He was trembling violently under my touch, but that merely encouraged me and I spoke his name again.

"Mitch."

This time I connected. I knew he heard me and understood, his hands tightened on mine and he whispered my name. Then before I could react, he quickly dropped my hands, formed a fist and silently punched me on the jaw, striking me with such force that I fell to the floor.

As I pulled myself up, shaking my head and gingerly feeling my jaw, I saw him running from the room, pursued by a nurse and two orderlies.

I stood, swaying in the air slightly, oblivious to the uproar Mitch's action must have been causing around me. The noise level in the room rose, as if from a long distance. I could hear the laughing and crying and shouting of the rest of the patients in the room. But my eyes were fastened on the door through which he had disappeared.

What the hell did you expect, you fool, I thought, a passionate embrace, a warm welcome-back kiss? His eyes had been the eyes of one who looked on hell, and I had helped to put him there.