Tell me your dreams, p.27
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       Tell Me Your Dreams, p.27
 

           Sidney Sheldon
Chapter Twenty-Seven

  Toni? Toni, can you hear me?" Dr. Keller watched Ashley's expression change.

  "I hear you, Dockie. "

  "Let's talk about Jean Claude Parent. "

  "I should have known he was too good to be true. "

  "What do you mean?"

  "In the beginning, he seemed like a real gentleman. He took me out every day, and we really had a good time. I thought he was different, but he was like all the others. All he wanted was sex. "

  "I see. "

  "He gave me a beautiful ring, and I guess he thought that he owned me. I went with him to his house. "

  The house was a beautiful two-story, redbrick house filled with antiques.

  "It's lovely. "

  "There's something special I want to show you upstairs in the bedroom. " And he was taking her upstairs, and she was powerless to stop him. They were in the bedroom, and he took her in his arms and whispered, "Get undressed. "

  "I don't want to - "

  "Yes, you do. We both want it. " He undressed her quickly, then laid her down on the bed and got on top of her. She was moaning, "Don't. Please don't. Father!"

  But he paid no attention. He kept plunging into her until suddenly he said, "Ah," and then stopped. "You 're wonderful, " he said.

  And the malevolent explosion shook her. She grabbed the sharp letter opener from the desk and plunged it into his chest, up and down and up and down.

  "You won't do that to anyone again. " She reached for his groin.

  Afterward, she took a leisurely shower, dressed and went back to the hotel.

  "Ashley. . . " Ashley's face began to change. "Wake up now. "

  Ashley slowly came awake. She looked at Dr. Keller and said, "Toni again?"

  "Yes. She met Jean Claude on the Internet. Ashley, when you were in Quebec, were there periods when you seemed to lose time? When suddenly it was hours later or a day later, and you didn't know where the time had gone?"

  She nodded slowly. "Yes. It - it happened a lot. "

  "That's when Toni took over. "

  "And that's when. . . when she - ?"

  "Yes. "

  The next few months were uneventful. In the afternoons, Dr. Keller would listen to Toni play the piano and sing, and he would watch Alette painting in the garden. There was one more murder to discuss, but he wanted Ashley to be relaxed before he started talking about it.

  It had been five years now since she had come to the hospital. She's almost cured. Dr. Keller thought.

  On a Monday morning, he sent for Ashley and watched her walk into the office. She was pale, as though she knew what she was facing.

  "Good morning, Ashley. "

  "Good morning, Gilbert. "

  "How are you feeling?"

  "Nervous. This is the last one, isn't it?"

  "Yes. Let's talk about deputy Sam Blake. What was he doing in your apartment?"

  "I asked him to come. Someone had written on my bathroom mirror, 'You Will Die. ' I didn't know what to do. I thought someone was trying to kill me. I called the police, and deputy Blake came over. He was very sympathetic. "

  "Did you ask him to stay with you?"

  "Yes. I was afraid to be alone. He said that he would spend the night, and then in the morning, he would arrange for twenty-four-hour protection for me. I offered to sleep on the couch and let him sleep in the bedroom, but he said he would sleep on the couch. I remember he checked the windows to make sure they were locked, and then he double-bolted the door. His gun was on the table next to the couch. I said good night and went into the bedroom and closed the door. "

  "And then what happened?"

  "I - The next thing I remember is being awakened by someone screaming in the alley. Then the sheriff came in to tell me that deputy Blake had been found dead. " She stopped, her face pale.

