The Wise Old Owl
The night goes much as I expect, same shit, different asshole. After that horrible Hallowe'en party that I want nothing more than to forget, I haven't been myself. I feel so awful for just abandoning Malachi there, but how can I tell him what happened when I'm not even sure? He's going to kill Ducas. I want to kill Ducas, too, and his friends. From what I do remember, they just stood around, watching. How can people be so cruel? What happened to me?
The last thing I remember I was waiting for Malachi to get us drinks. Then I wake up naked in bed with Ducas? I remember flashes of what happened, and none of them are good. People were watching us have sex. Some were touching me while he was doing me. One guy even put his beer bottle in me. I also remember another girl yelling at me not to touch her, but I wasn't trying to touch her. I was reaching out for help. No one helped, though. Some laughed, but no one helped. I don't remember much after that. I just remember waking up next to Ducas. For a split second, I thought it was Malachi; because that's who I came to the party with, so that would make the most fucking sense, right?
Ducas said I came onto him and that I was the lucky one. He said I wanted to ditch Malachi and that it was my idea to go and hang out in his bedroom. All of this doesn't sound like me at all. I quickly got up and left while he went to the bathroom. How will I ever tell Malachi? He's going to hate me. He's going to think I'm a hoe and that I wanted it.
I leave another dreadful night of work and head toward the bus stop, my mind races. I have to catch the bus to my night class at the university. I can't wait to finish this course, so I can be excited to work instead of eager to leave it. Tonight I'm back to working with Billy Blake.
I walk up to the enormous concrete building and open the large brass doors. I walk to my class, and I take my seat. I know this time will speed by quickly. Why? It was something I like doing. Time relativity is a fucked up thing. Sit somewhere you don't want to be, and a minute feels like an hour. Sit somewhere you want to be, and an hour feels like a minute.
I focus my attention on the front of the class. This professor is great. Professor Mary Flannigan. Best one at the university, I'd say. Everyone loves her.
"Ms. Diamond, please come down and get your casefile study." She instructs. "You'll be working with Dr. Hans Simpson at Shady Acres Mental Health again. Take these papers. Your ride is waiting for you now."
"Thank you." I was genuinely excited. It rarely happens these days. I need something else to focus my mind on, other than current events—just something else, anything else, to take over my thoughts.
I grab my bag and head downstairs to the awaiting car. The drive to the hospital doesn't take long at all. The driver has the radio on the news station. He didn't talk. I don't feel like talking, anyway. I want to save my energy.
Breaking news comes over the radio. The driver doesn't say anything but reaches over and turns it up.
"Breaking news! 18-year-old Justice Atkins is still missing from her Riverside home. Anyone with any information on her whereabouts, please call the Riverside Police Department immediately. There is a picture of Justice Atkins on our website. The family is offering a $25,000 reward for her safe return. In other news, Britney Spears was spotted today with a pimple, and we know how she got it. Stay with us to find out how, too….."
I've stopped listening. Who the fuck cares? A girl is missing. Fuck Britney and her damn pimple.
We were almost at the hospital. It's so sad about that girl. I wonder if her parents would have been willing to spend that kind of money on her otherwise? Maybe she doesn't need money spent. Maybe she needs time spent? Time is so much more valuable than money. People don't realize this. I wish more would. Perhaps she isn't missing. Maybe she doesn't want to be found. The media blows the things out of proportion that it shouldn't and gives radio silence to the issues that it should blow the fuck up. I wanted to be a journalist growing up until I learned how much they get censored. You can't say what's happening; you have to report what they want you to think is happening. I also wanted to be a vet and a lawyer at one point. Until I realized that vets have to put animals down and that lawyers are animals. Savages. They're money hungry beasts. Few do it for the good anymore—and the ones who do, get lost amid all the corruption.
Eventually, I said fuck it and went the route of psychiatry. I want to help people and make a difference in their lives. I don't want to punish people for their behaviour, but rather, understand it. Understanding is the first step to fixing, and you can't repair what you don't first acknowledge.
