By Margaret Price

“Thank you for seeing me on such short notice, Dr. Ederer,” the tall blond man said as he shook the Psychiatrist’s hand. “I know how busy you are.”

“Not at all,” Ederer replied, holding out a hand, inviting his patient in. “Please, have a seat.” He sat down behind his desk as the other man sat in one of the leather covered chairs before it. “I must admit, I was intrigued by what you told me over the phone.”

“You’re not using my real name anywhere, are you?” came the panicked reply.

“No, no. You’re patient John Doe 82-87,” Ederer said calmly.

The blond man’s eyebrows went up. “You’ve a lot of anonymous patients this year?”

“I’m sure you can appreciate that there are a lot of people who don’t wish to let it be known that they’re seeing me professionally.”


“Now, you said you’re having difficulties with a single individual…?” Ederer prompted.

The man opposite groaned dramatically, a hand going to his head. “Difficulties doesn’t even scratch the surface,” he moaned. “The man is insufferable. An arrogant, bad-tempered, tightly-wrapped bundle of phobias.”

Ederer nodded sympathetically, glancing down at the file before him. “Yes, you mentioned some of this on the phone. A military man, I believe you said.”

“Yes. A NATO intelligence officer.”

“Ah. I see. That only adds to the problems, I should think.”

“A thousand fold,” his patient agreed. “Even when he was ordered to contact me, it was…well, saying it was strained would be being generous. I’ve tried to be friendly. Draw him out a bit.”

Ederer nodded again, making a few notations on a legal pad on the desk. “You’ve tired the standard approaches, I expect?”

“And a few non-standard ones, too. The man’s impossible. All he does is scream obscenities and chain smoke.” A pause. “Oh, yes, and he likes to threaten violence. He has a reputation for that that’s well justified.”

Ederer’s eyebrows went up. “Has he ever threatened you with violence?”

“Dear God, yes! He pulled a gun once when I was asking about his…er, sex life.”

“He pulled a gun?”

“Yes. Thank goodness someone knocked at the door just then. I don’t know what he would’ve done if they hadn’t.”

Ederer sat back in his chair, steepling his fingers together. This was quite possibly the most fascinating case to come his way in decades. If he could get this man in his office—unarmed, that is…

The Psychiatrist was seeing a best-selling book deal while his patient was seeing more death threats.

“Do you think you could convince him to come talk to me?” Ederer then asked, trying not to sound too excited.

His patient’s eyebrows went up. “Are you mad?” he gasped.

Ederer could not help the chuckle that escaped him. “I believe I can safely say I am not.”

“Believe me, Doctor. After an hour with Iron Klaus, you will be.”

“Iron Klaus?”

“That’s his code name. And it’s well deserved, believe me. The KGB is petrified of him.” The blond man heaving a resigned sigh. “The only way you’ll get him in this office is if he’s ordered to come.”

Ederer gave a small smile. “I think that might be arranged, with your help.”

“Do you have top secret clearance?”

This was an unexpected question and caused the Psychiatrist to scowl. “Why do you ask?”

“Because he won’t say word one to you if you don’t have top secret clearance that he can verify himself.”

“I see.” Ederer made further notations. “Paranoia, too.”

“That goes with his job. Although I think the man has taken it to new heights.”

Ederer looked up at this disheartened comment. “Cheer up,” he said happily. “You came to me for help, yes?”

“I came to you because you’re the best there is,” the other man replied.

“Well, then. I don’t see the problem with my taking over the case.”

An odd look passed over the blond man’s face as he got to his feet. He held out a hand, shaking Ederer’s before turning to leave. “Just don’t try to give it back to me after he tries to shoot you,” he said mildly. “And be sure to charge NATO twice you normal fee for seeing him. Believe me, they won’t bat an eye.”


“And…you might as well put this down as a consultation. Bill my office.”

“Certainly, Dr. Klein.”

Klein gave the other man a sympathetic look, shook his head, and left.

Ederer sat back in his chair as he envisioned best-seller and a lecture tour. How could his colleague have giving up such a fascinating case like this? The man must be a complete fool not to see the opportunities it presented…

* * *

Six months later, Dr. Klein was having an enjoyable lunch in an open-air café when Iron Klaus stormed past.

“How the hell should I know what happened,” he was snarling to a strikingly handsome man that Klein could only assume was the infamous Eroica. “NATO suddenly changed its mind and ordered me to see that idiot Psychiatrist. Why I don’t know. They should’ve made sure the quack wasn’t a raving lunatic.”

“What? Surely not.” Eroica said calmly.

The Major snorted. “What else would you call someone who tries to kill himself by jumping out a first floor window?”

Dr. Klein’s eyebrows went up as he heard this, watching as the pair continued on down the sidewalk. He felt a small pang of sympathy for his colleague. A moment later, he collapsed into relieved laughter.

— END —