The Mysterious Doctor Kruger
Almost everyone dreams of living in some exotic place, or in another time period, or making love to the perfect partner. Imagine what it would be like if some hypnotherapist could send you into a trance and you could customise your dreams, dreams that exactly mimic reality and where weeks, or even months could be compressed into a one hour session.
Peter Byrnes and Mary McCutcheon who had both taken early retirement from teaching at the same school in 1970, often talked about their dreams. He, a divorcee and she recently widowed, they’d meet once or twice a week in their favourite Dublin café to drink a little coffee, reminisce about old times and talk about the things they’d change if they were able to do it all over again.
Unlike Peter, a down to earth borderline atheist, Mary was always involved in things esoteric. Clairvoyants, Ouija boards and religion played a big part in her life. In spite of the fact he thought much of what she said was complete nonsense, he listened patiently to her ramblings because he knew it made her happy. He even envied her at times. At least she had an interest in life, since he’d retired from teaching there’d been a big void in his, a void that seemed impossible to fill.
One day at their regular meeting Mary tells she had just spent three weeks as a Polynesian Princess on a Pacific island. He can’t make out at first whether she is just having a little joke and there’s a punch line coming – or if she is showing the first signs of senility. She went on to explain that she had found an absolutely incredible hypnotherapist, a Dr. Kruger, who used to practice in Vienna.
“He can send you into a trance and during the time you are under his influence you can live whatever life you have dared to dream of.” she said, excitedly. Then she leaned over the table, almost knocking over his coffee, “If you could go anywhere in the world right now – where would you go?”
Peter smiled and rubbed his chin, “Well”, he mused, “I’ve just been reading this book about Paris in 1924. The author talks about this little café on the Boulevard St. Michel where he would sit for hours observing the patrons and the folk passing by. I’d love to go there just to see if it’s the same kind of place he describes in his book – a place bubbling over with romance, philosophical discussions and political intrigue. With my luck,” he laughed, “It’s probably been turned into a fast food outlet.”
“Why don’t you just hop a plane and go see for yourself,” she asked.
“No, no,” he retorted, “I don’t want to go as an old man; I would like to be young and energetic like the author of the book. I’d like speak fluent French and blend in with the college students, possibly have an affair with a beautiful young woman. You see,” he said, with a sad sort of smile on his face, “I dream too.”
Valerie clapped her hands together enthusiastically, “That’s the kind of crazy dream that Dr. Kruger can turn into reality.”
Peter laughed, “He could turn me into a young stud again?”
“If that’s what you want.” she said.
She paused for a moment and then her face lit up like a Christmas tree,
“Look, why don’t you come with me to my next session, I’ll introduce you to him, he’s a wonderful person; I know you’ll like him.”
In spite of Mary’s pleadings Peter diplomatically declined the offer.
“Just as you wish,” she said, as she got up to leave the table, “But one day you will feel the need as I did. When you do – don’t be embarrassed to tell me – the offer will still be open”.
Peter sat for a while after Mary left and his mind wandered to that little café on the Boulevard St. Michel. Even though he was a die-hard sceptic it amused him to imagine himself sitting there with his new body, conversing with some beautiful young Parisian woman and sipping on a glass of Chardonnay.
Peter didn’t see his friend a couple of weeks has she had family visiting from Galway. He missed their little get-togethers and by the second week he was feeling desperately lonely and depressed. He began to think how Mary always seemed so buoyant, so happy, so relaxed.
“Perhaps there’s something in this Dr. Kruger thing,” he mumbled to himself. “Maybe I should give it a try, after all – what can I lose – a few pounds at the most.”
It wasn’t easy walking into that establishment when he was so full of doubts and afraid that he might be making a fool of himself. But he did it.
The Doctor’s office was all white. The walls, the ceiling, the carpets even the furniture. He cautiously shook hands with the diminutive doctor who, being dressed in the same color, sort of blended in with the décor.
The Doctor bid him to sit in a large winged chair and armed with a remote control, he seated himself immediately across from him.
“You said on the phone that Mary McCutcheon recommended me”
“Yes, she seems to have great faith in you,” Peter stammered.
“But you haven’t?”
“I wouldn’t say that.”
“What would you say then?”
“I’d say that it seems too good to be true.”
“Perhaps you think that Mary is just a hysterical female with an over active imagination.”
“I don’t think that,” Peter protested.
“But you do,” he smiled, “I can read your mind.”
Then he just sat there for a moment and fixed Peter in his gaze.
“Please always be frank with me Mr. Byrnes – as they say – the truth will set you free.”
Peter was feeling very uncomfortable prompting him try to clear his mind of all thoughts. He sat further back in his chair trying to put a little distance between him and the doctor.
Doctor Kruger clicked the remote, the lights were dimmed, the sound of Schumann’s Träumerei filtered through the speakers in the ceiling and a panel opened revealing one of those black and white wheels that revolve and makes one feel quite dizzy.
Still feeling that he was participating in something rather silly, Peter mumbled how he would like to be sitting outside the Café Beauvoir in 1924, about how he would like to be young and fluent in French, have a pocket full of cash and be attractive to the opposite sex.
The Doctor didn’t comment on his choice, he simply explained that Peter would be under hypnosis for about one hour. During that time it might seem to him that he was there for days or even weeks.
“That part is a little unpredictable,” he said.
Peter sat up with a start, “Unpredictable!”
The Doctor slowly rubbed his chin and smiled, “I think you are becoming a believer.” he said. “Don’t worry; I haven’t lost a patient yet.” Having said that he put his hand to his chest and winced with pain.
“I shouldn’t have had that pickled cabbage with my lunch,” he grumbled, “It always give me indigestion but I never seem to learn from it.”
He adjusted his position and after a couple of big breaths he continued.
“I want you to understand that, even though you will be detached from your present state of reality, you will always be aware of your true identity.” He picked up a small metal triangle from the table beside him. “When I want you to wake-up I shall strike this triangle.” he demonstrated with a gentle tap, “Then you will back to normal. You may be sorry to return to reality but that is how it has to be. Now I want you to stare at the revolving wheel and think about your dream.”
Peter, although feeling quite uneasy and almost ready to get up out of the chair, still followed Doctor Kruger’s bidding. As he stared at the wheel, which appeared to be going in ever decreasing circles, his eyelids started to feel heavy, and a warm sensation flooded his body. He could just hear the Doctor’s voice, coaxing him on but it got fainter and fainter and then he was suddenly awakened by the sound of clinking dishes and the buzzing of people talking.
Right Place – Wrong Time
He opened his eyes and found himself sitting in a sidewalk café. Peter started to panic and got up clumsily from the table where he was sitting. He looked at his reflection in the café window and sure enough he appeared to be about twenty five. Feeling his face to make sure it was his he then turned his attention to his clothes which looked somewhat out of date, then turning towards the street he’s baffled by the vehicle that were passing by. Most of them looked like models from the nineteen thirties or early forties.
“O shit!” he cried out loud, “I’m in the wrong time!”
Copyright 2009-2016 Cristiano Caffieri