Tell me your dreams, p.25
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       Tell Me Your Dreams, p.25

           Sidney Sheldon
 
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Chapter Twenty-Five

  I know what the bloody hell you're trying to do, Dockie. You're trying to make Ashley think you're her friend. "

  "I am her friend, Toni, and yours. "

  "No, you're not. You think she's great, and I'm nothing. "

  "You're wrong. I respect you and Alette as much as I respect Ashley. You're all equally important to me. "

  "Is that true?"

  "Yes. Toni, when I told you that you had a beautiful singing voice, I meant it. Do you play an instrument?"

  "Piano. "

  "If I could arrange for you to use the piano in the recreation hall so you can play and sing, would you be interested?"

  "I might be. " She sounded excited.

  Dr. Keller smiled. "Then I'll be happy to do it. It will be there for you to use. "

  "Thanks. "

  Dr. Keller arranged for Toni to have private access to the recreation room for one hour every afternoon. In the beginning, the doors were closed, but as other inmates heard the piano music and the singing from inside, they opened the door to listen. Soon, Toni was entertaining dozens of patients.

  Dr. Keller was looking over his notes with Dr. Lewison.

  Dr. Lewison said, "What about the other one - Alette?"

  "I've set it up for her to paint in the garden every afternoon. She'll be watched, of course. I think it's going to be good therapy. "

  But Alette refused. In a session with her, Dr. Keller said, "You don't use the paints I gave you, Alette. It's a shame to let them go to waste. You're so talented. "

  How would you know?

  "Don't you enjoy painting?"

  "Yes. "

  "Then why don't you do it?"

  "Because I'm no good. " Stop pestering me.

  "Who told you that?"

  "My - my mother. "

  "We haven't talked about your mother. Do you want to tell me about her?"

  "There's nothing to tell. "

  "She died in an accident, didn't she?"

  There was a long pause. "Yes. She died in an accident. "

  The following day, Alette started to paint. She enjoyed being in the garden with her canvas and brushes. When she painted, she was able to forget everything else. Some of the patients would gather around bar and watch. They talked in multicolored voices.

  "Your paintings should be in a gallery. " Black.

  "You're really good. " Yellow.

  "Where did you learn to do that?" Black.

  "Can you paint a picture of me sometime?" Orange.

  "I wish I knew how to do that. " Black.

  She was always sorry when her time was up and she had to go back into the big building.

  "I want you to meet someone, Ashley. This is Lisa Garrett. " She was a woman in her fifties, small and wraithlike. "Lisa is going home today. "

  The woman beamed. "Isn't that wonderful? And I owe it all to Dr. Keller. "

  Gilbert Keller looked at Ashley and said, "Lisa suffered from MPD and had thirty alters. "

  "That's right, dear. And they're all gone. "

  Dr. Keller said pointedly, "She's the third MPD patient leaving us this year. "

  And Ashley felt a surge of hope.

  Alette said, "Dr. Keller is sympathetic. He really seems to like us. "

  "You're bloody stupid," Toni scoffed. "Don't you see what's happening? I told you once. He's pretending to like us so we'll do what he wants us to do. And do you know what that is? He wants to bring us all together, luv, and then convince Ashley that she doesn't need us. And do you know what happens then? You and I die. Is that what you want? I don't. "

  "Well, no," Alette said hesitantly. "Then listen to me. We go along with the doctor. We make him believe that we're really trying to help him. We string him along. We're in no hurry. And I promise you that one day I'll get us out of here. "

  "Whatever you say, Toni. "

  "Good. So we'll let old Dockie think he's doing just great. "

  A letter arrived from David. In tile envelope was a photograph of a small boy. The letter read:

  Dear Ashley,

  I hope that you're coming along well and that the therapy is progressing. Everything's fine here. I'm working hard and enjoying it. Enclosed is a photograph of our two-year-old, Jeffrey. At the rate he's growing, in a few inmates, he'll be getting married. There's no real news to report. I just wanted you to know that I was thinking about you.

  Sandra joins me in sending our warm regards,

  David

  Ashley studied the photograph. He's a beautiful little boy, she thought. I hope he has a happy life.

  She went to lunch, and when she returned, the photograph was on the floor of her room, torn to bits.

  June 15, 1:30 P. M.

  Patient: Ashley Patterson. Therapy session using Sodium Amytal. Alter, Alette Peters.

  "Tell me about Rome, Alette. "

  "It's the most beautiful city in the world. It's filled all the great museums. I used to visit all of them. " What 'could you know about museums?

  "And you wanted to be a painter?"

  "Yes. " What did you think I wanted to be, a firefighter?

  "Did you study painting?"

  "No, I didn't. " Can't you go bother someone else?

  "Why not? Because of what your mother told you?"

  "Oh, no. I just decided that I wasn't good enough. " Toni, get him away from me!

  "Did you have any traumas during that period? Did any terrible things happen to you that you can recall?"

  "No. I was very happy. " Toni!

  August 15, 9:00 A. M.

  Patient: Ashley Patterson. Hypnotherapy session with alter, Toni Prescott.

