Burt Jarvis pushed open the door to the waiting room and took a seat. It was like any other waiting room in the average dentist or in some such waiting area. There was one man in there before him. Burt gave the man a cursory glance, took a look around and then fixed his gaze on nothing in particular.
‘Who are you waiting for?’ the man enquired.
‘I don’t know, I was just told to come here. I got a letter but it didn’t say who it was from,’ Burt replied.
‘That’s funny, I was told the same thing,’ the older man said.
‘So, what do you do?’ Burt asked for no reason in particular.
‘Well, that depends…’
Burt thought for a moment, then he said, ‘depends on what?’
‘Well,’ his voice had an echo about it, ‘that depends on you Burt.’
Burt felt a finger of fear run down his podgy spine, how the heck did the guy know his name. He sure as hell knew he wasn’t wearing a “My Name is Burt” T- shirt printed on the front. He sat back in the plastic chair puzzled. Maybe he remembered him from school, then the ages didn’t seem right.
Burt glanced at the other man more closely noticing his long black coat, black trousers and well-worn looking black shoes. It did occur to Burt then that a long black coat in the middle of summer was strange, but kept that to himself.
Aside from his clothes, Burt noticed his black hair had streaks of grey. All in all, a fairly well-kept guy.
He shifted uncomfortably in his seat as he pondered, scratching his chin.
‘So,’ the man’s voice broke into Burt’s thoughts.
‘Have you given it any more thought?’ the man asked in a voice that at first seemed croaky but then appeared to get louder.
Burt swallowed before speaking, all of a sudden his throat was dry, his lips even drier. His mouth opened and then shut, but nothing came out. He looked around the room as if that would contain the answers to questions that died a death in his belly region.
An ordinary room, low level square tables, tatty looking magazines, a few small windows that were surprisingly closed on such a warm day. Probably explained why Burt could feel damp patches forming under his armpits. His trousers felt tight and uncomfortable.
‘When was the last time you saw your kids?’ the man asked pointedly.
‘How, how…’ Burt squealed.
‘That’s not important Burt, ‘what’s important is that you see them. I mean, how long has it been?’
‘About twelve years,’ Burt replied obediently.
‘That’s a long time.’
Burt thought for a while as beads of sweat trickled down the sides of his forehead. Who was this guy? How could he know so much? Telling him, Burt Jarvis what he thought was good for him. It didn’t make any sense to Burt, maybe he was caught up in some sort of TV programme where they revealed your secrets and habits, and before long there would be cameras and lights flashing in his face. Burt looked around again nervously, but saw nothing in the room that would lead to that. Strange.
The man’s voice boomed when he continued, ‘what about those times you cheated on your wife?’
‘That was just the once,’ Burt lied.
The man arched a greying eyebrow. ‘What about all that money you have been stealing from your firm?’
Before Burt could think he blurted out, ‘do you know how much it costs to keep your mother in a nursing home? It’s bloody expensive. What he didn’t add was he would be happy when she dropped down dead.
‘I could go on Burt, but you know the wrongs you have done over the years, so I say this. Do you repent?’ he shouted.
‘What!’ Burt screamed. ‘Are you some sort of Jesus freak?’
The man pointed a slender finger at Burt. He chanted repeatedly ‘are you sorry?’ His eyes rolled upwards and Burt could see a spray of spit coming from his mouth.
Burt made to get up but his legs wouldn’t do his bidding. The room began to spin around as if it wanted to consume him. The magazines on the table began to flap open and close. Burt fell to his knees and clasped his hands in the prayer position.
‘Let me out of here!’ Burt sobbed.
He then had a clear vision of who he was. A dishonest accountant. A paunchy man with a bad comb-over who had no principles. He hadn’t given his behaviour a moment’s thought. Until now. Then he saw himself sick, alone and in agony as he died in screaming pain from some unknown illness.
By now Burt’s chubby body was trembling with fright. He managed to get himself back to his feet and wobbled to the door. He gripped the handle, but it wouldn’t open. He began thumping it and twisting the handle.
‘Please, please,’ he pleaded, ‘I don’t know who you are but ‘I’ll do anything you ask. Let me go and I promise to do the right thing from here on in! I swear!’
‘Good,’ said the man, in a voice that was now almost a whisper. ‘You see Burt, I didn’t listen and I have been in torment ever since. ‘My work is finished here,’ he then added.
A confused look swept across Burt’s sweaty face, and in that moment the door opened and the room settled back to what it was before, an ordinary looking waiting room. Burt chanced a look backwards, but to his surprise the man was gone.
Burt hurried from the room as fast as he could into the bright sunshine.
Thanks for stopping by
Until next time, Sharon