  "All right. I'm going to put you to sleep now. Just relax. . . . Close your eyes and relax. . . . " It took ten minutes. Dr. Keller said, "Toni. . . "

  "I'm here. You want to know what really happened, don't you? Ashley was a fool to invite Sam to stay at the apartment. I could have told her what he would do. "

  He heard a cry from the bedroom, quickly rose from the couch and scooped up his gun. He hurried over to the bedroom door and listened a moment. Silence. He had imagined it. As he started to turn away, he heard it again. He pushed the door open, gun in hand. Ashley was in bed, naked, asleep. There was no one else in the room. She was making little moaning sounds. He moved to her bedside. She looked beautiful tying there, curled up in a fetal position. She moaned again, trapped in some terrible dream. He meant only to comfort her, to take her in his arms and hold her. He lay down at her side and gently pulled her toward him, and he felt the heat of her body and began to be aroused. She was awakened by his voice saying, "It's all right now. You're safe. " And his lips were on hers, and he was moving her legs apart and was inside her.

  And she was screaming, "No, Father!"

  And he moved faster and faster in a primal urgency, and then the savage revenge took over. She grabbed the knife from the dresser drawer at her bedside and began to slash into his body.

  "What happened after you killed him?"

  "She wrapped his body in the sheets and dragged him to the elevator and then through the garage to the alley in back. "

  ". . . and then," Dr. Keller told Ashley, "Toni wrapped his body in the sheets and dragged him into the elevator and through the garage to the alley in back. "

  Ashley sat there, her face dead white. "She's a mon - I'm a monster. "

  Gilbert Keller said, "No. Ashley, you must remember that Toni was born out of your pain, to protect you. The same is true of Alette. It's time to bring this to a closure. I want you to meet them. It's the next step to your getting well. "

  Ashley's eyes were tightly shut. "All right. When do we. . . do this?"

  "Tomorrow morning. "

  Ashley was in a deep hypnotic state. Dr. Keller started with Toni.

  "Toni, I want you and Alette to talk to Ashley. "

  "What makes you think she can handle us?"

  "I think she can. "

  "All right, Dockie. Whatever you say. "

  "Alette, are you ready to meet Ashley?"

  "If Toni says it's all right. "

  "Sure, Alette. It's about time. "

  Dr. Keller took a deep breath and said, "Ashley, I want you to say hello to Toni. "

  There was a long silence. Then, a timid, "Hello, Toni. . . "

  "Hello. "

  "Ashley, say hello to Alette. "

  "Hello, Alette. . . "

  "Hello, Ashley. . . "

  Dr. Keller breathed a deep sigh of relief. "I want you all to get to know one another. You've suffered through the same terrible traumas. They've separated you from one another. But there's no reason for that separation anymore. You're going to become one whole, healthy person. It's a long journey, but you've begun it. I promise you, the most difficult part is over. "

  From that point on, Ashley's treatment moved swiftly. Ashley and her two alters talked to one another every day.

  "I had to protect you," Toni explained. "I suppose every time I killed one of those men, I was killing Father for what he had done to you. "

  "I tried to protect you, too," Alette said. "I - I appreciate that. I'm grateful to both of you. "

  Ashley turned to Dr. Keller and said wryly, "It's really all me, isn't it? I'm talking to myself. "

  "You're talking to two other parts of yourself," he corrected her gently. "It's time for all of you to unify and become one again. "

  Ashley looked at him and smiled. "I'm ready. "

  That afternoon. Dr. Keller went to see Otto Lewison.

  Dr. Lewison said, "I hear good reports, Gilbert. "

  Dr. Keller nodded. "Ashley's made remarkable progress. In another few months, I think she can be released and go on with her treatment as an outpatient. "


  "That's wonderful news. Congratulations. "

  I'll miss her. Dr. Keller thought. I'll miss her terribly.

  "Dr. Salem is on line two for you, Mr. Singer. "

  "Right. " David reached for the phone, puzzled. Why would Dr. Salem be calling? It had been years since the two men had talked. "Royce?"

  "Good morning, David. I have some interesting information for you. It's about Ashley Patterson. "

  David felt a sudden sense of alarm. "What about her?"

  "Do you remember how hard we tried to find the trauma that had caused her condition, and we failed?"

