The PMS Outlaws: An Elizabeth MacPherson Novel

The PMS Outlaws: An Elizabeth MacPherson Novel by Sharyn McCrumb

Book: The PMS Outlaws: An Elizabeth MacPherson Novel by Sharyn McCrumb Read Free Book Online
Authors: Sharyn McCrumb
was referring to the garden. I will sit down now and not continue to monopolize the session, although I’ll probably talk too much anyway, even if I promise not to. My brain is a wellspring of thoughts and ideas, and I feel I simply must share them.” He stopped abruptly as he noticed Elizabeth. “Hello, you’re new here,” he informed her. “My name is Richard Petress, and I expect you think I’m a therapist or something, but actually, I am a fellow patient, not unlike yourself.”
    “Richard Petress, M.D.,” said Emma O. “But in his case it stands for manic depressive.”
    Richard nodded, as if a compliment had been conferred. “I live in a wider spectrum than most people have in their humdrum lives. Like the butterfly, I dance with the rainbow and then the flame. Society seems to wish to cure me of this heightened perception—”
    “Oh, can it, Petress!” said Clifford Allen. “We were discussing something.” He turned to the nurse. “Warburton, I have a question for you. Do patients have any say in the menuplanning here? There was a puddle of butter on my broiled fish at lunch. Butter! I specifically asked for my meat to be cooked without oils of any kind. And I would prefer a salad without dressing instead of cooked vegetables …”
    The harangue went on. Elizabeth whispered to Matt Pennington, “Is he phobic about food?”
    “Who, Clifford?” Matt shook his head. “You know how some men love to tinker with sports cars? Soup up the engine and so on?”
    “Yes.”
    “Well, Clifford is his own sports car. His body, I mean. He’s always fussing over it as if it were a brand-new Jaguar. He scrutinizes every forkful of food, and he exercises for hours at a time.”
    Elizabeth studied Clifford Allen with interest. He was well muscled, younger than thirty, and sleekly fit without an ounce of fat. He looked in perfect health. Of course, it’s sometimes difficult to judge people’s medical conditions by appearances. He might have a heart condition, she thought. “Is he ill?” she asked Matt.
    “No. Well, not physically. In fact, I’d say his body is as good as it’s going to get, but that doesn’t stop him from taking four showers a day, and obsessing about every item on his meal tray.”
    “But I thought he was here because he’s a suspected thief.”
    “Well, he is. His obsession with his body is his personality, not his problem.” Matt smiled. “In California it’s people who aren’t like that who are considered crazy. So maybe Clifford is just geographically challenged. He’s in the wrong state. But, anyhow, that isn’t his problem.”
    A sharp voice ended their private discussion. “Elizabeth, you haven’t said anything to the group yet. Is there anything you’d like to talk about?” Warburton’s expression was a careful neutral, but Elizabeth felt that she had just been punished for whispering in class.
    Elizabeth sighed. “I’m sad,” she said. “I was so happy. I guess I expected life to be like a fairy tale. You know: ‘And they lived happily ever after.’ ”
    “Life is like a fairy tale,” said Emma O. “Fairy tales are very realistic. They all begin with, ‘Once upon a time there was a beautiful …’ whatever. Princess. Miller’s daughter. Robber girl. Doesn’t matter. The operative word here is
beautiful
. If you’re pretty enough, the prince comes, the frog takes pity on you, and the fairy godmother does a few magic tricks for your convenience. That’s what makes for the happy ending. Ugly people need not apply.”
    “Pretty people aren’t guaranteed happiness,” snapped Elizabeth. “Some of them die young.”
    “And then they make the cover of
People
magazine, and total strangers weep for them. If that’s not a fairy-tale existence, I don’t know what is.”
    “Can any of the staff doctors here check my cholesterol?” asked Clifford Allen.
    J ack Dolan nodded happily on his sunporch. He liked to feel the warmth of the westering light on his

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