her. The director did everything in his power to keep the two apart, and that’s what he intended to do again now.

“All of our supervisors are booked for today. You cannot proceed with the task without one.” But Dr. Kuin was prepared for this statement.

“Hobbs has already contacted Dr. Chuvez this morning, and he said that he would assist in supervising today if no one else can. If I can only find patient 1031’s case files I shall be able to set up the session.” Dr. Phaedrus was stupefied to have found himself in such a perplexing situation, and his feelings toward Dr. Kuin were only making it more confusing. She was ignoring him now as she turned back to finger through her various files.

“… but it appears as though someone has already taken them. The patient must be in the process of being evaluated right now…” the statement struck an ‘aha’ moment in Dr. Phaedrus. He recalled seeing Dr. Liok with Nox Vanezio’s papers earlier that morning when he had strolled by his desk. Of course! Dr. Liok was a respectable, if not highly esteemed psychiatrist; he liked things orderly, and he had a sense of dignity that would overpower Dr. Kuin’s chaotic behavior in ways that he knew he could not. The director had a genuine respect for the man because of this, and he decided he was going to page Nicodemus right then and there. He whipped out his pager to tap him a memo.

Dr. Liok had been summoned from his assessment with great haste not for the whim of the director, but for an emergency situation in one of the wards. As the circumstances stood, one of the patients had become extremely agitated during a session and attempted to throw a chair at his therapist. Several of the staff had bolted in to restrain the enraged man, and Dr. Liok had been paged immediately. When he arrived, he gave the patient a shot of haloperidol, which sedated him enough to be led away and back to his quarters, shuffling along between two of the staff members that had restrained him.

In fact, Dr. Liok had already been on the way to the staff room to fill out the paperwork necessary to document the hold when he received the urgent page from Dr. Phaedrus. In bemusement, he stared at the clipped message that darted across the top of his pager.

While Dr. Liok certainly respected all of the staff working at the hospital, he had formed significant attachments to none of them and merely addressed each of them with a cordial, neutral air. Though he took Dr. Phaedrus to be a somewhat cold and remarkably shrewd man, Nicodemus could not say that he knew enough about his particular style in interacting with patients to pass judgment on his therapeutic style. Even if he had, Dr. Liok was a very nonjudgmental clinician—even if someone’s technique differed wildly from his own, he held a consistent assumption that there would be something useful that the other therapist could do that Dr. Liok could not. That was the whole point of a cohesive hospital team—that each clinician would have different specialties and talents.

This was not to say that Dr. Liok did not consider certain things to be inappropriate, narrow-minded, manipulative, authoritarian, or just plain wrong. It did mean, however, that he had not seen a great deal of this behavior from most of the staff at this particular hospital… yet.

When the psychiatrist loped into the staff office, it was with a modicum of surprise that he also saw Dr. Kuin there too. “Hello Dr. Kuin, Dr. Phaedrus,” he greeted in a neutral tone, placing Nox’s file on one of the tables as he bent down to remove a restraint document from one of the cubbies. The wolf gathered the blank sheet with the manila folder that carried Nox’s information as he turned to look at the neatly-groomed ermine. “Did you need me for something, Dr. Phaedrus?”

Dr. Phaedrus greeted the wolf with an easy smile; the palpable hostility that he had displayed towards Dr. Kuin had completely dissipated. In its place remained a composed, if not just slightly beleaguered ermine.

“Yes, Dr. Kuin seems to have a misunderstanding about our safety protocol,” he explained, his voice  laced with what sounded like parental scorn. Dr. Kuin, from the moment Dr. Loik had entered the room, had gathered herself up with papers and painting in hand. Her eyes trailed the wolf’s movements with subtle, furtive interest as he replaced Nox’s papers, the ones she had been searching for a few minutes earlier, back in their nests. Sometime later that evening, she might return here and look over at what he had written.

“Dr. Liok have you ever heard of a patient from the unstable ward having one-on-one therapy with a patient from the left wing?” Dr. Kuin felt her face blossom into lukewarm discomfiture. The way Dr. Phaedrus said things seemed to automatically undo everything she thought was great and good. Her tail brushed whimsically against her legs and she removed her glasses from the bridge of her nose. Without them, her heart-molded face showed the likeliness of a puma, dark streaks dripping down from the corners of her soft, slanted eyes and coalescing to her bottom lip, which she now bit into.