  David remembered it well. It had been a major weakness in their case. "Yes. "

  "Well, I just learned the answer. My friend, Dr. Lewison, who's head of the Connecticut Psychiatric Hospital, just called. The missing piece of the puzzle is Dr. Steven Patterson. He's the one who molested Ashley when she was a child. "

  David asked incredulously, "What?"

  "Dr. Lewison just learned about it. "

  David sat listening as Dr. Salem went on, but his mind was elsewhere. He was recalling Dr. Patterson's words. "You're the only one I trust, David. My daughter means everything in the world to me. You're going to save her life. . . . I want you to defend Ashley, and I won't have anyone else involved in this case. . . . "

  And David suddenly realized why Dr. Patterson had been so insistent on his representing Ashley alone. The doctor was sure that if David had ever discovered what he had done, he would have protected him. Dr. Patterson had had to decide between his daughter and his reputation, and he had chosen his reputation. The son of a bitch!

  "Thanks, Royce. "

  That afternoon, as Ashley passed the recreation room, she saw a copy of the Westport News that someone had left there. On the front page of the newspaper was a photograph of her father with Victoria Aniston and Katrina. The beginning of the story read, "Dr. Steven Patterson is to be married to socialite Victoria Aniston, who has a three-year-old daughter from a previous marriage. Dr. Patterson is joining the staff of St. John's Hospital in Manhattan, and he and his future wife have bought a house on Long Island. . . . "

  Ashley stopped and her face contorted into a mask of rage. "I'll kill the son of a bitch," Toni screamed. "I'll kill him!"

  She was completely out of control. They had to put her in a padded room where she could not hurt herself, restrained by handcuffs and leg-irons. When the attendants came to feed her, she tried to grab them, and they had to be careful not to get too close to her. Toni had taken total possession of Ashley.

  When she saw Dr. Keller, she screamed, "Let me out of here, you bastard. Now!"

  "We're going to let you out of here," Dr. Keller said soothingly, "but first you have to calm down. "

  "I'm calm," Toni yelled. "Let me go!" Dr. Keller sat on the floor beside her and said, "Toni, when you saw that picture of your father, you said you were going to hurt him, and - "

  "You're a liar! I said I was going to kill him!"

  "There's been enough killing. You don't want to stab anyone else. "

  "I'm not going to stab him. Have you heard of hydrochloric acid? It will eat through anything, including skin. Wait until I - "

  "I don't want you to think like that. "

  "You're right. Arson! Arson is better. He won't have to wait until hell to burn to death. I can do it so they'll never catch me if - "

  "Toni, forget about this. "

  "All right. I can think of some other ways that are even better. "

  He studied her a moment, frustrated. "Why are you so angry?"

  "Don't you know? I thought you were supposed to be such a great doctor. He's marrying a woman with a teen-year-old daughter. What's going to happen to that little girl, Mr. Famous Doctor? I'll tell you what. The same thing that happened to us. Well, I'm going to stop it!"

  "I'd hoped we'd gotten rid of all that hate. "

  "Hate? You want to hear about hate?"

  It was raining, a steady downpour of raindrops flitting the roof of the speeding car. She looked at her mother sitting at the wheel, squinting at the road ahead, and she smiled, in a happy mood. She began to sing:

  "All around the mulberry bush,

  The monkey chased - "

  Her mother turned to her and screamed, "Shut up. I told you I detest that song. You make me sick, you miserable little - "

  After that, everything seemed to happen in slow motion. The curve ahead, the car skidding off the road, the tree. The crash flung her out of the car. She was shaken, but unhurt. She got to her feet. She could hear her mother, trapped in the car, screaming, "Get me out of here. Help me! Help me!"

  And she stood there watching until the car finally exploded.

  "Hate? Do you want to hear more?"

