Grandiose 15

Still frazzled from the past days, Elizabeth lay still while submerged in a white vintage tub filled with cold water and ice. Her long red wet hair lay flat against her flushed silky skin. She kept a blank stare and seemingly lifeless body gave the illusion of death but from time to time you could still see her chest heave.Image

A nurse sat a few feet from her on a wooden chair reading a cover-less blue book, leg crossed over the other, who peered at Elizabeth every few minutes from the rim of her glasses. There was a dead silence like the world had been forbidden of sound.
Meanwhile, in her dormant state, Elizabeth thought about Henry and how they had unexpectedly had their first date, even though it was never confirmed.

I was getting quiet annoyed with Victoria. Our current arrangement was not working for me at all but I was too much of a coward to point it out. She had a knack for emotional abuse, always putting me down, insulting and humiliating me. I was getting tired of it but every time I would convey my discomfort she would turn on her charm and suck me back in to her nightmare. I felt my life being sucked out of me every time I was with her. My only constant source of happiness was my acting career which was looking bright and of course, Henry.

On one warm March afternoon, I had come out of my acting class early and decided to grab a cup of coffee by the nearby café. Mind you, I always walk fast even if I’m not in a hurry. While going through my purse for my wallet and walking down the street like a mad woman, I slammed into someone dropping my bag and all of its contents.

“Bloody hell” I started to say but then stopped when I realized it was Henry.

“Oh, it’s you” I said smiling, pushing my hair back behind my ears.

“Nice to see you too” he laughed, bending down with me to pick up the spilled items from my purse.

“I was hoping to bump into you, no pun intended” he continued with a smile.

“Mission accomplished” I replied, flustered. After helping me pile all my items back into my purse, he helped me back up and dusted my shoulder off.

“So, what’s the hurry?” Henry asked.

“Nothing really, just heading to the café for some coffee” I replied.

“I could go for some coffee” he smiled.

“Okay, sure” I smiled back, trying very hard not to blush. I don’t think I was doing a very good job to tell you the truth. I also tried not to stare at him so much but he was just too gorgeous. I couldn’t believe he liked me, nevertheless, have coffee together. Somehow I managed to behave myself and stay calm and collected.

During this unexpected rendezvous, I tried not to talk too much. I was a bit nervous and I have this thing that I laugh when I get nervous. He seemed not to mind, though. He actually started telling me jokes just so I could actually have a reason for laughing and not feel awkward.

He’s such a nice guy, I thought to myself. He gets me, I thought as I looked into his eyes briefly from across the table. We had chosen to sit in the café’s outdoor seating area because it was just too much of a lovely day outside to spend it indoors. The wind kept blowing my hair in my face which so I barely had a chance to drink my coffee.
There was a park to our right where kids were playing carefully watched by their mothers. I looked at three mothers sitting on a marble bench, laughing and talking about things I would never experience. I looked back at Henry, who was still talking to me about something but he seemed so far away. I smiled and nodded, pretending to have heard everything.

“So, what do you think?” Henry asked, suddenly.

“Elizabeth?” he continued, this brought me out of my trance.

“What, I’m sorry” I replied.

“I asked if you wanted to come to the cinema with me next Saturday” Henry responded with a smile.

“I’ll have to check my schedule but I’ll let you know sometime next week” I replied.

“Would you like my contact info?” He asked.

“Yes, that would be helpful” I laughed. He took out a small notebook and a pen from his leather jacket and noted his information on it. Even his writing style was as immaculate as his gorgeous blonde hair. I tried not to blush, I was getting nervous again.

As he handed me the torn piece of paper from his notebook our hands touched. His hand was warm and mine was cold. We both smiled at each other, his blue eyes piercing into mine. He had been the perfect gentleman the whole time. As we said our good-byes, he gave me a hug and kissed me on my cheek. I couldn’t help it this time and I blushed.

“Here’s looking at you, kid” He smiled at me, tipping his head as he went up the park street. I watched him for a while until he disappeared at the corner. I touched my cheek. I could still feel his warm kiss upon it. I smiled and headed the opposite way to catch a taxi back home.

“How is she?” Kauffman asks, startling the nurse.

“Oh, Mr. Kauffman, I didn’t hear you come in. You scared me.” The nurse says to Kauffman, turning her head.

“She’s been like that the whole time, as if she’s so far away, poor girl” the nurse continues to say.

“I had to check her breathing a couple of times just to be sure we didn’t lose her”

“So, she hasn’t said a thing all day, Barbara?” Kauffman asks concerned.