“My intention was to provide an opportunity for patient 1031 to have outer contact only with one person at first,” she said. “I was under the impression the patient hadn’t had much contact. I thought immediate socialization to a group of people after such a prolonged period of isolation might cause him trauma–” Her words fell short as she caught the shadow of a smirk from Dr. Phaedrus, which was quickly replaced with a concerned expression.

“He is not of your concern Dr. Kuin; he is not part of your case file,” the ermine recriminated smoothly, and then turned back to the greying wolf. “Why, Dr. Liok is far more knowledgeable in this situation, if anything, he should be able to decide whether or not he is fit for therapy or not.”

Dr. Liok watched the conflict-fraught exchange with more than a little bemusement, deciding that he had probably walked in on a very taut disagreement. He noticed that Dr. Phaedrus’s unctuous smile did not quite reach his cold eyes, and disappeared entirely into something resembling disdain when he looked at Dr. Kuin. In truth, the wolf was slightly disturbed by the lack of collaboration he saw—while of course it was appropriate and even necessary sometimes to disagree, Dr. Phaedrus gave him the impression of denying Dr. Kuin her requests simply because he did not like her, rather than because he thought it was best for the patient.

A thoughtful frown grew along his muzzle and his brows knitted together in dull consternation. “Well, no, I have not heard of that kind of tactic before,” Nicodemus admitted honestly, deciding to be candid. “It would be an unusual therapeutic method, particularly because of their differences in functionality.”

His cavernous, ice-blue gaze was suddenly fell on Dr. Kuin like twin eagles, but not unkindly. “I think… there might be appropriate reasons to do so, however if both were willing and they had certain things in common. There’s always a chance that the patient from the unstable ward will achieve a higher level of rapport with a highly functioning patient than a therapist, simply because he or she is a patient rather than an authority figure.”

Dr. Liok glanced back at Dr. Phaedrus. He understood the director’s concerns—Dr. Liok himself wasn’t at all sure it was a good idea, but one worth pursuing, perhaps. “If it makes you uncomfortable, Dr. Phaedrus, perhaps you could think of it in terms of an unusual group therapy session. As for whether the client in question is fit for therapy or not… it’s my belief that all clients who are even slightly inclined to want therapy are fit for it. Perhaps you disagree, doctor?” he concluded with a tilt of his head, inviting disagreement.

Dr. Phaedrus’s eyes narrowed slightly, but he could not gracefully avoid the wisdom evident in Dr. Liok’s reasoning. He cleared his throat just slightly to buy him some time.

“No, of course not,” he replied. Dr. Kuin ran her fingertips over the smoothed edge of her clip-board and decided that now was a good opportunity to speak.

“I… have set up a slot for an art therapy session this afternoon with patient 924 of the left wing with patient 1031 of the unstable ward,” she said after the uncomfortable silence that followed. It seemed as though Dr. Phaedrus was having an internal struggle with himself and couldn’t, no matter how hard he tried, think of something intelligible to say, so Dr. Kuin continued while she still could. “She is an avid artist.” Her grip on the painting tightened just slightly as she tilted it up for the doctors to inspect, her face pulling into the gentle characteristics of a smile, but no evident smile broke across her lips.

“I have yet to confirm the session, as Dr. Phaedrus pointed out, as I’m not currently aware of patient 1031’s condition.”

Dr. Liok continued to watch the ermine, fully aware of the meaning of the bitterly cold expression that had spread like an oil spill across the doctor’s face. They had somewhat of a clash of interests, although the wolf still wasn’t quite sure what Dr. Phaedrus’s interests were. Nicodemus was a neutral man who preferred not to take sides; nevertheless, he would certainly argue in favor of a patient’s best interests. It was quite possible, however, given Dr. Phaedrus’s expression, that Nicodemus had just taken the first step in the creation of an enemy. Although he did not like to think in such terms as black and white—enemies and friends—sometimes they were quite appropriate.

However, Dr. Liok knew that the other doctor thoroughly outranked him, given his position as the director. Thus, he could not help but feel a trickle of unfamiliar trepidation as he watched him struggle to respond.