I want to be whom I needed as a child, but I can't see little me listening to big me. But that's just me; make sense? Probably not to you, because it's my truth. We don't always understand other people's reality. Instead, we judge. That's the first mistake we make as humans. Maybe Justice Atkins isn't missing but ran away because she didn't have anyone to listen to her without judging. Like, really listen to her.
Some people will hear you but not listen to you. Some don't know that there is a difference between hearing someone speak and actually listening to the said words. The words people use are essential to know their state of mind. Some are just committed to misunderstanding you because they don't even understand themselves. Perception really is everything.
I suffer from something called 'Borderline Personality Disorder,' and it's a struggle for me every day. It's taken me my whole life to understand myself, and I'm still learning. I also can't have children. Try being broken in a world full of fertile, babymaking machines. Try explaining to people over and over again why you don't have children yet. Tick tock. Tick tock. They say. Fuck you and your ticking clock.
We pull up to the place. It's a lot smaller than most hospitals; it looks like a giant white house. The closer I get, the whiter it seems. I walk up to the door. Before I even knock, the door opens.
"Hi, I'm Dr. Hans Simpson. I've been waiting for you, Nylah. Please, do come in. As you know, you will be assisting me again with the Blake case study." The short, round man explained, as he held an outstretched hand.
I shake it. It sure doesn't smell like a hospital. Not that typical hospital smell, anyway, although there was a hint of shit in the air. It smells more like those dollar store incense, mixed with a touch of chocolate chip cookie. And shit. Who shit themselves?
A lady is sitting with a patient, trying to get her to take a pill. We walk past what looks like a music room and then into his office. It's lightly decorated, with a few pictures on the wall and a desk. A thick folder sits in the middle.
"Have a seat," he says. He looks me up and down as he sits.
"Well, Nylah, nice to see you again. This case is a special one that I've handpicked for you. Your marks have exceeded anyone else in the class. I feel it's only you who could provide the best insight into this one. Many have tried over the years. So far, I love your insights. Professor Flannigan and I have talked it over, and we've both decided that you're the best choice for this special situation."
He hands me the file, and it launches my hand downward.
"The last time, we just went over the basics of this case. Tonight, I want to get a little more in-depth about it with you," Dr. Hans says.
Wow. The file is huge. But there's life under these pages. Someone I could help. Someone who needs my help. Billy Blake. He's that someone.
"Take a few minutes and tell me what your first impressions are?" he says.
I open the yellow folder and scan the first page. There's a picture of a young Billy Blake and another of him now, at thirteen.
"Well, first off, before even reading anything further, I have an observation to make. It's extremely thick, thicker than most I've seen in class. The patient, Billy, has been here for a long time, hasn't he? Longer than I first assumed?"
"That's the first rule, Ms. Diamond, never assume. It makes an ass out of you and me," he laughs.
It's incredible how wanting something so severely can change your ability to do something well that you'd generally be able to do well in any other circumstance. Like my speaking ability right now, for instance.
"Billy Blake has been here, in our fine institution, since he was four years old, Ms. Diamond. Such a sad story indeed. The father was abusive daily for many years towards the mother and the two children. They were always fighting. Officers were over at that farmhouse often; the murder happened right in front of the children. They found them both scared as ever, hiding under the kitchen table. They were sitting in the blood of their parents. The investigation concluded she finally had enough and let the fucker have it, but not before getting beaten so badly it eventually killed her."
He keeps saying children, but this file only has pictures of one person. Billy.
I keep reading. Why has Billy been here for so long and not spoken? Where is his brother? Case number 3052 - Billy Blake. I feel a shiver come over me as I turn the pages, just glancing at each one to get a feel for it.
"I'm going to go and get some coffee. We're going to be here a while. You want some?" Asked Dr. Simpson.
"Yes, please. Black. Thank you." I say.
"Nice choice. Like me. I'll be right back. Give that file some more of a read, but don't rush. There's a lot to go through. Brace yourself, kiddo." He said with a stern look.
The corners of his mouth as pointy as an arrow. A bead of sweat forms on his brow. He keeps speaking as he shuffles out the door into the next room.
