Today we continue with The Book, which is one of the stories from my collection, A Sinister Six. Last time, we were introduced to Dr Monte Hilton and his patient, Jeff Reinhart. Jeff had forced his way into the Doctor’s house, seeking help, but Dr Hilton, unsurprisingly, wants him out.
You can read the previous part HERE.
Today, Jeff pleads his case to get help, and introduces the Doc to ‘the book’ that is apparently at the route of his problems. On we go:
“Just give me five minutes of your time doc, that’s all I want. I don’t want to cause you or the missus any bother.” He sat down in one of the leather armchairs in what looked to him, like a study or home office. He looked up at the dressing gown-wearing doctor and held out his hands, one of which held a book. “Please.” He held his hands together in a praying gesture to emphasise his request.
Monte stood for several moments, considering his options; the phone was within arms reach, and he was sure he could dial three nines before Jeff could get out of the chair. But there was something, something that tickled in the back of his mind. Five minutes is not so long. He has never displayed any propensity for violence.
“Stay there while I shut the front door,” Monte said, pointing at the armchair. Jeff let his hands fall, but remained perched on the edge of the seat. He nodded his compliance.
He was still sitting that way when Monte came back into the room. He shut the office door behind him and sat in an armchair, the twin of the one that Jeff perched on the edge of, across from him.
“Okay, if we have to do this right now, you’ll need to keep your voice down. People are sleeping.” He hiked a thumb back over his shoulder. Jeff nodded quickly and leaned towards Monte.
“This is it doc. This is the book.” He thrust the battered book towards Monte, who pushed it back. Jeff resisted and deposited the book in Monte’s lap. The book was the size of a small novel, perhaps a couple of centimetres or so thick. The book was paperback and looked like it had several not so careful owners; the corners were rubbed clean of any print and curled up; there were marks on the cover that looked like scorch marks, although they could just as easily be the stains left by a coffee mug that had been set down on it; the cover image had white cracks running along its length, as did the spine. The cover image itself was hard to make out; it was dark, very dark, blues, blacks or purples, it was hard to tell, but Monte could make out several shapes hidden within the colours, but could not have said what they were. There was a title at the top of the book, although what it was, he could not decipher; the golden letters were of a language and form that he did not recognise. It could have been some form of Hindi script, but he didn’t think so. He picked up the book and riffled the pages. The familiar sent of a well-read paperback reached his nostrils. There was almost nothing on the back cover: no image of the author, no blurb, no marks from a publisher. The shapes and colours seemed to swirl from the front cover and continue here on the back, to Monte, still formless. He held the book out to Jeff, who shrank back into his seat, palms facing towards Monte.
“I don’t want it back!” Monte thought he saw genuine fear in the man’s eyes.
“Fine. You can take it when you go.” He leaned across and placed the book on the desk that sat alongside them.
“I won’t take it, I won’t take it.” Jeff spoke quickly, shaking his head as he did. “Just destroy it, doc, destroy it.” He pulled his legs up to his chest, wrapped his arms around them and began rocking.
Monte sat back in his chair and crossed his legs. This wasn’t his usual procedure, but it would have to do for now.
“Jeff, we’ve talked about this, haven’t we?” Jeff nodded once, now chewing the material on his jeans where his knees were. “You need some help to bring your anxiety under control. That’s what the Clozapine is for. If you’re not taking it, how can you expect to feel well?”
Jeff lifted his head up and rested his chin on his knees.
“Will the Clozapine shut that up?” He stabbed a finger towards to book sitting on the desk. “Because it’s done shit so far!”
“Please keep your voice down.” Monte lowered his voice as he spoke.
That’s it for today. more next week…