A short, to the point story I wrote up about a therapist and his rather 'charming' experiences with his worst patient yet...
Freddie King got out of his black, expensive looking car with a halfhearted eagerness and a pen and notebook in his left hand, swinging with his body as he took the short stride onto the concrete pavement. His leather bound book drenched in remorse for his bitter experiences, after subscribing himself to a weekly session of perplexed and twisted minds that had a tendency to repeat themselves like a broken record.
It was a bleak morning, the kind that presented itself with a sharp, gentle wind that sliced at your upper lip through the dull overcast of the fog. Fred inhaled the breeze slowly, harmonizing with the infirm trees lining the side of the road in a weak attempt to make the shabby area look more exclusive. He took his first step towards the compact wooden house, littered with gashes in the once baby blue paint and damp stains from the single glazed windows.
From the chimney came light tufts of wispy smoke, the signals that his patient was present and sitting expectantly, as they always do, next to the fire in her sizable purple armchair decorated with hundreds of pathetic stiches of flowers, and alongside the rejected flowers they always had in a glass vase, fixed on the wooden table, decorated in the center with white, shriveling petals.
His patient would have made a sickly cup of Earl Grey tea in the same grubby china teacups; gazing aimlessly with their emotionless, bleak eyes drumming her chubby fingers on the table until he rang the doorbell.
He had seen many others in the past; this was his fifty-seventh patient, nevertheless, none had been as bad, as complicated, as concerning as her.
She could have days in which she was in a complete and stable manner, where it was just like talking to a regular patient, and days where she could be in a manner of slight vexation, which could potentially be dangerous but Fred could often calm her down into a satisfactory state.
But there were also days in which she could leap into a phase of absolute rage. Days where her ferociousness could not be matched to that of any other human being he has ever had knowledge of. Days when her face would become red with disturbing anger and she would reflect the unruly image of an animal.
His patient scared him. She was the only patient to have ever sincerely disturbed him, the only one that could burrow into his mind and devoured it for hours until the time came when he could escape to solace.
Fred briefly combed his left hand through his thick mouse-brown coloured hair before raising his wrist to check his watch; the silver hands claimed it was two minutes to ten. Two more minutes and she would be getting anxious; with this particular patient, punctuality was one of the many blessed keys to a normal, well-behaved check up.
He licked his ever so slightly wizened lips as his hands automatically straightened his tie (an old habit he developed in the few years he spent, or wasted, in endless business meetings and deals in RoboK Inc. A now bankrupt company that specialized in manufacturing computers and gadgets) before he stepped onto the cracked, aging driveway of 51 Lockcast Street that led directly to his patients door.
Fred rang the surprisingly cold doorbell and waited, she would be expecting him so he wouldn’t have to wait for long, and he stared at the innocent brass doorknob, which was surprisingly clean compared to the rest of the dwelling.
Fred, as a boy, had never foreseen that therapy would be his future job. He originally had no interest in the matter as he believed that the particular occupation would just consist of him over-charging nutcases as they lie down and talk to him about their personal experiences.
Sometimes, that was the case, and other times, it was just average people feeling lonely after their partner or best friend had either died/left them for another, these stories were more often than not, exactly the same.
But, and this was a rare case, Fred was faced with extreme patients. He would go to their houses, converse to his more regular and normal patients, who he would consult at his professional work place. But these particular variants, such as the owner of this house, he would deal with alone and in private, as the person in question ‘may be a threat to the surrounding general public’.
This was an extremely rare case and Fred, in his eight-year career as a therapist, has only encountered once.
Through the dirty glass window in the oak door, he saw the outline of the one in a million psycho, the woman who could have been locked up a long while ago. Fred could hear her plump fingers fumbling to unbolt the door, he sharply put on his fake ‘happy to see you’ smile, of which he had a knack for thanks to all his previous psychos, and braced himself. The door opened half way with a creak as his patients large, round face protruded eagerly from behind.
A royal blue cardigan that stretched across her rather corpulent body as she her right hand tucked back her unfashionably bobbed hair behind her ear, she grinned, revealing her awkward looking teeth.
‘Oh hullo Fred, how are you?’
‘Grand, thank you, how about you?’
‘I’m fine thanks. Would you like to come in? I apologize in advance for the state of my house. But I’ve got a nice cup of tea waiting for you in the living room.’
Fred smiled once more.
‘That sounds lovely, thank you. You know how I love my tea!’
