Read The Secrets You Hide: A Mind-Blowing Thriller (The Psychosis Series) Online

Authors: Alex Crimson

Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Mystery; Thriller & Suspense, #Thrillers & Suspense, #Crime, #Psychological Thrillers, #Teen & Young Adult, #Crime Fiction, #Noir, #Thrillers, #Psychological

The Secrets You Hide: A Mind-Blowing Thriller (The Psychosis Series) (6 page)

BOOK: The Secrets You Hide: A Mind-Blowing Thriller (The Psychosis Series)
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I returned to the clinic and continued with the appointments that followed, functioning on repeated doses of caffeine. I was constantly on the lookout, pushing myself to identify signs of recognition amongst my patients and repeatedly doubting if I had missed something obvious. At 5 pm that day, Jack walked in for his appointment. It was the second session he had scheduled in as many days on my instruction.

How would the kidnapper show himself?
I caught myself asking once again as Jack entered my room.

 

 

7: Robert’s Journal – Of Day 9

 

Jack walked into my room at 5 pm today. He was dressed in a pair of black jeans and a light yellow shirt. The shirt was untucked, giving him an unkempt look. There was a light stubble on his face. His tall and thin frame stood out against the background. And to further the contrast he looked more tired than ever.

We took our seats almost simultaneously, looking at each other in uncomfortable silence. At the time, I was struggling with the fear that the kidnapper might not show up at all, that his promise of meeting me was fake, that it was only a distraction so he could hurt me in some other way…in a way that I had not seen coming.

I picked up Jack’s file off the low square table to my right. As I looked down at it, I realized that I had made a mistake by not capturing specifics of my last meeting with him. I had written down a quick summary but I could not remember what we had discussed towards the end of the previous appointment. With my mind partially occupied elsewhere, I wasn’t even sure what I was looking for.

I found myself grasping for a line of thought which I could pursue to begin the conversation but I failed miserably.

“Can you give me a minute just to gather my thoughts, Jack?” I said apologetically, looking up at him.

He nodded. He had noticed the clumsiness and the look of utter confusion on my face. But he was also comfortable with the silence. He was looking around the room once again as if to make sure that everything was where he wanted it to be. He did not speak for a few long minutes, offering me no help in initiating the conversation.

When he finally spoke, he said, “You look very tired, doctor”.

I stopped fiddling with his file and looked up at him. I brought my right hand up to my face and pressed my fingers against my closed eyes.

“Yeah,” I said, “I have been busy.”

As I looked at Jack again, I noticed the dark circles around his eyes.

“Umm…you seem like you are out of sleep too.” I said.

He smiled. “I have been busy too…writing.”

I nodded, still struggling to gather my thoughts, still hopelessly unable to remember where we had stopped our conversation yesterday. The only thing I remembered of it was curtailing the conversation towards the end. Finally, I decided to make an indirect reference to it, hoping that Jack would help me with the specifics.

“So, Jack” I said, “We did not really complete our conversation yesterday. I would like to get back to that if it’s okay.”

Jack nodded. His lips were pursed. “You mean the conversation we were having about people?”

I suddenly remembered and my mind jumped instantly to a defensive state. I had to keep any and every sign of emotion at bay. “Yes…” I added, “…the conversation about people. You were telling me about…how people only hurt each other.”

Jack nodded again. For some reason, I felt as if he was able to see through my pretense and identify that I did not recall what we had spoken about earlier. It seemed as if he was waiting for me to admit that to him honestly and accept my failure.

Feeling the need to convince him that I was listening…that I was paying attention, I continued, “You were saying that people only disappoint each other due to excessive self-indulgence.”

I expressed partial agreement with his viewpoint just to make him feel more comfortable, “I must say, Jack, I can see why it must feel like that. People can be selfish. I guess we aren’t all lucky to be around people who are honest…genuine.”

Jack waited for a couple seconds before nodding in agreement. It was his mark of approval…and it made me feel like I had passed a test.

“I would like to know more about the way you think, Jack. Would you like to talk about it?”

