The Zen Room at Southside
© 2000 Melissa K. Michael
The Zen Room at Southside
by Melissa K. Michael
THERE WAS SOME VAGUE HOMICIDAL IDEATION, BUT
WITHOUT INTENT OR PLAN.
Shelley’s fingers flew over the keys tapping out a staccato
counterpoint to the sonorous legato drone of Doctor Holman’s
voice in her ear.
ASSESSMENT: MR. JAMISON CONTINUES TO SUFFER PARANOID DELUSIONS EVER
SINCE GOING OFF OF HIS CLOZARIL APPROXIMATELY TWO YEARS AGO.THESE
DELUSIONS, SPECIFICALLY, SEEM TO BE DIRECTED TOWARD THE PSYCHIATRIC
PROFESSION, WHICH HE FEELS TO BE USING CLIENTS AS EXPERIMENTAL ANIMALS
FOR DRUG COMPANIES. IT IS MY FEELING THAT MR.JAMISON IS NOT RECEIVING
ANY BENEFIT FROM THE ZYPREXA AND SHOULD HAVE A TRIAL OF ANOTHER
ANTIPSYCHOTIC SUCH AS RISPERDAL; SINCE THE TRIALS OF HALDOL DECANOATE
LAST YEAR, AND PROLIXIN BEFORE THAT, PROVED UNBENEFICIAL.
Neither the doctor’s voice nor the keyboard’s clicking
could drown out the smell of hot bagel emanating from the bag behind
her in the tiny transcription office.
“I will not eat bagels and cream cheese. I have nice, fresh
salad full of vitamins and minerals and enzymes for lunch,”
Shelley growled. Her stomach growled back. She shuddered, remembering
the dream she had awakened to. Shelley had a faced a mirror, but
the woman who peered out of her face had been fat. Huge,heavy jowls
hung from her chin. The image was some eighty pounds heavier than
PLAN: THE PATIENT AND I DISCUSSED VARIOUS OPTIONS, ALL OF WHICH
MR. JAMISON REFUSED. BECAUSE HE DID CONTRACT FOR SAFETY, HE WILL
BE CONTINUED ON HIS CURRENT DOSE OF ZYPREXA. I WILL SEE HIM BACK
IN THREE WEEKS OR SOONER, IF NECCESSARY.
“Drat,” Shelley growled again. This progress note was
dated June 21. Three weeks ago. He was due back today. Shelley smiled.
Alexi Jamison was a cutie pie.
She glanced at her watch as she saved the file and sent it to print.
Soon, she’d be four weeks behind on the dictation because
it was nearly time to take over the front desk and still a dozen
errands to be run. Laying Jamison’s progress note on top,
she gathered the various papers and carried them into Medical Records.
“This could take down an elephant in three seconds flat,”
Jeff said. He and Paul were facing away, hunched together over the
bag of goodies the drug rep had left, the real reason for his visit:
drugs, not bagels.
Shelley dropped a stack in the To Be Filed crate.
“And this would wake the dead. What’s she doing with
this stuff?” Paul asked.
Shelley slid her dictation into the Doctor’s box to be signed,
then the rest into the shredder.
“Maybe for her private practice.”
The men turned at the sound of the shredder and hastily closed the
bag and put it down as if they had nothing to do with its contents.
“What’s that?” Shelley asked, thinking that Dr.
Holman did more therapy in her private practice, what she wanted
to do. Here at Southside Clinic, it was all med checks, with the
staff of CCSWs to do the therapy.
The two men exchanged a blank glance. Shelley hefted the To Be Filed
crate and brought it to the work table directly in front of the
“Did you hear Chris Dihoff died?” Paul asked suddenly.
“Really,” Shelley answered. They always pretended like
they were discussing some big conspiracy that she couldn’t
be a part of. She went along and pretended not to notice the sudden
change in conversation. “Guess I’ll have to cancel his
“Yeah. It’s really weird. ER reports says SYMPS OF LOBOTOMY.
