TW: This story will contain mentions of sexual abuse towards children, and adults remembering said abuse.
Jack hugged himself, staring at the blank wall, eyes wide open. He remembered they were going outside later. The graze of the sun was all he looked forward to. He heard a quick knock and a quiet ushering in of two people. “Jack,” said the nurse. “Dr. Girifalco is here.” He didn’t move from his cradling. There were whispers traded and the nurse departed. The doctor went to the chair they had left for him, sitting down and waiting patiently for his attention. Jack felt his eyes touching the back of his head like he wanted to invade his mind. Everyone wanted answers, everyone wanted to know what happened. He didn’t even know what happened.
“Mr. Warner?” murmured a soft voice, returning him to reality. “Is it okay if I sit here?”
Jack slowly turned his head, seeing the doctor’s kind eyes first. He didn’t look like a doctor. His hair was messy, curly, and all over the place. His skin looked deep like he spent his off-time in the sun. His eyes were the color of whiskey at the bottom of a glass. He wore glasses like Jack, now dipped on the bridge of his nose. “Good morning.” Jack offered kindly. He did not sit up, feeling exhaustion was too great to think much less move.
“Good morning,” He replied with a smile. “How are we feeling?”
“Do you know who I am?”
“Yes, I’ve read your files.”
“Then I’m sure you know.”
He looked a little surprised but agreed. “Well, I could not imagine. You have experienced something very traumatic.”
“If you say that, then do you think I’m innocent?” Jack questioned him.
“It is not for me to say.” Dr. Girifalco answered. “What I am here to do is to understand you. Understand your mind and help you declutter.”
“What do you believe happened?” Jack finally sat up, looking at him directly, folding his hands together.
“I believe the facts.”
“What’s the facts?”
“Your name is Jackson Warner, you’re the oldest son of the Warner family.” He began, recounting purely from memory. “A year ago, your mother and father Abigail and Brian Warner were murdered. They were found in their home, in the kitchen. You were the only witness, and you were found in the living room. You were covered in blood that was not your own, and you remained mute for nearly six months. The first words you said were to thank the nurse that gave you a glass of water.” Jack nodded, everything was correct. “Despite the blood, there was no weapon found. No sign of forced entry or signs of anyone leaving, no one else besides you witnessed the murder as far as we know. This case is ongoing, and I think there’s going to be a Netflix documentary this year.”
“Did anyone in my family sign off on it?” Jack’s brow furrowed, his mouth became straight with vexation.
“I have spoken to your brother and sister, they were outraged about it.”
Jack slowly smiled, dropping it after a moment. “Can I ask you something?”
“Yes, anything you’d like.”
“When people are traumatized can we...simply forget what happened to us?”
“The mind is a complex organism.” The doctor offered, cautiously.” There is a phenomenon in which the mind can repress the memories of trauma, thus...protecting oneself from their experiences. It’s a…fight or flight or freeze response but to an extreme. Though this is more often seen in adults who have experienced sexual abuse as children. Do you believe that is what happened to you?”
“Yes. I do….but the problem is, I think I had them before my parents passed.”
The doctor looked confused. “How do you mean?”
“I had these feelings when I was young. I was always a nervous kid, never slept well….I used to drink cough syrup just to go to sleep. I drank it until I was 15. I upgraded to sleeping pills.”
“I always felt such a feeling of...death. Have you ever felt feelings of just panic all over your body? You just can’t do anything but be afraid.”
“I know of these feelings yes.”
“Do you believe me?” Jack asked him, softly.
He smiled, replying softly, “Yes I do.”
Jack looked at his hands, quiet. “Will you stay a little longer?”
“Yes, we can speak about anything you’d like.”
Dr. Girifalco returned to the director’s office. There sat the leading detective Pollack and his partner Witcher. The DA, Elizabeth Ryan was also there. The director was absent from this meeting. “What’s the conclusion?” said Pollack.
“Just a moment please,” said Dr. Girifalco softly. He sat down, gathered his thoughts, rubbed his eyes, and replaced his glasses. “Now, what would you like to know?”
“Is he crazy?” Pollack asked him.
“Are you always this forward Mr. Pollack?” He asked him.
“Yes most definitely.” declared Witcher, a small smirk on his mouth.
Ryan added, “I can attest to that.”
