A bus approached the curb and I looked up from my book. It took me a few seconds to realize that he was talking to me.
“Dr. Chang? No, Dr. Wang. It’s Dr. Wang, right?” he called. He slowed the pace of his walk. In one hand he clutched a plastic bag filled with loose papers. A backpack bounced against his shoulders. Though it was a crisp autumn day, he wore only a tee shirt one size too large for his frame and had tied the arms of a jacket around his waist. The hems of his jeans were frayed.
“Hi,” I greeted, trying to recall his name. I hadn’t seen him in nearly six months. He stopped and extended his hand to shake mine. His skin was softer than I had anticipated.
“Dr. Wang, I don’t like how they’re treating me at The Clinic,” he began. “They don’t know what they’re doing and I’m done with them. I think they’re working with the FBI, Dr. Wang, but I can’t do anything about that. I don’t feel safe in my apartment and they know this. They’re bugging my apartment. I don’t know what the FBI is looking for, but would you want to live somewhere that is bugged? I don’t. I’m done with The Clinic, Dr. Wang, I really am. What do you think I should do?”
He stood still, waiting for an answer.
Pedestrians filed past. Buses roared along the street. An occasional yellow-orange leaf fluttered to the ground. A dozen people looked down the avenue, looking for their bus to whisk them away.
I opened my mouth, still uncertain of what to say—
“I’m sorry,” he interjected. “You’re not here to provide psychological help right now.”
Before I could reply, he began to turn his body away from me.
“I’m sorry, Dr. Wang.”
He began to walk away as the bus I wanted approached the curb. Before stepping towards my bus, I looked back at him.
“Have a good day, Dr. Wang!” he called, waving at me. I waved back.
As I boarded the bus he looked back as he continued to walk forward. Over the heads of the people between us he shouted: “Thank you, Dr. Wang! THANK YOU!”