Disfigured, brutalized and left for dead ... A young man must find his true love.
| The ocean seemed calm this morning. The summer air felt rejuvenating, as I sat with my feet hanging over the edge of this concrete pier. My head faced up to the sky, and the sun persistently warmed my skin. I had just taken off the baseball cap that I wore to cover my face. There were barely enough words to describe the damage that was done. In fact, I even believe that the doctors began making up words to identify the numerous surgeries and anguish that I went through.
Almost two years ago I was brutalized and left for dead. I received multiple blows to my head with a blunt object and several of my ribs were cracked. There was massive internal bleeding and a detached retina that left me blind in one eye. I was starting to get a headache trying to think of everything else. The police and the doctors were quite certain that it was a baseball bat that was used to inflict this damage. Unfortunately, I will have to take their word as truth because I have no memory of what happened that night. In fact, I have no recollection of what happened at anytime before I was attacked. There were no childhood memories of opening Christmas gifts or hanging out with friends during high school. I didn't even remember my name. When the police found me, I had no identification. So they have been unable to contact anyone that may be able to help me. The most baffling part about this whole situation is that I was in Ireland. Not that there was anything wrong with the Irish; it is simply the fact that I am an American. The only reason that I knew that I was from the United States is because of my accent.
My physical therapist told me that I should be happy that I am still alive. I hoped she is right because I did not know how much more I could handle. After the attack, I did not wake up for three days. That was only temporary. Almost two weeks and seven facial reconstructive surgeries later, I woke up again. I was being heavily drugged because the pain would have been too much to bear. Over the next six months, time passed in a dreamlike state. The only clear memory I had from then, is when I leaned forward in my hospital bed and I stared into a full length mirror that was on the inside of the bathroom door and saw the disfigured face that was looking back at me. Horrifying. Every part of my face looked as if it melted and was then forced back into place by a three-year-old child. There were also multiple surgical scars that helped to sicken some of the hospital's new interns who used to check up on me.
After I saw my face in the mirror for the first time, I fell into a deep depression and it took the doctors another year to get me into the shape that I am in right now. This was only my sixth time out in public, since the attack. My psychiatrist, Dr. McNeese, believed that in order for me to get on with my life that I needed to get out and experience it. Which is why I was here seated at the edge of a pier, waiting to go fishing. Once a week, on Sunday, I met Doctor Brown here. He was not my doctor, but he did work at the same hospital that I was brought to originally. Most importantly he said that he met me two nights before I was attacked. He told me that I was falling down drunk and babbling about coming here to stop someone's wedding. Apparently, I told him my entire life story. Luckily, when I was brought to the hospital, it just happened to be where Dr. Brown worked. Even though, they were unable to identify me that night, he said that he recognized the chain around my neck and was able to give the authorities my name, Jason Stevens. Doctor Brown and this letter in my back pocket were the only links that I had to my past.
I turned around from the edge of the pier and looked up to see Dr. Brown getting out of his car. As he began to walk towards me, I noticed that his, tall and slender frame reminded me of a dramatization that I watched on the television this weekend about big foot. He continued to come closer to me and I was unable to spot any flaws on his recently shaved face. He had a perfectly shaped nose that matched his perfectly short haircut. My hand reached up and rubbed the coarse skin on my own cheek. Out of embarrassment, I quickly put my baseball cap back on.
"Nice day to go fishing.” Dr. Brown stated as he placed his fishing pole and gear on the ground. He was the only person that I had met here with an American accent like mine. We did not seem to have much to say to each other, but I did find some peace in listening to someone that spoke the same way that I did.
"Yes, I think it is, Dr. Brown.” I had to lie to him. I despised fishing, but that is not the reason that I showed up here. I came here once a week because I believed Dr. Brown might be able to spark my memory. He said that he had spoken to me before I was attacked. I must have told him something important.
"Please, call me Kevin. Have you and Dr. McNeese had any luck trying to remember anything?" Dr. Brown released his fishing line into the ocean as he said this to me.
"No. It's always the same thing. I have read that letter so many times and I think I have a good idea of what happened, but I don't remember it. It's kind of like it happened to someone else." Every time that I saw Dr. Brown he asked the same questions. I think he wanted to help, but his fishing was his way of relaxing and I seemed to be in the way.