“No, sir, nothing at all” Barbara replies, shaking her head.

“I think she’s had enough. Take her back to her room.” Kauffman tells Barbara.

Elizabeth’s eyes are blood shot red, her skin now pruny and white. She has heard everything but remains motionless. Then she slowly starts to sink deeper into the tub until she is completely submerged. Her eyes are wide open as she stares at the light above her. She starts to make bubbles with her mouth. Kauffman and Barbara are still in conversation, oblivious to her now.

I’m drowning, Elizabeth thinks as she lays on the cold tub surface, unmoving. “Elizabeth!” distant screams are heard through the water and then strong hands pull her out.

Grandiose 11

You dreamt about me?” Kauffman asks from across the table. We are having breakfast in the cafeteria. We both ordered scrambled eggs with toast and a cup of coffee.  As I grabbed for the hot sauce so did he and our fingers touched. I tried not to blush. He chuckled a bit.

He looked like his normal self again. His eyes glistening as the sun hit them. I was glad he was being nice to me again and when I had told him about my dream he didn’t laugh; he was surprised.

“I never had a patient dream about me before” He smiled.

“There’s always a first time for anything” I said, blushing. Was I flirting? I became upset because I was confused by my emotions.

“Don’t get upset. It’s okay” Kauffman told me as he cupped my hands between his. I looked him and he leaned forward and smiled. I smiled back.

“Now, I have a surprise for you. You’re going to love this” he said as he led me out the cafeteria. He had me by my right hand and we ran to the main hallway with the glass walls overlooking the garden.

“Isn’t it beautiful?” Kauffman asked, breathlessly.

“It certainly is” I responded. Then he dragged me out through the exit door into the garden.  It was a warm day and the snow had melted away a few weeks ago.  I raised my hands to the sky taking in the sun, twirling myself around with glee. I was outside for the first time in three years.  I let myself fall onto the wet grass smelling fresh honeydew as Kauffman lands right beside me. We stare up at the sky and watch the birds fly by.

Lying there, Kauffman opens up to me about how he had lost his parents when he was young and had to take care of his younger brothers. He had to grow up fast at thirteen years old. I slid my hand into his as to comfort him.  For a while, after he had confiding in me about his past, we just laid there in silence. I didn’t think about anything really; was too happy to be outside.

I wanted to milk this newfound freedom until I had exhausted the day for all its worth. Abruptly making my way up, I made my way around the garden in total awe of the new born flowers.  Kauffman followed and watched me from afar. While sliding my hands through a shrub, I pricked a finger on a sharp twig that had been poking out.

“Ouch!” I yelped. Kauffman rushed over to me, pulled a handkerchief from his jean pocket and wrapped it around my finger.

“I think it’s time to go back inside; you’re going to need a band-aid.” He told me looking at my bloody finger. I didn’t protest as he led me back inside. He had a nurse attend to my finger in the session room.  She was quick and a bit rude, but my mind was preoccupied with other pressing matters.

The whole day I had the feeling that I was being watched even though you were always being watched here.  In the garden I thought I saw a man watching us from the extended garden, but when I had looked back he had disappeared. I couldn’t shake the feeling.

A strong lavender aroma from Victoria’s newly washed hair blended with the freshly brewed Columbian coffee from the cafeteria that alarmed everyone that lunch was ready. She placed the red food tray on my desk and smiled.

“They made peach cobbler, your favorite” Victoria told me, pointing at the peach cobbler. I never told her I loved peach cobbler. Only Victoria knew this. I didn’t say anything back because I knew how the discussion would end. I ate my lunch in silence leaving Victoria and Kauffman to chat over their lunch.

Again, I had that uneasy feeling that someone was watching me. I turned my head to the door but no one was there. Kauffman and Victoria were immersed in discussion about the poor care of the third floor patients. Many of them weren’t being fed because the nurses were scared of them.

Some were even being mistreated by the orderlies who took pleasure in beating them.  Six third floor patients died last week of alleged unknown causes. Corruption roamed free here and those who talked were never seen again.

I had overheard Demetrius talking to another Russian orderly, named Marcus, who was known to have the tendency to act violently against patients brag about molesting a second floor patient. It was common for orderlies to molest or even rape female patients. I was one of the lucky few that had not been subjected to such indignities.

For the most part, I was grateful for Demetrius. He always kept a watchful eye on me and protected me but I always wondered why. Why is he so nice to me? He treats everyone else like sewage rats but I’m the exception. I’ve always been skeptical of him; you always have to trust your gut. Sometimes I feel like he is just fattening me up like a pig for slaughter; not to sound morbid or cynical, though.

