Chapter 16. Meltdown
The electronics specialists waited in their trucks with Rex in my driveway as I welcomed Dr. & Mrs. Barns’ to my estate. A handsome old codger with a full head of white hair and gold-rimmed glasses, Dr. Barns’ yacht club jacket covered his trim figure and greeted me with the Southern hospitality and gentlemanly nature that had disappeared up north here eons ago. Mrs. Barns delightfully nodded in my direction, her arm tucked into his. This lovely woman, who appeared about twenty years his junior, I quickly realized, had much plastic surgery to retain her beauty, dying her gray hair ash blonde, wearing clothes for women half her age. After extending the older couple a seat on the leather couch, I offered them a drink, pouring Dr. Barns a Scotch before calling Megan on the office’s intercom to make Mrs. Barns a Martini. When she entered the room, Dr. Barns gave me a wide smile.
“Is this the beautiful Megan I’ve heard so much about?” Meg blushed and looked at me. I winked at her and she smiled.
“Mrs. Barns would like a Martini, and you know how awful my Martini’s are.”
Meg met me behind the bar and made two Martinis and poured it into two glasses.
“Where’s your drink dear?” asked Dr. Barns.
“I don’t drink,” she replied, as she took the Martini over to Mrs. Barns.
“What a lovely Martini you make!” said Mrs. Barns after the first sip.
“Another reason to keep her on, Corwynn,” said Dr. Barns smiling at Megan.
The doorbell rang. Meg offered to answer it, certain that it was the realtor. When she didn’t return right away, I excused myself and located her at the front door, staring at a floral deliveryman and the bouquet of blood red roses he was holding. In her hand was another card from Davenport. As I walked closer I noticed how her hand trembled and she stared blankly at the roses.
Scrawled in Davenport’s handwriting: “He may have won this round, but the final one will be paid with your blood.”
“Could I have the receipt for the roses?” I asked the deliveryman, who quickly handed me the bouquet’s invoice still on the clipboard.
“Do you have a girlfriend?”
“A wife, err, Mr. Corwynn. Um, would you please, sign for them?”
“Certainly, shall I make this out to you or your wife?”
“Her name is Brenda.”
I scribbled the autograph on the receipt and took my copy, leaving his on the clipboard. Meg still stood there slack, staring at the roses.
“Take those to Brenda, and thank you for your time,” I said, handing him a ten with the clipboard, as the young man stared at me, and Meg stared at the roses. I revived him to consciousness and shut the door, hoping she’d quit this staring business. When I shut the door, Meg continued to stare as if the bouquet was still there in front of her. Her eyes were still fixed on the same spot. I snapped my fingers in front of her. No response. What in the hell was this?
“Anna,” I called from the foyer. I must have sounded alarmed for Anna to rush as she did to my side.
“He did it again,” I said, prying the card out of Megan’s hand then waved the bouquet card in her direction.
“Should I call the police?”
“Rex is the driveway. Please go get him.”
I led Meg to the foyer’s divan and sat her down. Dr. Barns asked if everything was all right. I handed him the card.
“Good lord, he’s a psychopath!”
“That’s exactly why I had to have that property.”
“Did you call the police?”
“They’re in my driveway waiting for the deed to transfer so they can pick him up.”
Dr. Barns knelt down in front of Megan. I heard his tongue click and then he touched her temple, pressing a loose tendril of hair away from her face as she sat there completely motionless. I sensed that he knew something about her condition.
Very calmly and softly, in his gentleman’s drawl, he asked me, “Is she under psychiatric care?”
“She’s disassociating, Mr. Corwynn, I think you ought to call her doctor.”
I heard the kitchen door open and soon, Rex was there, pulling on a latex glove before taking the card out of my hand. He put the radio in his other hand to his mouth.
“Dispatch, patch me through to Harrison 1-9.” There was static and squawking before he replied, all of us silent to hear whatever the other side had to say.
“This is Rex, has Harris checked in yet?”
“He’s on the radio, frequency 24.”
“Thanks.” Rex changed frequencies and waited for Harris to acknowledge him.
