Ariion Kathleen Brindley


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Physician, Heal Thyself

A novel

by

Ariion Kathleen Brindley



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Earlier this year, at 10 a.m. on a Tuesday morning, a murder trial began in superior court



Prologue




                  “State your name and occupation.”

                  “Ariion Kathleen Brindley. I’m a forensic psychologist.”

                  “Do you swear that the testimony you are about to give in this case is true and accurate to the best of your knowledge?”

                  Ms. Brindley glanced at the Bible held out to her by the short bailiff. After a moment, she put her right hand on it. “I do.”

                  The bailiff replaced the Bible on the clerk’s table and took his place beside the judge’s bench. Folding his arms over a narrow chest, he darted glances around the crowded courtroom, like a uniformed robin, ready to fly away.

                  An oak chair groaned and scraped on the wood floor when the defense attorney struggled to his feet. “Ms. Brindley, do you recognize…” He wheezed and braced himself on the table, reaching for a thick notebook. “… this document?”

                  She leaned forward in the witness box, squinting. “I can’t see it from here.”

                  He gave her a sour look, sighed, and came around the table to walk toward her. Three feet in front of her, he held up the book. “And now do you…” he slouched forward another step, dragging his size twelve loafer over the ancient oak. Not as if it were injured or crippled, just that it was too much bother to make any movement. “…recognize it?”

                  “Yes,” she said. “It’s some of my notes.” She was a slim woman of about thirty-five, cinnamon brown hair, blue eyes, and coral lipstick.

                  “Would you please…” he took a deep breath and glanced at the prosecutor. “…open your notebook to page forty-seven and read it to the court?”

                  Ms. Brindley took the notebook from the attorney’s hand, opened it, and began to read.

                  “Clinical notes. April 27, 2009.

                  “Session number four. Hypnosis, one hour scheduled, actual elapsed time; five hours fifteen minutes.

                  “Subject: Catherine Anastasia MacMillan, female, age seven years.

                  “Physical description: Caucasian, long unkempt auburn hair, brown eyes. Thin stature, numerous scars on arms and legs. Round scars on left cheek and neck that appear to be cigarette burns forming some sort of pattern. Faded blue dress, no jewelry. Dress appears to be for a larger person. She holds an old doll tight in her left arm. I’ve never seen her without it.

                  “Mentality: Patient seems alert and aware of everything around her. From observations of her advanced reading skills, ability to master any MMORPG, extensive medical knowledge and—”

                  “Your Honor?” The prosecutor raised his yellow pencil over his head.

                  “Yes, Mr. Alturian,” Judge Quincannon said. “MMORPG means Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game, if that was to be your question.”

                  Mr. Alturian tossed his pencil to the table. “Thank you, sir.” He sighed and slumped in his chair.

                  There was a low murmur of chuckles and snickers from the courtroom, but with a raised eyebrow from the judge, silenced prevailed. “Please continue, Ms. Brindley.”

                  Ms. Brindley narrowed her eyes on the prosecutor for a moment before she smiled and nodded to the judge, and then resumed her testimony. “From observations of her advanced reading skills, ability to master any MMORPG, her extensive medical knowledge, and results from the Stanford-Binet 5 tests, I estimate the patient’s IQ to be above 270.

                  “Attitude: Completely neutral.

                  “Background: In previous three sessions, patient never spoke or responded in any way except to nod in acknowledgment that her preferred name was ‘Kim’. She apparently heard and understood everything I said, but would not speak. Probable evidence of extreme trauma; physical, mental, or both.

                  “Preparation: I explained to the patient that I wanted to hypnotize her and that she was free to recline on the couch, remain in her chair, or take any other seat or position she preferred. She pointed to a chair, my chair. I asked if she meant she would like to sit at my desk. She nodded. We traded places.

                  “Procedure: I asked her to pick up the large gold pocket watch lying on the desk. She did.”

                  Ms. Brindley turned a page in her notebook, and then flipped it back. She glanced at judge.

                  “What is it, Ms. Brindley?” Judge Quincannon asked.

                  “My notes are not a complete account of what happened with Kim that day. Do you mind if I just tell the court about the events that occurred?”

                  “I don’t mind, and I doubt the defense attorney minds. How about you, Mr. Alturian?”

                  “Do I have a choice, Your Honor?”

                  “No.”

                  Mr. Alturian shrugged. “Then I have no objection.”

                  The judge nodded for Ms. Brindley to proceed.

                  She closed the notebook and began her story.

##


                  “All right, Kim,” Ariion said. “Concentrate on the sweep secondhand and listen to the ticking of the watch.”

                  The patient was difficult to hypnotize, as is the case with most high-intelligence patients. After approximately ten minutes, her hand with the watch dropped to her lap and she closed her eyes, as if in sleep.

                  “Kim, can you hear me?”

                  “Yes.”

                  The lead in my pencil broke. Her first word to me! I fumbled on my desk for another pencil and wrote on my notepad, Kim speaks! Yea, self-inflicted high five. Go on quickly.

                  “Do you know who I am?” My shaking finger pressed a red button on the recorder.

                  “University of Theodore Roosevelt. Know all ye by these present that Ariion Kathleen Brindley, having completed the necessary courses of study in the College of Arts and Sciences, Theodore Roosevelt College…”

                  I glanced at one of my framed university diplomas on the wall, then back at the girl; her eyes remained closed.

                  “…and satisfied all other requirements for this degree, is hereby declared a Master of Science and Master of Liberal Studies.”

                  I leaned forward, squinting at my degree. From where I sat, I couldn’t make out a single word, except the large flowing script across the top, “University of Theodore Roosevelt.”

                  The girl continued, “In Testimony Whereof, under the seal of the University, the signatures of its duly authorized officers are hereunto affixed Given at Wovenbridge, Virginia, this the seventh day of May, A.D. 1995 under the Commonwealth the two hundred and twenty-ninth.”

                  I opened my mouth to ask if she knew the current date, but she went on.

                  “Married to Dean Allen Brindley on February 14th, 1991. Two children; Mary, aged fourteen and Daniel, aged nine.”

                  A photograph of my children sat on my desk, but I couldn’t remember telling her about them.

                  “Dean is a trial lawyer,” Kim said. Her eyes remained closed. “He always worked late and drank too much. The marriage lasted twelve years and was dissolved in twelve minutes. Mary is way too serious about her new boyfriend, Mark Cameron. They may be doing something they shouldn’t. Daniel made an A in math. He’s the brains of the family.”

                  Apparently, she had learned more about me in our previous three sessions than I had about her. I cleared my throat, wanting to stop her, but trying to avoid bringing her out of hypnosis. She stopped talking.

                  “Tell me what happened to you,” I said.

                  “When?”

                  “The earliest event you can remember that you feel is important.”

                  “The TV man. When I was five.”

                  “Who is the TV man?”

                  “I slipped into the living room to be sure Mama wasn’t there. I saw a man kneeling beside the TV. He had a…”

                  “Objection!” The prosecuting attorney stood, raising his pencil in the air.

                  “What is it, Mr. Alturian?” the judge asked.

                  “Are we actually going to listen to the entire life story of this girl?”

                  “Your Honor,” the obese defense counsel said from where he lounged in his chair. “I intend to show relevancy…” he glanced at the prosecutor and exhaled with an audible wheeze. “…in just a few minutes.”

                  “Overruled. Continue, Ms. Brindley.”







Continue to Chapter One

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Ariion Kathleen Brindley


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