Savoring every single bite of the peach cobbler as the sweet and pungent flavors electrified my taste buds; as I finished my lunch. I tried not to think about the harsh reality seemingly construed like a blockbuster horror story.

Then a shrilling scream rounded the lively souls silent and my heart pounded like a mad man playing the drums. It had come from the third floor and soon I heard the pounding footsteps of orderlies and nurses running towards the screams.

“Stay here!” Kauffman yelled at me as he rushed out with Victoria. I locked the door behind them, just to be safe.  The officials will not like this or perhaps they are not aware of the increasing deaths and disappearances. I make my way to a corner and hide away from view. I have to get out of here. I fear the worst and I will not stand around and wait to be caught by the killer.

//
//

Grandiose 10

Kauffman’session room smells like somebody smoked a hundred cigarretes. It makes me cough. Victoria opens the windows behind Kauffman’s desk and in a few minutes the room smells fresh again. Kauffman is late; he is never late. I find myself feeling worried.

Victoria didn’t handcuff me to the chair today, which has lifted my mood a bit. I feel free. My mind is empty; I have no thoughts to ponder upon. I don’t even think about Henry. I sit up straight with mother’s voice in my head telling me how good posture is important. She always instilled that upon me while growing up in London. How I missed her as I sat there looking out the window.

It was a rather warm January morning. A mockingbird chirped a song on a high branch of an oak tree right outside Kauffman’s session room. A brown rabbit searching for his morning grub lurked around the tree. I wondered if he had a family and how they waited patiently for him to come back. I hummed as the mockingbird sang it’s song and when it was done it flew away into the ocean blue sky. If only I could go outside and feel the sun on my skin. I desperately yearned to have the wind blow through my long red hair and flush my cheeks.

I suddenly hear Kauffman’s footsteps rushing towards the room. I know this by the clanking noise they make similar to a women’s pumps. They are annoying to hear but he doesn’t care what people think.

“I’m terribly sorry. I overslept.”Kauffman said breathlessly as he headed towards his desk. He did look tired; his eyes were puffy and dark. His clothes were wrinkled. Nevertheless, he managed to maintain his perfectly groomed dark brown hair, parted to the left. He always kept his hair well-groomed.

Victoria went over to him and started massaging his shoulders after he had sat down.

“There-there relax”She said to him.

“That does feel nice”Kauffman smiled with eyes closed. This angered me for some reason. Was I jealous? I quickly adverted my gaze to the window again, while Kauffman and Victoria went over notes.

I didn’t notice I had fallen into a trance; staring out the window. I was far away in my mind when I heard distant voices screaming my name. Gradually the voices grew louder; realizing it was Kauffman and Victoria announcing the start of the session. I shook myself back to the present.

“Now that we’re all back, let’s continue where we had left off the last time”Kauffman said to me.

“You were at your Uncle’s apartment” he continued.

“Yes” I replied.

“Let’s begin” Kauffman responded opening up his journal to a blank page as I began telling my story.

The next morning, Uncle Leo, had made us a big breakfast as well. That man really loved to cook. He made us French Toast, scrambled eggs, waffles and pancakes, freshly squeezed orange juice, oatmeal raisin muffins, fruit bowl with yogurt, coffee, strawberry milkshakes, bacon, sausages and grilled cheese sandwiches.

I took a bit of everything. It was so good. My jaw dropped when I saw how Victoria had stuffed her plate so high with food.

“Aren you really going to eat all of that” I asked her in total disbelief.

“Yes”she mouthed back with a mouth full of scrambled eggs and bacon. She did in fact eat it all and had herself a second helping. Uncle Leo was actually flattered by this. He urged me to eat more but I gracefully declined.

It was about 11 a.m. by the time we had left Uncle Leo’s apartment, bloated from the delicious breakfast we had just eaten. Before leaving, he had handed me a stack full of cash. At first I didn’t want to take it but I needed the money since I hadn’t found a job yet.

Outside the temperature was of Spring not of Winter at all that November morning while Victoria and I waited for our taxi. There wasn’t much people outside either. We didn’t have to wait long for the taxi; it arrived 10 minutes after we had called for it. There wasn’t much traffic so the trip home was a breeze.

Entering into our building’s main floor, we met with one of Victoria’s friends, named Alexis. She had been waiting for the elevator when we had entered. She had long blonde hair that reached her waist, wore a plum colored wool coat, black stockings and chocolate brown boots.

