Christopher, Craig & Co.
Part 127: The Hospital Show.
It was a beautiful, sunny Sunday afternoon that found Scott Wilson and I stepping off the elevator at Our Lady of Loretta Hospital. I followed Scott down the hall where he flashed his identification to a uniformed officer and then we entered a small private room.
Craig was lying in the bed, covered to the chest by a thin blanket. His hair was unwashed and he had several days’ beard growth.
“He looks like hell,” I said quietly.
“He’s in custody,” Scott reminded me.
“Is Richard also under guard?”
Scott nodded. “He hasn’t woken up, as far as I know.”
“Pity.” I approached the side of the bed and placed my hand atop Craig’s. He stirred.
“Craig, it’s Chris. Can you hear me?”
Craig’s eyes opened. It looked to me like he was having difficulty focusing.
“Are they keeping him sedated?” I asked.
“I don’t know. He’s probably on pain meds.”
“I miss the old days when the charts were kept by the bed. It’s much harder to snoop like this.” I turned my attention back to Craig. “Craig, I need you to try to answer me. Can you hear me?”
Craig slowly nodded.
“Craig, I know that Richard was inside your head and you’re not responsible for what’s happened. But the police are going to arrest you if you won’t tell us what you know.”
Scott scuffed his shoe on the floor.
Technically I was just making shit up at this point, but I didn’t know how far gone Craig’s mind was. And I didn’t know how long I’d get to visit him before someone came in to check on him. I also didn’t know if what I had in mind was even going to work.
“Craig, I need you to relax and listen to me. I need you to remember a time when my words had power to make you feel good. I need you to remember and relax. My shoes are tight, Craig. My shoes are tight.”
I knew I was cheating using whatever was sedating him to try to get to his subconscious, but I didn’t see a lot of options. I also knew that if I could get through to Craig and remind him of a time when he trusted me that I just might be able to help him.
Craig’s eyelids were fluttering and his breathing rhythm was slowing.
“My shoes are tight, Craig. My shoes are tight. That’s right. My shoes are tight. I’m going to count from ten to one and we reach one you are going to feel very relaxed and very happy to answer my questions. 10, feeling very relaxed, 9, letting your mind drift, 8, your breathing is calm, 7, in and out, 6, drifting along, 5, so relaxed, 4, mind opening, 3, feeling calm and happy, 2, breathing in and out, 1, my shoes are tight.”
Craig was either asleep or in trance. It was time to find out. Scott stepped toward me, but I held up a hand to stop him.
“Craig,” I said, using the tone I always used when putting a guy under. “You will find it very easy to answer my questions. Can you hear me?”
“Yessss,” he slurred.
A wave of relief went through me. “Craig, do you know who I am?”
“Good boy, Craig. Now I need you to listen very carefully so that you understand everything I am about to tell you. In a few moments I am going to count to three and all of the instructions I am about to tell you will have taken effect and you will know that they have permanently become a part of you. Do you understand?”
“Craig, from now on when I and only I say the phrase my shoes are tight you will go just as deep as you are now or even deeper into relaxation. You’d like that, wouldn’t you?”
“Good boy. And you know that when you are relaxed like this that anything I tell you is absolutely true and real and will help you. Isn’t that right?”
“Excellent. Craig, whatever instructions you have been given by anyone other than me are now going to fade from your mind. Those commands and instructions have no effect on you. You will be calm and relaxed and happy to see me and talk to me. Do you understand?”
“Good boy. Can you tell me the trigger phrase that you know that was not from me, Craig?”
I felt Scott’s hand on my shoulder. I turned and nodded at him. Of course, Richard would have been verbally abusive in his trigger.
“Craig, from now on, no matter who says the phrase worthless cocksucker to you, those words have no power and no meaning for you at all. They are just words and they will not affect you in any way. Isn’t that right?”
“You know that is true, don’t you, boy?”