He said nothing, just staring at me, his eyes as tired as mine. Then he looked down at the floor, somewhere between our two chairs, lost in deep thought. I waited. He seemed to be building up an argument to prove his point–exploring a million possibilities, gathering thousands of pieces of evidence to justify the opinion he held of mankind and society.

The silence must have lasted very long but it felt like a natural extension of our conversation. My thoughts switched tracks, pulling my mind out of that room and putting me back into my house–empty, abandoned and missing the presence of Annie and Sarah. I was trying to calculate what the kidnapper’s next move was going to be. I quickly glanced at the digital clock by me side. It read 5:18 pm. Most of the day had already passed but the kidnapper had not yet fulfilled his promise of visiting me. Or had he?

Was the promise of visiting me just another mind game intended to keep me distracted and on edge?

Jack’s low voice pulled me back into the moment. He was looking out the glass wall in what now seemed to me like a habit of his that I needed to get used to.

“Have you ever been to those restaurants, doctor?” He was referring to the line of restaurants on the other side of the road, opposite the clinic.

I followed his gaze. “Yes, many times. Umm…I actually visited one of those for lunch today.”

He sat motionlessly. “Were you alone?”

“I was. Where is this going, Jack?”

“Did you get that feeling, doctor? That feeling I was talking about yesterday? Of sitting in the middle of a crowd and still feeling isolated, alone, drowning in your own thoughts and fears and helplessness with the world not noticing any of it.”

I did not respond. I hadn’t thought about it. I didn’t want to think about it.

“What are you saying, Jack?” I asked after a few moments of silence.

He shook his head. “I am just trying to expose the world and its self-obsession doctor. We like to believe that we are all related to each other somehow…but the fact is we are not.”

“Jack, people…people survive on relationships. People have families, friends, co-workers. We don’t connect with strangers, yes. But we do connect to people who we meet often…people who we get close to. Maybe, some of us are more reserved than others and have fewer relationships than others but…”

“No, doctor,” he countered, almost ignoring most of what I had said, “People don’t survive on relationships. They survive on pretense.”

I watched him closely, noticing his clenched jaw. “Pretense is the foundation of every human relationship, doctor. It is what keeps the spark alive.”

I kept quiet…listening, patient.

“It doesn't matter if that relationship is between two lovers or two enemies…Two people might love each other and they might both know it…but they will spend days, months, years unwilling to admit…pretending to act like it doesn't matter because admitting feels…small, it’s like admitting defeat. That’s lovers' pretense…But the same is true for two enemies. They shake hands, exchange gifts, and compliments, waiting for the right opportunity to back stab each other, to get one step ahead. And when that's done, there are acts of apology and wishes of good luck like none of it ever happened.”

He turned his head to look straight back at me. “In fact, I think you and I are engaging in some form of pretense right now. Just like any two people involved in a conversation–each judging the other, but not willing to say it out loud to avoid being judged back. It comes to us so naturally that we almost successfully delude ourselves into believing that we are what we pretend to be.”

I started to say something but Jack cut me even before I could start.

“I was married once, doctor. A few years back. I would return home from work in the evening to find her waiting. Every time I walked in through the door, we would just smile at each other, kiss…and not speak a word for a few minutes…before we got to the routine questions of course. I would spend that silence looking at the surroundings, looking at her, trying to understand what was going on in her mind, trying to understand what she was feeling.

“At first, I used to think that that those few moments of silence existed because we understood each other at a deeper level…an understanding that did not require words…but overtime, I saw it for what it really was…It was a silence that said….'Prepare yourself darling. Put on your best mask, my love…before you reveal yourself to me. Don't tell me how empty you are…Don't tell me how ugly you are…just pretend. That silence…it was the time we gave each other to prepare for a performance…and we did it again and again and again…It went on for months.

“Wear your best mask, my love.

“Whenever I look back I realize that in that silence, I was telling her that I didn't want to know the secrets which she was hiding, the fears that were nibbling away at her. I can deny that today…but that’s just my mind trying to pass the blame. Slowly, all of that just built up…a snowball rolling down a cliff…an hourglass that could not be reversed.”