  "Do you want to talk about London, Toni?"

  "Yes. I had a lovely time there. London is so civilized. There's so much to do there. "

  "Did you have any problems?"

  "Problems? No. I was very happy in London. "

  "Nothing had happened there at all that you remember?"

  "Of course not. " What are you going to make of that, you willy?

  Each session brought back memories to Ashley. When she went to bed at night, she dreamed that she was at Global Computer Graphics. Shane Miller was there, and he was complimenting her on some work she had done. "We couldn't get along without you, Ashley. We're going to keep you here forever. " Then the scene shifted to a prison cell, and Shane Miller was saying, "Well, I hate to do this now, but under the circumstances, the company is terminating you. Naturally, we can't afford to be connected with anything like this. You understand, don't you? There's nothing personal in this. "

  In the morning, when Ashley awakened, her pillow I was wet with tears.

  Alette was saddened by the therapy sessions. They reminded her of how much she missed Rome and how happy she had been with Richard Melton. We could have had such a happy life together, but now it is too late. Too late.

  Toni hated the therapy sessions because they brought back too many bad memories for her, too. Everything she had done had been to protect Ashley and Alette. But did anybody appreciate her? No. She was locked away as though she were some kind of criminal. But I'll get out of here, Toni promised herself. I'll get out of here.

  The pages of the calendar were wiped away by time, and another year came and went. Dr. Keller was getting more and more frustrated.

  "I've read your latest report," Dr. Lewison told Gilbert Keller. "Do you think there's a genuine lacuna, or are they playing games?"

  "They're playing games, Otto. It's as though they know what I'm trying to do, and they won't let me. I think Ashley genuinely wants to help, but they won't allow her to. Usually under hypnosis you can get through to them, but Toni is very strong. She takes complete control, and she's dangerous. "

  "Dangerous?"

  "Yes. Imagine how much hatred she must have in her to murder and castrate five men. "

  The rest of the year went no better.


  Dr. Keller was having success with his other patients, but Ashley, the one he was most concerned about, was making no progress. Dr. Keller had a feeling that Toni enjoyed playing games with him. She was determined that he was not going to succeed. And then, unexpectedly, there was a breakthrough.

  It started with another letter from Dr. Patterson.

  June 5

  Dear Ashley,

  I'm on my way to New York to take care of some business, and I would like very much to stop by and see you. I will call Dr. Lewison, and if there's no objection, you can expect me around the 25th.

  Much love,

  Father

  Three weeks later, Dr. Patterson arrived with attractive, dark-haired woman in her early forties and three-year-old daughter, Katrina.

  They were ushered into Dr. Lewison's office. He rose as they entered. "Dr. Patterson, I'm delighted to meet you. "

  "Thank you. This is Miss Victoria Aniston and her daughter, Katrina. "

  "How do you do, Miss Aniston? Katrina. "

  "I brought them along to meet Ashley. "

  "Wonderful. She's with Dr. Keller right now, but they should be finished soon. "

  Dr. Patterson said, "How is Ashley doing?"

  Otto Lewison hesitated. "I wonder if I could speak to you alone for a few minutes?"

  "Certainly. "

  Dr. Patterson turned to Victoria and Katrina. "It looks like there's a beautiful garden out there. Why don't you wait for me, and I'll join you with Ashley. "

  Victoria Aniston smiled. "Fine. " She looked over at Otto Lewison. "It was nice to meet you, Doctor. "

  "Thank you, Miss Aniston. "

  Dr. Patterson watched the two of them leave. He turned to Otto Lewison. "Is there a problem?"

  "I'll be frank with you, Dr. Patterson. We're not making as much progress as I had hoped we would. Ashley says she wants to be helped, but she's not cooperating with us. In fact, she's fighting the treatment. "

  Dr. Patterson was studying him, puzzled. "Why?"

  "It's not that unusual. At some stage, patients with MPD are afraid of meeting their alters. It terrifies them. The very thought that other characters can be living in their mind and body and take over at will - Well, you can imagine how devastating that can be. "

  Dr. Patterson nodded. "Of course. "

  "There's something that puzzles us about Ashley's problem. Almost always, these problems start with a history of molestation when the patient is very young. We have no record of anything like that in Ashley's case, so we have no idea how or why this trauma began. "

  Dr. Patterson sat there silently for a moment. When he spoke, he said heavily, "I can help you. " He took a deep breath. "I blame myself. "

  Otto Lewison was watching intently.

  "It happened when Ashley was six. I had to go to England. My wife couldn't go. I took Ashley with me. My wife had an elderly cousin over there named John. I didn't realize it at the time, but John had. . . emotional problems. I had to leave to give a lecture one day, and John offered to baby-sit. When I got back that evening, he was gone. Ashley was in a state of complete hysteria. It took a long, long time to calm her down. After that, she wouldn't let anyone come near her, she became timid and withdrawn and a week later, John was arrested as a serial child molester. " Dr. Patterson's face was filled with pain. "I never forgave myself. I never left Ashley alone with anyone after that. "

  There was a long silence. Otto Lewison said, "I'm terribly sorry. But I think you've given us the answer to what we've been looking for, Dr. Patterson. Now Dr. Keller will have something specific to work on. "

  "It's been too painful for me even to discuss before. "

  "I understand. " Otto Lewison looked at his watch. "Ashley's going to be a little while. Why don't you join Miss Aniston in the garden, and I'll send Ashley out when she comes. "

  Dr. Patterson rose. "Thank you. I will. "

  Otto Lewison watched him leave. He could not wait to tell Dr. Keller what he had learned.