“We got him in our sight. He’s not going anywhere,” said the voice from the radio. Rex looked at me.
“Pick him up, he’s violated the restraining order and I’m holding the proof in my hand,” said Rex, watching as Anna rubbed Megan’s hand, trying to get her to respond. I left them and returned to the front room with Dr. Barns.
When I handed him the check from my jacket, we heard a car in the horseshoe drive. Finally, the realtor had arrived.
“Sorry, I got hung up at a house that was a no-show.” She stared at Megan who seemed rather odd sitting there like a statue.
“Davenport,” I replied, and led her into the room and out of the viewing of Megan.
“Give Mr. Corwynn the papers to sign. I have the check in hand.”
The realtor opened her briefcase and doled out the papers. I took the fountain pen from my pocket and lifted its lid from it before signing each one.
“It’s done, Rex.”
“It’s not official until they’re posted at the courthouse,” said the realtor.
“It’s official enough. I’ll press the charges if Mr. Corwynn can’t. You don’t know what kind of monster you were dealing with, Ms. Anderson.”
I let Dr. Barns fill her in while I returned to Megan who was still unresponsive and slack on the foyer’s divan. I called Ruby.
“She’s deteriorating. He sent her more roses. This time Davenport said he’d finish it with her blood.”
“What’s she doing?”
“Staring. Dr. Barns called it something. Dis-something. Hell, I don’t remember, Ruby, all I know is she’s freaking the hell out of me right now!”
“Okay, I’ll be right there. Alex, I need you to be calm. If that means you cannot be in the same room with her, then leave Anna with her, but someone needs to stay with her.”
“I’ll get Anna to stay with her until you arrive.”
Anna brought Meg a cup of tea and tried to get her to drink it, but Megan didn’t even realize the cup was to her lips. I had just bent down in front of her when the phone rang. Anna answered it and brought it to me. It was Sean.
“Sean now is not a good time to talk about anything.”
“What’s the matter, Alex? You sound stressed.”
“My assistant got another bouquet of roses from fucking Davenport. I have no idea what is with her right now. She’s staring at the wall and won’t acknowledge us or talk to us or do anything.”
“Alex, get Anna to sit with Megan and go into your office. We need to talk.”
“What?” I asked, leaving Anna with Megan as they asked.
I heard Sean and Ryan talking in the background so I turned to check on Megan, and again, Anna shook her head, so I went to my office as ordered.
“Alex? It’s Ryan,” said Sean’s partner of fifteen years.
“I understand Megan has zoned on you?”
“Yes, what in the hell is this?”
“You need to calm down.”
“Will you please tell me?”
“She has Disassociative Disorder. She didn’t want you to ever know.”
“What in the hell is that?”
“Megan, when she’s extremely scared or in pain, will black out. She doesn’t do it purposefully. Did she get hysterical before she left you?”
“No. She just trembled and stared.”
Ryan sighed. “I’ve seen her this way before.”
“You did? When? And why in the hell didn’t you say something?”
“Because you would have fired her.”
“No, I wouldn’t.”
“Listen to your own tone and tell me you wouldn’t be afraid professionally if you heard a tone like that from your employer.”
“Okay, so I’ll admit that yes, I am upset. Meg worries me.”
“I know, listen, she’ll come out of it on her own.”
“I didn’t know that. I already called Ruby.”
“Good, let Ruby deal with it then.”
“When did she zone out on you?”
“Remember last spring at Easter, when Bianca was there and she got the best of Megan?”
“Right. She had too much to drink, hell, we all did. She didn’t just verbally attack Megan, Alex.”
“She slapped her and grabbed her hair and pushed her to the floor.”
“So that’s why Megan got really upset and ran upstairs to her room?”
“I found her on her window seat, completely zoned out.”
“Why didn’t you tell me?”
“You were drunk off your ass. What in the hell do you think you would have done then anyway? She dare not strike Bianca back in fear of retribution from the two of you. Look, I knew Megan would be fine and come back on her own, and she did. We talked about it the next day when she swore me to secrecy.”
“So why are you telling me this now?”
“She is vital to the foundation.”
“I realize that.”