His patient beamed with delight as she allowed Fred to enter the bland house. He made his way into the living room and sat on the same dusty leather couch that he always assumes his spot, fixed seating arrangements were almost a silent rule of the house. He swiftly scanned the dull cream wallpaper, complete with an ancient grandfather clock and a bookcase for company. The radiator failed to work as it was designed so Fred kept on his smart pinstriped jacket.
This was the house of the twisted bull, the dungeon of the beast.
This was the home of Rose Alderman.
Fred thought the session went well, he asked Rose if she was taking her daily amount of anti-depressants, how she was feeling, the routine questions.
He scribbled down the notes on her in his small leather notebook as he asked, ‘Have you been drinking a lot of alcohol lately?’
Rose looked up at his face in a sheepish manner.
‘You know I don’t like to drink Fred, but over the past week, to be perfectly honest, I have had a few glasses.’
This reply alerted Fred, he peered up from his notes.
‘How many is afew, Rose?’
Rose sighed heavily; it was fifteen seconds until she answered.
‘About three pints a day.’
‘Right,’ uttered Fred as he continued to scribble down his notes.
One of Rose’s many triggers was alcohol, she had previously had very profound and dangerous issues from excessive drinking. She preferred refer to those times as her ‘dark days’, not that any of her days were particularly bright and pleasant. He had given her firm warnings on the matter of alcohol in the past, and suggested that she should prevent herself from even purchasing it, for the safety of others and herself. Rose could get quite a bit more than slightly suicidal in her ever-changing ocean of mood-swings, but her heavy depression could abruptly flow with the deep storms of horrific, murderous thoughts; god forbid that they ever become actions.
Fred eyed his notes. They read:
Excessive drinking disorder, why? No feasible explanation, prescribed drugs working, has no signs of depression/other new mental health issues etc.
Rose put her hair behind her ear and began twirling it around her finger subconsciously, her classic sign of anxiety or guilt.
‘I don’t mean to, Fred,’ the forty-six-year-old woman sniffed like a child. ‘I just started to, you know…drink. I’m really tryin’ to stop, but it’s hard.’
Fred gave her a sympathetic smile.
‘Don’t worry; I’m sure it’s just a phase. I’ll pop over tomorrow to see how you feel and give you a chart to fill in so we can monitor you. Is that OK?’
‘That’s fine, Fred. But it’s something about this place,’ she gestured her head to the dampened ceiling.
She breathed in once more, a slow, heavy breath, to signify her plan to continue.
‘Fred, I have this feeling that I need to drink, I don’t know why but I…’ She trailed off.
Fred glanced at his watch, it read:
Five to eleven
He needed to make his way home soon.
‘I understand,’ Fred said, flashing his fake caring voice into the room. You had to be a good actor to be a therapist.
Rose suddenly looked up sharply; Fred immediately knew he’d made a mistake.
Her bead eyes became fierce and Rose grinded her teeth with definite irritation, her face was flushing with scarlet.
‘How can YOU possibly UNDERSTAND?’ Rose spat, her bobbed hair shook along with her quickly escalated anger.
Fred put up his hands in defense as he straightened his back on the couch.
‘I’m sorry, Rose. I wasn’t thinking.’
The whole five foot six of Rose suddenly relaxed, her eyes became forgiving and she returned to her ‘sweet’ and cheerful state.
‘Oh, dear me! It’s fine Fred, sometimes things can slip out of your mouth like a rabbit from a burrow!’
Rose’s face resembled that of an ugly airhostess, with the singsong ‘never mind, but I still want to knock your teeth in’ voice.
Fred thought to himself: That was way too close, stupid.
Fred flashed his artificial smile once more before rising, preparing to leave.
‘It’s been a good session today, Rose. You seem all right but I’ll make sure to come over tomorrow to give you that…’
‘Don’t you want to finish your tea?’ Fred’s patient interrupted with a sensitive tone.
‘Oh, sorry, I must have forgot!’ Fred replied, his hand reaching for the white china cup.
He raised it to his mouth and slurped loudly as the watery, almost tasteless tea drained into his mouth like dishwater (the slurp was to prove that he was drinking so Rose wouldn’t feel as if she was being tricked).
Once he’d finished, he placed down the cup on the mat, using his other hand to wipe off the surplus tea, if you could call it tea, from his upper lip.
Another plastic smile.
‘Ah, thanks, that was delicious, Rose!’ A slight tone that could have suggested a dribble of sarcasm dispersed as he spoke.
Rose suddenly, for a second, looked as if she noticed the remarks false identity, although she did not pursuit her hunch.