  Walter Manning said, "This has to be a unanimous decision. My daughter's a professional artist, not a dilettante. She did this as a favor. We can't turn her down. . . . This has to be unanimous. We're either giving him my daughter's painting or we don't give him anything at all. "

  She was parked at the curb, with the motor running. She watched Walter Manning cross the street, headed for the garage where he kept his car. She put the car in gear and slammed her foot down on the accelerator. At the last moment, he heard the sound of the car coming toward him, and he turned. She watched the expression on his face as the car smashed into him and then hurled his broken body aside. She kept driving. There were no witnesses. God was on her side.

  "That's hate, Dockie! That's real hate!"

  Gilbert Keller listened to her recital, appalled, shaken by the cold-blooded viciousness of it. He canceled the rest of his appointments for the day. He needed to be alone.

  The following morning when Dr. Keller walked into the padded cell, Alette had taken over.

  "Why are you doing this to me. Dr. Keller?" Alette asked. "Let me out of here. "

  "I will," Dr. Keller assured her. "Tell me about Toni. What has she told you?"

  "She said we have to escape from here and kill Father. "

  Toni took over. "Morning, Dockie. We're fine now. Why don't you let us go?"

  Dr. Keller looked into her eyes. There was cold-blooded murder there.

  * * *

  Dr. Otto Lewison sighed. "I'm terribly sorry about what's happened, Gilbert. Everything was going so well. "

  "Right now, I can't even reach Ashley. "

  "I suppose this means having to start the treatment all over. "

  Dr. Keller was thoughtful. "Not really, Otto. We've arrived at the point where the three alters have gotten to know one another. That was a big breakthrough. The next step was to get them to integrate. I have to find a way to do that. "

  "That damned article - "

  "It's fortunate for us that Toni saw that article. "

  Otto Lewison looked at him in surprise. "Fortunate?"

  "Yes. Because there's that residual hate in Toni. Now that we know it's there, we can work on it. I want to try an experiment. If it works, we'll be in good shape. If it doesn't" - he paused and added quietly - "then I think Ashley may have to be confined here for the rest of her life. "

  "What do you want to do?"

  "I think it's a bad idea for Ashley's father to see her again, but I want to hire a national clipping service, and I want them to send me every article that appears about Dr. Patterson. "

  Otto Lewison blinked. "What's the point?"

  "I'm going to show them all to Toni. Eventually, her hate has to bum itself out. That way I can monitor it and try to control it. "

  "It may take a long time, Gilbert. "

  "At least a year, maybe longer. But it's the only chance Ashley has. "

  Five days later Ashley had taken over.

  When Dr. Keller walked into the padded cell, Ashley said, "Good morning, Gilbert. I'm sorry that all this happened. "

  "I'm glad it did, Ashley. We're going to get all of our feelings oat in the open. " He nodded to the gua
rd to remove the leg-irons and handcuffs.

  Ashley stood up and rubbed her wrists. "That wasn't very comfortable," she said. They walked out into the corridor. "Toni's very angry. "

  "Yes, but she's going to get over it. Here's my plan. . . . "

  There were three or four articles about Dr. Steven Pat-terson every month. One read: "Dr. Steven Patterson is to wed Victoria Aniston in an elaborate wedding ceremony on Long Island this Friday. Dr. Patterson's colleagues will fly in to attend. . . "

  Toni was hysterical when Dr. Keller showed the story to her.

  "That marriage isn't going to last long. "

  "Why do you say that, Toni?"

  "Because he's going to be dead. "

  "Dr. Steven Patterson has resigned from St. John's Hospital and will head the cardiac staff at Manhattan Methodist Hospital. . . . "

  "So he can rape all the little girls there," Toni screamed.

  "Dr. Steven Patterson received the Lasker Award for his work in medicine and is being honored at the White House. . . . "

  "They should hang the bastard!" Toni yelled.

  Gilbert Keller saw to it that Toni received all the articles written about her father. And as time went by, with each new item, Toni's rage seemed to be diminishing. It was as though her emotions had been worn out. She went from hatred to anger and, finally, to a resigned acceptance.

