I have these blank spots in my memory...
| I suppose you’ll want to know exactly how it all happened, every gory detail, every random step I took that led me to this point. Hell, for that matter, I’d like to know myself. I’ve been trying to piece it all together, trying to figure out what it was that happened that got me here, trying to see where I could have changed the course of events. I might have been able to avoid the whole thing if I had known what was going to come from one single encounter with a stranger.
I think back on all of this, and it looks like a maze. Each path I have walked on split, and each new path I chose split, and so on and so forth. It reminds me of those books I read as a kid, those ‘choose your own adventure’ types where you had a choice at the end of each chapter: If Ricky decides to talk to the old man, go to page 124. If he keeps on walking through the forest, go to page 61.When you start at the end of the story and try to go back to where you made the wrong choice, it can get very confusing. I’m still not sure how far back I’d have to go to completely undo this mess. Maybe all the way to the beginning. Maybe not quite that far.
Because my doctor is not so forthcoming with information, and I am not currently allowed to read books or access a computer or anything like that, I haven’t really been able to learn much about my “condition”. The doctor says that once he has “figured me out” we can start thinking about what I will and won’t be allowed to do. I hope he is making faster progress than me on that subject.
I do think, despite my lack of expertise on the subject of insanity, that there was a defining moment in my life where my brain split into two parts: one part erased a specific memory and continued on like nothing happened, and the other part turned to page 124, and then on to page 7, etc etc. If that part of my brain continued to split like a fast-growing stock on Wall Street, which my good doctor eluded to (quite nonspecifically), then I really don’t know how many ‘people’ I have become. As I said, this is all new to me. I only found out a few months ago that there was anything wrong at all. Well, I had my suspicions that everything might not be 100% in the old noggin, but I had no idea how far from 100% I really was. I still don’t know for sure, but based on my current situation, and the length of time it seems to be taking that asshole doctor to decide what my “condition” is, I’m guessing it’s a lot closer to 0% than 100%. Does that make me a bad person? I guess that all depends on which me we’re talking about, huh? Right now I’m so confused I don’t even know if I am the dominant personality, the original (I remember my childhood, but what if the other[s] do to?), one of a hundred manifestations, or simply a momentary flash. That uncertainty is a bitch to live with, trust me. It’s like being trapped in a game of Clue with a maniac rolling the dice.
Right now you’re probably dying to know what I did. Whad’ya do Fred, hack your family up with a garden trowel? Shoot your boss? Snipe some people on the Interstate? Did you KILL somebody, George? How ‘bout it, huh? Rape a little girl, Bob, maybe a boy? Did ya like it? What was it, you fucking freak, what did you do? The truth is, I don’t know what all I did. I can tell you what they told me, what I am in here for, living with a bunch of psychos in an “institution” (and I find that name to be a little funny, institution being a place of learning and all, but this one is rather specific in its selection of courses; namely learning about one’s self in my case) but as far as the whole story is concerned, I’m afraid I may leave you a bit disappointed.
On the morning of February 22, I woke up in jail. I was totally disoriented, as you can imagine, because the last thing I remember before that was leaving work and getting in my car the day before. I was going to go to Wal-Mart, and the next thing I knew I was waking up in a cell. Some lawyer finally came to talk to me, and instead of clearing up the matter for me, he made me more confused than ever. He said that I had been arrested for breaking and entering (he called it B & E, a term I was not familiar with, and had to ask him to explain) as well as Assault and Battery.
“Breaking and Entering, Fred. You broke into a house that was not yours, beat up the occupants, and refused to leave.” He sounded a little exasperated, which made me feel stupid.
“What do you mean, broke into someone’s house, why would I do that?” I asked. I was honestly bewildered.
“I don’t know, Fred,” he responded. “That’s what I’m here to find out.”
“You keep calling me Fred,” I said, suddenly excited. “This is just a case of mistaken identity!” I felt a sudden sense of relief, as the rational explanation of the whole situation finally presented itself to me. “My name is Frank. Frank Thomas. Frank Anthony Thomas. You guys picked up the wrong person,” I announced in triumph. He looked at me with surprised eyes before he caught himself and regained his guarded composure.
