Meet Cute #6: The Therapist and the Client

The woman was red-faced and flipping off the driver in front of her when Dr. Judith Redmond pulled up next to her at the stoplight.

Dr. Redmond thought of the woman as Dani, because that’s what the woman’s vanity plates said: Dani88.

Dr. Redmond rolled down her window. Dani’s windows were already open, a rock and roll song blasting through the speakers.

“Hello,” yelled Dr. Redmond.

Dani turned, squinting at Dr. Redmond. Dani seemed to be about 40 and was pretty enough, in that well-preserved spinning-and-yoga way.

“I couldn’t help but notice how angry you are,” Dr. Redmond went on, smiling. She glanced up at the stoplight. Still red. Probably it would be for a while. They were in a busy suburban shopping area, big box stores on all four corners of the intersection.

Dani lowered the volume of her stereo. “I’m sorry, are you talking to me?”

Dr. Redmond was practiced at keeping her tone light. “I just thought, maybe you’ve been having a rough day?”

Dani glared. “It’s been a shit day,” Dani said. “Thank you for continuing to shit on it.”

Dr. Redmond was confused. “How am I shitting on your day?”

In response, Dani cranked her stereo again. Rock and roll billowed forth, drowning out the piano sonata tinkling from Dr. Redmond’s own stereo.

It might have been Dr. Redmond’s imagination, but it also sounded like Dani revved her engine.

“I’m a psychotherapist,” Dr. Redmond yelled. “Specializing in women’s anger issues.”

Dani looked straight ahead, her lower jaw jutting past her upper.

Dr. Redmond realized other drivers were beginning to stare, but she needed to go on. This woman needed help. This woman was suffering and making everyone around her suffer, too. If she were willing to rage like this at a complete stranger, imagine what she must do to her boyfriend or girlfriend or children or parents.

What was more, Dr. Redmond needed new clients. Needed them desperately. She and her husband of 20-odd years were divorcing, and just yesterday he’d filed for alimony. What with the new house she’d moved into, and JoJo at college, she couldn’t remember the last time she’d had an unbroken night’s sleep.

Dr. Redmond dug into her glove compartment and found one of her business cards. With an accuracy of aim that surprised her, she flicked the  card through her own window and into Dani’s.

Dani flinched as the card landed on her passenger seat — face up, Dr. Redmond could only hope.

“The hell –” Dani shouted. She picked up the card and hurled it back at Dr. Redmond, who in turn volleyed it back. The card again landed on Dani’s passenger seat.

“Lady? This is fucking illegal,” Dani barked over her music. “Throwing shit into someone else’s car –”

“Actually, I don’t think it is,” Dr. Redmond said. “But what is illegal, young lady, is murder.”

Dani again lowered her stereo. “What did you say?”

“You seem on the verge of it now, if I can be frank. What is it, honey? A relationship? Is that it? Some awful bastard” — Dr. Redmond didn’t ordinarily use expletives, but she wanted to consider her audience — “who never understood you, never even tried? Was jealous of your success when he should have been proud — What are you doing?”

“Calling the police,” Dani said. She’d picked up her cellphone and was dialing.

“That’s not the number you want to call!” Dr. Redmond said. “The number you want to call is on the card, dear! First session free!”

But just then the light changed, and Dani floored the gas. All the cars around Dr. Redmond began to move, too.

As car horns blared, Dr. Redmond released her brakes and accelerated, too.

Dani would call. Dr. Redmond knew she would.

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