“I don’t want you getting rid of her because you don’t understand what happens.”
“Does she do this when she drives?”
“No. Severe personal confrontation, fear and pain push her there.”
“Bianca really riled her last Easter?”
“Indeed she did. She backed her into a corner and slapped her silly.”
“If I knew that Bee had laid one hand on Megan, Bee would have been gone the next day. You should have told me. She should have told me! So what do I do?”
“If you can, make her feel safe. If you yell at her, you’ll only make it worse.”
“Should she go to a hospital?”
“Ask Ruby. I doubt it though. She’s not harming anyone.”
“Has she been known to get hysterical? Is that why you asked?”
“She was not in a good way last Easter if you remember.”
“You’ll need Ruby to give you a crash course in Disassociative Disorder when she gets there. Do not raise your voice to Megan. She’ll come out, but only when it’s safe for her.”
“Does Sean know of this?”
“Yes, we discussed it.”
“Why in the hell didn’t you tell me?”
“Because of how you’d react. Look at how you’re behaving now, and tell me if we made a correct choice. We’re calling because we’re going to be late. We probably won’t arrive until after Tea, err, dinner.”
“Good enough, maybe things will settle down here by then.”
Rex called and said that Davenport had been apprehended on violation of the restraining order and making a terroristic threat. When they get the camera, he’ll be charged with trespassing and that charge could lead to stalking with the threats and phone harassment.
“I got it!” I heard in the background.
“He got it, Alex. We’ll nail Davenport’s ass to the wall,” replied Rex.
“Is Megan any better?”
“No, but I’ll tell her you asked about her. Keep me posted.”
Just then, I saw Ruby’s Audi drive through the open gate. As she drove up and parked in the horseshoe drive, I decided it was time to shut the gate again and it automatically shut with the press of a button. Ruby didn’t have to knock. I was there to open the door to her in a tennis visor and a wig, and a purple nylon warm-up suit with the jacket open revealing a white tennis top. No wonder she got here so quickly; I must have called her off the tennis courts at the country club only a few blocks away. Immediately she saw Meg on the divan, bent down to her level and reached up to stroke Megan’s face as I paced the room like an expectant father.
“Megan, hey girl, it’s Ruby. Come now, we got to snap out of this. You don’t want me to take you to the hospital do you?” Meg sat there in silence.
I couldn’t stand seeing her like this and paced about the foyer.
“Meg, they arrested Randy. He’s in custody and won’t be going anywhere this weekend. The prosecutor promised to push for no bond so Davenport can’t harass you any longer,” I said, hoping she’d hear me and snap out of this. Still, she said nothing.
“Now what?” I asked Ruby.
“Anna, stay with her,” she said and led me into the great room.
“I want you to go back in there and hold her. Meg told me that she feels secure when you hold her.”
“Wait, I want to know why she does this, and why in the hell you, Ryan and Sean knew and didn’t tell me?”
“I didn’t tell you because of doctor-patient privilege. Ryan and Sean must have their own reasons.”
“Yes, they were afraid I’d fire her.”
“And from the way you’re reacting to this, I think they made a wise choice.”
“Fine, whatever. Now, why do you think I can bring her out of this?”
“Alex, calm down and listen to me for a minute. She told me that when she was a teenager and things were bad at home, she’d listen to Heartbeat.”
“She was a fan of mine?”
“Indeed. She’d listen to your band to avoid her parents’ battles.”
“And what? What in the hell happened to her that she zones out like the whole world doesn’t exist? That her getting beat was as daily as the newspaper as she put it?”
“You’re not listening to me, and I can’t disclose that to you. Are you going to help me bring her back or are you going to keep ranting and force her deeper into her closet?”
“Fine, but I want to know what he did to her.”
“I can’t tell you that.”
“Did that bastard rape her?”
Ruby crossed her arms against her breast and stared at me.
“If she won’t come out of it, I want you to hum, sing whatever, something from back then,” she replied, ignoring my question.
“What?” I asked incredulously.
“From Heartbeat. She was a fan. Your music calmed her.”
