Chapter 8 "The Day I was Reborn""
I go inside my apartment, lock the door and go stand at the window I watch you from.
Reuben, Reuben, Reuben... How dare he touch you... How dare he place his dirty fucking hands on you! What would he want with you? What could he possibly want from you? A human—a little fragile human. My little fragile human.
When I saw him come into that diner, I was infuriated and... afraid, for once in quite a long time. A certain fury came over me, a sort of instinct urging me to unleash my true self. I wanted to block his vision, shred his skin off and burn him alive. Tearing him limb from limb would be too quick and easy. I wanted to make him suffer the worst pain imaginable because he’s a threat to you and I. Though, it wouldn’t kill him... It annoys the shit out of me that there’s hardly anything I can do to stop him! There has to be a way!
Jack isn’t here now. He would know something. Something. He hasn’t been here since the 40′s. Reuben took him away from me those many years ago. I remember when he warned Jack the first time... about me. What a nuisance I would become.
It was on my first day of training in Jack’s basement. He had three people come in to be seen. The guests were always told to wait in the living room while we tended to the patients in the basement.
The first time, he wanted me to stand back and only observe. Each instrument he picked up, he named off to me before using it. He was quite skilled at his job. Most of the time, the patient would only look into his eyes in some sort of trance as he carefully made incisions to cut out two small tumors in their left arm. They didn’t seem to be in any pain at all, and there wasn’t as much blood as I thought there would be. The whole event seemed sort of off to me.
When he was done with the procedure, he smiled and they immediately smiled back at him like he was some kind of angel. I felt the same exact way when I met him. It was strange, and fascinating.
After that patient, about three hours later a woman rushed her husband to the house to get an immediate surgery done; he had a gunshot wound to his abdomen. Jack told me to hurry up to the table with him. I was nervous. I thought I would make a mistake and kill this person. But then, that brought me back to what happened in the shed earlier—I right out fantasized about killing my family and massaging myself with their blood. He saw how I briefly stared off into space before quickly returning to him. He smirked but didn’t say a word. I wondered if he knew I had a secret I wasn’t really proud of.
I stood between him and the cart with surgical instruments spread out on a towel. The patient was screaming as Jack retrieved the bullet, but yet again, as soon as the patient made eye contact with him, his suffering seemed to slow down to almost nothing. I didn’t understand that one bit. Even his rapid blood flow was slowing down. Jack really was a miracle.
He finished the surgery, cleaned the wound and sewed him back up, then he cleaned the area again. We helped the man to his feet and it was like he never had an injury. He could stand and walk just fine—he didn’t have any pain at all. Once they paid for the surgery, Jack told me to help him and his wife back to their horse—drawn carriage. I had so many questions, but at the same time, I was speechless.
As I walked the couple back to the carriage, the wife was asking me all sorts of questions about the surgery and repeatedly thanking me for the ‘remarkable service’ we provided. I don’t remember what all she asked me or how I answered. The whole thing was just annoying. I hardly paid attention to her as I watched how the man was behaving. I just couldn’t put together how fast and perfectly everything happened in the basement. I didn’t know much at all about anatomy but common sense told me that surgery wouldn’t have gone so well. He could have possibly died.
Another hour went by and a young lady brought an old man in with her. His name was Tommy Dooley, and hers was Leila Dooley. They were married. He had a bad case of gangrene in his shin area and needed his leg amputated. The smell was enough to make me want to throw my guts up. Jack had him sit on a wooden chair and touched the infection a few times, making an empathetic hissing noise. He nodded at the man and the woman, and told her to wait in the living room. She insisted she stay with her husband. I looked at all the makeup she had caked on her face, how her breasts were practically spilling out of her corset, her sandy brown hair pinned up messily, and when she walked past me toward Jack, I slowly held my fist against my mouth. Her perfume was very strong. Her lips... were nice and plump, her cheeks a sweet rosy color. I have to admit, the way she flaunted herself, of course I fantasized about fucking her. Maybe in front of my dead family... Yes... yes, so I could show them I would be having a great time for once in ages. They could see for themselves with their cold, dead eyes locked on me for what would seem all eternity.
