The angel-hair strands of smoke waft in and out of his nostrils. The menthol scent is strong, carrying a premonition of imminent lung cancer and hints of staleness. If you were to voice your concern regarding this nasty habit, his response would be almost invariably the same:
I’ve lived a good life, he would say, carelessly.
He lends a kempt appearance: A wardrobe dominated by the business-casual button-up – usually housing a plaid or pinstripe design; thick-rimmed glasses; solid color ties; pleated khakis; glossy dress shoes with a shine so elaborate, you could see your reflection in them nearly perfectly.
But his voice is quite the contrary: Relatively hoarse from years of smoking, wheezy; deep and stern, but warm, with a tone that evokes confidence in the adequacy of what he says.
He’s got an odd, almost crass charm about him, which makes me feel comfortable enough to confide in him without fearing that he’ll think I’m mentally out of sorts. He’s quite objective and impartial, especially in the company of his clientele. But I guess one would expect that from a therapist.
I notice the 4 on his door is slightly crooked. I reach to fix it, but before I can, I hear the door unlatch. I take a step back.
“Jolie,” I hear him call from the other side, “welcome back.” The door opens slightly, inviting me into his office. I step inside and close it quietly behind me.
“Fresh air is quite fueling,” he suggests, lighting a cigarette near an open window, “wouldn’t you agree?”
The irony tempts me, but I say nothing. Instead, I change the subject. “Ira, he’s…” I fumble my words. “Lachlan is… he won’t-”
“He doesn’t believe you,” Ira finishes for me. “And you never expected this day would come.”
“Who do I have now?” I continue, my voice shaking angrily.
“Well, I suspect that’s why you’re here. Why we have these sessions.”
Ira often serves as the voice of reason. I’d even go as far as calling him my mentor, in a lot of ways.
To be continued…