“Good boy. I’m going to count to three now and you won’t remember any of this. But you will know that when I say my shoes are tight that you will relax completely. 1...feeling more alert...2...more aware of your surroundings...3.”
Craig opened his eyes and looked at me then looked away quickly.
“Chris, I’m so sorry.” He choked out. Then he began to cry.
I took his hand in mine. “You don’t owe me an apology, Craig.”
And that’s when the sobbing began. Craig cried like his heart was breaking. It hurt to watch.
Scott handed me a box of tissues and I set them on the bed. He slowly eased his way out the door.
I stroked Craig’s hair and made soothing noises until he had cried himself out.
Craig was still gasping a bit for air, but he had calmed himself down. “I’ve done such terrible things. You have to believe me I didn’t want to hurt anybody. I couldn’t stop myself. I couldn’t control myself, Chris.”
I nodded. “I know. I mean, I don’t know everything, but I know Richard was manipulating you.”
“He’s a terrible man, Chris.”
“I know that too,” I said softly.
Craig reached for my hand and squeezed it. “I need to know. Is Wade ok?”
“Yes. Although I think watching you try to kill yourself was a little more than he was ready for.”
“Oh my god. I tried to kill myself.” Craig looked around like it was for the first time. “Will they ever let me out of here?”
“The hospital? Yes. But the police want to question you and likely arrest you for kidnapping Wade and then for holding him at gunpoint at Kampas.”
Craig looked down. “I’m going to go to jail.”
“I don’t know. We’ll worry about that if we have to.”
Craig tilted his head up to meet my eyes. “Alan’s dead. Master killed him.” Craig winced as if he had been slapped.
“Craig, what just happened?”
“I don’t want him to be my Master. I don’t ever want to see him again.”
“I don’t know if I can make that promise. Richard is also in the hospital. If he lives, you might have to testify against him, I would imagine.”
“If he lives?”
“Well, it’s a long story, but while you were at Kampas with Wade, Richard was holding Scott captive and I went to rescue him. Richard got shot.”
“You couldn’t finish him off?” Craig asked, for the first time sounding assertive.
“I didn’t shoot him.”
“Oh.” Craig sniffed. “What’s going to happen to me?”
I sighed. “I honestly don’t know. I think I can help you get your head back together from the damage Richard inflicted, if you want me to.”
“Do you really think so?” Craig sounded so young and so defeated.
I nodded. “I do. And I’ll put in a call to my lawyer and see what he can find out about any pending charges for you.”
Craig’s eyes were red and swollen as he looked at me. “Why are you helping me? I was awful to you. And I’m sorry. I’m so sorry, Chris. I fucked so many things up.”
I decided to just say what was on my mind. “You hurt me when you left, Craig. I didn’t expect you to cheat on me. I thought you’d respect me enough to leave me first. But you and I had our time and some of it was very good.”
Craig smiled faintly. “It was.”
“And now we move forward. You were targeted because you were my ex. And for that I’m sorry. I knew Richard was abusive and sadistic, but I didn’t know he was a fucking nutjob.”
There was a knock on the door and it opened. Scott walked in. “How are things in here?” he asked, much more cheerfully than was required.
“Improving,” I said.
“I have news.” Scott took a deep breath. “Richard is awake. And, apparently, he keeps asking for you.”
To be continued in Part 128…
Christopher, Craig & Co.
Part 128: Misty Watercolored Memories.
I couldn’t possibly have heard Scott right. “What do you mean, he’s asking for me?”
Scott held up his hands. “That’s all I know. My boss wants you to go visit him.”
“You’re not serious.”
“Maybe it would be a good idea for you to talk to him. I mean, you got through to Craig very quickly.”
I glanced at Craig. “Craig is a victim here.”
Scott steered me toward the door and spoke in hushed tones. “That’s not how the police see it.”
“Are they going to charge him?”
“Do me this favor and see what Richard wants and hopefully that will give me a little leverage to help Craig.”
