He gets the word as soon as he arrives at the office that the doctor has called and cancelled her appointments for the day, which is a single phone call for the doctor but locks him up for half the morning getting the word out and making sure his clients have enough meds to see them through the week. Most of them take the news pretty well, but a few—the ones most prone to screaming and paranoiac agitation—come unglued almost immediately, weeping or cursing , threatening suicide or murder or murder suicide.
He has to go out and visit most of them in their homes or at the shelters, has to make sure that whoever was supposed to get them to the doctor is still free to take them out 'into the community' as they say at the Agency, still free to provide the illusion of connectedness. He has to promise a couple of them that he’ll come back and check on them later, knowing that he’ll probably only try but fail to remain true to his word.
Even on days when the doctor is in, clients inevitably arrive early for their appointments, and each manages to wrangle at least ten or fifteen minutes over their allotted time, so that by two o’clock—when the doctor’s usually wrapping things up—she’s more often than not at least an hour behind schedule. Sometimes she just cancels the last two or three appointments, leaving him to pick up the pieces, doing triage and impromptu after-hours house calls.
He knocks and waits; knocks, announces himself, and waits. He knocks again and calls her name; waits. He’s been there twice already this week, knocking and waiting in vain. The neighbors tell him he’s wasting his time; she only comes out at night, and hasn’t been out since his last visit. Three weeks. He knocks again, harder.