Philip closes his eyes. Back to his breathing for a moment. Four seconds in, hold for four seconds and four seconds out. His friend Joost calls it the Navy SEAL technique. That those guys dock just before a shot. Calm your mind, the body follows, and then exactly between two heartbeats: Pow!
Philip wonders if it’s working. The heel of his right foot taps irregularly against the marble floor. He fiddles with his earlobe. Nora sends him an encouraging message: ‘Go tiger, you can do this!’
Philip’s corners of his mouth curl down unwillingly. Number 76 appears on the display in the waiting room. As if it should have been, Philip sighs. The year of his father’s birth.
Philip shuffles to room 4. There he is. Hearty as always, at least on the outside. ‘Philip, I missed you!’ Philip deliberately replies a fraction too late. ‘Me too, Dad. It’s been way too long.’
Silence. They look at each other. ‘And Bernadette?’ his father asks. Philip moves his buttocks back and forth. ‘Ah, I know enough already, Philip. That’s OK.’
The smile lingers. The Deep Fake hologram of his deceased father glimmers strangely in the room. It paused.
Philip turns around. He hears a subtle cough. A man of about sixty years old, with a bald forehead, a white mustache and beard, looks at him sternly. He wears a three-piece brown suit. An antique watch taps into a small pocket in his tail-coat. In his right hand, he casually holds a smoldering cigar.
Philip sighs. ‘Oh yes, Sigmund. I forgot for a moment that I chose you today.’