Pity it happened to such a nice looking guy, Shelley thought to
herself. Tall, dark, and handsome. Like Jamison. Like many of Dr.
Holman’s clients, though she had quite a variety: paranoid
schizophrenics, major depressives, severe psychotics, panic disorder,
bipolar disorder, personality disorders.
“A real shame,” Jeff observed. “He was doing real
well for the last few years. A complete mess before he met Dr. Holman.”
“Yeah, before the Zen Room he used to get hypersexual and
run around his neighborhood naked, screaming curse words at the
kids and trying to seduce their mothers.” Paul and Jeff snickered.
“They go in wild as rabid skunks, and come out nice as Buddhist
monks,” Paul quoted Southside’s Unofficial Motto.
“Regular Angel of Death sweeping through here lately,”
Jeff said soberly.
Shelley raised an eyebrow, her hands automatically sorting through
the chart to find the correct place for a copy of the reminder letter.
“Third client in two months,” Jeff said. “Who’s
“Maybe it’s the drugs,” Paul offered.
“Or maybe something else,” Shelley said.
Her finely tuned ear picked the soft beep out of the office chatter
and clatter from two rooms away. She snatched up a roll of stamps
from the front desk on her way to the fax. She stamped three envelopes
and placed them in the OUT basket and grabbed the morning’s
faxes. Her return to Medical Records was slow as she sorted the
cover pages, trying to match them with their copy and error pages.
It never failed, there was always some jerk who rifled them looking
for job openings and left them a mess.
Her eye caught on an ER report.
ANDERSON, JOHN PETER. DOB 05/04/54. PRESENTS AT ER IN POLICE CUSTODY
AFTER HOLDING KNIFE AT OWN THROAT FOR EIGHT HOURS.
Shelley looked over at Reba on the phones. Noon already. “Be
right there. Let me pee first.”
“Check this out!” Shelley said handing the ER report
to Paul. She put the lab reports in the Doctor’s box, the
court documents in the case manager’s box, and the consents
for release in the appropriate therapists’ boxes.
“Took him down with Tasers and pepper spray!” Paul exclaimed.
Jeff, looking over his shoulder read, “Dr. Holman’s
clients are all zombies! She should be investigated for malpractice!”
“Is he a client of hers?” Misty asked while picking
up her day’s charts.
“He’s not a zombie,” Shelley said. “Zombies
don’t hold a knife to their own throat for eight hours.
“Good afternoon. Southside Clinic. May I help you?”
“This is Rosa Gonzalez from American Business Products. May
I speak with the person in charge of purchasing your office supplies?”
“Hold please. Southside Clinic, may I help you?”
“This is Benita Wright, I can’t take it anymore. I’m
gonna check myself into A Wing if something doesn’t happen.”
“Michael’s on back up--”
“Oh forget it!” (click)
“Southside Clinic, may I help you?”
“WalMart pharmacy calling for a refill authorization for a
patient of Dr. Straw’s.”
“No doctor here by that name. Thanks, bye. SouthsideClinicmayIhelpyou?”
“This is Detective Forsythe of the Greater Millsboro Police
Department Crisis Unit. We’ve got a call regarding a mentally
challenged person we believe might be headed to one of the social
service facilities in the area. It appears he has wandered away
from the hospital.”
“Uuuhh.” Shelley’s head began to beat in time
with the blinking green lights of the calls on hold. “Client
“John Peter Anderson. He’s about six foot, two hundred
pounds, brown eyes, brown hair.”
The ER report!
“You know this is where Dr. Holman works,” Shelley stated.
“Is that so?” the Detective sounded surprised.
“Hm. I’ll see about sending a patrol over there. In
any case, call us, or 911, if he shows up there. All right?”
“Thank you for your cooperation.”
