Chapter 7

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Ben slammed the gear in reverse and felt himself slam forward as he hit the gas.  He turned the wheel and the sound of tires squealing met his ears as charged towards the stop sign ahead.  With one hand, he quickly retrieved his lighter noticing the uncontrollable shaking as he lit the cigarette in his mouth.  He puffed a few times as he turned towards the main road.  He turned up the hard rock music playing on the stereo, continuing to puff on his cigarette hurriedly as he drove in a zombie state towards the highway. 

He stopped at a red light and felt himself lock up as a roar erupted next to him at the railroad tracks.  A train flew by carrying humvees, MRAPs, and tanks.  Ben's knuckles went white on the steering wheel from his grip.  The images of sand and blood overtook his vision.  The sounds of screaming overwhelmed him.

He was brought back to reality when a faint whisper met his ears. 

"Grayson."

Ben looked around quickly.  The light was now green.  He looked in the rearview mirror and there were no cars behind him.  He kept looking to the right where he heard the whisper. 

"No, no, no, no," he whispered to himself closing his eyes tightly. 

It wasn't Nelson.  He's dead.  It wasn't him. 

Nelson's lifeless eyes came to his mind.  His crumbled body was in front of him.  Blood covered Ben's hands.  Ben threw off the seatbelt and jumped out of the car with his hands on his head.  He gripped his hair tightly as he crouched down wanting this to stop.  Ben continued to stare at the pavement breathing in deeply.  His heart was racing in his chest causing him to heave. 

"Fuck.  Fuck.  No.  This is not happening," he muttered to himself.  He looked back up at his car and didn't see anything anymore.  The vision came as quickly as it went.  Ben limped to his car and looked at the time while he tried to calm his heart from beating out of his chest. 

The green light showed it was 4:37pm.  Ben turned the wheel to the right.  He needed to see someone. 

****

Ben found a parking spot towards the front of the clinic.  It was not as busy being the end of the day.  He glanced at the time again before almost running out of the car.  His leg stopped him.  Ben looked angrily at his leg and cursed under his breath as he limped to the door as quickly as he could.  He made it the elevator and impatiently waited it's slow descend to the main floor.  Ben noticed his breathing was labored making an employee waiting next to him look at him occasionally.  The door finally opened.  Ben pushed the button of the floor repeatedly to the mental health floor. 

He limped over to the mental health counter as soon as he made it up.  Relief flooded him as he waited at the counter. 

Who would have thought I would be relieved to be in this hell hole? 

He tapped his fingers restlessly on the counter waiting for the woman to look up from the screen behind the counter.  The same one who helped him earlier. 

"Can I help you?" she asked not looking up.

"I need to see someone.  Right now."

Ben watched as she at him with an eyebrow up. 

"Do you have an appointment?"

"I guess you don't remember me even though it's been a few hours.  I rescheduled after my appointment was canceled on me.  But I really need to be seen now.  There must be someone here who can see me.  It's an emergency."

"Everyone has to wait for an appointment sir"

Ben felt his jaw clench and his hands turn into fists.

"I'm all too aware.  But I can't take it anymore.  I can't sleep.  I can't think.  I just need to talk to someone.  I can not live like this.  I can't take it anymore."

The woman sighed and put up her pointer finger asking him to wait.  She left to the back and he could see her talking to someone through the small window.  Ben gripped the counter as his leg filled with pain.  He noticed the line behind him starting to grow causing his anxiety to rise.  The woman returned and sat back down at her computer.

"I'm sorry but we don't have anything available.  You can call tomorrow to see if we have any openings.  Or sign up for a wait list."

"I'm already on the wait list," growled Ben. 

"Then, I would suggest to call in the morning."

"Ma'am, do you really think anyone is going to cancel if they are waiting months for a damn appointment."

"Sir, I'm going to ask you to calm down."

"Calm down?  Calm down?!?!  Are you fucking kidding me???" Ben yelled. 

Ben gripped the counter again as the pain flooded his leg standing on it too long.  He turned his attention back to the woman who was looking fairly irritated at this point. 

"Look, I can't deal with hearing and seeing people that are dead.  I can't deal with these fucked up memories.  I'm loosing my fucking mind!!!" he roared.

Ben noticed all the chatter on the floor stopped.  All eyes were on him.

"Sir."

Ben turned and saw a veteran standing behind him had taken a step forward.  His Vietnam Veteran hat was the first thing Ben noticed about him.  Followed by the military badges on his vest.

"You can take my appointment.  You need it more than I do."

Ben felt his rage subside.  All he could do is nod in appreciation.

"Um, no, that's not how this works."

Ben threw his head back to the woman behind the counter.  She was now standing with her hands on her hips. 

"He cannot take your appointment.  He needs to wait like everyone else."

Ben couldn't take it anymore at that point.  He stormed out of the clinic, now hearing the Vietnam Veteran giving the woman hell behind the counter.  Ben slammed his car door shut and sat with his hands on the wheel not sure what to do.


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