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4


"And how did you feel?" Dr. Ramos said.

"Angry," Janet Ross said. "Angry as hell. I mean, that nurse was standing there, watching it all. She pretended she didn't understand what was happening, but she did."

"You felt angry about…" Dr. Ramos let his voice trail off.

"About the operation. About Benson. They went ahead and did it. I told them from the beginning - from the goddamned very beginning - that it was a bad idea, but Ellis and Morris and McPherson all wanted to do it. They're so cocky. Particularly Morris. When I saw him in the recovery room, gloating over Benson - who was all taped up and pale as a ghost - I just got mad."

"Why is that?"

"Because he was so pale, because he, uh- "

She stopped. She fumbled for an answer, but couldn't think of a logical response.

"I gather the operation was successful," Dr. Ramos said.

"And most people are pale after surgery. What got you mad?"

She said nothing. Finally, she said, "I don't know."

She heard Dr. Ramos shift in his chair. She could not see him; she was lying on the couch, and Dr. Ramos was behind her head. There was a long silence while she stared at the ceiling and tried to think what to say. Her thoughts seemed to be churning, not making any sense. Finally Dr. Ramos said,

"The presence of the nurse seems important to you."

"It does?"

"Well, you mentioned it."

"I wasn't aware I had."

"You said the nurse was there and knew what was going on.

… What, exactly, was going on?"

"I was mad."

"But you don't know why?…"

"Yes, I do," she said. "It was Morris. He's so cocky."

"Cocky," Dr. Ramos repeated.

"Overly self-assured."

"You said cocky."

"Look, I didn't mean anything by that; it was just a word-

" She broke off. She was very angry. She could hear it in her voice.

"You are angry now," Dr. Ramos said.

"Very."

"Why?"

After a long pause, she sad, "They didn't listen to me."

"Who didn't listen to you?"

"Any of them. Not McPherson, not Ellis, not Morris. Nobody listened to me."

"Did you tell Dr. Ellis or Dr. McPherson you were angry?"

"No."

"But you vented your anger on Dr. Morris."

"Yes." He was leading her someplace and she couldn't see where. Normally at this point she could jump ahead and understand. But this time-

"How old is Dr. Morris?"

"I don't know. About my age. Thirty, thirtyone - something in there."

"About your age."

That pissed her off, his way of repeating things. "Yes, God damn it, about my age."

"And a surgeon."

"Yes…"

"Is it easier to express anger toward someone you regard as a contemporary?"

"I never thought about it."

"Your father was also a surgeon, but he wasn't your contemporary."

"You don't have to draw me a picture," she said.

"You're still angry."

She sighed. "Let's change the subject."

"All right," he said, in that easy voice that she sometimes liked, and sometimes hated.



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