“Crazy is not a term many doctors use Mr. Pollack, and I do not believe he is crazy.” He began.
“What do you think of him?” Ryan asked.
“He is a traumatized individual. He spoke very honestly and seemed relieved to hear someone listening. Mr. Warner is intelligent, he speaks with clear reflectivity, he is honest and engaged.”
“But do you think he did it?”
“It would not be wise of me to make any conclusions as right now.” Was his answer.
The DA sighed looking down at her shoes. Witcher glanced in between everyone, taking a deep breath, “Do you think you should talk to him more?”
“I have already made plans to do so.”
“We can’t wait much longer on this,” joined Ryan. She looked at all of the men in the room, ensuring they knew her voice. “Give me something, or we’re dropping this.”
Jack awoke with a cold sweat, dropping out of bed and landed hard on the floor. Ever since his visits with Dr. Giriflaco got more frequent, the nightmares started to get more vivid. He hadn’t had the chance to tell him yet. At the same time, as he did before, the doctor arrived, knocked, and waited to be allowed inside. Jack sat up, calling for him to enter. The doctor entered, eyes seeming to lose their luster. When he sat down Jack asked him, “Are you well?”
“How do you mean?” He offered with a warm smile. “Do I look terrible?”
“You look tired,” Jack answered.
“I...am. But you know, as it goes. Now, what were we talking about last time?” He shifted through his notes. “Ah, your family. You told me about everyone up to adulthood. Let’s talk about the only one you missed.”
Jack was taken aback, eyes widened a little. “I….is it necessary?”
“I think so.”
Jack shifted, turning his legs to close and hug himself. He placed his chin against his knees. His eyes focused everywhere but at him. “What should I tell you?”
“I do not have any expectations.” He said. “Don’t say anything because I want to hear it, say it because you want to tell me.”
The silence inched up the walls and sank into the room. Jack’s eyes studied him for a moment, his body still close to him. “I’ve had very bad nightmares lately.”
“What about Jack?”
“Blood. Their bodies...how they looked...and me. Sitting there.”
“How do you see them? Through POV?”
“No. Like a movie, when I come into the kitchen I see them from the...outside. If that makes sense?”
“Makes sense to me.”
Jack’s grip loosened a little. “I don’t hate you.”
“I do not think you do.”
“I am unsure if...I do not want you to be mad at me.”
Dr. Giriflaco scanned him, pushing his glasses back up, “Mad at you?”
Jack buried his face, “I...I’m scared you will see me differently. If I tell you some things about myself.”
“I am a being of study and observation, I do not make opinions about you. I merely want to understand.”
Jack glanced at him, stomach twisting, clearly fearful of what he prepared to say. “A girl kissed me in high school, and I just burst into tears. I felt suffocated like there was just...panic.”
Dots connected in the doctor’s mind. “Why do you think that?”
“I don’t know...I’ve never been able to think of sex in any way that wasn’t that way.”
“I see…Jack, please let me see you?” He exposed his face, hands now shaking from the grip.
“Why do you think you felt the way you did? Did something happen to you, Jack?”
His eyes dulled completely, hands still shaking, managing a little whisper, “I don’t remember.”
“So you think he was molested?” Pollack asked.
“It makes sense,” Witcher decided after a moment of thought. “Nightmares, paranoia, impending doom, repressing his own memories.”
“He seemed to regress into a childlike behavior, wanting to not upset me, cradling himself in a sense of protection.”
“Okay, okay,” Pollack thought. “So something happens, a trigger or something, so he snaps. Attacks his father, then kills his mother to keep her from running or screaming. He then regresses down because he just killed his parents.”
“I do not believe his father committed an act against him-”
“The Mother then?”
“No! No, listen to me. The way he speaks of both parents was, for the lack of a better word, completely normal. He was not afraid to talk about either of them.”
“Could it be a symptom of repressed memories?”
“I do not believe so. His subconscious was not telling him to regress, telling him to hide or fear. Quite the opposite, he was so much more open.”
“So, a friend of the family? Teacher, coach?”
“Perhaps. Maybe a neighbor.”
“We already cleared teachers and his debate teacher.”
“We liked everyone,” Pointed out Witcher. “But we’ll try again.”