“Mr. … Thomas, then. Why did you give the police a false name last night? Or are you giving me a false name now? Since you have no identification, it seems that you are grasping at straws to get yourself out of trouble here. I’m your court-appointed lawyer, your defense, so we might as well be honest with each other, huh?” He looked me in the eye with a steadfast gaze.
I immediately reached into my left hip pocket to produce my wallet, and found it empty. “I… uh… The police probably took my wallet, right? They have my Drivers License. That will clear all of this up.”
He looked at me with a tired expression. “Mr. … Fred, what are you trying to pull here? You know you didn’t have anything in your pockets when they arrested you. Can we just be honest with each other?” he sighed. “You are making my job very difficult right now.”
“Look… I’ve forgotten your name, forgive me,” I began.
“Mr. Jackson,” he prodded.
“Look, Mr. Jackson, I’m trying to be honest with you. My name is Frank Thomas. I don’t remember anything that happened last night after I left work. I’m not a criminal, and I can’t imagine breaking into someone’s house. The only thing I can think of for an explanation to all this is that someone drugged me or something, and left me at the scene of their crime. I don’t know what the hell is happening, but I’m not guilty of anything.” I paused to think for a moment. “Where is my car?” I asked in a sudden burst of inspiration. “The real criminal is probably driving it around right now with all the stolen goods he took from that house!”
“What sort of car do you drive?” He pulled out a small notebook and a pen from an interior pocket of his suit.
“’98 Escort, white.” I immediately recited. “License plate 162 YXC.” I watched as he scribbled furiously in his notebook for a moment before putting it away and turning back to me.
“So, you are claiming that you don’t remember anything, huh? So you don’t remember going to…” he pulled a piece a paper from his briefcase and quickly consulted it, “…903 Choctaw Street, beating on the door, demanding that someone named Carol open up the fucking door before you kick it in?”
I sat stunned for a moment, unable to open my throat to speak. “I… I used to live at 903… before Carol died…” I stuttered. “But that was several years ago, before she was killed. In a wreck,” I hastily added.
He had the notebook back out and was writing again. “What sort of car did you drive then, Fre… Frank?”
“I had an ’86 Bronco II, why?” I asked. “What does that have to do with anything?”
He consulted the sheet again. “Bronco II, that’s what was in the driveway last night, presumed stolen…” he paused. “When did your wife get killed?” He looked up at me, and had a spark of interest in his eye for the first time since entering my cell.
I finally got most of the story out of my lawyer, and pieced it together over and over again after he left. I guess I stole a Bronco II out of the Wal-Mart parking lot, one just like I used to drive, and went to the house where I used to live. Carol was my wife for three years, and we lived together in that house the whole time. I moved out after she got killed in a car wreck, which was about two years ago. Anyway, the people that live there now told the police (who told my lawyer, who told me) that I parked in the driveway, walked right up to the door, and tried to open it. It was locked, and they said I tried to unlock it with a key on my key ring. When that didn’t work, I rang the bell and beat on the door, yelling at Carol about changing the lock, and screaming for her to unlock the fucking door before I kicked it in. The man inside finally opened the door to confront me, and he says I charged inside and demanded to know what he was doing in my house. My lawyer said I beat him up pretty bad, and repeatedly accused him of sleeping with my wife. I really find that hard to believe, because I am not the violent type at all. Anyway, I guess I threw him out on the lawn, and then discovered the woman in there, who was not Carol. I guess that probably messed me up too, because I started yelling at her, asking her what in the hell was going on, where was Carol, where was all of our stuff, whose shit was in my house, that kind of stuff. I guess I was pretty wigged out when the police got there.
So, that is where I have come up with my theory about my mind splitting. I think part of my brain must have blocked out Carols death, and tried to go on like nothing happened. If I still lived in the same place, it might have even worked, for a while at least. Then again, maybe not. When Carol never came home, I’d have been forced to deal with the situation anyway. It’s hard to figure out how crazy stuff like that would work. Trust me, my asshole doctor is still working on it, and he’s a professional.
The second day in jail, my lawyer came back to see me. He had some other people with him, and they all seemed pretty interested in me. My lawyer started off the conversation. He didn’t bother with introductions.
