Note to the reader: It is to be understood that the number above each incident/scene indicates the chronological order of the events taken place in the story. The story, however is to be read in the manner it is written.
Ryan was closely tending the weeds in the soil. A park, not far from his house. A volunteering work, part of charity, he was with six other boys. All sixteen and young and fresh faced.
Then came the sound and they looked at each other at once. The sound was a clear gunshot but the possibility of a firing in a well-populated urban area in the middle of day was low. At the corner of his eye, Ryan saw a body slump in a distance. All of them rushed.
Ryan felt lightheaded suddenly. A middle aged man lied on the dusty road with green eyes. Eyes, that saw nothing. A gunshot wound was oozing blood from his chest.
The hit was precise, and the gunman obviously had practice. These thought would later trouble Ryan. But at the moment, he stood with his mouth half open and feeling blood rushing to his face. He knew tears would come soon. Ryan didn’t know the man, but witnessing death, actual death made his wind pipe shrink and made his body heavy with something. Sympathy or maybe grief.
The other boys were quick to recover ( or maybe they weren’t affected at all ) and debating what to be done.
“Did you see who fired? I think a guy was running ?”
“Really? Running? No one was running.”
“Hey people, we have to call an ambulance. Please. This is scary.”
“Ambulance? This man is dead already. No, I am not being insensitive; don’t look at me like that. Call the police. Anybody has a phone?”
Ryan raised his hand in affirmative. He couldn’t speak or he would start crying. He wiped the soil and dirt on his trousers and fished out his cell phone.
June took a small sip of the vodka. A small child was screaming in the distance.
She swirled and sloshed the liquid in her mouth. A man, with green eyes raised his belt like a whip and slashed at the child.
June knew the proper way to enjoy alcoholic drinks and let the vodka slide down her throat, absorbing the rich flavour. Her husband aimed a hit at the three year old Ryan again.
June thought how things would unravel if she screamed and intervened. But the whipping from last time had left her sore and purple and she shuddered at the thought. She took a sip again, this time closing her eyes and humming lightly to mute the sound in her room.
A boy enters a small house. It is dinner time. He goes at once to his mother’s room and opens the door. A woman named June is fast asleep on the bed and the air around her smells mildly of rum. The boy, Ryan, sighs and searches the room for the bottle his mother had been drinking and finds it hidden poorly under her pillow.
Her drinking addiction had caused him to throw out all her wines and other drinks out, but every once in a while he would hear clinking of glass bottles when he laid awake at night in the dark.
He rummages for a pen, and heads towards a calendar hanging in the room. Then he encircles the day’s date. Encircling meant he visited Dr Shel that day.
The mother’s room is filthy. Not really unclean, but more like unkempt. June doesn’t care enough. The son’s room however, is astonishingly clean for a boy his age. Orderly and spotless and things arranged painstakingly.
But something terrible had happened to the boy that day. Perhaps he had to witness something awful. Something so disturbing that it made him call his therapist out of regular appointment. Something that made him sit next to his mother on the bed, and drain in the entire bottle of rum in his stomach in a single gulp.
Simon was sitting in the dark and the place was filthy. He didn’t mind. It was the Den and the Den was Simon’s office. Simon was a careful man. The Den was a bare room; any outsider could mistake it as an old storage compound. Simon never left fingerprints.
The doorbell rang. Simon peeked at his monitor, and the camera at the door captured a young man; a man, too young for Simon’s comfort. “He is not even a man; just a young boy.” Thought Simon.
Simon took out a disposable phone. The kind that allowed encrypted calls. The phone ringed. And a woman answered.
“Good evening ma’am. This is Bart. The boy is here. What is to be done?”
“Ah yes. He will show you a photograph. It will be of a man with dark hair and green eyes. Check the description. That’s important. Rest of the details, you’ll get to know from the boy.”
Simon hesitated. He disliked dealing with clients who never revealed their faces or identities. It made him feel threatened and somewhat less dangerous. This was the second time he talked to the woman. The first time she called, she told him to seek the boy
“ Uh seek? What do you mean ‘seek the boy’ ?”
“I mean let him know of your presence. Be quiet. Be discreet. But let him know about the services you offer.”