“Mr. Gabriel, I need you to be here with us.” Jack snapped his fingers at me. I twitched and looked away from the disturbed woman. That face she made. The nervousness she had. The concern in her eyes. I started to smile... I liked it. I liked it a lot.
“Right. Sorry. My apologies.” I went downstairs into the basement with them. I received odd looks for what I did. Except from Jack—he smirked very briefly at me again. What was he thinking?-I wondered.
Mrs. Dooley stood back as Jack rested her husband on the table and propped him up slightly with a piece of wood behind him. He explained he will give him chloroform to put him to sleep during the procedure. Tommy nodded. Jack then pointed to a brown bottle on a cart with a kit on it and I went to get it while he took a cloth off the railing of the cart. I wheeled the other over and gave him the chloroform. He poured some of it on the rag, then gently put it over the man’s nose, holding his jaw all the while. In just a few minutes, he was out cold. Just like that. His head slumped over a little. Jack said we had to continuously apply the drug to keep him unconscious and make sure his tongue doesn’t get in the way of his airway. This was a little difficult to do, but we managed.
Jack then opened the kerosene lamp on his surgical cart and told me to hold the amputation iron over the flame, which I did. He then cleaned the wound as thoroughly as he could with alcohol, then he placed a tourniquet just below the knee, clamped it tight and turned to the cart to retrieve the saw from the kit. “Mrs. Dooley, I will try to make this as quick and painless as possible.” Leila had her hand up to her mouth and turned away. “Yes, of course.”
The moment Jack cut into his flesh, Mrs. Dooley gasped as if she was the one in pain. I flicked my eyes at her. Her back was still turned to Jack and her hands were covering her face. She had such nice curvature... Slowly, I looked back to Jack and noticed there was a completely absorbed glint in his eyes as he sawed at Tommy’s leg and watched the blood run from him down the gutters of the table, down the drain. I could see he really enjoyed what he was doing. The sight of the blood seemed to have taken him away to another plain of existence; his eyebrows were lifting and his mouth was slightly opening. He was at ease, but at the same time, I could tell he had images of amazing, exciting things going through his mind. I imagined whatever he saw and felt must have been something much more beautiful than life and heaven itself. I wanted that. I needed it. How could I get it? Deep down, I knew how. I just wasn’t fully aware of it yet. I was instructed to take the rag off Dooley’s face every now and then, and I did exactly as I was told.
Jack closed his mouth with a ‘hm,’ and finished cutting Tommy’s leg off, leaving a flap of skin for the next step. He took the hot iron from me and sealed the flap of skin over the amputation. The hissing sound and smell of burning flesh was almost overwhelming. I held myself together the best I could but Leila couldn’t take it. She fainted there on the spot. Jack told me to leave her alone. The way I was, it didn’t seem right to leave a lady on the floor. I listened to him though. Why should I care anyway? After all... she was nobody to me.
Once he was done cauterizing the man’s stump, he took the rag off Tommy’s face for the final time, removed the tourniquet and told me to get some ice, gauze and packing from the icebox in the nearest corner of the room. I’d never seen one of those before. I knew it must’ve cost a good bit of money to buy one. I gave him the supplies and he wrapped the ice and packing around the wound with the gauze, explaining that the technique is to slow the pain and reduce the possibility of infection. He made sure it was nice and secure, then he nodded as if satisfied and explained the man will wake up soon. He was very good at his job.
