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Chapter 10 -- The Support Group
Copyright © 2002 Chris Gonnerman. All Rights Reserved.

Mark stayed for supper that evening, then drove me to the medical office building where the support group meetings were held. The building was largely empty, save for the cleaning crew and the psychologist who was hosting the meeting. I was invisible, of course.

I saw from her nametag that she was "Dr. Elizabeth Richmond, Ph.D." She was short, but of medium build, in her forties. Her hair was blond and she had permanent laugh lines; I felt sure she smiled often.

The room was labelled "Multi-Purpose Room." There were six folding chairs arranged in a circle; other chairs and folding tables were folded up against the wall. The room had large windows nearly covering one of the long walls, opposite the door, but I was not worried about discovery as this was a second-story room.

The doctor was arranging her notes, seated in one of the chairs; I took up a position away from the circle, and away from the doorway. Shortly the support group members began to arrive.

The first was an older woman, in her fifties or sixties I guessed, plainly dressed. She was black, of course, as I expected all the group members to be. As she entered the doctor looked up and said, "Kamaria! How are you today?"

"I am well. I'm doing better." She sat down, just as another woman entered. This one was tall, young, and athletic; her face had a darkness to it that had nothing to do with her skin color.

"Hi, Doc." She sat also. Her clothing was casual, worn jeans and a T-shirt with frayed edges and a few torn spots, and sandles. I took her for perhaps eighteen.

"Hi, Japera. Are things going any better for you?" asked the doctor.

"No. I'm trying hard to ignore the talk, like you said, but it ain't easy." Just then two more women walked in together; one was very pregnant.

"Marjani, hey, you are looking good!" said Doctor Richmond.

"Good?" said Japera. "Girl, you look like you gonna pop!" I was pleased to see the tall girl could smile if she wanted to. Marjani made an unladylike snorting noise, and everyone giggled. It was hard not to join in.

The other woman, who was of average size, had very dark skin. She helped Marjani into a chair and sat down beside her.

"So, Raziya, how are you feeling?" the doctor asked.

"Better, Doctor Elizabeth." Her accent was pronounced, but I didn't find her hard to understand. "You have all been so helpful to me. I still don't think my husband approves of these meetings but he no longer complains."

Small talk ensued for perhaps ten minutes; the clock on the wall said they were at least five minutes late starting, unless the small talk counted as a start. I was pondering this when a large woman entered the room and took the last chair with some difficulty.

"Kengi, hey, have you lost weight?"

"Yes, I have, isn't it wonderful? Forty-two pounds since I started treatment!" She must have been heavy indeed then, I thought. "My self-esteem is so much better that I don't desire to eat so much!"

Their conversation became more structured then, as Doctor Richmond took over and began guiding the women through talking about their problems, and their goals, and so forth. I listened for perhaps half an hour; it was enlightening.

Finally I decided it was time. I had already looked through the still-open door into the hallway and concluded the building was empty. All the women were sitting back in their chairs except Japera. I took up a position right behind her, made a slow, careful pass with my hand and formed a word silently, and they all fell instantly asleep.

I had to move quickly to catch Japera. Though not fat, the tall girl was much heavier than I had expected, and I could not convince her limp body to remain in the chair, so I lowered her slowly to the floor. The rapid movement following the spell casting had broken the fragile Invisibility spell, but that shouldn't matter for a while. The Sleep spell I had prepared was powerful enough to keep them all asleep all night.

I turned out the lights, and locked and closed the door. It had a window of frosted glass, so I knew we would not be seen. I was worried about the families of these women coming for them when they were late arriving home, but that was a problem I could not control.

I released a Mystic Vision spell, stepped to the window and Tapped the nearby Ley line. Before starting the healing process I replaced the Tap spell and prepared another Sleep, not the powerful blanket version but an easier single-target one.

Marjani, the pregnant woman, would be first, I had decided. I put my Ring of Regeneration on her finger and "tied" the Tap to it. I began watching the clock then, in the uncertain light from the parking lot outside, and had passed fifteen minutes that way when suddenly I had an idea. I released an Aura Reading spell, which I had replaced almost as an afterthought earlier.

Sure enough, the scars hidden under their clothing were visible as distortions in their auras. I found I could see the healing progressing, and I was able to remove the ring and move on to Japera in just about forty minutes total. At this rate I would get done much earlier than I expected.

I progressed in this fashion to Kengi, then to Raziya. I was watching her scars healing, by means of her aura of course, when I realized she was looking at me!

"Who are you?" she said uncertainly. "What am I..."

I didn't let her finish before I spoke the word and activated the Sleep spell. In the poor lighting I wasn't sure how well she had seen me; this could be trouble. I used the second Invisibility spell I had prepared earlier, then sat there pondering how she woke up from the spell-induced sleep.

There were no further surprises, and I was done by midnight. I put on my ring, dismissed the Tap, and unlocked the door. I chanced a look down the hallway, only to see two men striding toward me. I left the door ajar and stepped back inside.