“I welcome you to assess patient 1031 yourself, of course, doctor,” the wolf encouraged. “Tricky decisions such as these can only be solved by collaboration. I myself have just undergone an examination of that patient, and wish to review some of his medications with you, actually, in the interest of altering them somewhat. His medications… and his diagnoses.” Dr. Liok’s eyes flicked over to Dr. Kuin, allowing a quick glance at the painting that she hoisted in the air. A small smile played for a moment on his lips as he betrayed a polite nod.

Dr. Kuin’s face seemed to lift like a wilted flower that had been given a well-desired drink.

“I’m afraid Dr. Kuin’s schedule will be a bit booked for today,” Dr. Phaedrus’s voice seemed to have lost its polite luster, but it maintained a soft and slow tone that seemed reminiscent of apologia. “She has entire left wing to evaluate, which she has already put off.” The ermine had acquired a set jaw. He had detected a web in which he could not afford to entangle himself. “… since she has shown such evident interest in this case file, I’m willing to slip her into a minor role if she is able to finish what she has been assigned for today.”

Dr. Kuin’s lips parted in surprise.

“Presuming you finish your evaluations in due time, I would like you to delve further into patient 1031’s history.” And when he said this, he seemed to sense that Dr. Kuin would automatically jump at this chance, and he was right. The feline was suddenly bereft, tottering on her heels oh-so-slightly, shifting the painting awkwardly. She glanced back at Nicodemus, who had so kindly offered her to share in the assessment, but now Dr. Phaedrus was offering her something better. Something seemed wrong here…

“I-” she began, hardly knowing how to respond, but the ermine was prepared.

“Do not worry my dear, I’ll take care of everything,” reaching out and gently lifting Jaciam’s painting from the psychiatrist’s unwilling hands, as if taking away a child’s beloved toy. Lusia watched in growing fascination as the ermine smiled, displaying a row of perfect, white canines.

“You better run along.” he whispered after a minute. Dr. Kuin jumped and wheeled around on the spot.

“Yes! Of course, I will… begin right away.” With her clipboard pressed against her chest she bee-lined out of the room, her mind buzzing with newfound confusion. Dr. Phaedrus waited until he heard her heels disappear behind the metal door of the filing room before returning his attention to Dr. Liok, his expression dramatically different. His smile was replaced with a stony mask, and a threatening aura now lingered behind those crimson eye holes.

“I’m sure there are plenty of other psychiatrists in this building with which you can discuss this case file,” he spoke in the soft dangerous tones that, up until this moment, he had not expressed fully to anyone else except for Dr. Kuin. “As for me… I now have an art therapy session to see to.” And with this statement, he too, made his exit, his well tailored coat flapping restlessly, The Ashes of the Late World balanced in his fingers… which, he thought with a ping of annoyance, he would have to get rid of later.

Dr. Liok’s expression was as smooth as a sheet of ice and just as devoid of emotion as he watched Dr. Phaedrus’s unctuous treatment of the younger clinician. He experienced several unpleasant, tickling sensations of surprise as he realized that Dr. Kuin could not detect the sly, manipulative style that the director was now using. Nicodemous tried to remember where he had seen that oily manner before, the one that outwardly promised presents and friendship and inwardly threatened to eat out your soul. It only took him a minute to realize that the director’s demeanor reminded Dr. Liok precisely of several of his old clients that he had diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder.

The wolf’s pale eyes followed Dr. Kuin’s progress out of the staff office and promptly reverted back to the ermine, who had immediately dropped his unctuous tone and the sycophantic smile. The smallest of frowns betrayed itself on Dr. Liok’s face at the man’s cold reply, but the wolf refused to reveal anything other than cool neutrality towards the director. “Yes, I’m sure I can,” he agreed crisply, without definite tonality in his voice.

Nicodemus watched Dr. Phaedrus move away with the painting, the door swinging open and shut again, leaving only the silence and the hovering unease. He felt as if he had just watched a mildly upsetting television program. The rest of the evening, even as he diligently revised Nox’s files to incorporate a new pharmacological treatment plan and an updated official diagnosis, Dr. Liok could not dismiss the unsettling feeling that he had made more than a trivial workplace enemy.

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~ by komicks on February 27, 2011.

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