“Mrs. Dooley!” he walked over and tried to wake her. I stayed by her husband as he patted her cheek and raised her up, continuously calling her name. She finally woke up and looked around quickly. He asked if she was “well”. She replied ‘yes, I- I’m fine’ and instantly asked a strange question; “Is he dead?” Most people would ask if their spouse is alright—not dead. Jack said the surgery was a success and told her how to care for the wound. She was looking at him like she couldn’t believe a word he was saying, but she masked it with something like extreme concern. This was not a lady—this was a gold digging whore. And for that, I was yet again reminded of the reason why I wanted to... kill my wife. This woman was no different than Martha; she needed to learn her lesson too. I could feel that tingling feeling in my hands again as I imagined them around her neck. But no, that wasn’t enough. It just didn’t seem right. I needed her to bleed. Those lips of hers... were something special to me. I fantasized just what I wanted to do with them. Take a knife; slice it fast—clean and precise. Let her bleed out her selfish, greedy ways. The dirty things she’s done with that mouth. What a filthy hog. Cry for mercy. Go on—beg for the easy way out. Death. I bet she couldn’t do very much after that.
I wanted her to be my first. But how? I’d have to find a way to get her alone. It couldn’t happen on the same day. There’s always a way to get what you want—you just have to reach for it at the right time in the right place.
Jack helped her stand up and the moment she saw the leg on the table and how much blood there was, she held her mouth and asked if she could step out. He looked from her to Tommy twice, then he started to smile and put his hand on her shoulder, “Why of course Madam... If you are uncomfortable, Mr. Penn will show you out and your husband will be up shortly.” He gestured me to lead her upstairs. I swallowed a little hard at the fantasies running through my head and offered my hand to her. She took it and I walked her up the steps.
As we went to the living room, she was talking to me but I don’t really remember what about. I only remember how soft her hand was and the scent of her perfume. So soft. So tender... So small, dainty, cold and clammy.
We stopped and before I let go, I caressed the center of her hand with my thumb so gently, I made sure it affected her in such a way she wouldn’t stop looking at me with amazement. I said, “There is no need to be nervous Leila; Mr. Ryper is an excellent doctor. He’s been doing this for many years now.” I smiled at her and winked. Stunned, she quickly pulled away, smiling back briefly. “Well I thank you for your kind words, sir. I have low tolerance for certain sights and smells you see. I’m glad my husband is alright. Hopefully he will heal quickly-” As she spoke, I couldn’t see anything other than the blood pouring from the slit in her lip and the tears in her eyes that looked up at me so pitifully. I wondered if this would be before or after I fucked her. No, it had to be before. Or perhaps, maybe I would have been in the middle of it. This woman... had to be mine.
I cleared my throat and put my hands in my pockets and nodded as if I were listening to her. “Well, the sooner you get him home, the better. How long did it take you to get here?”
“Oh, why we live in the town! We are very close and even live next to the pharmacy, thank god. The pharmacy could only do so much for the pain he was experiencing.” She laughed uncomfortably. And I did too—because I was overjoyed.
We heard Jack helping Tommy into the room. He said he had the perfect sized walking stick in the closet. Leila gave me a last look before running over to take her husband’s arm. My smile only broadened.
“Thank you very much for everything Mr. Ryper. I don’t think I could’ve gone on much longer had I not come to your beautiful home.” Mr. Dooley said as Jack retrieved the stick and smiled on his way over to him. “It’s my pleasure. I’m glad to have been of service to you good sir. How do you feel now?” Jack replied.
“I feel almost renewed to be honest!” Mr. Dooley rested the stick under his arm and then reached into his breast pocket to pull some money out. I stood silently watching the exchange, wondering yet again how Jack was able to lessen his pain to almost nothing, though Leila would always glance at me with a small smile and it distracted me. She was attracted to me. It tickled me to the core. She was just what I needed.
“Well, we’ll be off now!” Mr. Dooley bowed his head and motioned for his wife to help him out.
Jack walked over and stopped next to me with folded arms. We watched the couple get into their carriage and soon ride off into the sunset.