  There was a mention in the real estate section. "Dr. Steven Patterson and his new bride have moved into a home in Manhattan, but they plan to purchase a second home in the Hamptons and will be spending their summers there with their daughter, Katrina. "

  Toni started sobbing. "How could he do that to us?"

  "Do you feel that that little girl has taken your place, Toni?"

  "I don't know. I'm - I'm confused. "

  Another year went by. Ashley had therapy sessions three times a week. Alette painted almost every day, but Toni refused to sing or play the piano.

  At Christmas, Dr. Keller showed Toni a new clipping. There was a picture of her father and Victoria and Katrina.

  The caption read: THE PATTERSONS CELEBRATE CHRISTMAS IN THE HAMPTONS.

  Toni said wistfully, "We used to spend Christmases together. He always gave me wonderful gifts. " She looked at Dr. Keller. "He wasn't all bad. Aside from the - you know - he was a good father. I think he really loved me. "

  It was the first sign of a new breakthrough.

  One day, as Dr. Keller passed the recreation room, he heard Toni singing and playing the piano. Surprised, he stepped into the room and watched her. She was completely absorbed in the music.

  The next day, Dr. Keller had a session with Toni.

  "Your father's getting older, Toni. How do you think you'll feel when he dies?"

  "I - I don't want him to die. I know I said a lot of stupid things, but I said them because I was angry with him. "

  "You're not angry anymore?"

  She thought about it. "I'm not angry, I'm hurt. I think you were right. I did feel that the little girl was taking my place. " She looked up at Dr. Keller and said, "I was confused. But my father has a right to get on with his life, and Ashley has a right to get on with hers. "

  Dr. Keller smiled. We're back on track.

  The three of them talked to one another freely now.

  Dr. Keller said, "Ashley, you needed Toni and Alette because you couldn't stand the pain. How do you feel about your father now?"

  There was a brief silence. She said slowly, "I can never forget what he did to me, but I can forgive him. I want to put the past behind me and start my future. "

  "To do that, we must make you all one again. How do you feel about that, Alette?"

  Alette said, "If I'm Ashley, can I still go on painting?"

  "Of course you can. "

  "Well, then, all right. "

  "Toni?"

  "Will I still be able to sing and play the piano?"

  "Yes," he said. "Then, why not?"

  "Ashley?"

  "I'm ready for all of us to be one. I - I want to thank them for helping me when I needed them. "

  "My pleasure, luv. "

  "Anche il mio," Alette said.

  It was time for the final step: integration.

  "All right I'm going to hypnotize you now, Ashley. I want you to say good-bye to Toni and Alette. "

  Ashley took a deep breath. "Good-bye, Toni. Goodbye, Alette. "

  "Good-bye, Ashley. "

  "Take care of yourself, Ashley. "

  Ten minutes later, Ashley was in a deep hypnotic state. "Ashley, there's nothing more to be afraid of. All your problems are behind you. You don't need anyone to protect you anymore. You're able to handle your life without help, without shutting out any bad experiences.

  You're able to face whatever happens. Do you agree with me?"

  "Yes, I do. I'm ready to face the future. "

  "Good. Toni?"

  There was no answer.

  "Toni?"

  There was no answer.

  "Alette?"

  Silence.

  "Alette?"

  Silence.

  "They're gone, Ashley. You're whole now and you're cured. "

  He watched Ashley's face light up.

  "You'll awaken at the count of three. One. . . two. . . three. . . "

  Ashley opened her eyes and a beatific smile lit her face. "It - it happened, didn't it?"

  He nodded. "Yes. "

  She was ecstatic. "I'm free. Oh, thank you, Gilbert! I feel - I feel as though a terrible dark curtain has been taken away. "

  Dr. Keller took her hand. "I can't tell you how pleased I am. We'll be doing some more tests over the next few months, but if they turn out as I think they will, well, we'll be sending you home. I'll arrange for some outpatient treatment for you wherever you are. " Ashley nodded, too overcome with emotion to speak.

 
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