"Maybe you shouldn't focus so much on that letter. You should follow up on some of those other leads. There were other people with you on the night that we met. What about your name? Can you call someone back home?" Dr. Brown might have made sense if I wanted to listen to him. Apparently, the person that assaulted me stole my wallet that included my identification and credit cards. I did not think he was able to get to my other pockets because the letter was found in my front pocket. The police came by and gave this to me when I had recovered. It was in a blank envelope and it is still readable, not because of any great care that I had taken of it. I had read that one page letter, front and back, several times a day for the past year and a half. That letter had been very influential during these gloomy days in motivating me to get back out into the world. I must find out what happened.
The name at the top of the letter was a little smeared, but I believe it was addressed to "Honey". I was quite positive that I was the person called “Honey”. Somebody had written this letter to me about getting married. She was having second thoughts about marrying some guy. The letter ends abruptly at the bottom of the page with this message "...I am thinking about you constantly. I don't think I belong here. I wish I could talk to you in person. If you are serious about this, meet me at the Red Vine Bistro in downtown Dublin on Friday August 3rd at 8:00pm. I miss you and I love you."
I looked over to Dr. Brown and alleged, "I think the person that attacked me didn't want me to meet this woman. If I could find out something maybe from the police about the area that I was found in, maybe I could find some sort of clue." I was reaching for an answer. I had fallen for the person that wrote the letter. I had spent my every moment thinking about her. I did not know her name or what she looked like, but I believed that I had come to this country to find her and take her back home.
Dr. Brown quickly responded, "You have already talked to the police several times, and maybe your attacker was completely random. As a doctor I believe you should try to achieve a normal life, and as a fisherman I have to tell you that in order to catch fish you must first place the pole in the water." Dr. Brown pointed to the pole against the wall that I was ignoring.
I tried to laugh at his brief attempt at humor. Yet, my mind was drifting elsewhere. I began to worry that even if I did find her that she would not even recognize me, much less want to run away with a disfigured freak that doesn’t even remember her.
"I think I've had enough fishing for today, Dr. Brown." I shook his hand, turned around and began my two-mile walk back home.
"Hey Jason!" Dr. Brown yelled, halting me halfway up the walkway. "I'll see you next week, and call me Kevin."
I made the long walk back to the hospital. There was a group of apartments on the hospital property that I lived at. It was part of the "Halfway Home" project that I was in. The government paid for my rent as I tried to fit back into society. All that I had to do was meet with my counselor three days a week. I walked up to the red brick building and entered the door to my studio apartment.
I fell asleep early that night and awoke in a hot sweat. I was breathing heavy just like I had been in the dream. I was dreaming about running in the dark through some college town, and while I ran I heard footsteps beside me. A female voice said into my left ear, "Hey wait for me!" I could not turn around to see her face, but her voice startled me enough to wake me up. I had dreamed about that voice before. Could that voice belong to the same woman that I am trying to find? If only I could see her face. If only I could remember something.
I did not sleep the rest of the night and the next morning I decided that I needed to find Dr. Brown and have him help me go over the conversation that we had in that bar. Maybe someone in that bar was the one responsible for all of this. I looked up Kevin Brown's address in the phone book and found his address on a local map. I did not have a phone in my living quarters so I exited my apartment and began walking towards his house.
It was early and the morning sun was blocked by a cold gray sky. A slight mist filled the air as I began walking down my street. The town that I live in was small and almost everything that I needed was a short distance away. I had become accustomed to walking everywhere.
I reached his house after about an hour. The rain started to come down a little harder and I was completely soaked. I headed up the driveway and stepped onto the front steps of Dr. Brown's house. It was an older home, but it looked like someone was keeping it in decent shape. The front of the property was covered with trees that blocked the view of the street from the house. The front door was only a screen door that entered into an enclosed front porch and then to another main door. I rang the doorbell. I expected to hear a rush of feet move towards the door. I only heard silence; I rang the bell again and gave a brief knock. After what seemed like an eternity, I turned around and exhaled with disappointment. The rain went from a steady rain to a stronger downpour.