“Good morning, Mr. Taylor. The police found your car. Your wallet, to include your Drivers License, was on the seat. Also, I found out quite a bit of information about you that I didn’t know yesterday.” He looked at me with a smug, satisfied expression, as if to say gotcha.
“It’s Mr. Thomas,” I replied. “You should know that by now, if you’ve seen my license. Frank Anthony Thomas.”
“No, it’s Frederick Albert Taylor. Your insurance card confirms that, as well as your registration, some mail that was in the car, and your police record. That includes fingerprints.” The smug look was more defined now.
“Police record?” I was genuinely shocked. “I don’t have one! I’ve never had anything…” I trailed off as one of the other men with him stepped forward.
“Mr. Jackson,” he said to my lawyer, “If this gentleman is in fact schizophrenic or MPD, which we don’t know yet, he will most likely have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about. Presenting him with facts of his identity will do nothing but confuse him.” He turned to me. “Hello there, I’m Dr. Martin.” He offered his hand. “And you are?”
I automatically shook his hand, but my mind was churning this up at a furious rate. “Frank Thomas,” I mumbled. “What in the hell is going on here? And did you say schizophrenic?”
My lawyer was determined to be in charge of the discussion. “This isn’t the first time you’ve been here, Fred. Why don’t you quit playing games with us?”
“I have never been here before in my life,” I shot back. “I really don’t think this is something that I’d forget.” Dr. Martin appeared to believe me, because he pulled my lawyer and the other fellow out into the hall for a quick whispered discussion. When they came back in, the doctor did the talking.
“Frank, this other gentleman here is the District Attorney. We are going to make arrangements with the judge to take you to a treatment facility to run some tests on you. You may end up being there for some time while we make our evaluation. You are in some trouble here, but we are trying to help you out. Do you understand?”
“No,” I cried, “I don’t understand at all! Is what he said true? Have I really been here before? I wish someone would tell me what the fuck is happening!” To my horror, I realized that I had tears streaming down my face.
“Frank, we believe you are sick,” the doctor said kindly. He offered me a tissue, which I gratefully accepted. “Mr. Jackson told you that you broke into your old house night before last, right?” I nodded. “Well, it seems that you have done that several times before, although the couple that lives there now didn’t live there then. The first few times it was empty, and you’ve given several sets of tenants there quite a scare since then. This is the first time you’ve ever gotten violent, though.” He paused to look at the paperwork in his hand. “There is also the matter of the Ford Bronco II. You sold it to Jeff Hickey, who works at Wal-Mart, and have stolen it from him four times now. He’s never pressed charges on you, and he says that you always bring it back and apologize for it, which I find to be rather surprising. If you honestly don’t remember any of this, and I don’t think you do, then you may have a condition called Multiple Personality Disorder. That’s what we are going to find out at the treatment center. We’re going to try to make you better.” He winked and gave me a friendly pat on the shoulder. “I know this is all terribly confusing for you, and I don’t want you to think about it too much.” He pulled a pill bottle from his jacket pocket and gave me a small white tablet. “Take this, it will calm you down. We’ll be back to transport you as soon as we get the paperwork finished.” He gathered up the other two, and they left me with my head spinning.
They took me to this so-called treatment center, which I soon found out was just like every nuthouse you see in the movies. I keep expecting to see Jack Nicholson in here, from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Anyway, Dr. Martin started seeing me every other day or so, but instead of telling me anything, he kept hypnotizing me. He said he was exploring my psyche, trying to determine how many personalities I was maintaining. Of course I don’t remember any of these sessions. Between that, the medication, and the boredom, I finally decided to confront him about it at our next meeting. I jumped right into my speech before he got rolling with the penlight.
“Look, Dr. Martin, I’m here because you guys said I did a bunch of crazy stuff that I don’t remember doing, right?” He nodded. “Well, you said you were going to try to help me. However, all you’ve been doing is hypnotizing me, so now I’m to the point where I can’t even remember the treatment you’re giving me for doing things I can’t remember.” I took a deep breath. It was hard to concentrate on my speech with the medication they kept me on. “I’m really starting to question this whole thing, doctor. I really don’t know if anything actually even happened to begin with. Do you get what I’m saying?”