Jack fell quiet as if he needed time to gather the strength required to carry on. It was the first time he was revealing something personal to me. I blinked, paying close attention. Everything he had said somehow reminded me of Annie, though I was not sure if it was in a good way or bad. It reminded me of that moment when we both stood on either side of the door in the evenings after we had returned from work…
Wear your best mask, my love.

Jack continued in a low, melancholy voice, “But eventually, someone gets tired of all the pretending and hiding. Someone decides to show who they really are and that is when you are caught unaware…frightened out of the hypnosis of it all. And all that is left after pretense is wiped out is…is two tired souls staring right into their own and each other’s horrifying realities. Realities which do not contain the fake smiles and expressions of love. The secrets…they just become larger and larger till it all just falls apart.

“Everybody has a secret that they hide…even from the people closest to them. That secret might be a memory…an experience that defines them and yet something that they are unwilling to divulge, unwilling to share because it would pierce the appearance they wear. If you think about it, our knowledge of anybody is so flawed…incomplete. You can spend an entire lifetime trying to understand someone and towards the end of it you will still find yourself falling short…struggling…groping in the darkness…pitying yourself at the pointlessness of it all.”

I squirmed in my chair and took a sip of water. I waited, processing his words passively as my thoughts returned to the kidnapping. This time my brain was chasing the motive of the kidnapper but all it could manage to do was entangle itself in a web of conjectures backed by little evidence. I knew nothing about the kidnapper. Nothing at all.

“Have you ever felt that with your wife, doctor?” Jack caught me off-guard with the direct question. “That little moment, that tension…that electricity in the air…when you have to hide from her…maintain an appearance…prepare for performance? Do you have something to hide, doctor? Something you are afraid of letting her see? What are the secrets you hide? Why do you hide them?”

I shook my head, brushing the question aside and countering with a question of my own. “Why did you two separate, Jack?”

Jack offered a gloomy shrug, the hint of a painful past visible on his face. I could tell that he missed his wife even though he seemed to believe that the relationship had been based on a foundation of lies and pretense. His gaze was discomforting. “We didn’t, doctor. She died. Asphyxia. She hung herself.” He looked away, “I will never really know the reason why. I can only regret that she felt the need to hide herself…even from me.”

“I am sorry to hear that, Jack. I am very sorry. May I know her name?”

He thought about it before answering as if he had forgotten her name and needed time to remember. “Cathy…” he said, “Catherine.”

Neither of us spoke for a long time after that, as a mark of respect for Catherine. Silence seemed to diffuse over the room as if it were some kind of vapor mixing into the surrounding air. It spread itself into even the darkest corners. I was constantly aware that the conversation with Jack was getting closer and closer to overwhelming me with emotions but I was also repeatedly reminding myself that I absolutely could not let it take over my mind. I took a deep breath and looked quickly at the clock, before moving the conversation forward. There were fifteen minutes left for the hour to end.

“Maybe we should talk about your work, Jack. What are you writing these days?”

There was yet another pause as he looked at me. He didn’t seem surprised by the sudden change in topic as if he had seen it coming. It felt like he was debating how much or what he wanted to tell me…how much of himself and what he wanted to reveal.

“I am trying a new approach to writing, doctor,” he said. “Something different. I think it will help me write something very unique…definitive…my masterpiece.”

I nodded as I noticed how his face found a sudden glow at the mention of his project.

“Glad to know you are working on something so important, Jack. I would love to know more. Would you like to tell me about this new approach to writing that you mention?”

He smiled like he had forgotten all about the tragedy that we had spoken about only a few moments earlier.

“Yes,” he said, “Certainly. Have you heard of method acting, doctor?”

I vaguely remembered hearing that term from some of my patients who were professional actors. “I think I have. That’s one of the techniques where actors assume the real identity of a character they are portraying for a brief period of time…They believe it helps them understand the psyche of the character better…and it helps them deliver a more realistic performance. Is that right?”

BOOK: The Secrets You Hide: A Mind-Blowing Thriller (The Psychosis Series)
9.05Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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