“Frankly,” the rabbit said after a long silence, making a show of staring off into the distance, “are you sure it’s only my problem?”
Despite the small cushion placed behind its head, the couch was hardly comfortable. Lounging about like a human being was not a thing it chose to do often. If only it were back in the snug safety of its warren.
The sound of Freud’s pen scratching across the paper was all that came by way of reply. As always, Freud was impeccably dressed with a suit and a tie, his grey beard neatly trimmed. He’d even made sure his glasses were properly cleaned. Appearance was of extreme importance when dealing with patients, leaving no rough edges for them to wheedle their way under.
“What if …” the rabbit hesitated, then changed its mind. “I’m a rabbit. I presume we agree on that.”
A flurry of scratching indicated that Freud had not fallen asleep. That was a relief. Although it gave no indication as to whether the man was listening. He might well have been writing about his mistress or the flatulence that the mixture of freshly baked bread and home-made raspberry jam invariably gave him.
“How often do you get to talk to a rabbit? Not often I’d wager.”
Freud almost sighed at the thought of the smoke he’d had earlier. He just stopped himself in time, knowing his reactions would invariably be misinterpreted. Professional in all things, he thought, wagging a mental finger at himself. He reined in his wandering thoughts as he began to speculate about the significance of an upraised finger. All the same, he’d have to see if he could get some more from the same supplier, it was dreadfully good.
“Was that a sigh I heard?” the rabbit asked. It was probably jumping to conclusions, but it ploughed on, regardless. “What if my being a rabbit were a problem for you rather than me?”
The rabbit cocked an ear in Freud’s direction, but the man made no sound, as if he were holding his breath. Then the scratching resumed.
Didn’t little babies suck their finger for comfort? Freud mused, his eyes fixed on his notepad. He preferred not to look at the patient. Experience had shown that doing so could be a distraction. It was so easy to get drawn into the follies of his patients. Despite his efforts, he could have sworn he glimpsed a rabbit on his couch. He smiled to himself. That smoke really had been strong.
He shook his head, trying to clear it of the silly idea and glanced at his watch. To his relief, it was time. Freud got to his feet. “That will be all for today,” he said, closing his notepad and setting it on his desk. “Give the money to my housekeeper on the way out.
“But I have no money,” the rabbit explained.
“Don’t worry. I’m sure the housekeeper will find a suitable arrangement,” Freud called out over his shoulder as he hurried out.
In the library, Jung was waiting for him, browsing through the larger books about art and primitive societies. Freud glanced at the title. As he’d feared, it was about some mystical subject. What a waste.
Taking the book from Jung’s hands, Freud took him by the arm and led him into the dinning room. “Why don’t we eat?” he said. “All this listening makes me hungry.”
Once Jung was seated, Freud poured them both a glass of wine and sat down across the table from his colleague. “I had a most curious case this morning,” he told Jung. “A fellow who was convinced he was a rabbit…”
Jung look up at him, startled, then smiled. “I trust you had carrots for it.”
They were both still laughing when the housekeeper carried in a large tureen and a plate of roast potatoes.
“This is delicious,” Jung said, tasting the succulent meat, tender in its rich wine sauce. “What is it?”
The housekeeper beamed at the compliment. “You’re so kind Dr. Jung. I made it fresh this morning. It’s rabbit stew.”