One of the men was Hispanic, I believe, and dressed in a security guard's uniform. The other was black, tall and muscular, with a determined look on his face. The guard opened the door, turned on the light, and said something in Spanish. The other man went straight to Raziya, saying something in another foreign language. He seemed to be trying to wake her, so I dismissed the spell on her, then after a moment on the others. They all began to awaken.

At first there was confusion. Kengi, in particular, seemed about to panic; she was talking continuously in her native language and her eyes were open wide. Doctor Richmond stepped in and took control, saying "Ladies, ladies, calm down. Is anyone hurt?"

"My head hurts," said Japera. "Feels like I been sleepin' ona floor." She grinned, then said "I had two or three beers and a latte' before I came here, and now I need to go!" She pushed past the other women and the security guard at the door and went down the hall to the ladies room.

"I also need to visit the ladies room," said Kengi, and the security guard (who I could now see was named Hererra according to the nametag on his shirt) gave way this time.

Frankly, by now I was getting impatient. None of them had noticed the change.

Hererra approached Doctor Richmond, with a notebook and pen in his hands. "What were you ladies doing here tonight?"

"This is a support group for women who have been circumcised," she answered.

"Okay, Doc, I know how men get circumcised when they are babies. I'm Catholic, okay? But how do you circumcise a woman?"

So she told him.

"Man," he said at length, "that's some crazy shit! Why would anyone do that?"

"Well, they claim all sorts of strange reasons. It makes the face more beautiful, or prevents women from growing penises, or whatever; but the real reason is, if a woman suffers pain from sex, she will hardly look for it with men other than her husband."

"Hell of a way to keep her faithful, man. I believe in keeping a woman satisfied, you know?" His grin was half leer, but Doctor Richmond was evidently not offended.

She was about to speak further about the subject, when we all heard a scream from the ladies room. Hererra ran quickly to investigate, followed by Raziya's husband and then everyone else. Invisible, I had to remain in the back or be discovered.

Japera came out the ladies room door just as Hererra arrived there. She was having some difficulty getting her pants buttoned, mostly because she was excited. "I've been HEALED!" she yelled. "It's all there, I got it all back! It's a miracle!"

Doctor Richmond pushed to the front. "Now, what happened?"

Japera calmed down a bit, finally getting the last button to work. "I've been healed! All my scars are gone, my body is whole again!"

"I, also," said Kengi, opening the door. She was fully dressed, and not jumping and laughing like Japera, but the smile on her face was huge. "I don't believe it. I must be dreaming, but you must not wake me!"

Japera said, "I got me a man in my bed right now, an' he don't know it, but he ain't gettin' any more sleep tonight!" She trotted down the hallway, turning once to say, "Doc, I love ya, but you won't be seeing me Tuesdays anymore!"

All the other women, including the doctor and Kengi, piled into the ladies room. From what I could see of it, it was going to be a tight fit. Shortly I heard squeals of delight from within.

Hererra and the black man stood outside, of course. The guard said, "Man, that must be a miracle! Jesus himself must have been here tonight!"

"More like the work of demons," said the black man. "The natural order of things has been upset."

Hererra looked at him with suspicious eyes. "Yeah, whatever. I think it's a good thing."

At that moment, Raziya came out and wrapped her arms around her husband. "I am also healed, my husband!" she cried. She looked like a child hugging him, for though she was of average size he was tall, broad shouldered and muscular. I noticed he did not return her hug.

"Come, my wife, we must return home." He turned and walked toward the elevator, and she followed behind him.

Doctor Richmond came out then, and behind her came Marjani, who looked with a worried expression at the receding form of her friend. "Doc," said Hererra, "I don't know what to do here. I should write a report on this, but who's gonna believe it?"

"Write that we had a hypnosis session and I overdid it, causing everyone to fall asleep. We both know it's a lie, but you're right, who would believe the truth?" She looked so happy you'd almost think she herself had been healed.

The other two women came out of the rest room shortly, and after saying their goodbyes they all started for home. I followed, though I had to wait for a separate elevator to avoid detection. Hererra went down with the women, and as I stepped off the otherwise-empty elevator he seemed to be looking straight at me. That's always a weird sensation when one is invisible.

"Huh," he said, coming over and looking around the empty elevator. "I'll have to mention this to maintenance."

It was after one in the morning by now, according to the clock in the entryway. Hererra exchanged a few words with Doctor Richmond after the other women were gone, and I had to wait for them as they were blocking my exit. Shortly Hererra said goodbye and turned to continue his rounds, and I followed Doctor Richmond out the doors as closely as I dared.

It was a foggy night, and I was tired. I decided to walk home, for though flying would be faster I was unsure I could find my way in the dark and fog. I would just have to sleep in tomorrow.

There was a smile on my face as I began to walk.

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The Adventures of Solo Jones Last Updated 07/18/2005