Deep breath in, letting it out slowly.
Door opens. A young man's head pokes around the door.
"Erm...I have an appointment with Doctor Lawson...my exam..." He's so nervous; he must fear going to the doctors. I can't blame him.
"Ah, yes," I manage to smile smoothly. "You must be Anthony, am I correct?"
"Yeah. But everyone calls me Tony."
"Tony." My tongue feels too big for my mouth when I try out the abbreviation. "So you're getting out of here today, yes?"
"Yeah," Tony smiled shakily. "I can't wait to see my mum again. There's so much I need to tell her, and so much I need to catch up on. I want to tell her face to face how sorry I am, and I want to start afresh."
I swallow hard. "Right!" I clap my hands together, try to sound cheerful. "Shall we begin? We need to check you're fit and healthy before you're released. Prisons are nasty places after all." I presented a sample bottle. "First, I need a urine sample."
It gives me enough time to pull myself together. When he enters again with the bottle of dark liquid, I have pulled up my walls and mask that make me the obnoxious Doctor Lawson that people know.
"A bit on the dehydrated side," I note dryly when he hands me the sample. I hold it out ready for the nurse to take to the lab. "While we're waiting for those results..." I gestured towards the chair. The still blushing man obliged, taking a deep breath as he sat back in it. "I'm just going to run a few more tests. You don't mind needles do you?"
"No, not really."
"Good. So erm...what did you do?"
"What do you mean?"
"What do you think I meant?"
"Oh. Right. Erm...possession with intent to deal drugs."
I frowned. "What type?"
"Anything really. Started off as just a bit of weed, then coke...eventually spiralled out of control; was taking heroin twice a day. I was caught dealing weed in an attempt to make enough money to continue my habit." He sighed regretfully. "I caused my mum so much grief."
"I'm sure she understands you're sorry."
"Still, I need to tell her face to face. It's not the same on the phone." I hesitated, the wire in my hand hovering just above his skin. "Is...something the matter, Doctor?"
I steeled myself and stuck the needle in, securing it with a plaster. "Nothing," I told him, forcing a quick smile. "So, ah, how old are you?"
"24. Got banged up in here at 16. I'm surprised I'm actually coming out."
"Yeah, most Class B drug dealers get 14 years."
The lad's face fell. "Erm...I wasn't completely honest with you..."
I know. "What do you mean?"
"I...ah... I accidentally killed someone. A girl at my school." I feigned surprise, waited for him to continue. "The reason we got caught - me and some lads - when we were doing the deal...because someone brought a knife..." I watched him swallow thickly. "Gabby had fancied me for ages," he laughed. "She knew I was taking drugs, and was trying to make me go get help. I'd told her I don't know how many times to just piss off and leave me alone. I was so horrible to her, yet she still stuck by me, tried to help me. She must've known I was in trouble, so she found me that night, and..." He didn't need to finish.
My eyes travelled the length of the wire to where it was connected to a cold metal machine. I shook myself out of my trance. "Okay, let's get this show on the road." How sick.
"How long will this take?"
"Not long. Then you're free to go and explain yourself."
The wide grin made his eyes sparkle and my mask slip slightly. I took the remote in my sweaty palm without another word I pressed the button. The shock on his face before he slumped over his lap was understandable - he hadn't expected that.
My name is Doctor Paul Lawson, and I am a merciful executioner. And the ironic thing is I deserve to be in that chair, head lolled forward, since I am just as much of a murderer as the people I kill.