Doctors Everett and Mimi Menlo are psychiatrists living in Toronto. The married couple sleeps in separate beds. They vow never to work as a team or in the same medical facility. Each doctor is deeply troubled by a patient who refuses to communicate. For Mimi, it is Brian Bassett, an eight-year-old boy with autism who eventually dies under her care. For Everett, it is Kenneth Albright, a hospitalized patient with severe paranoid schizophrenia who has attempted suicide four times.

Kenneth's dreams were once complex and intriguing but lately they lack detail and variety. One morning, he is found covered with blood but has no signs of injury. Despite a thorough investigation, it remains a mystery as to whose blood it really is. Following that strange occurrence, Everett experiences insomnia, but he is reluctant to admit the cause to Mimi. She worries that he might be having a nervous breakdown.

In truth, he fears dreaming. He has recurrent nightmares of a bloody Kenneth kneeling next to the bodies of strangers. Everett suspects that Kenneth has placed these corpses in his dreams. Everett finally tells Mimi about his nightmares. He shocks her with the revelation that Kenneth Albright has genuine bloodstains on his clothing and hands every day even though he is still confined to the psychiatric ward. There is only one spot Kenneth can escape to--dreams. After their conversation, Mimi falls asleep and dreams of Brian Bassett. She wakes up and finds Everett in the bathtub. His pajamas are saturated with blood. Mimi promises Everett, "I'm waiting here . . . until we both wake up" (596).


This eerie tale warns of the peril when doctors care too much about their patients. The two psychiatrists in the story are haunted not only by failure but also by the patients they have become overly attached to. Dreams dominate the lives of these characters. Do dreams somehow infect reality? Can we experience another person's dreams?

Communication, companionship, and connection are key concepts in this story. An interesting portrait of a physician marriage is provided along with an illustration of the unique relationship between psychiatrists and their patients.


Additional source: Stones (Delta/Dell, 1990)

Primary Source

The Norton Anthology of Short Fiction


W. W. Norton

Place Published

New York


2000 (Sixth Edition)


R. V. Cassill & Richard Bausch

Page Count