“Fred, we have this discussion every time you come in my office. Are you aware of that?” I looked at him in shock. He continued. “Oh yes, almost word for word, three days a week for close to ten years now.” He leaned back in his chair, and I came out of mine.
“Ten years? Who the hell are you trying to kid?” I half-laughed as I sat back down. “Nice try, Dr. Martin, but I’m not crazy, and I haven’t lost track of time. My name is Frank, and I’ve only been in here for a few weeks. Now, seriously: when are we going to start being honest with each other, and when are you going to have a conversation with me that I’ll remember?”
“Yes, Frank, I apologize. Fred doesn’t give this speech, he gives the ‘I’m gonna kick your ass and bust out of here’ speech. And here’s yesterdays newspaper, which I always show you, to confirm the date.” He tossed the paper over the desk with the air of a man who is trying to convince a child that the sky is blue, not green. I took the paper and glanced at the date, then looked at it again, slowly. According to the paper, ten years had gone by. How in the hell was that possible?
“I think you had this paper made just to fuck with me, didn’t you?” I challenged. I noticed with some fear that he had mouthed the words as I was saying them.
“Go ahead, look in the mirror over there in the corner,” he said with a flippant wave of his hand. “Take a look at your face; that will convince you. It always does,” he added rather slyly. Almost as an afterthought, he called me back. “Do you want to talk about anything else before you go over there? I only ask because once you realize the truth, you generally revert to another personality. Sometimes it’s Fred, sometimes Bob, sometimes a new one. But Frank never walks away from that mirror. So, anything else you want to discuss while you’re here?”
“You’re crazy,” I told him, and turned back towards the far wall.
“Yes, that’s what you usually say.” He sounded disappointed.
I hesitated, and thought about it for a moment. What if he was telling the truth? If he was, what did it mean? It would mean that I was crazy, and was living the same day over and over. That wasn’t the case, because I didn’t feel crazy at all. I felt like I was being screwed by a bunch of mad scientists who were trying to see just how far they could push me before I lost it. I walked over to the mirror and looked at myself.
I woke up back in my room to the sound of the crazy bitch down the hall shrieking at the top of her lungs as she did every day. Once again, I didn’t remember any of my session with Dr. Martin. I was really going to have to give him a speech about his therapy techniques. I rolled over, thinking back once again. I was trying to define the moment when all of this had started. Not waking up in jail and ending up here, I remembered that just fine. Hell, it was only a few weeks ago. I was trying to go back further, to my first blank spot. If I really have MPD, as everyone seems to think, then those occasional blank spots might be when I flip, or whatever it’s called.
I don’t know if I ever had one before Carol died, but I don’t think so. They started right after I got the news, at least that’s when I seem to remember the first one. They didn’t happen very often; usually just a few hours of lost time at work, or sitting on the couch in front of the tube. Carol. God, I miss her. I took her to dinner one night, and she Pop! I suddenly felt a whole section of my brain shift, as if a balloon had burst inside my skull. I sat up, desperately grabbing at the memories before I lost them again. We were at dinner…
…and a man had walked up to our table. He sat down beside Carol as if he belonged there, and she said… she said… . I struggled to force it to the top. What did she say? She said she was leaving me. She said this was her new boyfriend, and she wanted a divorce.
How could I have forgotten something like that? The memory seemed to blur at that point. I couldn’t remember what happened after that. I tried, but the next event to come to mind was getting a knock on the front door, and a policeman telling me she had been killed in a hit and run car wreck. Memories of racing to the hospital, doctors shaking their heads, patting me on the back, referring me to the staff minister; before that was a blank spot. The first one. I lay back on the bed, panting from the mental exertion.
I have a session with Dr. Martin tomorrow. I’m going to tell him to quit hypnotizing me and listen to what I have to say. I’m going to tell him about the blank spots in my memory, and that the new ones he is creating aren’t helping any. Hopefully he will listen to me, and we can fix this little glitch so I can go home and get my life back together. My boss isn’t going to like it that I’ve missed several weeks of work, but once I explain the situation to him, I think he’ll understand. After all, it isn’t as if I killed anyone, right?