“Thanks again for doing this,” Samantha said to the man who opened his door to us in the middle of the night.
He introduced himself to me as Gerald. He looked middle-aged and hugged the detective like a daughter when she entered the house. Gerald had dark hair, except for the grey that peppered the sides of his head just above the ears, and dark green eyes. The glasses he wore had thick lenses held in place by thin silver frames.
“It’s no trouble at all,” Gerald replied. “You know that. You’re always welcome here, and I’m always happy to help. Plus, I don’t really sleep anymore, anyway.” He chuckled, holding his hand out to us, directing us to sit on the large brown leather couch.
The detective sat me down on the couch and plopped down onto the cushion. Gerald sat carefully on the chair adjacent to the couch next to the fireplace. The fire crackled and hissed as I kept my eyes on him.
“What’s this all about?” he asked.
“This is my friend Dinlas,” she said. Gerald nodded at me compliantly. “He’s been through quite a lot in the brief time that I’ve known him, and I think it’s caused…some sort of episode.”
“Is this the same person you wanted me to come see?”
“It is,” she agreed.
“Okay, and do you think his condition has gotten worse?” Gerald replied, his eyes darting to mine.
“Okay,” Gerald said with a nod, “that will be all. If you don’t mind, I will talk with Dinlas alone.”
“Are you okay?” she asked me, turning to make eye contact.
“I guess we’ll let him be the judge of that,” I replied, attempting to make light of the uncomfortable situation we were all in together.
I heard Gerald snort, and Samantha smiled. She didn’t say another word as she stood from the couch and left the room. The detective closed the door behind her, and I listened to her footsteps carry her to the other end of the house.
“So, Dinlas, what can you tell me about yourself?”
“We can skip this part and get right into why you agreed to talk to me,” I replied.
“Oh, a direct man,” he said with a chuckle. “I like direct people. It makes things so much easier. Okay then, Dinlas, who do you see and talk to?”
I had to answer this part carefully. I wasn’t about to use the words minions or call them by their actual names, so I figured I would take a fresh approach regarding my honesty.
“Manifestations that I created when I was young,” I answered.
Gerald’s head cocked to the side as his grin stretched the length of his face. “That is an answer I didn’t expect,” he said. “Have you been to therapy before?”
“No, I just understand what they are,” I said.
“That’s impressive and a very textbook term we use when we attempt to get the patients to face their false realities,” he explained. “You mentioned when you were young, did something traumatic happen to you?”
“Nothing out of the regular,” I replied. “Normal stuff, I guess, but I know this stemmed from my poor relationship with my parents.”
“Tell me about them,” he interjected.
“Not a lot to tell,” I continued. “My father was distant and cared more about my siblings than he did me. I hated my mother.”
“It’s not important why,” I snarled. “That’s not what created my issues. What created these manifestations was the isolation I felt when I couldn’t live up to the expectations laid out by my father. They were impossible notions to live up to, and even though I thought I exceeded them, I never scratched the surface in his eyes.”
Gerald grinned with admiration. “What about your siblings?” he asked. “Did they ignore you or place unrealistic expectations on you?”
“No, actually the opposite,” I said. “They were always there for me and tried to aid me with obtaining my father’s approval.”
“Are you still close?”
“Not anymore,” I answered. “I wouldn’t say we were that close to begin with, but they never made me feel out of place. But I knew I was different from them.”
“I’ll put it this way,” I said, pulling a cigarette from the pack. “My family had specific jobs and things that we were responsible for.” I paused to place the cigarette in my mouth and light the end. “I let my responsibilities get the better of me, which led me to my manifestations and constant need to be better than my father.”
“I don’t understand why Samantha wanted me to talk with you,” he remarked, leaning forward in his seat. “You sound like a very lucid intellectual being. I can’t see where the issues are. Most people who struggle with psychosis or manifestations that represent emotions deny their existence. They maintain they are real or insist that their delusions are a part of reality in order to satisfy others’ suspicions about their mental health. You, on the other hand, willingly accept what you see and understand they are things you’ve conjured up from your subconscious. Fascinating.”
I thought I had the mortal fooled, beating him to the punch at every turn so he wouldn’t have the ability to psychoanalyze me, but that was until Love showed up. He appeared from nowhere, walking into my line of sight toward the fireplace. Love held his hands out, pretending that the warmth from the flames soothed his cold hands. I tried my best to maintain my stare on Gerald, but Love’s laughter made it difficult for me to ignore his presence.
Gerald continued talking about his previous experiences with other patients. He lamented over favorites and explained how he helped so many conquer their demons. But all I could hear was the laughter of my long-forgotten minion as he tortured me. My eyes attempted to wander over to his position, and I fought hard to keep my gaze on the detective’s friend.
“You’re tougher to crack than I originally thought,” Love said through his laughter. “I thought I had you, and then I slipped back through the cracks. But don’t worry, I was able to find my way back. I will continue to find my way back, so long as you keep Samantha by our side. She makes things easy.”
I felt the anger boil up within me as sweat gathered across my brow. My shift in behavior grabbed Gerald’s attention. He stopped talking and studied me with an intense glare. It felt like he was crawling into my mind and listening to Love’s monologue to me.
“Uh oh,” Love said, leaning into view next to Gerald. “I think he’s onto you. Either that or he can hear me. Can you hear me, Gerald? Can Samantha come back in here? Where did she go? Do you know where she went, Dinlas? Of course, you don’t, because I don’t know.” Love burst into laughter, igniting a cigarette of his own, and blew the smoke into Gerald’s face.
“Dinlas, are you with me?” Gerald asked. I could only muster a nod as my eyes fixed on Love. “Who are you looking at?” My eyes darted between Love and Gerald. I couldn’t decide who to focus on, and I felt myself slipping away. My vision tilted, swaying as it blurred them into a distorted picture I couldn’t recognize. “Hey!” Gerald shouted, snapping his fingers at me.
“What’s wrong?” the detective’s voice yelled from behind.
“He’s having some sort of break,” Gerald explained, reaching into his loose sweater pocket. He retrieved a syringe and jabbed the needle into my neck.