The Mind Reader (2015)
Chara’s was off to check in with Ted Langley. She found herself to be a bit more eager than professionalism demanded to see him. Did he keep his enthusiasm for starting anew? She certainly prayed he did.
Every time she saw this man, he was more handsome than the last. That was something she couldn’t say about the new French doctor. In the first few minutes of meeting the doctor, she thought he was the most gorgeous specimen of a man to walk the earth. Now she couldn’t even stand to be in the same room with him.
As she walked down the corridor she kept her ears open for the faint thoughts of her other patients in their rooms. She wanted to ensure that no one needed anything immediately. Their thoughts, as well they should be, she decided, were centered on getting well and thinking about reuniting with family and friends. No one seemed to think they were in a “crisis mode,” as Chara and several other nurses called it.
Another advantage of reading minds, Chara thought. If I were in the vicinity, I could take care of any urgent matters immediately. This surprised many of her patients who hadn’t even pressed the call button and found Chara next to them.
Chara peeked into his room before announcing herself. It was evident that Langley had, indeed, kept his enthusiasm. He was busy gathering his belongings. “Excuse me, Mr. Langley,” she said. “But what exactly are you doing?”
She hadn’t seen on his chart he was being released that day. The room was quiet. No stray thoughts bouncing off the walls. She knew in her heart that Langley had to be thinking something, but she was surprised to find herself as frustrated as she was with not being able to know exactly what that was. Was that a part of the sexual attraction she felt for him?
Wait! She did a double take at what just ran through her mind. She usually didn’t have the luxury of reviewing her own thoughts except at the end of the day when she was alone.
She admitted she was sexually attracted to Langley. Before this went any farther, she admonished her mind, we’ve got to stop talking like that. We’re standing here talking with one of the most influential businessmen of the age. And we toss the term sexual attraction about like we’re referring to the neighbor next door.
Her mind immediately countered even the hint of thinking about him that way. Even if he were interested in her, it was far too dangerous to get involved with him without knowing what his intentions were. Her mind traveled back to her experience with Dr. Renault. I can read his mind, she mused, and it’s too dangerous to get involved with him. Perhaps this so-called gift prevents me from having a satisfying romantic relationship with any one.
“Are you talkin’ to me?” Langley asked jovially. “They’re springin’ me from this joint, schweetheart,” he said. He gave her a big boyish grin and added, “That’s my best Humphrey Bogart impression as poor as it might be.”
Chara laughed, the remark catching her completely out of the blue. He then nearly ran up to her and asked. “Got a minute? I’ve got to tell you what I’ve been up to since you talked to me yesterday.”
He held her by the shoulders. Chara felt an electric charge race through her body. It struck her like a bolt of lightning. She hadn’t expected this type of reaction from him or from her. What was she feeling? Normally, she braced herself for moments like these. She could do nothing to protect herself from the shock of his touch. Langley gently sat her down on one the ugly green chairs visitors used.
She couldn’t decide if she were horrified at his actions or honored at his familiarity. At the same time, she was still trying to assess her own responses. Up until that moment, she hadn’t realized how much of her previous romantic relationships she could predict, simply because she could read the man’s mind – even if he thought of something only seconds before he acted.
It was a new feeling for her and tremendously more exciting than she ever could imagine. She looked into his eyes. Her mind couldn’t fathom a single thought of his, but right at this moment she didn’t even care. She was lost in those eyes. Drunk on the crystal clear universe she found there, uncluttered by any words bouncing around her mind.
“Chara,” he said, interrupting her own thoughts, “I have the most exciting projects I’m working on when I get out of here and I owe it all to you.”
“Me? Why me?” she asked as if he were accusing her of a crime. His remark astonished her. Is this what people without the gift deal with on a daily basis?
Up until this moment, Chara felt a pang of regret for those people who couldn’t read the thoughts of others. But now, she was wondering if she were the person who had been missing that vital piece of the puzzle all these years. Not knowing what to expect. Getting lost in his stare. Wondering when he would touch you next and where.
“Yes! You!” Langley’s excited voice brought her out of the bedroom and into the hospital room again. “You inspired me.”
Chara looked at him quizzically. “I didn’t think I had such a profound impact on your thinking. I know I didn’t say a thing you didn’t already know.” Okay, so she really didn’t know this for sure because she couldn’t read his mind. She was quite positive, however, that there was little a nurse – any nurse for that matter – could tell an industrialist like Langley about success that he didn’t already know.
But she sat there, silently mesmerized not only by his actions, but every movement of his muscles. Obviously, he had tossed his hospital gown aside because he was dressed in a tight pair of jeans and a tight polo shirt. The man had a set of abs.
“You told me that plenty of people did it every day,” he said.
“Uhm, and that would be doing what, every day?” she asked. Her inability to read his thoughts even moments before he spoke now frightened her. If he were banking on her ramblings yesterday to catapult him back to the top of his game, she certainly worried about his future.
“To paraphrase a very wise nurse, ‘pick yourself up, dust yourself off and start all over again.’”
Chara laughed spontaneously. It was truly liberating to be sitting there with a hunk of a man, not knowing what to expect next. He plopped on the bed like a kid.
“I thought about what you said. Instead of counting everything I didn’t have anymore, I began to list what I did have,” he said so fast his words practically ran together.
