"h.e.l.lo, Mr. Fanshawe-I'm sorry to keep you waiting. I was tending to a chronic patient in need-a unipolar depressive suffering from delusions of morbidity and suicidal ideations-"
Fanshawe ground his teeth. Was she trying to make him feel guilty for bothering her. I don't care who you're tending to-I'm paying more. Before he could speak, she added, "I'm very much hoping that you've successfully removed yourself from the-"
"-from the purveying environment, yes, I have. I'm in some out of the way town in New Hamps.h.i.+re, a tourist spot, and-and..."
Her voice sounded dry. "Yes?"
Fanshawe's nervousness rose up in a sudden wave. "I...had a relapse, I- s.h.i.+t!"
"That's astonis.h.i.+ng, Mr. Fanshawe, and quite disappointing especially considering how well your out-patient therapy has gone thus far. Don't tell me you actually purchased a pair of binoculars..."
"No! I didn't, but then-my G.o.d-I found a pair, here. It was in this display-"
"Display? What are you talking about?"
Fanshawe could only release what seemed a string of ordered babble. "This town, it's...kind of odd. There's this Colonial theme or something, and a bunch of witchcraft stuff, you know, for tourists like in Salem."
Somehow the image of the woman's stern expression slipped through with her words. "Mr. Fanshawe. What does witchcraft have to do with your problem? Not only were you supposed to remove yourself from the purveying environment, you were supposed to banish any implements-such as binoculars-from your proximity."
A lump appeared in his throat. "I-I found them in this display full of old relics, and-and...I borrowed them..."
"You stole them?"
"I-I-" He winced and ran a hand through his hair. "I-yes, I guess I did, but, I swear, it wasn't conscious, I don't remember doing it. I felt like I was in some sort of trance, and next thing I knew it was in my pocket."
Tilton's voice sharpened. "It's called an appositive fugue-state, Mr. Fanshawe, which is a result of undue stress factors as well as other more nebulous things. This led you to drop your conscious guard. Seeking out the implements of purveyance is no better than willingly putting yourself into a purveying environment. We've discussed this."
He looked up, glimpsed some attractive women crossing the street, then grit his teeth. "I know, I know. I just...lost control. I couldn't help it."
"That's a loser's excuse. Addiction therapy only goes so far. There must come a time when the patient must harness his own free will if he truly wants to reclaim his life. You will return the binoculars immediately-"
"Actually, they're not binoculars-it's a looking-gla.s.s, like, er, a s.h.i.+p's gla.s.s, I guess you'd call it. One lens, like a miniature te
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