By Brett N. Lashuay
My shrink smokes. He doesn’t do it in the office, you can’t smoke in offices. My dad tells me that you used to, but that it more or less became verboten right before I was born. That was his word, verboten. I wouldn’t use a word like that, I have standards.
I can smell it on him though, while it pervades every sense of his being, until all I can think of when I think of him is the smell of tobacco, it’s oddly not that bad with him. It’s a strangely comforting smell, the smell of a man who you know had to go out into the parking lot and smoke a cigarette in his mercades before he could see you. It’s nice to know that he’s got flaws to, I think that prevents me from thinking he’s judging me.
“Well.” He said, smiling his yellowed tooth smile at me. “How would you like to start?”
“I don’t know.” I shook my head, my hair falling into my face again.
“Would you like to talk about the kidnapping? The detective?”
“Jack.” I said, hating to hear him called by a title. “His name is Jack. I don’t like anyone thinking of him as the detective. It makes him sound slimy.”
What I wanted to say it that it makes him sound like he was some kind of low thug, a piece of muscle that was just doing it for the money. I wanted to tell him that he was like a knight, but not some white shinning armor type like Galahad or Lancelot. He was like a real knight, with blood on his tunic and dents in his armor. You would never see him wearing velvet robes or marching with the Order of the Garter, because he would be too busy fighting evil and saving maidens. He’s like one of the real knights of old, someone Geoffrey of Monmouth would write about.
You can’t say things like that though, because it sounds stupid. That’s what he said anyway. Jack told me that it’s one thing to write poetry, because sometimes you need to get things out, but showing it off and reading it just sounds dumb. I was sort of offended by that, but then he also told me that it lets people know where they can get at you because poetry is all feeling. That’s one of the things that made me fall in love with him, that he understands poetry, but that he thinks it makes you too vulnerable to attack to share. Something in life hurt him, something made him paranoid and I wish I knew what it was.
“Okay.” The shrink said, bringing me back to my narrative. “Jack then. Do you want to talk about him?”
“Not right now.” I said, shaking my head and then pushing the bangs out of my face again because every time I shake they fall down. It’s annoying, but I don’t like how my bangs look trimmed.
I have to keep coming to my shrink, and I have to talk about the events I’m going to tell you about. Dad said that I don’t have to keep coming here, now that everything is taken care of, but I think it might help. I need help processing how I feel, and I need to deal with it. Jack would say I need to deal with it, so that I can leave it behind and never touch it again.
See, I was kidnapped and raped. I went through what I’ve been told is Stockholm’s Syndrome and fell in love with the man that had kidnapped and raped me. Then I was rescued by the finest example of humanity I’ve ever met, an then he was shot and he’s probably going to die in that hospital bed he’s hooked up to now.
“Would you like to talk about something unconnected to that for a moment?” He asked.
“I just don’t want to talk about Jack right now.” I told him.
Since he’s famous and I know you’re wondering, Jack Collier didn’t kidnap me, he didn’t hurt me, he saved me. I fell in love with Jack too, but it’s a pure love. It’s not some farcical sort of fluids pumping through parts of my body, or passionate embraces in the back seat of his car, it’s better than that. It’s the sort of love that in better days would lead to a girl stitching banners for her love. I would weave him banners if I knew how to sew, but I think he needs something else right now. What he needs is to get better, but I don’t know how to make him better.
If this were a tale of old chivalry, my tears on his wounds would be enough, or a kiss from my lips upon his own full mouth. He wouldn’t allow that though, he would never allow it. He’s too good, too noble, too pure for this very ugly and sullied world and too pure for me. So I keep coming here, to try and work out how I can help him by helping myself. I can either try to re-purify myself for him, or I can help bury him if he doesn’t make it.
That’s part of why I have to write this, so that people will understand what happened to him if he doesn’t make it out of this alive. People have to know why things have transpired to reach these ends, or they won’t understand why I love him.
“Should we talk about Mister King then?” He asked, but I was staring off into the distance foe a moment. “Jill?”
“Yes.” I nodded. “We can talk about Cole for a bit.”
“How did you meet him then?”