“You did wonderfully today Mr. Penn. You do exactly as you’re told, you listen and you have a perfect bedside manner.” He looked at me with a smile, “You’re just what I need.” I stared at him and slowly smiled. He chuckled and patted my shoulder. “It’s been a long day Mr. Gabriel. Go home and come back tomorrow.” Go home—he said. I didn’t want to go home. He could see that in me too.
“You don’t want to leave?” he asked. I scoffed and shook my head, “It’s hell there.”
“But you’re a grown man. You’re supposed to be the man of the house!” That sentence irked me a little. It seemed sarcastic. I questioned in my mind if he was calling me weak, but I didn’t show any signs that I was bothered.
“I am, but my wife has... issues.”
“Ahh, the lady is driving you mad.”
I gave a slight nod, almost wanting to leave that comment of his unanswered. Because I didn’t want the conversation to carry on anymore, I changed the subject; “Did you have an assistant before me?”
“Yes, but he... sadly, he died of natural causes. Heart failure. It happened three weeks ago.”
“Ah... My condolences.”
He sighed and nodded, “Thank you.” Then he looked at me with a small tilt of the head. “I noticed you took great interest in Mrs. Dooley...” I paused in the middle of looking toward the windows again.
Slowly, I looked back to him. He was smirking and spoke with intensely curious, thinking eyes; “You wish to meet with her again. You are very fond of her, aren’t you? The way she dressed, her smell and voice was quite alluring for you, wasn’t it? A whore, but not just any whore... This one deserves a different sort of treatment. Punishment for all her sinful ways. I understand...” I was shocked. He read me so well it was like he had stepped into my mind and saw the things I saw. I wondered... did he know how I must have felt about Martha?
“...How do you know that?” I asked. He gave a swift knowing smile, “You can stay the night and I will tell you. After all, you said you don’t want to go back to that hellhole you once called home, am I right!” He motioned me to follow him to the kitchen, “Come on lad—let’s give a toast to Mrs. Dooley, shall we!” As he walked away, I found myself speechless. Lost and completely interested is exactly how I felt. I trailed behind him.
When I went into the kitchen, he stopped at the counter and started pouring something he’d just gotten out of the cabinet. It was in a black bottle. “I’ve got something quite special you would very much enjoy. This little drink of heaven will take away all your stress for a little while.” He reached into a drawer and took a small vial of clear liquid out. I stopped him with a question; “What is it exactly?”
“It’s a potion made from many different herbs. I brought a case of it here from London.” He lifted a shoulder, “Family recipe. I drink it all the time when I need to relax.” He put a drop of it in his glass, then raised it and sipped some. After that, he moved onto my glass. He put a little more of it in mine than his, then he gave it to me and said, “Now then... your question.” I took the glass and swished the contents around. What exactly was this? I supposed I was an adventurous enough man to go ahead and try it. I couldn’t look so unmanly over something like this. Finally, I raised my drink and then took a sip.
I breathed in deeply and he started talking. As I savored the taste, I made a slight sour face. It gave a burning sensation. I’ve had some intensely strong drinks before, but nothing quite like this one. He had some of it too and wasn’t dropping. He didn’t seem to be affected by it in the same way as me whatsoever. He must have given me extra to really soothe my nerves. I had to trust him. He’s the doctor—a very talented, smart and generous one too at that.
“The moment I met you in the bar, I knew you were suffering from severe depression and bipolarism; your behavior said it all—not just because you were intoxicated either. You are beginning to snap, my friend. I know this when I see it, because I have studied human behavior just as long as I’ve been a surgeon. It comes with the job.” He explained. I swallowed with a little bit of a struggle and pounded my chest twice. “That’s some strong stuff you gave me doctor. Kind of burns my throat actually.”
“Ah yes,” he laughed a bit, “well as I said, it comes from home. You’re going to love it once you drink some more. It’s a tolerance thing—you have to build it up.” I briefly smiled at him, though I was also starting to feel a little strange as the potion traveled down to my stomach. This was much different than anything I’ve ever had before. I sighed and shook my head to clear myself up and refocused on what he was saying the best I could.