“Really?” I asked, unable to believe this. Of all the things, the little shit was a fan. Why in the hell didn’t she say anything? Was she ashamed of it? Was my music something to be ashamed of?
“Put away the ego, Alex, we need you to bring her back.”
“Wait, Megan was a fan? I still can’t believe that.”
“Well, she certainly doesn’t act like one.”
“Are you going to help me or are you going to continue on with your ire, ranting, and ego puffing? I don’t need that since it will only keep her in that there, Alex.”
“Fine, let’s go.”
When we returned, Anna was still holding Meg’s hand. I traded places with Anna and leaned Meg on me, wrapping my arm around her and stroking her long hair which had fallen down her back out of its makeshift twist fastened with pencils. I kissed her temple. She sighed.
“Good, let it out,” Ruby replied.
“It’s all right, Megan. He can’t hurt you. Come back to me, Meggy.” I began to hum an old Heartbeat single. Don’t ask me to sing it, I doubt if I could remember the whole song. She sighed again, and I could feel her breath on my neck as she rested her head on my shoulder.
Tears streamed down her cheek. I wiped them away with my thumb and kissed her forehead. Her hand squeezed mine, and she shook and cried as she returned to me. I held her tighter.
“He can’t hurt you. I won’t let him.”
Ruby bent down in front of her. Meg saw her and shut her eyes.
“Megan, don’t avoid me. What’s going on here?”
Meg shook her head.
Ruby held her hand. “Meg, open your eyes for me.”
Meg slowly opened her eyes. “Where are you when you do that?”
“Okay, easy now, you’re here, with Anna, Alex and me at his house, and you are safe.”
“No, I’m not. Randy invades us here.”
“Not anymore,” I argued.
“Okay, he might do something next week. Today, he can’t do anything to you,” I said, brushing away the strand of hair that fell into her face and stuck to her wet cheek where tears had fallen.
“I know, but this anxiety is tearing you apart emotionally. You’ve got to feel this, express it, quit running from it. Megan, you are a strong woman. You’ve endured more than most people ever could. You’re a successful professional and admired by your peers. But girl, it’s time. It’s time to deal with all of this. Don’t go back to your closet,” said Ruby, holding her hand.
“I feel safe there.”
“Why?” I asked her, not understanding what on earth they were referring to other than someplace she used to hide.
“I lock the door from the inside so he can’t get me.”
“We have locks on the doors here.”
“He still calls. He sends flowers.”
“Yeah, he does. But that’s going to change, Megan.”
“Today. He’s in jail now, as we speak. He’s not going anywhere tonight, I promise.”
“He will tomorrow,” she said, huddling her shoulders inward and wrapping her arms about herself.
“Yeah, he could, but zoning out like that won’t help you or me.”
“I’m scared of him.”
I wrapped my arms around her and held her tighter. Meg shut her eyes and sunk into me, her hands slipping about my waist, surrendering to the security of my arms. My eyes searched Ruby’s for the answer.
“Megan, do you need to go to the hospital?” asked Ruby, desperate to keep her communicating with us.
Meg didn’t answer her. Finally, when Ruby began to ask her again, she shook her head.
“Are you going to be able to deal with this by yourself?” she asked me.
“We have friends coming this weekend. We’ll take shifts.”
We sat with her for a while, and bit-by-bit, Megan would talk then drift off again.
Without hearing the gate buzz, I heard an SUV pull up in the drive. I opened the door and there was Brandon with his overnight bag over one shoulder and his briefcase and purse over the other.
“What’s going on?” he asked as he entered, seeing us all piled up in the foyer.
“Meggy had a spell,” replied Anna.
“Hey, Ruby,” said Brandon. She stood up and hugged him.
“How are you, handsome?”
“Good, how’s our girl?”
“I see that. Ryan called me, so I closed the gallery early.”
I rolled my eyes. By the end of the weekend, they’d make this more than it really was. “Brandon, will you put on one of Meg’s Heartbeat CD’s?” I asked him, interrupting their conversation.
Brandon went to the stereo in the great room and looked in Meg’s CD rack. I had heard so much of her collection of classical CDs in the last months that I didn’t realize she had Heartbeat CDs among them.