"Brace myself?" I ask him, raising my voice just enough for him to hear me.
With no response, I get up and walk toward the door. I began to repeat my question in case Dr. Hans hasn't heard me, but he was already making his way back out with the two coffee cups.
"You're going to need to sit down for this. Most are never quite the same after reading it."
I take a deep breath and open the door to Billy's room.
"Can we try this again, Billy? Maybe a little different this time?" I ask.
He doesn't say anything. He looks at me with a vacant expression, almost like he will say something, then doesn't.
He starts rocking back and forth and pulling his hair.
"It's OK, Billy. You can talk to me; or Nylah. Even Nurse Etta." I say.
"N-Nylah. Only Nylah. No one else. I'll only talk to Nylah."
I open my apartment door, and my kitties immediately greet me, as always. I was so happy to be home. What a read that casefile is. It gives me chills. I've got more to look over tonight. Dr. Hans says that Billy wants to talk to me; he says he wants to talk to only me. Our next meeting gives me anxiety already.
I've just moved in here not long ago. Well, six months ago. Boxes are still scattered around, half-unpacked. The moon is glistening off of the empty beer bottles as they sat atop the counter. There was a calm to it. It was a mess, but it was a mess I was grateful for having. It isn't the best building, the management hardly spoke to anyone. It wasn't in a great area, but it was mine—all mine. I've never been able to say that before. I moved out of my parents' house not long ago, and I'm excited. I'm scared but excited. Usually, when something was mine? It wasn't for long. It was taken from me, somehow. Whenever I was happy, it was like the universe put out a call for destruction. 'She's happy. Get her.' I'm afraid to get too attached to anyone or anything, ever again. When you've got stuff and people to lose, you can be hurt. I never want to break again. I moved out and lost my mother. All I have left in this world is my dad and little sister. I fear losing them every day. My little sister isn't well, and my dad's health could be better.
I head to my bedroom to get undressed and put on my nightgown. The satin felt good against my skin. The comfort of such a little thing like that means so much. I know this now. I start to unpack a box sitting in front of me. My gown slides down my body. It catches on the curve of my ass.
I carefully take out a glass ornament. It was my mother's. Instantly, it hits me; a memory ghost. A thing. Place. Song. Movie. Anything can have a memory ghost attached to it. This ornament is a memory ghost. I take a deep breath and place it in an empty spot on the window ledge. The wave of emotion hit me so hard I almost fall over. Sometimes the memories hit me like a punch in the chest. Sometimes they take my breath away.
I glance out the window at the neon rooftop patio of one of those new condos. It must be nice to be able to afford one of those places. Maybe one day? I shake my head. Maybe not. I argue with myself. So many people moved by force, from where they grew up—forced out of their homes. For what? So rich fucks could build some big expensive little boxes that those who grew up here surely can't ever afford—built where many have raised their children, their families. Memories. Stories. Childhood. All gone; stolen. All so people can live in an expensive tiny box overlooking a crime-ridden, savage of a city. No, thank you.
The phone rings. I look at the clock. It's 12:30 am. Who calls anyone anymore? Who would be calling me at this hour? If it's him again, I am going to give him a piece of my mind. Considering how much he lacks in that area, it may be useful to share some of mine with him. When will he take a hint? Fuck it. I'm going to let him have it this time.
I look at the call display. Unknown caller. What do you think I am? New? You might play the game player, but I'm the coach. I pick it up. Heart racing. Why do I let him get to me like this? I slam the phone into my cheek.
"Give it up. I know it's you. It's late, and I'm sick of this shit-" I begin.
"What a lovely nightgown you're wearing this evening Nylah. I love the way it hugs your curves," says a deep earthquake of a voice. It sends chills down my back and straight to my toes. The vibration of it tickles my eardrums and raises the hairs on the back of my neck.
It was a voice that I didn't recognize at all. Not the voice I was expecting.
"Who is this?" I demand. My voice shakes.
Nothing. Dial tone. The line went dead. My heart falls into my stomach.