Shelley smiled up at Mrs. Alderman waiting patiently for the avalanche
of calls to clear. Shelley couldn’t remember who was holding
for whom and took the ticket to schedule her follow up appointment.
“Come on back,” Doctor Holman called to the waiting
Alexi Jamison stood and strode after her, eyes rolling, mouth hanging
open. Noncompliant with his meds, Shelley surmised. She hadn’t
seen him come in. He looked really bad today. Normally, he was a
dreamboat. Too bad he was psychotic.
“Two months. That’ll be September 12th. Is 8 a.m. all
right?” Shelley asked Mrs. Alderman.
Alexi Jamison was six foot tall, two hundred pounds, with brown
hair and eyes. How many men were? Those three clients who had died
in the last two months were, also.
“Here’s your reminder. Take this over to Billing,”
Shelley said while handing the papers to the sprightly lady.
On a sudden whim, Shelley did a LOOKUP of Alexi Jamison on her computer.
Name, DOB, age, sex, and system ID flashed across the top of the
screen. Today’s appointment with Dr. Holman. Jamison lived
on Bim Street. What kind of a street name was that?
Shelley’s eyes dragged back along the screen as though by
an exterior force. DOB 05/04/54.
A unique birthdate, but hadn’t she just seen that somewhere?
Shelley’s body froze with realization. Icy cold adrenalin
spurted into her bloodstream with the suspicion forming in her mind.
The phone rang, jerking her into action. Ignoring the call, Shelley
jumped up from the desk and sprinted to the To Be Filed crate. She
snatched up the ER report and saw the same Social Security Number
as well as birthdate. Jeff and Paul . . .
Back at the desk, she did a LOOKUP on Jon Peter Anderson. He was
in the system. Two names, same person. How?
Shelley snorted as she reached for the phone. They caught stupid
mistakes like this everyday. The schizos and psychos had multiples.
It was easy enough to obtain IDs for them. And their pen names.
She hit 911 then looked up at the sound of both front doors opening.
Four uniformed police officers sauntered in.
“I think he’s here! Now! In with the doctor.”
Shelley hissed, waving her arms as she came around the desk.
Their expressions grew serious.
“I think he’s got an alias. Alexi Jamison is in with
Dr. Holman, but he’s got the same birthdate and Social as
“One of many of his alias’. I’m Detective Burke.
Can you take us to this room?”
Shelley nodded and led the way to the Zen Room, where so many disturbed
clients found peace. She heard a heated argument from behind the
closed door. It was ended abruptly by another sound. Like that of
a body hitting a carpeted floor.
“Dr. Holman?” Officer Burke called, trying the knob.
It was locked. “Open up. This is the police.”
“I’m in session!” was her reply.
“Dr. Holman, we believe you may be in some danger. Open up
“Just give us a few minutes. We’re fine,” she
answered. Then much softer, “We’re fine.”
“Okay Bullet,” Burke nodded to the six foot five steel
girder that also wore a uniform.
Bullet took a step forward and snapped his right leg out to kick
the door. It exploded inward, still locked, but dangling bits of
frame. Shelley’s jaw dropped in shock at the sight of Dr.
Holman straddling Mr. Jamison in the middle of the office floor.
The doctor slid from the supine form, pants down about the knees,
and tugged what looked to be an ice pick from the inner corner of
his eye. Dr. Holman smiled malevolently at Officer Burke as she
stood and slowly advanced. She looked like a completely different
woman to Shelley. Her normally jovial expression was twisted into
a snarling sneer.
“And here’s another one,” the doctor began in
a soft, deadly voice. “Pretty boy. Pull a gun on a defenseless
woman. I’ll stop you Pretty Boy. I’ll crawl all around
inside your head, learn all about you.” She advanced slowly,
holding out the bloody pick. “Learn what makes you tick. And
I’ll stop you . . . from ever . . .” Suddenly, she shrieked
and fell to the floor, dropping the pick to clutch at her temples.
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