“They’re not here.”
“She hides them,” replied Anna, “they are in her room, in her top dresser drawer.” Meg’s eyes were shut and she had her arm wrapped around my waist. I realized then that was what she had in her hand the day after she was assaulted when I walked in on her.
“Is she sleeping?” asked Anna.
“Avoiding,” whispered Ruby. “It’s all right, she’s not ready to deal with it. Where does she keep her medication?”
“The medicine cabinet in her bathroom,” replied Anna.
Without warning, Megan left us and went upstairs to her room where she could rest without being in the viewing of others. Clearly, she did not want to talk about any of this, she was avoiding us all. Ruby and I followed her as Megan sat on her window seat with her face hidden between her knees that she had drawn up to her chest. Ruby found Megan’s medication and brought her a pill and a glass of water. Meg took it and handed Ruby the glass. I tugged on her hand, motioning for her to join me on the overstuffed chair with the ottoman. Without words, Meg followed and settled into my lap while I propped my feet up. If the rest would leave, I thought, maybe I could get her to talk to me about it.
The phone rang. Anna answered and brought it to me. “It checked out, the camera was covered in Davenport’s fingerprints,” reported Rex.
“He’s not going anywhere this weekend.”
“Good to hear, I’ll tell her.”
“How’s she doing?”
“A little better.”
“Do we need a squad?” I asked Ruby to be certain.
She shook her head. “I don’t think that’s necessary, Alex.”
“No, Rex, thanks though.”
“I want her to take one more pill than prescribed per day. I don’t think she’s been completely compliant with her meds. Keep an eye on her and make sure she takes them.”
Within moments they cleared out of her room. When Ruby left, Anna went down and began dinner while Brandon excused himself from her room when his cell phone rang. I wanted to ask her, but I had to think of how to bring this up. Meg reached for her stereo remote and pressed it until I heard the opening chords of Heartbeat’s final album.
She sat on my lap, her head on my shoulder and heard the gentle carefree sounds of Heartbeat on her CD player while cringing on the inside at the sound of my own voice.
“Why can’t he just let me alone?”
“He’s obsessed with you. You do this to many guys? Make them so crazy that they won’t let go of you?” I asked, jokingly.
“You don’t have to worry about that.”
“Why do you go somewhere else like that?”
“I just do. I know it seems bad to you, but its alternative is much worse. Besides, I doubt if you’d prefer four or fourteen different Megan’s running amok here, would you?”
“Err, no. One is plenty. How do you control it?”
“Most of the time, I can. When things get bad like this, I can’t always keep it in check. I never wanted you to see me this way, so I worried about it.”
“You don’t have to worry about me firing you for this. Will it help to know that Davenport can’t touch you right now? He’s in jail with a long list of offenses.”
“He’ll only be worse when he gets out.”
“He might be.”
“Don’t be scared, I’m here, and I won’t let him hurt you. Why didn’t you tell me you were a fan of Heartbeat?”
Megan’s face turned red. “I thought you’d be embarrassed by it.”
“Are you kidding? Do you realize how many people don’t recognize me for being in Heartbeat anymore?”
“As if you could ever be a has-been.” Meg giggled a little then set her head back down on my shoulder. “You’re too good to me. I’m sorry, Alex. I’m sorry for all of this,” she said and began crying again.
“Hush now, don’t cry.”
Meg calmed as I stroked her long soft hair. Soon, she was asleep in my lap, her arm still wrapped about me. From time to time I’d kiss her forehead, hum along with a song on the CD until Brandon caught me. Anna had made Brandon lunch and he brought me up a glass of iced tea. Without announcing himself, Brandon stood in the doorway and watched me hold her affectionately before I noticed him there.
“How is she?”
“Better, I think. I don’t think she’s slept well lately.”
“Want some help?”
Brandon turned down Megan’s bed then came around to help me lift her up until my legs were stable beneath me. I laid her on her bed and Brandon removed her shoes, leaving them near her dresser while I covered her with the blankets. I bent down and kissed her again, this time on her cheek. Before I left her, I picked up her stereo remote and selected repeat, then shut the door behind me.