Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The Doll...Part 2

Shelby has been committed to a mental institution for the murders of her best friends and the attempted murder of another man. She has no recollection of her actions and has just returned to her room from the first meeting with a new psychiatrist, Dr. Reuter

God. Why couldn’t I remember what happened, what I’d supposedly done? I stared at the hundreds of sketches surgical taped to my walls. My victim? I couldn’t imagine hurting a fly much less three people and a dog. I’d always lived a non-combative, strict hands-off kind of life. I looked at the police report again. I’d studied it every day for the last eleven months, yet not a single memory broke free.
It only listed two victims whose names had been blackened by the Sharpie groupie. I’d been found, soaked in blood, holding a knife, hiding in a closet—and this was my favorite part—screaming about a doll. The police hadn’t located a single doll in the apartment, which struck me as odd considering I made most of the dolls I sold at home and the crime scene photos showed a bunch on tiny little footprints leading away from one of the bodies and out the door as though the killer (supposedly me) had traipsed one of my creations through the blood.
I flopped on my back and held the paper at arm’s length in front of me. I had about three minutes until the light would automatically shut off. I shoved the report under my pillow and threw my arm over my eyes. What the hell happened that night?

When I awoke the next day I had a bruise covering most of my forearm and a throbbing behind my eyes that reminded of a hangover.  Usually, Britantha woke me at dawn’s early light for breakfast of slop covered eggs and the one cup of coffee I was allowed a day.
Instead of leading me to the dining room, they ushered me down the hall, one on each side as though I might try to bolt and break my way through the heavy unit door. I rolled my eyes and stepped into the office. “Wow. Two days in a row. I feel special.”
He looked up from his paperwork and came around the desk to dismiss my surly escorts back to duty.  He shut the door behind them and clicked on the in-use light. “I brought you something.”
With a grin, he handed me a bag with a golden arch logo on the front. I could have hugged him. I would have hugged him except for that whole hands-off thing that if violated could land a girl in the quiet room, hopped up on Thorazine, and drooling into her pillow for days on end.
I took one minute to wonder how he'd known of my Big Mac addiction, but dismissed the thought quickly. The smell teased me and my mouth watered as I popped a French fry. I closed my eyes and chewed, savoring the taste and the texture. Heaven couldn’t be so lovely. I glanced up at him. “So what do I have to do for you now?”
“Just tell me about the nightmare.”
He had a pen poised over a packet of papers.
“I didn’t have a nightmare.” I’d never, in my thirty years, had one.
He frowned. “The night shift nurse called me after we spoke the other day. She said she had to give you a shot to calm you down. You’ve been asleep for two days now. That’s how you hurt your arm.” He circled my wrist with his hand and held it up so we could both have a gander at the ugly purple blob of blood under my skin.
I yanked away and shoved a bite of two all-beef patties in my mouth then chewed thoughtfully.  “I don’t remember a nightmare.”
“You told her it was a doll. The doll did it. She wrote it in her notes.” I shrugged and kept shoveling the burger and fries into my face. “You don’t remember?”
He ignored my mouthful of food and read from his bible--my file. “She said you had some sort of superhuman strength and it took two security guards to hold you down so she could give you a shot.”
“She has to be talking about someone else.” Did non-combative mean nothing to these people? Swatting flies went against my better nature.  “And a doll did it?” What kind of crack-pot bullshit was that? I took a swig of the large soda he’d set in front of me. “What doll?”
“You tell me.”
“I don’t know. I’ve been here for how long and I just don’t know.”
He leaned closer, his eyes flashing what I assumed was anger since it matched the scowl and the tone he adopted. “But you do know. You. Know.” After a moment of staring at me as though he could extract the answer with nothing more than a look, he sat back, drumming the fingers of one hand against the other.  “The truth, Shelby, is you are the only one who knows what happened that night.”
“What about the guy who lived through it?”
“He won’t speak about it.”
“Then why should I?”
“Because you killed two people and you tried to kill another.”
I sat back as though he’d slapped me and the food in my stomach sloshed in an angry bid to make a reappearance. “I didn’t kill anyone. I couldn’t. It’s not something I’m capable of.” I shook my head. “I don’t know what happened that night, but I know it wasn’t me.”
“The police found a tiny little footprint at the scene.”

I held up my size eight-and-a-halfs. “Nothing about these bad boys is the sum of tiny.”

Monday, October 26, 2015

The leaves are falling, the mornings are chilly...must mean Halloween is getting close and what better way to celebrate than by entering to win great prizes at the Halloween Book Hop on Facebook!

You can win books and swag and fun Halloween treats to make your chilly nights warmer!

And here is a sneak peek of my Halloween short story...The Doll

Sometimes the ones we love should be let go, never thought of, never brought back.


