1st Place – May 2019

Coming Out

By JJ Rushmore

“Patrick, we need to talk.” She fidgeted on the leatherette couch, one with a disgusting mustard color like all the pieces in the lounge room. A faint antiseptic odor permeated the age-worn furnishings.
“What is it now?” He made no attempt to hide his lack of interest.
“I want you to stop seeing her.” Her husky voice choked with emotion.
Patrick ran his hand over his hair and down the back of his neck, massaging away the tension. “What are you talking about?”
“You know who I mean. Dr. Stanton. I don’t want you seeing her anymore.”
He cleared his throat, his voice dropping an octave. “You know I can’t.”
She jumped off the couch. “Of course you can!”
“No, Patricia, I can’t. They assigned me to her. I have to see her.”
“So tell them you don’t like her! Tell them you’re incompatible!”
“But I do like her. We do get along.”
“You just like her special sessions on Friday afternoon.” Patricia made quote signs around the word, ‘special.’
His face reddened. “That’s not true.”
“Then tell them it’s not working! Say you’re not getting any better.”
“I think I’m making a lot of progress.”
“This is progress? The two of us arguing?”
“I don’t see the problem,” he said, “as long as we’re communicating…”
“You know Stanton doesn’t like that. She doesn’t like me.”
“She doesn’t even know you.”
Patricia made a face. “She’s always bad mouthing me.”
“Elaine thinks I hear voices. She doesn’t know it’s you.”
“Oh, so now it’s ‘Elaine?’ How intimate. What happened to ‘Dr. Stanton?’”
“Stop it, Patricia. The cattiness is not becoming.”
“I’m not being catty. Elaine Stanton doesn’t understand you. She doesn’t understand us. She can’t help you.”
 “Then why don’t you talk to her? Stop hiding and come out in the open.”
“You know I don’t like to talk to people.”
“Then stop your bellyaching. If you’re not willing to do something, you can’t complain.”
“Why should I have to do anything?” Patricia yelled. “She’s your doctor! Why won’t you do this for me?”
“Because I’m happy with the way things are.”
 “Well I’m not!” she screeched. “I can’t stand it anymore! You’ll never have her! Never!” She pulled an object from her pocket and brandished it in front of her.
He laughed. “What’s that? A plastic knife from the cafeteria?” He scoffed. “You can’t even cut butter with that!”
“That’s where you’re wrong. I sharpened this puppy on the concrete.”
Patrick continued to laugh—right up until the first stab to his abdomen. He cried out in pain.
Patricia screamed, and stabbed again.
She screamed with each plunge of the knife.
An alarm sounded. A woman’s voice blared over the PA system.
“Code Five in the clinic lounge! Code Five in the clinic lounge! All attendants report to the clinic lounge immediately.
Footsteps pounded and the lounge door burst open. Three burly males in white uniforms rushed in, grabbed the knife, and carried Patrick’s bleeding body out the door.
***
The room was silent as Dr. Patel turned off the video.
After several seconds he spoke, “Let the record show the Board of Inquiry has viewed the so-called ‘MacDonald incident’ video from May fifteenth. Before we proceed, Dr. Stanton, do you wish to make a statement?”
Elaine Stanton sat quietly, composing her thoughts. She had chosen her outfit with care that day, knowing she’d be grilled by three dinosaurs in pinstripes. She wore a light gray suit paired with a loose, cream-colored blouse. The skirt sported a generous slit up one thigh, and the blouse revealed more than a hint of cleavage depending upon how she moved.
“No, but I have an observation. I’d like the record to show the Board of Inquiry members are all male, and that I am the sole female therapist on the institute’s staff.”
Patel harrumphed. “I fail to see the relevance, however your comment is noted. Dr. Rausch, Dr. Fontaine, and myself will be conducting the inquiry.” He turned to his right. “Dr. Rausch, would you like to begin?”
“Thank you,” Rausch said. “Dr. Stanton, could you explain your rationale for placing Mr. MacDonald all alone in the lounge on the date in question?”
“As my notes indicate, Patrick’s case was unusually complex. He first presented as a classic paranoid schizophrenic, but failed to respond to conventional therapy. One day I left him alone for a few minutes during a session with the video recorder still running. When reviewing the film later, I was astonished to observe his transformation into Patricia.”
