diana Weiss - or Dr. Weiss, as people seemed to need to call her- was a controversial figure to many. Upon reading an article about women who charged men to cuddle with them, Dr. Weiss was quick to build a reputation by applying those methods to the psychological treatment of patients.
She claimed that, once the initial awkwardness of the situation had been overcome, cuddling with her patients provided them with an added sense of security and emotional support that allowed them to open up to her more easily than through traditional therapy methods, where emotional barriers between doctors and patients were more rigidly placed. And remarkably, because there were still formal rules in place to preserve professionalism and the ethical aspects of psychological treatment, she found those therapy sessions to constantly generate more value to her patients than anything she had come across in her experience.
Of course, It didn't take long for the controversial aspects of Dr. Weiss' 'cuddling therapy' method to emerge as a topic of heated debate, first within the academic world and soon after by mainstream media, which transformed her almost overnight into a celebrity. Dr. Weiss was invited to participate in numerous radio talk shows and TV programs, was interviewed by a wide range of magazines seeking her views on topics ranging from the feminist movement to her preferences when it came to cosmetics, and saw herself caught in the middle of a bidding war between publishing companies seeking to secure the rights to the book she had not yet begun writing.
Some praised her courage to try and innovate in a notoriously traditional field. Others viewed her as an opportunist who took advantage of her attractiveness - and Dr. Weiss was indeed a very attractive woman in her mid-twenties - to more easily prey on the inner sexual fantasies of men while being able to justify the premium price tag attached to her so-called 'treatment.'
A few months went by before the intense wave of interest on Dr. Weiss begun dissipating - and diana thought this was a good thing, as she had grown tired of having her professional commitments control her entire life. And regardless of the level of media interest, she continued to be arguably the most sought after Psychologist in New York City.
Little did she know however that her profession was about to take a stronger hold of her life than ever before.
It had all begun in a beautiful morning, when her unusually efficient assistant, Linda, had welcomed Dr. Weiss to the office by telling her about a strange call from an unidentified woman asking to set up an appointment for someone she would only refer to as Mr. Black. The woman apparently would not accept the fact that Dr. Weiss had no appointments available, insisting rather aggressively that she had been instructed to set up an appointment for Mr. Black and that money was not a problem.
"The only thing the woman said other than that was that there are two rules Mr. Black wants respected," said Linda. "First, that the meetings are not going to happen here, but at a hotel room picked by him. Second, that you are not to initiate any conversations with him during the sessions. Weird, huh?"
Yes, that was indeed rather weird.
"Ah, and she left a number she can be reached at," said Linda, while extending a piece of paper with a handwritten number to Dr. Weiss.
Dr. Weiss wanted to forget about that call. She had a bad feeling about it. And yet, she seemed unable to do so during the days that followed.
Who was that man?
If money was no objection, he must have been quite a successful individual. Perhaps he was a leading business person? Maybe a public figure or a celebrity? That would explain the exaggerated need for privacy... Or was the man perhaps ashamed of being seen seeking professional psychological help - or at least the kind of psychological help Dr. Weiss was now famous for?
Who was that man?
Dr. Weiss saw herself almost forced to return Mr. Black's phone call. And one morning, she finally did.
"Hello Dr. Weiss, thank you for returning the call I made on behalf of Mr. Black," responded a feminine, robotic-like voice. "Mr. Black will be waiting for you tonight, at 8 pm, at the Royal Plaza Hotel."
And that was it: the woman had hung up before Dr. Weiss could even say 'hello'.
Dr. Weiss didn't move for about five minutes.
"This is beyond ridiculous," she thought. "Screw this bitch! Screw Mr. Black, whoever the hell you are! You are not manipulating me!"
But even as those thoughts raged through her mind, she knew she was now more intrigued with the situation than ever before. She wished she had been able to dismiss the whole thing when Linda first informed her about that weird call. But even if she was not yet ready to admit it to herself, she knew she needed to be at Royal Plaza Hotel that evening.
It was almost 8 PM when Dr. Weiss directed herself to the hotel registration desk.
"Ah, Dr. Weiss, pleasure to see you. Mr. Black awaits you in room 1513. Here are the keys to the room," said the man behind the counter, with too obvious a fake smile.
Dr. Weiss opened the door for room 1513 to find it barely lit. Nevertheless, while looking around the room, she managed to notice a masculine silhouette sited by the window.
Dr. Weiss began saying something but the man quickly indicated she should not speak.
"Listen closely. You will not speak unless spoken to. You will not touch the light switches. You will lie down with your back turned to me and you will not turn around unless I ask you to. You will not try to look at my face. As our session comes to an end, I will leave first. You will wait 10 minutes, and only after that will you leave. Not abiding by either of these rules will mean an end to our treatment, however abruptly it may be," said a deep masculine voice.
"Well, so much so for the two rules being the only ones, I guess," Dr. Weiss responded, trying to show confidence.
The man continued in silence.
"You do understand the rules I have for treating my patients, do you not?" she asked him.
The man responded he did understood her rules, assuring her that his interest in meeting with her was strictly for therapeutic purposes.
He then signaled to her to lie down in bed. She obeyed. She sensed the man approach the bed from behind her back. He lied down next to her, and she liked the way he smelled. She nervously waited for his touch. But that first touch never happened. They both remained there, lying in bed together, inches from one another, without a touch, without a word, and, in his case, without a name.
The alarm clock soon signaled the end of their time together. The man stood up, said "same time and place next week" and left the room.
Surely that man had to say something at some point, thought Dr. Weiss. And so there she was again, at the same time, lying in the same bed, the following week.
And yet, again, no word, no touch.
And the same happened the week after that. And then over the course of the following month.
Dr. Weiss' curiosity to uncover the man's identity or why he sought her for treatment quickly mounted. She now had him constantly hanging around on the back of her mind, haunting her, daring her to break his rules. She soon begun waking up in the middle of her sleep with the feeling someone was lying next to her. And she dreamed about him too.
She recognized she needed to do something about that situation, it simply could not continue that way for much longer. But she feared breaking any of the man's rules and jeopardizing the possibility of having her questions answered, however slim that possibility seemed. And of course, she was a professional: she knew she had to respect her patient's boundaries.
If playing the 'silence' game was what he wanted, than that is what she would keep doing. And she would make sure she played that game better than he did. She knew she could, she reassured herself.
But could she?
(I WILL BE PLAYING DIANA WEISS.)