Our story continues. The first two posts were all the edited transcript of a first session two days earlier than this one. Now Dr. Symonds gets James Arkham to continue, but the former teacher is still taking his own sweet time to get to the horrible murder he committed back in 1993 to land himself in psychiatric prison for at least nine years.
as-yet-untitled horror story, part the third
May 6, 8:15 am
Waking me up early, huh? Think you’ll catch me off guard. Actually, yes.
Seriously? I thought you guys were supposed to work at establishing rapport, trust…
—Okay. I tried to sound honest and sincere, the way I felt. —So shouldn’t I be honest with you?
Okay. But why admit you’re manipulating me?
You are. You just said you were trying to catch me off guard.
—Yes and no. I like morning sessions because people often come to them fresher, less defensively than at other times… Deliberately I let that trail away.
You can trick me into saying what you want, huh?
—No. I don’t know what I want you to say. I let that hang for a moment or two; he looked at me, mildly, school-teacherishly, with patience. So I finished for him. —But you know. And for some people, in the morning, they feel more like letting go of what I think of as afternoon defenses.
Afternoon defenses. I like that. That sounds real. You ever taught? I shook my head I didn’t think he meant the kind of postgraduate academic work I had instructed. Not even as a grad student? Not that anyone would call that collegiate stuff teaching. Ha. So I had called that attitude correctly. Maybe I like mornings because in the morning I more often win. Think I’m right about that? …Yeah, sure. You just sit there… That’s your job isn’t it?
Ooh. That’s pushy! …I’m a teacher, aren’t I? I felt I heard a hint of an actual question in that.
Yeah. That’s exactly what I am. Was.
—And from what you told me yesterday, as of last summer you had permitted yourself to remain in that profession. He looked blank. —You’d gotten a job. He still looked at me, expressionless. Now it was my turn to be tested. I caught on. —Huh. Teaching’s a bit like counseling, isn’t it? I permitted a lot of questioning into that question.
Naturally. Both deal with modifying the human being, don’t they? Was a question back communication or mere mimicking mockery?
—Were you counseling as a teacher, then?
No degree. Not trained. An easy answer. But, yeah, kids sought me out often enough, wrote things in their journals I never expected. Yeah. I got more counseling in the job than I wanted.
So did I.
How about you? You get more teaching than you want, doing this?
—I can’t permit it. I’ve got to keep to basics, simple psychology.
Sure. Simple. He waited. But I was done doing his talking for him. We had to get back to basics here, now. And for him that meant telling me about what had brought him here. Or at least the background.
…So, yeah, I got the job. Howie hired me on the spot, and the pay wasn’t bad for a little dump in Iowa. Noticeably less than most anywhere in Illinois, but then I didn’t have anything left in Illinois, did I? Always with the questions. He wasn’t confident in himself. At least not on this subject. I had liked Howie from the interview. He really warmed up to me, too, I felt. It would be good to go into a strange new place with someone who could become a friend in charge. I didn’t regret signing the contract right then and there in his office; that kind of made me feel secure too.
So I had a job.
I drove back down to Bear River about noon and started looking for a place to rent right away.
See? Arkham’s stalling in a big way. (As maybe I am today, since this section is far shorter than the two previous posts of this story.) Is it too long? Are you all bored yet?