I said, “Right... What is bipolarism?”
“Bipolarism is mood swings. One moment you’re smiling and laughing and the next, angry or deeply saddened.”
“How can you detect that so well in a drunken man?”
“I’ve had a long history of observing human nature.”
“You said you’re forty two...”
“Well, I’m really good at what I do.”
I looked down at the counter, “I guess I do have bipolarism. I blame my wife for that. I blame her for everything I’m living through. I’ve tried to fix her but she won’t let me, and friends at work suggested I take her to a doctor but I don’t think she needs it.”
“What is wrong with your wife?”
“She has depression worse than me. It happened because she lost her parents. I don’t even know where mine are anymore. I left them when I was sixteen. They lived up in the mountains. I couldn’t take that life anymore. It was rough getting where I am now, let me tell you.” I was beginning to feel somewhat drowsy. He was right; my muscles were loosening up and I felt more at ease.
I blinked a few times and then looked at him again, “But none of this answers my question about how you knew what I was thinking about Leila.”
He leaned against the counter, and again, he smiled. “Well, once you explained that information about your wife, I am absolutely certain now what drives you to feel such a way about Mrs. Dooley. All the negative feelings you have when you’re home have made such an impact on your state of mind that it has actually started a war between your conscience and subconscious. Your subconscious is winning.” I stared at him; stared deeply into his face as the world was starting to spin. I raised my eyebrows and pushed against the counter to keep my balance. “Doctor...” I said. He tilted his head as he watched me slur; “...what’s wrong with me?”
I slipped off the counter and fell to the floor.
He walked up and knelt, taking my face in his hands as I lay there losing consciousness. “Gabriel... I knew you would be the one.” My eyes rolled back in my head and I felt something warm and wet clamp down on my neck. I could only feel pressure before I was completely out of it.
It seemed like just a second had gone by before I took in a deep breath and began to feel my heart and other muscles in my body filling with pure energy—extreme energy. It was painful to feel so alive when something was keeping me still and in the dark. I felt like I could run forever. I could hear someone heavy walking in and Jack was slowly standing up next to me. It was so quiet. Who was this mysterious person coming into the room?
“...Jack... you’ve chosen to disobey me. How dare you...” Jack didn’t say a word. He didn’t move. The way this man said his name, he sounded so venomous and dark.
“Do you realize what you have done?” the man said.
“...You said I can’t create like you can.” Jack replied. “Look for yourself... I can do it. I can.”
“No, son. That... is an abomination. You’ve not created anything other than a mess. He is a nuisance.”
“A nuisance...” Jack sounded monotone, but there was a hint of defeat and heart—brokenness in his voice. “...How will you punish me father? Are you going to punish me because I’ve successfully created something even though I wasn’t supposed to have that ability? Will you destroy him?”
“Hm,” I heard movement in the doorway and then a distant “Praise yourself... for now. Your arrogance blinds you.” The man was leaving. “...In time, you will see the damage you’ve just caused.” And then it went silent again for a few seconds.
Jack picked me up and carried me downstairs. He said, “You are the future. You are my future. Gabriel... you will see.” I heard him saying this to me and so many questions were going through my head. How was he so easily able to carry me? Why couldn’t I move? What has he done to me? Why did I feel so very different? It felt as though all the things I cared about before—all the things that hurt or meant everything to me—were losing their meaning. I was losing everything negative that plagued me everyday. Was he an angel? Truly... an angel?
I slam my fist on the windowpane,scowling with my eyes shut. This is about creation. He took Jack away when hewanted to start creating more like me. I was going to be a big part of that. Iwas going to help!
How does this have anything todo with you though, Addison? I open my eyes and look out at your window. He’sjust taunting me by playing with you. This has to stop. ...How can this stop? What doI have to do? What would Jack do...? My father—what would he do?