 “So you admit misdiagnosing the patient?”
“My diagnosis was based on the evidence I had at the time.”
“You had no idea he had a second personality?”
“No.”
“You had been treating this man for six months and you didn’t know he had Dissociative Identity Disorder?”
“This will take a lot longer if you keep asking me the same questions.”
Dr. Patel held up his hand. “That’s enough, Dr. Stanton. Dr. Fontaine, you wish to say something?”
“Yes, thank you. To return to Dr. Rausch’s question, why did you leave Mr. MacDonald in the lounge all alone?”
“I put him in the room to see if Patricia would appear again, which she did. I had no reason to believe he was a danger to himself. I monitored a video feed of the session from the next room.”
Rausch studied a file folder. “Did you treat Patrick MacDonald with an unorthodox therapy?”
Stanton sat with her hands folded. They’re bound to find out sooner or later.
“Yes.”
“And what was the nature of this therapy?”
“I didn’t know if Patrick was aware of the existence of his ‘alter.’ If he was, then it was a case of him having an alter ego, whereas if he wasn’t, it was a case of  DID with one or more personalities.”
“Dr. Stanton, you didn’t answer my question. What therapy did you employ?”
“I utilized intense nerve stimulation to elicit Patricia’s appearance.”
“And you did this how?”
Here it is. “By having sex with him in my office. Once a week on Fridays.”
The eyes of all three men grew wide and bulged to varying degrees. Patel gasped and scribbled furiously on a notepad. Rausch’s mouth gaped open and stayed there. Fontaine sputtered a bit, but somehow maintained his composure and continued with his questions.
“And was your therapy—successful?”
She smiled sweetly and moved in her chair, letting her blouse do its thing. “Very,” she said.
At least for me.
The men shifted in their chairs, trying not to stare, but their eyes drifted inexorably toward the blouse.
Patel, eyes still riveted, attempted another question. “And—and what—what exactly was the goal of this therapy?”
“I wanted to get Patrick’s alter—Patricia—to reveal herself to me. Until then she only had come out when Patrick was alone—never when anyone else was present.”
“Did it work?”
“Indirectly. My ‘special sessions’ with Patrick apparently made Patricia jealous of our relationship. She fought with Patrick and won, as manifested by her attack on him with the knife. Patrick suffered a psychotic break after losing both the mental battle with himself, and the physical one with her.
“I don’t understand. By stabbing Patrick she stabbed herself.”
“That’s one of the unique aspects of this case. On one level, Patricia mentally knows she and Patrick are one, but on a physical plane, she’s convinced they are separate.”
“You said that’s one of the things making this a unique case. Are there others?”
“Just what I’ve already mentioned—the subject’s ability to instantaneously switch between alters, his partial knowledge of the alter’s existence, the alters being different genders, plus the ultimate outcome.
“Which was…”
“Patricia is now the dominant personality. She is present all the time, whether someone else is there or not. Patrick has disappeared entirely. It’s unusual for a dormant alter to permanently supersede the subject’s original dominant personality. It’s even more unusual when the transformation involves a gender change.”
***
Patel read from a prepared statement. “Dr. Stanton, this board has determined your actions in the case of Patrick MacDonald were at best irresponsible, and at worst negligent. We will consequently be placing a formal reprimand in your personnel file.” He peered at her over his glasses. “We do recognize, however, that the case poses exceptional diagnostic and therapeutic challenges, and that you are the most qualified person on our staff to treat his condition. You will therefore continue to treat the MacDonald personalities, however under more close supervision.”
Elaine Stanton responded with mute acceptance. She expected nothing less from this triumvirate of blind administrators.
For they had failed to see the obvious. Patricia wasn’t jealous of Patrick being with Elaine—she was jealous of Elaine being with Patrick.
She wants me as much as I want her. Imagine having sex with a woman in a man’s body! I can’t wait until Friday afternoon. I wonder if the old men will be watching…

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