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His Own Good
The room was cold, like all doctor offices are. The fluorescent lights bounced off the clean linoleum floor causing the office to look fake, stiff, and plastic. On a couch sat a man, curled up awkwardly. Across from the man sat Dr. Johansen, the head psychologist at Sunset Falls Mental Facility, and in the corner of the office near the door stood a muscular male nurse with a bag of different tranquilizers in case the man got too out of control.
“Jason. Can you tell me your last happy memory you had with your family?” Dr. Johansen asked calmly with his leg crossed sophisticatedly over the other and his slender pale hands folded neatly in his lap.
Jason slowly uncurled out of his awkward ball on the couch and stared at one of the perfectly white ceiling tiles.
“It was Easter” Jason said. “I remember because momma dressed us up in these stiff suits. She and Daddy took us to church, and then they took us to the park to have a picnic and feed the ducks by the pond.” Jason chuckled softly at the memory that played in his mind like a home movie.
“That sounds like a lot of fun,” Dr. Johansen said with a sad smile.
A silence fell over the office that hinted to the harder questions that would soon be asked. Jason knew this as he began to curl into a ball yet again.
“I know this is hard for you, but could you please tell me when things at home started to go bad?” the doctor asked gently. Jason looked up at the doctor for a minute.
“B-bad?” Jason asked.
The film of the happy Easter memory from another time paused then began to rapidly fast forward to a new scene. Jason was walking down the stairs with his school bag being closely followed by his smaller brother. This was the weekly routine; the boys would wake up, get dressed, gather their school things and then go downstairs where their mother had prepared a well balanced breakfast and three perfect paper bag lunches for them and their father. But something was off this morning. The boys walk into the kitchen to find their mother making breakfast as usual but they only see two paper bag lunches on the counter. Knowing better than to ask if their mother and father had a fight, they shoved their lunches into their backpacks and took their places at the table. Shortly after the boys sat down their mother set out their pancakes and eggs and sat next to them, watching them shove their breakfast in their small mouths.
“Where’s Daddy?” Ashton asked with a mouth full of pancake. Jason shot him a look clearly saying SHUT UP. Their mother smiled weakly and replied
“Daddy had to go to the store.”
The scene dissolved as quickly as it formed and another scene began to play. An older Jason poked his head around the doorframe leading into the family den. There he found his mother, slumped on the floor with the old pantyhose tied around her upper arm and the pot burning on one of those portable hot plates. Jason watched quietly as his mother prepared the needle and then slowly injected the brown liquid into the bruised nook of her arm.
“Momma?” Jason called from his spot at the doorframe. She looked up at him with her glazed over eyes and smiled.
Yet again the scene switched and Jason was now a teenager. The sky outside was orange and purple when Jason walked through the front door. His mother ran to him with urgency.
“Did you get them? Did you?” She asked with her eyes glued to her older son’s backpack.
“No. I’m not getting your drugs anymore,” Jason replied watching his mother, anticipating her reaction. His mother looked up at him, anger reflecting in her eyes. She lifted her boney hand and with all her strength struck it against her son’s cheek causing him to stumble backwards.
“You get me my drugs or you and your stupid brother get out!” she yelled.
The scene melted away and another one began to form. Jason was pacing in the kitchen. He was now a grown adult in a pathetic excuse for an apartment and Ashton sat on the couch, a young teenager watching his older brother pace and argue with someone who wasn’t there. Jason had begun to talk to himself a few years earlier, shortly after they had moved into the apartment.
“Is momma yelling at you again?” Ashton asked quietly. Jason froze in his steps and looked at his younger brother as if he didn’t notice Ashton had been watching.
“Shouldn’t you be in bed? You have school tomorrow,” Jason replied with a plastic smile. Ashton nodded before getting up from the broken, stained couch and heading into the room he and his older brother shared.
Hours had passed since Ashton had gone to bed and Jason continued his argument. Choosing to ignore the voice of his yelling mother, Jason dragged himself to bed. Jason laid down on the mattress next to his brother, quietly studying the reason he had dropped out of school and gave up everything. Jason watched Ashton for a long time, disturbed that he could see himself all too clearly in his sleeping brother. Slowly Jason grabbed his pillow from behind his head and carefully pressed it against Ashton’s innocent face.
The voice of Dr. Johansen pulled Jason from his memories.
“Jason I need you to tell me when things at home started to go wrong,” the doctor said while carefully watching Jason.
“Where’s daddy? Shut up! Leave Ashton alone! Where are the drugs?! No! Get drugs! Get out!” Jason clenched his eyes shut and pressed his hands to his ears as he rocked back and forth on the couch. The nurse in the corner looked at the doctor for a sign to restrain the patient. The doctor held up a hand for him to wait.
“Who besides me is talking to you?” asked the doctor quietly.
“Momma. Momma always yells at me,” Jason replied, still rocking back and forth with eyes clamped shut. For a moment the only sound that could be heard was the ceiling fan and the whimpers coming from Jason. Then Dr. Johansen carefully pulled his chair closer to the couch.
“Why does Momma yell at you?” asked the doctor. “Did she yell at Ashton?”
Jason nodded vigorously as his rocking picked up speed to the point where it looked like he would launch himself off of the couch. The nurse secretly prepared the shot because he, unlike Dr. Johansen, was terrified of the patients. However, Jason’s senses and paranoia was in overdrive. His eyes darted from the doctor to the nurse and back again.
“Don’t worry about him, okay? I won’t let him touch you.” Dr. Johansen replied with his well trained, trustable voice. “I need you to tell me when Momma started to yell at you and Ashton.”
“Woke up. Daddy was gone. Where’s daddy? He went to the store. Daddy never came back. Daddy is dead. Momma, are you sick? Momma. What’s that liquid? Thick as molasses. It’s happiness. Momma. Stop hitting Ashton!! Momma, no!! You do what I say you understand?! Get the drugs. Get out!” Jason looked straight into the eyes of Dr. Johansen as he told the jumbled story of his life that constantly haunted his thoughts. “It’s okay. We have each other. Stay in school! Gave it up. Sold my soul. It’s no use. You’re own good. For your own good!” Jason screamed as he picked up a pillow and slammed it over his knee. The doctor was quiet. The nurse watched the scene in front of him, trying to figure out what on earth had just happened.
“Why did you kill Ashton?” asked Dr. Johansen.
“H-he would be like me. No life. No point. Haunted. Hurt. Pointless,” Jason replied as tears began to glide down his clammy cheeks. The doctor simply nodded and paused before he motioned for the nurse to give Jason the shot he had prepared. The muscular nurse hesitantly edged closer to the couch. Jason’s eyes were still locked on to the doctor, even as the nurse injected the pale pink liquid into his arm.
“His own good…don’t you see?”