“Daddy.” I told him, which is true but perhaps you don’t know how true really.
That, I suppose, is why we’re here, aren’t we? You want to know about Cole King and how he ended up where he did. My creative writing teacher in high school would call this an interesting introduction, saying that it sets up a hint at the conclusion that makes the reader want to know more. He was always saying things like that though, so I’m not sure how much we should take stock in his pronouncements. Still, it’s important to start somewhere and I wouldn’t want you reading this story thinking that I don’t end up okay by the end. I would hate to have you thinking that I don’t get out, because I do and it’s the most wonderful man in the world who saves me.
“You’re father worked with Mister King, is that right?”
“They sort of worked together.” I told him, leaning my head back against the cushion. “Daddy was using Cole to help with the other side of his business. You know what I mean?”
“You mean with the things that your father was accused of?” He asked, trying to be so polite about it.
“Yes.” I tried not to roll my eyes. “Cole was bringing the workers for him. Daddy hired Cole to help with getting those Mexicans to the farms. We didn’t know how Cole was getting them.”
“When did you first meet him?” He asked, leaning back, hoping I would start to tell a story.
So why shouldn’t I tell a story? That’s why we’re all here, isn’t it? So I can tell the story? I need to tell you this, because if Jack doesn’t pull through, then he can’t tell you himself. So I’ll start with Cole, I’ll start with how I met Cole and how daddy brought him into our house.
Cole King was a big fat Texan, only he wasn’t really from Texas at all. Someone told me that he really came from Minnesota or someplace like that. He was the sort of guy who moves to Texas and then buys a big hat and cowboy boots and wears a six shooter in a holster on his hip. He even spoke in a fake hick accent, but that didn’t bother me so much at first because he mostly talked to daddy when he was brought to the house.
I thought at first he liked to see daddy at the house because we live on this big estate of land. We’ve got deer out there, foxes and skunks and lots of rabbits and things. Cole and Daddy went hunting and shooting out there all the time. I suppose some day I’ll figure out why men like to shoot guns, but it’s a mystery to me as things currently stand.
Daddy liked to have Cole around because he was a big fat jolly sort of guy. You know, he was always laughing and joking and being really witty only not. How can anyone deal with a man who thinks that the best joke in the world is to have someone pull their finger while they fart? If you want to expand you repertoire of dirty jokes, you just have to stand around Cole for a while. The problem is they weren’t even funny. They were just like an excuse to say bad words. It was kind of sad really, that this guy who was only a few years younger than my father liked telling these stupid jokes and my father always laughed as if he’d never heard them before in his life despite the fact that he only has about six of them. I’ve heard the one about the nymphomaniac hermaphrodite so many times I could tell it in me sleep. However, I have standards that rise above jokes that have a punch line like “So the doctor said ‘I guess you’d better go fuck yourself’” thank you very much.
Daddy never thought Cole even looked in my direction, but I could always feel him watching whenever he was around. I always felt like changing my clothes if he was around, no matter what I was wearing I wanted to put on a burkha if he was coming over. It always made me feel kind of sick, that he was looking at me like that. And when he’d compliment me, and tell me how pretty he thought I looked, it just made me want to go hide in the woods. I don’t know how Daddy missed it, but Mom didn’t. Mom didn’t like him, and Mom thought that Daddy should just get rid of him.
The problem was Mom was in Paris when Cole came over that day on his own. I should have run, I should have hid in the woods, but I didn’t. I just stood there and let him grab me, I didn’t even really struggle when he tied me up and put my in his car. I was too scared to struggle, I was terrified in fact. It doesn’t make sense to say that I thought he would kill me, because I should have run if I thought that. I guess I thought he would hurt me really bad before he killed me if I tried to run.
He threw me into the back of his Hummer, and then went back into the house. I waited, just trembling in the back seat, wondering what he was doing. When he came out, he had something in his hands that he threw over my head into the back of the truck. Then he put a pillow case over my head and tied it around my neck so I couldn’t peak at anything. Then he got into the front and started driving.
He never said a word to me, not for the entire trip. He just grabbed me, wrapped me up and took off. It’s probably taken me longer to tell you about it than it took for him to do it.