As I began walking back down the stairs, an attractive young lady with dark hair in a ponytail turned and walked towards me up the driveway. She looked up and saw me standing at her front porch. I feared the reaction that she might have. Anybody that came home to see some strange man with a gruesome face, covered in rain and hovering at his or her front door would probably just scream and run.
This lady was extremely attractive and almost grinned when she saw me. She began to walk closer and I lifted my head up to say hello, which is when she got a clear look at me. She immediately stopped and grabbed for her purse. I believe we both panicked at the same time. I tried to recall if Dr. Brown had ever said anything about being married.
"Mrs. Brown?” I shouted. "I'm looking for your husband." I took a chance. It was either that or I was quite certain that I was about to be maced.
The lady walked closer to the bottom of the steps and said, "Who are you?"
"I'm Jason Stevens. I meet with Dr. Brown every Sunday to go fishing. I was hoping that I could speak to him."
She hesitantly greeted me, “Hello Jason. He's mentioned you a couple of times.” She opened the front door, which was not locked, and we both entered the front porch.
"I'm Jennifer. Let me call my husband and see where he is." Jennifer looked directly in my eyes and with concern in her voice said, "How'd this happen to you?" She reached up to touch my cheek, but I flinched and took a step backwards. She was the first person to show any emotions towards me. Obviously, I have had doctors look over every part of my deformity. But, this was different.
"I wish I knew how this happened." I said this more for my benefit, but it was the truth.
Jennifer unlocked the main door to their house. I began to follow, but she held up a hand and said, "Please, wait right here."
This should not have shocked me because I would never let some stranger just go waltzing through my house. I stood in that room and looked over the old furniture. There was a beat up couch and a few end tables. I saw a couple of photographs that were tacked to the wall. The first one that I noticed was Kevin and Jennifer at a soccer game with some friends. The next one that I looked at had three faces in it. Each person was smiling and wearing graduation hats. Kevin and Jennifer were two of the people in the picture. I looked at the third face; it was a young man with short brown hair and brown eyes. I quickly pulled the picture off of the wall. I knew this guy. I just didn't know from where. I recognized his face, but I had no memories that had this guy in it. I flipped the picture over and saw something written in pencil. "University of Nevada. All of us. Jennifer, Chris and Kevin."
"That's one of my favorite pictures." I was startled by the voice from behind me. Jennifer was standing in the doorway holding a portable phone up to her ear. "We used to do everything together,” she stated.
"I need to talk to this guy, this Chris." I flipped over the picture to make sure that I had the correct name.
"He probably still lives in San Diego. I really don't think he can help you."
Jennifer stopped abruptly and spoke into the phone, "Hey Kev, someone named Jason is here and he wants to talk to you."
"What?" I barely heard Kevin say. "He should not be there..." Jennifer looked at me nervously, and I think I heard him say, "...he's dangerous."
"I'm not dangerous, " I said out loud. I could not believe that he would say something like that about me. Mrs. Brown quickly made up some excuse that Dr. Brown would call me later and ushered me out the door. I walked down the front steps, and when I reached the end of their driveway, I turned to look back at the house. Mrs. Brown was peeked out the side window. She closed the blinds when she realized that I was looking back at her.
I was cold and wet the entire walk home and I spent the time trying to figure out my connection to that guy in the picture. When I made it back to my place, I was absolutely convinced that he was related to the whole thing. It also felt as if they were trying to protect Chris. The more I thought about this, the crazier the theories became.
I spent the evening hours sitting on my couch and staring at a book on my coffee table, but my mind was still focused on the pictures. The hours passed, and Dr. Brown did not call. Finally, I slipped into a peaceful slumber. I began dreaming about sitting on a beach with a beautiful young lady. It was a bright sunny day and we were in the middle of a picnic. She was laughing at something that I had just said. She smiled, flipped her hair from her face and stared at me. I looked deep into her eyes and all of the pain that I felt, emotional and physical, disappeared. I saw in her a hope that could fight through any hardship along with a wondrous joy that had no knowledge of suffering. I felt consumed with a wonderful satisfaction, yet this was not a new feeling. It reminded me of the first time that I had met her and knew that we were destined to spend our lives together. I reached out and grabbed her hand. She looked back at me and said, "I love you...Chris." I knew that voice and I remember that face...it was Jennifer.