More than anything, it was curiosity that motivated Simon to follow the woman’s instructions. He tracked the boy, who lived in a small house and often volunteered out to tend public gardens as charity work. Simon gathered that the boy, Ryan was his name, probably had abusive relations with his mother too. He employed one of his men in the volunteering group as the final stroke.
And now Ryan was here, on his doorstep. Simon went ahead and unlatched the door. The boy was in a crisp suit, too clean for the likes of the Den. They took their places and sat for a while. The boy was clearly taken aback from the shabbiness of the place and sat with a wrinkled nose. Then he began- a
“How accurate are you? Ever been caught?”
I wouldn’t be sitting here if I were ever caught you stupid creature. Simon was quick to dislike the boy. His air of snootiness and his serious manner despite being a kid made Simon wanting to laugh out loud and grind his teeth at the same time.
“No, sir. I assure you that no one will be able to do anything. They will find the body of course; we always let them do that. But everything else will be untraceable.”
“Hush! How can you talk so openly?”
Because this is my den, you bastard. I can cut you open with a knife here and no one will even here your screams.
“My apologies, sir. But I assure you that this place is very secure. May I see the photograph?”
The boy leaned forward and Simon saw that the picture was indeed of the man the woman on the phone talked about.
“Any personal relations with the man?”
The boy didn’t reply and to the pleasure of Simon flinched greatly. Next, details about the killing were discussed and the boy ended it with
“I trust you greatly Bart.”
You know nothing of dealing with liars and murderers and madmen. Movies and stories and fantasies have made you think that you can laugh in the face of evil and walk away gallantly, but you are a tender, fresh chicken who will cry to death once you see what’s actually out there. Simon smiled amiably.
The meet up with the students went for one hour before the real questions began. Dr. Lepus Shel was sweaty from flashing fake smiles to the grad psychology students every few minutes. The questions they asked (What are some shocking psychological facts?; Do you remember your first patient?; What is the most curious case you ever encountered?) were non-factual, something Dr Shel was not ready for. The foolishness of the questions made him regret for the time he had wasted. He had given up on delivering an actual lecture from the Q&A session when someone piped up,
“What are the exact symptoms of multiple identity disorders, sir?”
Shel was pleased. This was one of his areas of expertise and so he began,
“Well, you’ve got the presence of two or more personalities within the same person; that is obvious. I would like to point out that these personalities are not aware of each other’s presence. Say, any act committed while wearing personality A, will not be in remembrance when wearing personality B. Destructive and dangerous behaviours are common in one of the personalities.”
“Uh Sir? What causes the development of an alternate personality in a person?”
“Severe trauma is the key factor here. Alternate personalities are developed as a coping mechanism. These personalities fit to adapt with the trauma. One of my patients suffered physical beatings from his father at a tender age. Though from my diagnosis I concluded that his alternate personality was not very different from his regular one, he showed signs of obsessive compulsive disorder, but never in his original one.
Ryan. Such a sweet and well-mannered boy. It was almost difficult to say what damaged him more; his step-father’s beatings or his mother’s negligence. But I cannot blame June. She suffered too, poor thing. Never gave up drinking, but she is a lovely mother now, Ryan says. But Ryan has moved on well. He doesn’t remember the vile man June’s husband was, but it’s all rather tragic nevertheless.
“What triggers a person into getting into the alternate personality?”\
“Excellent question. Anything that may serve as a reminder to the original trauma, or even another distressing incident can unleash it. Physical beating, verbal abuses etc.”
“Any more questions?”
The woman, June, woke up in the bed, with her son sleeping fast, next to her. She got up and peered at a calendar on a wall in the room. The date of the day before was encircled. She smiled. Bart had done the work. June considered herself a warrior. She had fought most her life and had battle scars to prove it. Thirteen years ago, when she took her son and ran from home, she had won her first battle. Now she had won the second, by removing her nemesis forever.
She sat down next Ryan, lovingly touching the purple welts on his neck. She wanted to weep. For these scars were by her.
Such a lovely boy, he is. Forgive me, I had no choice. For how could I control him? How could I ever convince him to desire the murder of a man?
Perhaps a glass of wine would fine for now. June laughed to herself. Wine to drown the life in me; a good whipping to resuscitate it.