Tuesday, February 28, 2012

THE COLD INSIDE (a serial novel) Chapter Eight part three


Chapter Eight

part three


Tuesday November 8, 1994

The classical music station filtered through the room; there was a series of framed diplomas on the marble mantle. The desk in one corner was stacked with files and books, the stacks were neat and orderly. Tristam had always suspected they were alphabetized. Dr. Butterfield was balding, with a nose that seemed too pronounced for his small face and a neck that seemed too long for his body. He always reminded Tristam of a bird, a predator bird; the kind that would wait and wait for the right moment to pounce.

“Your mother tells me you had a conflict in school today.”

They were sitting less than a foot apart in a pair of comfy and expensive looking, high-backed chairs. Tristam tended to stare at his knees for most of the sixty minutes a week he spent there. “I got in a little fight, no big deal.”

“What happened?”

“Just a little fight. I didn’t start it if that’s what you’re asking.”

“How did it start?”

“I talked to a girl I shouldn’t have and I got hit for it. No big deal.”

“Your former peers are still ostracizing you?”

“Well, what can you expect?”

“What about your new friends?”

“Them? They’re OK I guess. They’re someone to talk to but sometimes I have no idea what they’re talking about.”

“I think we all have friends like that.”

Tristam wasn’t sure if that was meant to be a joke, so he just shrugged.

“Tell me,” Dr. Butterfield leaned forward, “would you go back?”

“What do you mean?”

“If your old pier group welcomed you back, what would you do?”

“That won’t happen. You can only fall down at Blessed Heart.”

“I said ‘if’.”

“If I could have my old life back?” Tristam shifted uncomfortably, “I would yeah, I don’t think it would ever be the same though.”

“What about your new friends?”

“What about them?”

“Would you whole-heartedly abandon them?”

“Yes and no. I mean I wouldn’t hang out with them any more but I wouldn’t pick on them either.”

Dr. Butterfield paused before speaking again, “Were you and your former girlfriend Monique sexually active?”

“Considering that my ex-girlfriend is probably being ‘sexually active’ with someone else right now I don’t think it matters.”

“That bothers you doesn't it?”


“It makes you angry doesn’t it?”

“Yes.” These sessions made Tristam want to pull his hair out, it was like walking in a minefield. What was he supposed to say? What was he expected to say? What did it take to get certified as normal and shown the door?

“What did you do with your anger?”

“What you tell me to do.”

“Good. You have to learn not to let your anger build up, otherwise you might have another dissociative episode. You have to separate yourself from your anger but you have to own your anger. You have to view your anger from outside yourself.”

You must feel the force flowing through you. Tristam thought with a laugh.

“What’s so funny?”

“Nothing... nothing.”

“Something I said must have amused you.” The classical music faded, the on air host began politely asking for donations.

“Well, this is going to sound weird, but I’ve been having dreams like that.”

“Like what?”

“You know where I’m flying... outside of my body.” Tristam tried to sound casual, but not too casual.

Dr. Butterfield’s brow creased, “How long have you been having these dreams?”

“I don’t know, since October maybe?”

“Why have you never mentioned them before?”

“They’re just dreams.”

“Sometimes our subconscious tries to send us messages through our dreams.”

“And sometimes we just dream. Everyone dreams of flying. Don’t you?” Tristam tried to sound bored but not too bored.

“I don’t remember my dreams.”

“What? I thought that kind of stuff was mandatory in psychiatry school.”

Dr. Butterfield frowned, “No. I’m afraid not.”

“What do you think my dreams mean?”

“They could mean many things. I think the strongest theme is that you want to cast off the situations you find yourself in. You want to escape the pain you’re feeling.”

“Should I be worried?”

“How so?”

“Am I gonna go bonkers like Jeff Hayes?” Tristam made pretend guns with his hands and fired off a few rounds.

“You’re no Jeff Hayes, Tristam.”

“What do you mean?”

“I’ve read a great deal about the case and Jeff Hayes had a highly dysfunctional home life and was suffering from psychotic delusions. You are not psychotic and you have a family that loves you.”

Yeah right. Have you met my sister and, if you can find him, my Dad? Tristam crossed his arms over his chest, “You seem pretty sure that you can fix me.”

“I can’t do anything, you have to want to fix yourself. You have a choice that Jeff Hayes never had.” He checked his watch, “And I’m afraid that will be all for today. I’ll see you next week.”

As always Dr. Butterfield timed his sessions so he had the last word. Tristam stood and headed out into the lobby where his mother was waiting for him.

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