I immediately forced myself awake. I sprang to my feet and tried to be certain that I was awake. I went over what I had just recalled in that dream. At the same instant that I began to remember who she was everything else began to spring to life. It was as if this voice was the key that I needed to unlock the entire darkness of my past.
Everything began to run together. I realized who the person named Chris was in that picture. I was Chris. Without even thinking about anything else I ran out my front door and moved as fast as I could back to Kevin and Jennifer's house. It was pitch black outside and the streets were empty. I did not have enough time to collect my thoughts before I was halfway to their house. Anger rose inside of me as I put the pieces together. My name was Chris Thompson, not Jason Stevens. Why would Kevin think that my name was Jason? At that moment, I remembered Kevin Brown looking down at me and laughing. I must have been lying on the ground. I saw him raise a bat up over his head and swung it down toward my face.
The memory of this terrible event caused me to almost trip over my own feet. Kevin must have found out that I was coming for her and tried to stop me. I rounded the corner that led to their street, my feet pounded the pavement and my breathing had become labored. Everything that was a part of me was thinking about one person, Jennifer. I sprinted up their steps. The adrenaline was flowing through my body. I felt nothing as I slammed into the screen door. There was a dull thud, as it easily swung open. I stepped back and kicked the second wooden door. There was a loud crash as something on the inside fell to the ground. The door did not open. I stepped back even farther and ran shoulder first into the remaining door. It swung open as I rolled forward and into the house. I laid on the ground, clutching my shoulder. A computerized alarm began to sound from a box above the door. I heard footsteps coming down the stairs.
"Jennifer!” I screamed.
"Jason! What the hell are you doing here?” Kevin shouted as he reached the bottom of the steps.
"You liar!” I shouted as I tried to stand up. My shoulder screamed in pain. I clutched it and pulled myself up to a standing position.
Kevin yelled "You have no idea what's going on...” it sounded like he was trying to weasel his way out of this.
“I remember everything.” I said this clearly and I allowed that to resonate in his mind for a second. I watched him and enjoyed the brief look of defeat on his face.
"Kevin?” I thought I heard a voice. We both turned around.
"Kevin! Are you OK?” I knew that was Jennifer shouting from upstairs.
"Jennifer! It's me!” I shouted.
“Stay upstairs honey and call the police!” Kevin yelled at his wife.
I began to walk past Kevin and head upstairs. He grabbed me and spun me around. Another jolt of pain ran through me as he grabbed my injured shoulder.
“You don’t actually think that anyone is going to believe you?” Kevin angrily asked me.
Footsteps interrupted our face to face, as Jennifer made her way downstairs. I turned around again and stared directly at Jennifer. My mind was still racing and seeing her caught me off guard.
Kevin stepped in front of me and said, “Go back upstairs, this man's delirious. He's had a rough time and is disoriented.“
I realized what was happening and I could not believe that he would try something so underhanded. There were so many things that I wanted to tell her. I had to tell her that I remembered every moment that we had spent together, and how I never should have let her leave. I could tell her how I rushed to meet her here two years ago.
Finally I yelled, “It’s me…Chris!”
I stared at her and she raised her hand to her face and gasped. She quickly examined my face again.
“Don’t listen to him Jen! “ Kevin interrupted, “He's confused and threatened my life. Go back upstairs before…”
I walked up to and grabbed her by the hand. “You know it’s me. I remember everything. I came here for you and he found me first. He did this to me. “ I looked directly into her eyes.
“Is that really you?” she cried.
Kevin violently pulled me away from her. “Get your hands off of her”, he shouted at me. Then he turned to her and calmly explained, “He’s confused. I told him a few stories about you and me while we were fishing. He spent so long trying to find out who he really was, that now he thinks that he is Chris.”
Suddenly, there were more arms pulling me backwards. Two police officers had entered the house and were forcing me to the ground.
“This man tried to kill me!” Kevin exclaimed.
One police officer used his knee and shoved my face into the ground. The other one held me down and handcuffed me. I had to do something. “Don’t believe him!” I shouted. The floor muffled my scream. I reached into my back pocket and grabbed the letter that Jennifer had written me. The cops lifted me up and began to drag me from the house. I threw the letter onto the floor in the porch.