When she saw Victoria she smiled, “Victoria, how are you?!” she exclaimed as she rushed to give Victoria a hug.

“I’m fine, thanks. And you?”Victoria said to her. They talked for a few minutes until Alexis asked Victoria who I was.

“Where are my manners, Alexis, this is Elizabeth, my new roommate. She just moved here from England.”

“How do you do”Alexis smiled at me as she stretched out her hand for me to shake. At that moment, we heard the elevator doors open and I turned to face Henry. We smiled at each other. His ocean blue eyes glistening as the sun hit his face. I tried very hard not to blush.

“Fancy seeing you again”he said to me.

“Had an all-nighter, I see” he told me, pointing at my clothes. I tugged at my black sweater, slightly embarrased.

“Kind-of, we stayed over at my Uncle Leo’s apartment” I replied.

“What are you doing now? Want to grab coffee?” he asked.

“We just had a big breakfast at my Uncle’s, I don’t think I could fit anything anymore. Can I take a raincheck?” I laughed.

“Definitely, maybe later we can go out?” He smiled at me.

“Yes, maybe later”I smiled back.

“Here’s looking at you kid” He said to me as he hugged me goodbye. I watched him walk out the building and take a left down the street.

“Are you two a thing now?” Victoria said walking up behind me into the elevator.

“No, I just met him” I responded.

“It looks like he likes you” Victoria snorted.

“I don’t know…maybe” I replied.

“I can’t focus on that now, I have too many things to do” I continued.

“So serious” Victoria laughed. I didn’t bother to respond. Arriving at our apartment, I quickly headed towards my room remaining in there while I finished unpacking the rest of my luggage. It was well past four when I had finished unpacking and organizing my things.

Victoria didn’t know how to cook and I was too tired to do so-so we ended up ordering a pizza. We ate it while watching a movie in the living room with a bottle of red wine. We didn’t really talk much during the movie and after it was done, Victoria went to her room and stayed there the rest of the evening. I cleaned up and watched TV until midnight then went to bed.

I had hoped Henry would have come over but felt silly thinking about him. I didn’t know much about him and already had taken a shine to him.

“Did you ever go on a date with him? Kauffman asked suddenly, breaking my train of thought.

“Yes, but that’s later in the story” I said not looking at him.

“Have you remembered anything about the murder?” he asked me. This took me off guard and caused me to midly hyperventalate.

“No!”I yelled, starting to cry.

“I see…”he said, then called for Victoria to bring me my lunch. I wasn’t too sure about telling him the two visions I had been having where in one I hold a bloody bat and in the other a bloody knife while an unidentified man lays on the floor, dead. I couldn’t be sure that those visions or dreams were actual flashbacks.

I eat my lunch slowly, not wanting to talk with Kauffman anymore. He has been hostile to me for a few weeks now and I don’t like it at all. Victoria seems to be enjoying his sudden change in attitude towards me. I recoil in dismay. To my surprise, kauffman decides to end the session early and am left in the community room with a few other patients. I don’t talk to them. I sit on a brown sofa near a large glass window facing the grounds.

I stare out the window, thinking about how tired looking Kauffman had been. I was worried about him. He wasn’t himself these days. Now I find myself watching the other patients go about the community room but lose interest quickly.

“Junior,” a fifth year patient, waves to me from a chess table across the room.We called him “Junior” because he is a second generation patient. His father had been emitted here many years ago. He plays by himself. I smile at him. He sports a shaved head, an over-sized black t-shirt and blue asylum issued pajama pants. He wore no shoes.

In my periphery, I see Molly walking towards me.

“You can go back to your room until we come get you for dinner” she says to me. I slowly make my way to my room. As I make a right turn towards the hallway that leads to my room, I see him. Henry. He is by the exit doors that lead down to the basement. He smiles at me then disappears through the exit doors. I run after him. I make my way down to the basement screaming for Henry. He is nowhere to be found in the dimly lit maze.

I soon realize that I am lost and start to cry. Then I feel strong warm hands grab at my shoulders and turn me around to face Kauffman. He holds me tight to his chest and I let myself be soothed by his embrace. He is kind and gentle as he leads me to his office for a cup of hot Chamomile tea.

I tell him what happened and he just nods. He walks over to his disc player and soon it starts to play an old American Swing song. He comes over to where I am sitting and pulls me up by my hands to dance. He twirls me around and I laugh like a school girl. Then he pulls me close and kisses me on my forehead. He traces his fingers on my lips and I pull away.

I open my eyes and find myself in my room on the floor, shivering. It was just a dream.