Fred felt a tang of relief for her dismissing the comment, causing him to check his watch anxiously. He wasn’t in the mood for a bullfight today.
Two minutes to eleven
‘So, how does tomorrow at five sound to you?’ He asked Rose, it was more of a rhetorical question as that was really the only spare time he had that day.
Rose smile broadened.
‘That sounds fine, Fred.’
Fred put his pen back into his inner jacket pocket, readying himself for the car.
‘Ok, I’ll see you soon, and don’t hesitate to call if you have a worry or you need my help, OK?’
‘OK, bye!’ the crazy woman replied, already reaching for the TV remote in the corner of the table.
Fred began walking to the door, his footsteps allowing the old voices of the floorboards to croak. Just as he was out of the living room and began to open the door he heard his patient call from the other room:
‘Oh, and Fred, remember to say hullo to your lovely wife, Charlotte for me!’
Fred smiled to himself; it was as if she was almost normal sometimes.
‘I will, bye!’ Fred replied, seconds before he closed the door to the house on his way out.
Fred shivered from the cold before making his way back to the car and on his way home.
Fred was seated in his car and had been driving along the dull scenery of the town for seven minutes when he took a swig from a bottle of water he always had beside him in the holder of the car, partly because he was thirsty and partly because he wanted to get the atrocious after taste of the beverages (which he politely forced down his throat, concealing his disgust) out of his mouth. Fred turned the stereo up slightly and whistled along almost tunelessly, the taste of the old tea reminded him.
That was way too close
Rose smiling with her mustard yellow, unattractive grin.
That was way too close, stupid.
Rose exploding with rage.
That was way too close, idiot.
Rose sending her love to his wife.
That was way too…
Fred gasped, braking his car abruptly in the middle of the road, the tires shrieked.
Fred has never mentioned his wife to her; let alone mentioning that he was married. How did Rose know Charlottes name? Had Rose been contacting her? Is it over a social network? No, Rose can’t even turn a computer on, social networks where probably non-existent in Rose’s house.
Fred grabbed his old, battered phone from his inside jacket pocket, before scrolling down to find Charlotte in his contacts.
How did she know her name?
If Rose even touched Charlotte, he wouldn’t know what to do. Saying he would want to kill her would be an understatement.
He called the number anxiously; he licked his thin lips in fear. Will Charlotte be OK? Would Rose have killed her yet?
No, he thought, I mustn’t think that way.
The phone continued to ring and Charlotte failed to show any form of reactions to the impeccable importance of the situation.
Fred swore with frustration as his possibly endangered wife failed to pick up the phone. As soon as the irritating calmness of the answer phone message recording was sounded, Fred dialed again, and again.
Fred had dialed three times, his forehead and palms were damp from sweat; he began to look febrile as he gently massaged his temple with his thumb, before immediately dialing once more to the contact named as ‘Charlotte Mobile’.
Rose was a psycho, who knows what she would do to his wife?
Is she safe? Is she even alive?
Fred rubbed his eyes, where was Rose? Where was Charlotte?
Maybe it was his imagination, maybe Rose never even said Charlottes name.
But what if…
BLOODY HELL PICK UP THE DAMN PHONE!
Suddenly, the phone stopped ringing. The car was silent. He’d gotten through! Thank god, she was safe!
Fred exhaled loudly, and began to laugh, partly from shock, and partly from relief.
‘Oh Charlotte,’ Fred said, his voice melting with relief, ‘thank god, I …’
A voice interrupted, it was soft, yet horrific and sly, like a venomous snake. A voice which was not Charlotte’s. A voice, which belonged to Rose.
‘Hullo Fred’, the crazed voice whispered, ‘I had a talk with your wife, with Charlotte.’
Fred gaped in disbelief, what happened? What’s she done with his wife?
‘Rose, what are you doing? Where are you?’
‘ROSE?’ Fred’s voice drowning with panic, ‘WHERE ARE YOU?’
The voice sighed a loud, fed-up sigh tinted with the slight playfulness, which he had not heard nor witnessed in Rose before.
‘Well that’s a silly question, Fred.’
Fred swallowed and wiped his lips with his backhand, whilst holding the phone steadily to his ear.
‘Why? Where the hell are you?’
The voice giggled, a snide and taunting titter.
‘Oh, Fred,’ the voice began to cackle viciously,’ I’m right behind you!’
Fred stomach plummeted. He turned around sharply as he saw the plump, round, ugly face of Rose pressed against the window. Charlottes phone displayed in her hand, and her tight-fitting clothes splattered in the repulsive sight of blood.
Fred was too scared to scream…