“Well . . . “ Chara began, “don’t leave me hanging. I can’t read your mind, you know.” It seemed awkward and strange to be uttering those words – and really and truly meaning it for a change. It was usually a line she gave people when she had just read their minds.
“After giving it much thought I discovered that the assets I thought I valued most – my money, my businesses, my real estate – weren’t the most vital one. The most important asset I have for rebuilding my business is my network of colleagues. You see, I don’t necessarily need the money. I can raise more of that. I’ve learned there’s an abundant supply of cash in the business world. You just have to know where to look. Then you basically just claim it as your own.”
He paused gazing into Chara’s eyes. She wondered, for the first time in her life, what someone was thinking of her. “So I made a few phone calls yesterday, just putting a few feelers out. A few more calls today, contacting some old buddies of mine who, well I must admit, do owe me favors.”
Ted paused for a beat, but just to catch his breath. Even though Chara couldn’t tell what would come out of his mouth next, she was she he was talking at the speed of his thinking. By the sound of it, his mind was traveling at least a mile a minute, if not faster.
There was not a person among those that even hesitating in offering me the venture capital I needed to make my new project a reality. They even told me with my track record, they had no qualms at all about the deals. Who knew it would be that easy? It was just a matter of asking.”
Chara felt her own level of excitement growing as he talked in depth about his future business plans. She felt an uncontrollable desire to know more. She knew she wouldn’t understand it all, but if it made this man so happy, so utterly complete, then she needed to know more.
“So what kind of deals do you have in mind?” she found herself asking.
Before he could answer that Dr. Renault walked into the room. Chara was enraptured by Ted’s plans, his actions . . . okay, I’ll admit it, she thought, every movement of his body too . . . that she had blocked out all other thoughts and couldn’t hear those of the doctor’s as he entered the room. Until it was too late.
The energy in the room plummeted. Chara, for whatever reason, felt the need to jump out of the chair. She couldn’t tell if Ted felt the same things, but he too, bolted off the bed. Perhaps it was he had been surprised at being interrupted. She could never understand why doctors had the right to think they could enter a patient’s room without knocking first.
“We meet again, Ms. Ferguson,” the doctor said, “We’ve got to stop meeting like this. People are beginning to talk.” He paused a beat and then asked, “I’m not interrupting anything am I?”
Suddenly and without knowing why, Chara felt extremely awkward and . . . exposed. Even though it was a talk about Ted’s future business plans, it felt intimate to her. She felt as if he were baring his soul to her. Renault had no right to interrupt that.
“Here you go, sir,” Renault said to Langley, “just sign at the “x” and you’re free to go home.”
Ted practically grabbed the paper out of the physician’s hands. “I never thought I’d see this day come,” he said. “Thank you, doctor, for everything you’ve done.” He paused and shot a quick glance at Chara.
“But what I’m really grateful for is the wonderful nurse you have at this hospital, Chara. It was her words of encouragement that helped me out of my slump, completely transformed my thinking and then took that emotional and physical burden from my heart. I don’t know how I’m ever going to thank her.”
Chara waited. Still, no thoughts from Ted bouncing around. She found herself forced to take him at his word. Surprisingly, she not only accepted it, but felt quite humbled by the complement.
“Yes, Chara is a remarkably intuitive nurse, with an amazing way with patients.”
Ted handed the release forms back to the doctor, who immediately turned them over to Chara. “You know what to do with these,” he said casually. The two men shook hands.
The nurse quietly slipped out of the room.
Sitting at the nurses station later that day, Chara inputted all the information concerning her patients into the computer. She found that her mind couldn’t focus on her rote work. She kept fantasizing about Ted Langley.
She imagined how incredibly romantic and exciting it would be to live with a man like Ted, never knowing what he would be up to next. Always eager to know about his next project, never knowing what he was thinking. Every moment of every day would be new and refreshing, she would never know what he was up to. She would greet each day anew, always surprised by the next moment . . . and the next moment . . . and . . .
She sighed deeply, totally caught up in her own thoughts, only recognizing the intruding thoughts of others, when she heard a collective gasp from the other nurses. She could barely separate one thought from the other and really was at a loss of what was happening when she looked up from her work.
Ted was at the nurses’ station and he had apparently had just asked for her. “Oh, I see her,” he said, and without seeking permission, just walked behind the desk. The nurses made a weak attempt at stopping him, but to no avail. Apparently, when this man made a decision, no obstacle stopped him. Chara knew that their curiosity had gotten the better of them. They wanted nothing more but to see this scenario played out.
He walked up to Chara’s desk, gently touched her hand and then pulled her out of her chair. The gasps grew louder and longer.
“Chara, I can’t thank you enough.” He looked into her eyes. Chara thought she would melt, the feeling totally shocking her. Then he kissed her on the cheek.
The entire area broke into applause. Someone shouted, “Encore.” That was all the encouragement the man needed. “He gave her a bear hug and whispered in her ear. You work tomorrow?” Chara nodded.
“I’ll call you tomorrow here,” he said. “I promise.” He held her wrists and gave her one last long look. “Oh, what the hell,” he said, “What do I have to lose?” He held her close again and kissed her passionately. Again, the nurses broke into applause. Chara knew there were the thoughts of the other nurses ricocheting around her mind, but they were inconsequential to what she felt at that moment. Despite all the people who surrounded her and Ted, she knew they were alone in a special moment in time.