   In my former life, I owned a company. I developed a synthetic polymer/fabric blend that mimicked skin when I put it over the hand crafted dolls I charged a boat load of money to buy. So, kind of, I owned two companies, but because they worked together, I only counted it as one. 
   But that was my former life.
   I looked around the day room of my “new home” and grimaced. Okay. I was wearing the uniform of ugly white hospital gown with the standard pre-stained robe, and my shoes had been confiscated for my own safety, but I wasn’t one of the over-drugged, slouching zombies slobbering into my daily lunch of slop and crap. I sat up straight with clear eyes and napkin in my lap. I didn’t belong here, but the alternative was jail, so here didn’t seem so bad and I made the best of every day.
   I’d escaped another day of med drops, clinging to lucidity by the thinnest thread. So far, my court appointed shrink hadn’t prescribed any pharmaceutical intervention to jog the memory of last Halloween.  Not that I wanted to remember. Knowing it was bad enough to land me in the state run facility for criminally insane offenders happened to be enough for me, but if I didn’t spring forth with some tidbit soon, a long future with the biters and hitters and all-night-long-screamers was guaranteed.
   My table mate flicked a forkful of slop onto the dingy Formica surface. She poked a stiff index finger into the center and smeared it around the surface in circles growing wider as she weaved back and forth in her chair to reach the outer boundaries of her personal space.  Ugh. Twelve months of this same behavior, repeated at every meal, yet my request for a different seating arrangement went ignored.
   I huffed out a sigh, pushed my chair back and walked away before she decided to redecorate me with a couple dollops of her lunch on my ugly jammies. Since it was Tuesday, I had a standing appointment with my shrink immediately after lunch. I would get my weekly book (with all the fun words and scenes blacked out by a heavy handed Sharpie user), my mail (also redacted for my protection) and the biggest prize of all—a diet soda to enjoy during our one hour session.
   Britantha—the supervisory group composed of Brittany and Samantha— in unison waved me through the dining room as though they shared one brain or communicated telepathically.  They wore turd brown scrubs and shiny white shoes while the other staff wore whimsical and fun uniform shirts designed to lighten up the dreary, window and door-barred psych unit.
   Back in my room, I took my sketch pad from beneath my mattress and a pencil from my collection from inside my heating vent (they might have been zombies, but some of them had sticky fingers), and waited for my escort to the office at the end of the hall.
   Fifteen minutes later, I had my knees drawn up with my heels resting on edge of the sofa. The lead drifted over the paper, drawing the man who haunted my dreams, the man whose picture provided the wallpaper in my room. Without a clue who he was or why the details of his face (chiseled jaw, dimpled left cheek, wide set eyes I imagined as a deep brown, and a tattoo on his back that swung around to hug his front and climb in small points up his neck) came to me so easily and with such repetition, I had no other subject I wished to draw.  
   My shrink hadn’t arrived yet, but during our session, he paid little attention to me anyway. He asked two questions every single time—“Do you remember what happened?” and “Is there anything I can get you?” When I answer no to both, he hands me my mail, my book and my soda, walks over to his desk and writes copious amounts of notes in what I always assumed was the great American novel he’d started during our weekly visits. I’d tried once to look over his shoulder and he quickly threw his body over top of his writing like a soldier on a grenade. I never tried again.
   The door swung open and I didn’t bother looking up. We had a routine and to deviate would probably cause him physical pain or maybe make him explode which would cause my extended stay to further extend.
   “Shelby.” A new voice spoke my name and I looked up. “My name is Dr. Rueter.” He was cute in a zany professor kind of way with green eyes magnified by black rimmed glasses perched on a slender nose. His mouth produced a smile full of shiny white teeth and his khaki pants and cardigan both needed a good ironing, but he was better than the last one who looked like he belonged on the front of the KFC chicken bucket.  “Dr. Rothschild has moved on, and I’m taking his patients.” He pulled an orange plastic chair up in front of me.  After he skimmed the file, he snapped it closed and looked up at me with a smile. “Tell me what brings you here to this, the happiest of places on Earth.”
   “I think our ideas of happy might vary a little too much for this to be beneficial relationship for either of us.” Sarcasm. It was how I’d run Rothschild behind his desk and kept him there.  “I’ll just go back to my room and you can write down what a good little patient I am and spend your next hour surfing the net for porn.” I slipped my feet into my shoes and stood.
   His lips twisted to one side. “Sit down. Let’s chat.”
   He opened the folder and held it up to show me a picture. I turned my head. I’d seen it before…the bloody floor, the knife, an apartment they said I shared with two roommates and a dog…none of whom survived that night.
   He pulled the folder back to sit on his lap. “You wanna tell me about that?”
   “Well, I would if only I could, but something awful happened, and I seem to have blocked the whole thing out.” He dug into an over-sized briefcase and extracted a plastic baggie of bloody clothes. “Boy, you’re all gung ho, aren’t you?”
   “You have a status hearing next week, and I’d like to be able to report some progress.”
   “So this is about you looking good? Getting the details no one else could get?”
   “Do you know the details?”
   Focusing too closely on me could only lead to the dark side. “Where did you go to school?”
   “University of Wisconsin.” He considered me from beneath lowered eyelids. 
   “You’re one of them rootin’, tootin’ cheese heads?” I injected a southern cartoon drawl to go with my disdain then rolled my eyes and picked up the sketch pad. He snatched it from my hand. “Hey!”
   “And who is this?”
   “I don’t have a clue. A figment of my imagination, I suppose.”
   He held my notebook in one hand and flipped through the file with the other.  “Or not.” He handed me both then sat back as though he had unlocked a plan for world peace.  With his hands clasped in his lap and one leg crossed over the other, he smiled. “He was one of your victims.”