The doctor returned hearing shouts down the hall, feeling a small stab of worry in his stomach. “Excuse me Ma’am-” He caught the attention of a nurse.
“Oh hello, again my dear.” She said. “Glad to have you back. Would you like some coffee? Some tea?”
“How is...Mr. Warner?” He asked after accepting her small styrofoam cup.
“Well,” She scanned him for a moment, looking over at the hall. “We had to sedate him last night. He was a bit out of sorts last night.”
“Oh, is he okay?”
“Calmed down enough.”
“Hm, I should speak to him.”
“They might not let you in, but give it a shot. Poor thing likes you, I think it helps him.”
He went down, feeling his heart race. Maybe he shouldn’t have agreed to this, maybe he should leave, was he doing everything he should have done? Was he doing everything he needed to do? Was he helping him? “Hello, Dr. Giriflaco.” said the Director, standing beside a fellow doctor.
“Good morning” He replied nicely.
“This is our doctor Dr. Brown, she has taken a moment to speak to him. From what we can tell...he appears to be spirling.”
“Is he...is there anything I can do?”
“You may not talk as a doctor, but he does want to see you as a friend.”
Dr. Giriflaco changed into a plain nice sweater, hoping to soothe him. Jack was wearing a pair of long sleeves, hugging himself. A guard stood behind him. They greeted the other very softly. “I asked if they would put me in a straight jacket. They said that was a barbaric, and a myth.”
“I could have told you that.”
“They put me on a watch.” Jack nodded to the man behind him. “This is Mr. Ripple. He’s quite nice.”
“It’s just for safety.”
“I know. I understand,”
“I had a nightmare, my head started swimming and I saw...shadows. They scared me.”
“Those are very common amongst people with anxiety disorders...oh, I’m not supposed to talk like a doctor.”
“Well, that’s who you are.”
“Mr. Warner...Jack, is there anything…..” His eyes softened a little, looking at him and seeing the worry that flooded him. Jack’s eyes hadn’t glazed over.
“Tchaikovsky,” Jack whispered. “Tchaikovsky…”
“Uh-huh,” Jack’s eyes fell deeper into the horror of his memories. “I remembered it last night. I remembered how wonderful those songs used to be.” A small, distant smile lingered on his face, looking into the distance. “Tchaikovsky. I remember them when I was young.”
Tchaikovsky was the trigger.
Pollack and Warner revisited the neighbor, Mr. Rupert Robinson, a kind married man with two sons and a daughter. He enjoyed gardening, spending time with his grandkids. He coached the local soccer teams and was a kind citizen.
From the outside, that was.
Dr. Giriflaco sent a message to Witcher who relayed the message of the composer. The very same they found in the music collection of Mr. Robinson. After a moment Mr. Robinson’s smile faded and asked them to leave.
That was the tip-off.
They had to find a way to get their arrest warrant. Probable cause was provided by public outrage after an anonymous person leaked a story to a local journalist.
Dominos fell, and more and more names popped up into the public eyes. Probable cause was found, and Mr. Robinsn willingly gave his consent for the search. They found what they were looking for, in terms of pictures, personal accounts, and Terabytes. Mr. Rupert Robinson was arrested and charged within six months. The jury was out for only fifteen minutes. Dr. Giriflaco came to the hospital to report the good news to Jack. Jack was able to touch him this time taking his hands and kissing them. “How are you?”
“Very good, thank you.” The doctor replied. “I have something to tell you. And it’s wonderful news.”
“We have arrested the man who hurt you. The judge said during her verdict, “It is an honor and my privilege to place you in prison for the rest of your life.”
“That’s…” He almost burst into tears.
“I brought a news clipping. You want to see it?”
The good doctor extended it to him. Jack’s eyes fleeted across the lines, seeing the picture and the name. As his eyes got wider and wider as he read, face turning pale and sickly, he rose one hand and covered over his mouth. Tears began to fall down his face.
“I’m so sorry. I should have waited until you were more prepared,” began the doctor, gripping his free hand.
He shook his head, feeling bile climb into his throat, and his stomach was now twisting into knots. “No, no, Mark,” He grabbed his friend’s hand. “Mark, you don’t understand.”
“Please tell me,”
“It’s not him!” Jack cried. “It’s not him who hurt me.”
Jack’s buried into his friend’s shoulder, horror flooding their every sense.