  Victoria Aniston and Katrina were waiting for him. "Did you see Ashley?" Victoria asked.

  "They'll send her out in a few minutes," Dr. Patterson said. He looked around the spacious grounds. "This is lovely, isn't it?"

  Katrina ran up to him, "I want to go up to the sky again. "

  He smiled. "All right. " He picked her up, threw her into the air and caught her as she came down.

  "Higher!"

  "Hang on. Here we go. " He threw her up again and caught her, and she was screaming with delight.

  "Again!"

  Dr. Patterson's back was to the main building, so he did not see Ashley and Dr. Keller come out.

  "Higher!" Katrina screamed.

  Ashley stopped in the doorway, frozen. She watched her father playing with the little girl, and time seemed to fragment. Everything after that happened in slow motion.

  There were flashes of a little girl being thrown into the air. . . . "Higher, Papa!"

  "Hang on. Here we go. "

  And then the girl being tossed onto a bed. . .

  A voice saying, "You'll like this. . . . "

  An image of the man getting into bed beside her. The little girl was screaming, "Stop it. No. Please, no. "

  The man was in the shadow. He was holding her down, and he was stroking her body. "Doesn't that feel good?"

  And suddenly the shadow lifted, and Ashley could see the man's face. It was her father.

  Looking at him now, in the garden, playing with the little girl, Ashley opened her mouth and began to scream, and could not stop.

  Dr. Patterson, Victoria Aniston and Katrina turned around, startled.

  Dr. Keller said quickly, "I'm terribly sorry. This is a bad day. Could you come back another time?" And he carried Ashley inside.

  They had her in one of the emergency rooms.

  "Her pulse is abnormally high," Dr. Keller said. "She's in a fugue state. " He moved close to her and said, "Ashley, you have nothing to be frightened about. You're safe here. No one's going to hurt you. Just listen to my voice and relax. . . relax. . . relax. . . . "

  It took half an hour. "Ashley, tell me what happened. What upset you?"

  "Father and the little girl. . . "

  "What about them?"

  It was Toni who answered. "She can't face it. She's afraid he's going to do to the little girl what he did to her. "

  Dr. Keller stared at her a moment. "What - what did he do to her?"

  It was in London. She was in bed. He sat down next to her and said, "I'm going to make you very happy, baby," and began tickling her, and she was laughing. And then. . . he took her pajamas off, and he started playing with her. "Don't my hands feel good?" Ashley started screaming, "Stop it. Don't do that. " But he wouldn't stop. He held her down and went on and on. . . .

  Dr. Keller asked, "Was that the first time it happened, Toni?"

  "Yes. "

  "How old was Ashley?"

  "She was six. "

  "And that's when you were born?"

  "Yes. Ashley was too terrified to face it. "

  "What happened after that?"

  Father came to her every night and got into bed with her. " The words were pouring out now. "She couldn't stop him. When they got home, Ashley told Mother what happened, and Mother called her a lying little bitch.

  "Ashley was afraid to go to sleep at night because she knew Papa was going to come to her room. He used to make her touch him and then play with himself. And he said to her, 'Don't tell anyone about this or I won't love you anymore. ' She couldn't tell anyone. Mama and Papa were yelling at each other all the time, and Ashley thought it was her fault. She knew she had done something wrong, but she didn't know what. Mama hated her. "

  "How long did this go on?" Dr. Keller asked. "When I was eight. . . " Toni stopped. "Go on, Toni. "

  Ashley's face changed, and it was Alette sitting in the chair. She said, "We moved to Roma, where he di
d research at Policlinico Umberto Primo. "

  "And that's where you were born?"

  "Yes. Ashley couldn't stand what happened one night, so I came to protect her. "

  "What happened, Alette?"

  "Papa came into her room while she was asleep, and he was naked. And he crawled into her bed, and this time he forced himself inside her. She tried to stop him, but she couldn't. She begged him never to do it again, but he came to her every night. And he always said, "This is how a man shows a woman he loves her, and you're my woman, and I love you. You must never tell anyone about this. ' And she could never tell anyone. "

  Ashley was sobbing, tears running down her cheeks.

  It was all Gilbert Keller could do not to take her in his arms and hold her and tell her that he loved her and everything was going to be all right. But, of course, it was impossible. I'm her doctor.

  When Dr. Keller returned to Dr. Lewison's office. Dr. Patterson, Victoria Aniston and Katrina had left.

  "Well, this is what we've been waiting for," Dr. Keller told Otto Lewison. "We finally got a breakthrough. I know when Toni and Alette were born and why. We should see a big change from now on. " Dr. Keller was right. Things began to move.

 
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