Tell me your dreams, p.23
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       Tell Me Your Dreams, p.23

           Sidney Sheldon
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Chapter Twenty-Three

 

  Dr. Gilbert Keller was in charge of Ashley's therapy. His specialty was treating multiple personality disorder, and while he had had failures, his success rate was high. In cases like this, there were no easy answers. His first job was to get the patient to trust him, to feel comfortable with him, and then to bring out the alters, one by one, so that in the end they could communicate with one another and understand why they existed, and finally, why there was no more need for them. That was the moment of blending, when the personality states came together as a single entity.

  We're a long way from that. Dr. Keller thought.

  The following morning, Dr. Keller had Ashley brought to his office.

  "Good morning, Ashley. "

  "Good morning. Dr. Keller. "

  "I want you to call me Gilbert. We're going to be friends. How do you feel?"

  She looked at him and said, "They tell me I've killed five people. How should I feel?"

  "Do you remember killing any of them?"

  "No. "

  "I read the transcript of your trial, Ashley. You didn't kill them. One of your alters did. We're going to get acquainted with your alters, and in time, with your help we'll make them disappear. "

  "I - I hope you can - "

  "I can. I'm here to help you, and that's what I'm going to do. The alters were created in your mind to save you from an unbearable pain. We have to find out what caused that pain. I need to find out when those alters were born and why. "

  "How - how do you do that?"

  "We'll talk. Things will come to you. From time to time, we'll use hypnotism or Sodium Amytal. You've been hypnotized before, haven't you?"

  "Yes. "

  "No one's going to pressure you. We're going to take our time. " He added reassuringly, "And when we're through, you're going to be well. "

  They talked for almost an hour. At the end of that time, Ashley felt much more relaxed. Back in her room, she thought, I really think he can do it. And she said a little prayer.

  Dr. Keller had a meeting with Otto Lewison. "We talked this morning," Dr. Keller said. "The good news is that Ashley admits she has a problem, and she's willing to be helped. "

  "That's a beginning. Keep me informed. "

  "I will, Otto. "

  Dr. Keller was looking forward to the challenge ahead of him. There was something very special about Ashley Patterson. He was determined to help her.

  They talked every day, and a week after Ashley arrived, Dr. Keller said, "I want you to be comfortable and relaxed. I'm going to hypnotize you. " He moved toward her.

  "No! Wait!"

  He looked at her, surprised. "What's the matter?"

  A dozen terrible thoughts flashed through Ashley's head. He was going to bring out her alters. She was terrified of the idea. "Please," she said. "I - I don't want to meet them. "

  "You won't," Dr. Keller assured her. "Not yet. "

  She swallowed. "All right. "

  "Are you ready?"

  She nodded. "Yes. "

  "Good. Here we go. "

  It took fifteen minutes to hypnotize her. When she was under, Gilbert Keller glanced at a piece of paper on his desk. Toni Prescott and Alette Peters. It was time for switching, the process of changing from one dominating personality state to another.

  He looked at Ashley, asleep in her chair, then leaned forward. "Good morning, Tonni. Can you hear me?"

  He watched Ashley's face transform, taken over by an entirely different personality. There was a sudden vivacity in her face. She began to sing:

  "Half a pound of tupenny rice,

  Half a pound of treacle,

  Mix it up and make it nice,

  Pop! goes the weasel. . . "

  "That was very nice, Toni. I'm Gilbert Keller. "

  "I know who you are," Toni said.

  "I'm glad to meet you. Did anyone ever tell you that you have a beautiful singing voice?"

  "Sod off. "

  "I mean it. Did you ever take singing lessons? I'll bet you did. "

  "No, I didn't. As a matter of fact, I wanted to, but my" - For God's sakes, will you stop that terrible noise! Whoever told you you could sing? - "never mind. "

  "Toni, I want to help you. "

  "No, you don't, Dockie baby. You want to lay me. "

  "Why do you think that, Toni?"

  "That's all you bloody men ever want to do. Ta. "

  "Toni. . . ? Toni. . . ?"

  Silence.

  Gilbert Keller looked at Ashley's face again. It was serene. Dr. Keller leaned forward.

  "Alette?" There was no change in Ashley's expression. "Alette. . . ?"

  Nothing.

  "I want to speak to you, Alette. "

  Ashley began to stir uneasily.

  "Come out, Alette. "

  Ashley took a deep breath, and then there was a sudden explosion of words spoken in Italian.

  "C'i qualcuno che parla Italuaw?"

  "Alette - "

  "Non so dove mi trovo"

  "Alette, listen to me. You're safe. I want you to relax. "

  "Mi sento stanca. . . . I'm tired. "

  "You've been through a terrible time, but all that is behind you. Your future is going to be very peaceful. Do you know where you are?"

  His voice was white.

  "Si. It's some kind of place for people who are pazzo. " That's why you're here, Doctor. You're the crazy one.

  "It's a place where you're going to be cored. Alette, when you close your eyes and visualize this place, what comes to your mind?"

  "Hogarth. He painted insane asylums and scenes that are terrifying. " You're too ignorant ever to have heard of him.