“Read the letter!” I screamed as they pulled me outside and into the police car. I could not see her, nor did I know if she heard me. I was thrown into the backseat and the door slammed right behind me. I continued to scream until I felt solid thud to the back of my skull. I tried to reach up to grab my head, but the handcuffs restrained me. The pain increased as I slid into unconsciousness. I needed to remain awake to explain everything. I realized that I was beginning to drift off.
I tried to force my eyes open. Actually my eyes were open, wide open. Yet, everything was still pitch black. The back of my skull throbbed with pain. I reached up to see if I was still bleeding, but I could not lift my arm. I could not lift either of my arms. I was laying flat on my back, my feet were bound and I was strapped to something.
Where am I? How did I end up here?
"Help!” I shouted. "My name is Chris Thompson!” someone had to hear me screaming.
There was a small jingle to my left. It sounded like keys. Then a sliver of light shined on the ground as a door started to open. I noticed that this was some sort of hospital room.
"Jason, you've had a very rough day.” A heavyset, dark-haired woman entered the room. It was my Psychiatrist, Dr. McNeese. Someone must have brought me to the hospital.
"Dr. McNeese, my name is not Jason it's Chris. I remember everything. I was born in Sacramento California. Kevin Brown was the one that attacked me." I rushed all of these sentences, unsure which was more important, she would have to help me.
"Jason, you are delirious, and are you talking about Dr. Brown?" She asked as if I had irritated her by saying this. "Do you know what you did tonight?" She asked, but did not give me time to answer. "You broke into Dr. and Mrs. Brown's house and tried to murder Dr. Brown! Any normal person would have sent you directly to jail, but it was under Dr. Brown's suggestion and my recommendation that you have been sent to be in our custody. You should be thankful to him for understanding your special circumstances. You've been through a lot today." She repeated.
"I didn’t try to kill anyone! My name is Chris Thompson! My social security number is 349-67-5937!” I screamed but it only made her ignore me more, the same way that she might have benn taught to deal with lunatics in medical school.
"I'm not crazy!” I shouted. This did not help, as she placed a needle into a tube that was connected to my arm. She squeezed the liquid into the tube and had a brief look of satisfaction, probably because she knew that this would stop me from screaming.
"You can't drug me. My name is Chris Thompson! I was born in Sacramento...", I continued to yell at the top of my lungs.
Dr. McNeese did not listen to me as she turned around and exited the room. She closed the door and with it she took away the only light that was illuminating my room. I had to fight off the drugs that she had just given to me. It was hard to focus. The room was so dark that I could not tell if my eyes were closed. My head started to fade and with my last effort I tried to focus on something positive, I tried to focus on Jennifer.
More time elapsed; I could not tell if only minutes had passed or if days had passed by. I had already lost two years of my life. So much time had been wasted. My heart sank and I began to panic. I could not fathom being trapped here unable to move. Did I ruin my chance? Did she believe me? Is it possible that I am not really Chris? I had to get these crazy thoughts out of my mind. I began to become terrified at the horrible thought of losing Jennifer, forever.
I heard a voice whispering in my ear. Was that real? It sounded like Kevin. How long had he been in here?
“…she doesn’t believe you. “ Kevin whispered. “Why would anyone believe a lying, backstabbing freak like you? I was your best friend and you betrayed me for some woman!”
I started to respond, only to find out that something was wrapped around my face and covering my mouth. I could not speak.
Kevin flipped on the light and glared at me. “Look at that beautiful face. Something, only a mother could love. “
The door opened and Dr. McNeese entered into the room again. “You'll probably want to give him a stronger dose this time.” Kevin ordered.
“I don’t think that is such a good idea, Dr. Brown. There is someone here that wants to speak to both of you.” Dr. McNeese turned back and Jennifer carefully entered the room. She looked at me and grimaced at the sight of me, strapped down and disfigured.
Kevin walked over and put his arms around Jennifer. “You really shouldn’t be here, “ he said comfortingly.
“Get your hands off of me!” Jennifer exclaimed.
She turned and gazed into my eyes as a tear rolled down her face. She reached down into her purse and pulled out the letter.