I lowered my eyebrows. “Is that really how this works? I’m pretty sure the DA has to agree to a deal BEFORE you cooperate...”
“Chris, you watch too much television.”
“Uh-huh.” I turned back to Craig. “Craig, I’m going to talk to the nurse about you getting your hair washed and a shave before we leave. I’ll stop by tomorrow to check on you.”
I gestured toward the door. “Lead the way.”
After a quick stop at the nurses’ station to get Craig taken care of, Scott led me to the elevator and we rode down to ICU. I was more than a little surprised I would be allowed to visit Richard. Having the FBI involved has its perks. Then again, I didn’t actually want to visit Richard. So there was that.
Scott flashed his ID to this guard like he had upstairs. I entered the cubicle and Scott hung back by the door.
Richard looked old and pale. That was my first thought. He had tubes coming out of his arm and nose and his eyes were closed when I stepped up to his bedside.
I momentarily imagined myself taking the pillow and pushing it down on his face.
Richard began to stir. “Christopher,” he said raspily.
“Richard,” I returned.
“What’s happened?” he asked. “Why am in the hospital?”
“You were shot.”
His eyes seemed to spark with recognition. “Shot?”
Moments ticked by and I thought maybe Richard was dozing off when he suddenly said, “You look so different here. Older.”
I rolled my eyes. “Than last night?”
“Don’t be disrespectful, boy,” he said sharply.
Maybe he wasn’t feeling so bad after all. “Lay off, Richard. The police are right outside the door.”
“Why are the police here? Why was I shot?”
“Are you telling me you don’t remember?”
“Remember what?” he said. “I don’t remember how I got here.”
“What do you remember?”
Richard hesitated. “We were at home. You cooked dinner. It was overdone and I told you you’d have to do better next time.”
I had a sudden flash of a night like that. It was true he had told me I’d have to do better next time. Then he had slapped me hard enough that my ears rang and made me clean up the kitchen and throw everything out. I’d gone to bed hungry that night.
I thrust my hands in my jacket pockets. “Richard, that was YEARS ago. You must be confused from the medication.”
“What are you talking about. That was the last thing I remember. It couldn’t have been more than a few hours...”
It couldn’t be possible that Richard had lost a decade of memories, could it? I admit I didn’t understand the hows and whys of Professor Edwards’ concoction, although I did know it seemed to erase some of Marty Jones’s short-term memory, but could he really have lost that many years from one injection? It had been his plan to use it on Scott. Did Richard know how much it would take to wipe out that many memories? Even if he did, now that he had been injected there was no way to find out.
“What else do you remember?” I asked.
“I remember that you should be wearing your chain collar even in public.”
I balled my hands into fists in my pockets. “Richard, I haven’t been collared by you for many, many years. I don’t know what game you’re playing, but I only came here because the hospital staff said you kept asking for me. What is it that you want?”
“I want you to take me home and wait on me while I convalesce.”
Ask a stupid question. “Richard, I don’t think you’re going home. I don’t know for sure, but I think you’re going to prison.”
“What is this nonsense you’re spewing?”
“Unless I’ve missed my guess, at the very least you’ve been involved in multiple deaths this past year. I hope they like your attitude on the cell block—”
“Fetch me my address book. I don’t understand what you’re prattling on about. I need to phone my lawyer.”
“Fetch your ass. You’re standing by your story that the last thing you remember was me living with you?”
“It’s not a story. You do live in my home, boy.”
I sighed and turned on my heel.
“Where are you going?” Richard demanded.
I spun back. “To MY home. Where I am going to have dinner and then make mad, passionate love to the man I love. We’re over, Richard. And just like I did all those years ago, I’m the one who is leaving you behind. I hope you rot in jail, you son of a bitch.”
With that diva moment, I spun once again on my heel and strode out of the cubicle, past Scott, and down the hall out of ICU.