  "I don't want you to think of this place as terrifying. Tell me about yourself, Alette. What do you like to do? What would you like to do while you're here?"

  "I like to paint. "

  "We'll have to get you some paints. "

  "No!"

  "Why?"

  "I don't want to. "

  "What do you call that, child? It looks like an ugly blob to me. "

  Leave me alone.

  "Alette?" Gilbert Keller watched Ashley's face change again.

  Alette was gone. Dr. Keller awakened Ashley.

  She opened her eyes and blinked. "Have you started?"

  "We've finished. "

  "How did I do?"

  "Toni and Alette talked to me. We've made a good beginning, Ashley. "

  The letter from David Singer read:

  Dear Ashley,

  Just a note to let you know that I'm thinking about you and hoping that you're making good progress. As a matter of fact, I think about you often. I feel as though we've gone through the wars together. It was a tough fight, but we won. And I have good news. I've been assured that the murder charges against you in Bedford and Quebec will be dropped. If there is anything I can do for you, let me know.

  Warmest wishes,

  David

  The following morning, Dr. Keller was talking to Toni while Ashley was under hypnosis.

  "What is it now, Dockie?"

  "I just want to have a little chat with you. I'd like to help you. "

  "I don't need your bloody help. I'm doing fine. "

  "Well, I need your help, Toni. I want to ask you a question. What do you think of Ashley?"

  "Miss Tight Ass? Don't get me started. "

  "You don't like her?"

  "In spades. "

  "What don't you like about her?"

  There was a pause. "She tries to keep everybody from having fun. If I didn't take over once in a while, our lives would be boring. Boring. She doesn't like to go to parties or travel or do any fun things. "

  "But you do?"

  "You bet I do. That's what life's all about, isn't it, luv?"

  "You were born in London, weren't you, Toni? Do you want to tell me about it?"

 
"I'll tell you one thing. I wish I were there now. "

  Silence.

  "Toni. . . ? Toni. . . ?"

  She was gone.

  Gilbert Keller said to Ashley, "I'd like to speak to Alette. " He watched the expression on Ashley's face change. He leaned forward and said softly, "Alette. "

  "Si. "

  "Did you hear my conversation with Toni?"

  "Yes. "

  "Do you and Toni know each other?"

  "Yes. " 0f course we do, stupid.

  "But Ashley doesn't know either of you?"

  "No. "

  "Do you like Ashley?"

  "She's all right. " Why are you asking me all these foolish questions?

  "Why don't you talk to her?"

  "Toni does not want me to. "

  "Does Toni always tell you what to do?"

  "Toni is my friend. " It's none of your business.

  "I want to be your friend, Alette. Tell me about yourself. Where were you born?"

  "I was born in Rome. "

  "Did you like Rome?"

  Gilbert Keller watched the expression on Ashley's face change, and she began to weep.

  Why? Dr. Keller leaned forward and said soothingly, "It's all right. You're going to awaken now. Ashley. . . . "

  She opened her eyes.

  "I talked to Toni and Alette. They're friends. I want you all to be friends. "

  While Ashley was at lunch, a male nurse walked into her room and saw a painting of a landscape on the floor. He studied it a moment, then took it to Dr. Keller's office.

  There was a meeting in Dr. Lewison's office.

  "How's it going, Gilbert?"

  Dr. Keller said thoughtfully, "I've talked to the two alters. The dominant one is Toni. She has an English background and won't talk about it. The other one, Alette, was born in Rome, and she doesn't want to talk about it, either. So that's where I'm going to concentrate. That's where the traumas occurred. Toni is the more aggressive one. Alette is sensitive and withdrawn. She's interested in painting, but she's afraid to pursue it. I have to find out why. "

  "So you think Toni dominates Ashley?"

  "Yes. Toni takes over. Ashley wasn't aware that she exists, or for that matter, that Alette existed. But Toni and Alette know each other. It's interesting. Toni has a lovely singing voice, and Alette is a talented painter. " He held up the painting that the male nurse had brought him. "I think their talents may be the key to getting through to them. "

  Ashley received a letter from her father once a week. After she read them, she would sit in her room quietly, not wanting to talk to anyone.

  "They're her only link to home," Dr. Keller said to Otto Lewison. "I think it increases her desire to get out of here and start leading a normal life. Every little bit helps. . . . "

  Ashley was becoming used to her surroundings. The patients seemed to walk about, although there were attendants at every door and in the corridors. The gates to the grounds were always locked. There was a recreation room where they could gather and watch television, a gymnasium where inmates could work out and a common dining room. There were many kinds of people there: Japanese, Chinese, French, Americans. . . . Every effort had been made to make the hospital as ordinary- looking as possible, but when Ashley went to her room, the doors were always locked behind her.

  "This isn't a hospital," Toni complained to Alette. "It's a bloody prison. "

  "But Dr. Keller thinks he can cure Ashley. Then we can get out of here. "

  "Don't be stupid, Alette. Don't you see? The only way he can cure Ashley is to get rid of us, make us disappear. In other words, to cure her, we have to die. Well, I'm not going to let that happen. "

  "What are you going to do?"

  "I'm going to find a way for us to escape. "

 
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