Kauffman leads Victoria to a table in the center of the cafeteria. The cafeteria is empty; only two food cooks lurk behind the food bar, preparing the morning breakfast for tomorrow.
“What would you like?”
“Sky’s the limit!” Kauffman jokes. Victoria bats her eyes and smiles.
“What do you recommend?” Victoria asks flirtatiously.
“The tuna melt is to die for” Kauffman says enthusiastically.
“Well, I must try it then” Victoria replies, passing a hand through her thick curly black hair. She suddenly realizes that she still had her coat on, so she takes it off and places it behind her chair. She catches Kauffman staring at her chest, only to find the top two buttons of her silk white blouse unbuttoned exposing her busty chest.
“It seems they’ve come undone” Victoria laughs as she slowly buttons her blouse.
“No, I’m sorry”
“It was un-gentleman like of me” Kauffman replied, embarrassed.
“It’s quiet alright”
“You are a man, aren’t you?” Victoria teased. Kauffman blushed even more at this.
“So, the tuna melt, you say?” Victoria smiled.
“Yes, that’s right!” Kauffman said, relieved to change the subject as he made his way to the food bar.
“Benny, my man, how’s it going?!” Kauffman yelled out to a frumpy looking bald man with a full dark brown beard.
“Hey, Mr. Kauffman” Benny said as he walked up to the kitchen side of the food bar.
“How can I help you?”
“Can you whip up two of your famous tuna melts?” Kauffman asked with a grin.
“No problem, Mr. Kauffman” Benny replied as he headed back into the kitchen.
Meanwhile, Kauffman and Victoria talked more about the position and Elizabeth. Victoria was getting tired of talking about Elizabeth, noticing how much Kauffman fancied her. She quickly shifted the conversation to suit her own insidious interests.
“Why work for a loony bin?”
“Why not go private?” Elizabeth pried. Kauffman was slightly taken aback by Victoria’s over-bearing inquiry.
“I would appreciate it if you would not call it a loony bin. It’s a mental rehabilitation facility” Kauffman told Victoria firmly.
“Did I say loony bin?” Victoria said, pretending to be coy.
“I meant mental hospital”
“Pardon me, my manners just go off the bat when I’m hungry” she said as she placed a hand to her heart. She smiled to herself, because she had purposely vexed him.
“I guess we all do silly things when we’re hungry” Kauffman smiled.
“Benny, are those melts ready yet?!” Kauffman turned his head and yelled out.
“In just a minute! Do you want chips with ‘em?” Benny yelled back.
“Sure, that would be great!” Kauffman replied. A few minutes later, Benny came bustling out the kitchen entrance, from the far left of the room, carrying two red trays. He set them on the table, each facing their corresponding owners.
“These look great” Kauffman beamed at Benny.
“Thank you, anything else?” Benny smiled.
“Oh, Benny, I’ll like to introduce you to my new nurse’s assistant, Marissa Croon.” Kauffman said to Benny.
“How do you do, M’am?” Benny smiled at Victoria as he tipped his head.
“I’m fine, thank you” Victoria smiled back.
“Well, Bon’ Appetite, I have to get back and finish cooking tomorrow’s breakfast. Good night, ya’ll” Benny said in a Texas drawl as he headed back to the kitchen.
Kauffman and Victoria didn’t talk much during their meal. Kauffman was still trying to figure Victoria out; she hadn’t talked much about herself and he was curious to find out more.
Over the next few weeks, Victoria made sure to always be on Kauffman’s good side. She made sure he had his favorite cup of tea ready in the morning, brought him strawberry scones (his favorite), and even gained Elizabeth’s trust; which Kauffman found to be very impressive. She had him under her spell. She wondered how long it would take for him to sleep with her.
During one very cold November morning, Victoria decided to pay Elizabeth a visit. Elizabeth had been coiled on the far right corner of her room, murmuring.
“Hello, Elizabeth” Victoria said coolly. Elizabeth lifted her head and smiled. The lights were brighter here than any other place in the facility and everyone thought that was quiet peculiar.
“Hi” Elizabeth replied in a baby voice.
“Do I know you?”
“Of course, it’s me, Marissa”
“You look like someone else” Elizabeth says to her.
“May I ask who?” Victoria asks as she steps closer to Elizabeth.
“I can’t remember….” Elizabeth whines, frustrated by her own incoherence.
“I’m sorry you can’t remember” Victoria replies, trying to sooth Elizabeth.
“Let’s play a game, Elizabeth”
“Do you like games, Elizabeth?”
“Yes, what kind of game?” Elizabeth asks eyes wide with excitement.
“Truth and Tell”
“I ask you a question and you answer truthfully. You can ask me questions too and we’ll just go back and forth” Victoria says to her.
“Okay” Elizabeth replies in a baby voice again.
“I’ll go first” Victoria says as she leans down on her knees in front of Elizabeth.
“What do you talk about with Mr. Kauffman?” Victoria asks.
“We talk about me mostly, of what I can remember of my past, anyway…” Elizabeth replies, trailing off.
“What do you remember?” Victoria continues.
“Hey, it’s my turn” Elizabeth scolds Victoria.
“Yes, I’m sorry. Ask me a question.” Victoria says coldly.
“What’s your name?” Elizabeth asks.
“I told you that earlier, it’s Marissa” Victoria replies, frustrated.
“Marissa, that’s pretty” Elizabeth says.
“Your eyes, you look so much like her…” Elizabeth started saying but stopped when she saw Kauffman approaching.
“I see you’re up and early” Kauffman chimes in as Victoria turn her head and smiles.
“Oh yes, she’s quite a girl” Victoria says sarcastically.
“Victoria” Elizabeth whispers.
“What was that?” Kauffman asks Elizabeth.
“Victoria!” Elizabeth screams so loud that Kauffman has to step back.
“Calm down, who is Victoria?” Kauffman asks, curiously.
“She’s Victoria…” Elizabeth points at Victoria.
“No, Elizabeth, her name is Marissa. You are confused.” Kauffman says in a soft voice.
“She’s obviously confusing me with someone else” Victoria laughs.
“You remind her of Victoria, that’s interesting” Kauffman says as he looks at Victoria.
“Who is this Victoria” Victoria asks, masking her nervousness.
“Someone she knew, but I can’t be sure” Kauffman replies.
“Oh look at the time, your first session is in ten minutes, we must prepare” Victoria urges Kauffman.
“We’ll discuss this further” Kauffman smiles at Elizabeth as he heads out her room with Victoria holding onto his left arm. They close her door and Elizabeth is left rocking herself on the floor murmuring again.
“Her eyes… it’s her eyes” Elizabeth repeatedly babbles.