Even with Lucy’s eyes wide open, it was dark. A blindfold tightly tied around her head prevented even a shadow of light from peeking through. The feel of the covering was coarse as it pressed against her face. Musty smell from the cloth wasn’t overwhelming but different, something she wouldn’t forget. Listening for any sound that might give a location—a car, train, or people talking in the distance. The deafening sound of silence was almost scary. There were no clues other than her shoes dragging the dirt ground—maybe an old garage or a barn. The strong hand that held her by the arm was large, rough, and thick skinned. Her other hand clutched to Karen Foster, a lifelong friend who walked step for step with Lucy, until her hand was jerked away. It was the last contact she’d have with her friend.
The last thing she remembered was walking down a dirt road with Karen talking about fourteen-year-old stuff. She recalled a black pickup truck pulled to the side of the road. Not making eye contact with the driver, she and Karen continued. A hand wrapped around both their noses, and their knees buckled. Soon they were falling in and out of consciousness.
Using all her senses was self-taught, but this was her first time being blindfolded. Most times men told her to turn around or close her eyes when taking advantage of her.
She knew time had passed but didn’t remember events between unconsciousness. The sweet smell that took her breath away dissipated.
The heat was intense. A barn fire maybe, but it couldn’t be—they were in a building. The sound of steel banging and heat intensifying, there was no doubt in her mind she stood in front of an incinerator.
A solid clang sounded when the steel door closed. Then the heat intensified again. The door must have been reopened, ran through young Lucy’s mind. Knowing better than to scream, it would only get her a smack and a rag in the mouth, making sure it didn’t happen again.
A voice she recognized, but couldn’t place for sure, kept saying something like “a crawdad,” making her think the heat was coming from a pot boiling crawfish. If so, the smell of garlic, crab boil, and seasoning would have been evident—there was no such smell. With a deep snort, a horrible smell came over her—nothing she’d ever sensed before.
Tears flowed down her face. Her dress wet from perspiration clutched her body. She let out a scream, then another.
“Lucy, on the count of three, you will wake up,” Dr. Griffin said. “One, two, three.”
Lucy sat up, her heart racing and a horrified look on her face. With one hand, she brushed damp hair away from her eyes. Then a calm came over her as she twisted her long, red hair into a curl, a dead giveaway. It didn’t fool Dr. Griffin.
“Lucinda, let me talk to Lucy,” he said.
“This is Lucy,” Lucinda said.
“At the sound of the bell, Lucy will be at full attention,” he said. “Do you understand, Lucinda?”
“She’s weak. I can help her,” Lucinda said.
The doctor hit a small desk bell. It rang with a ding. Immediately, Lucy responded with tears flowing rapidly from her eyes over her rosy cheeks across her lips. The doctor handed her tissues and a glass of water, the usual preparation for when Lucy awoke from hypnosis.
“How did I do?” Lucy asked between snuffles.
“About the same,” he said relaxing back in his chair. Even a psychiatrist, as well trained as Dr. Griffin was, fatigued after a thirty-minute session dealing with multiple personalities. “Your mind shut down at the same part of the story.”
Lucy opened her purse. She freshened her makeup and ran a comb through her hair. “Maybe it’s for the best.”
“We have to address Lucinda,” Dr. Griffin said, writing a note in his journal. “Until Lucinda is out of your mind or at least controllable, anything is possible. None of which is healthy.” He lifted his head to see Lucy gazing at the sun beaming through the transom window above his head. “Lucy? We’re on the same page?”
“Yes, Dr. Griffin,” she said, shrugging her shoulders like a child. “I’ll get Lucinda under control.” Something she’d said after every session. She’d never used the mind-manipulating tools taught by the doctor or taken the medication he insisted she needed to control her multiple personality disorder.
Fairly sure her problems started with Karen’s older brother Johnny, at least she thinks so. She was young—lured into a garage with him to look for some toy or game, she wasn’t sure. Can you remember early childhood events past the age of six? Maybe that’s what Dr. Griffin meant by mind blocking. Allowing her to suppress emotions she’s not ready to face visibly or to remember the traumatic event. One day Lucinda would allow Lucy to tell the doctor the entire series of encounters with the bad people she grew up with in Tupelo, Mississippi. For now, Lucinda would shield Lucy of the pain.
Dr. Griffin gently turned the doorknob to let Lucy into the empty waiting room. Even his receptionist had left for the evening, as she had often done when sessions ran long and no other appointments were scheduled.
“Lucy? Please take your medication,” he said, pulling her arm gently for attention.
With the other hand, she curled her hair repeatedly, then smiled back at the doctor. “I’ll take care of her,” Lucinda said, “and you ever touch her again, I’ll slit your throat.”
The doctor quickly dropped her arm. An innocent touch or gesture was the very thing that could set a patient off, spinning them out of control into a downward spiral. “I’m sorry, Lucy. I was just making a point.”
Lucy left a check on the front counter and picked up a reminder appointment card the receptionist had left for the next week. As usual, she’d be a no-show—until her nightmares become uncontrollable, then she’d beg Dr. Griffin for another session.
Lucy strolled down Royal Street, exchanging pleasant smiles and handshakes. Stopping to give a phony laugh at a store owner’s joke, the same one he’d told her three times. It was her way to get on with the day and show Lucinda her visit with Dr. Griffin gave Lucy her power back. For now, Lucinda would crawl back into the dark hole she lived in, only to surface when Lucy least expected or needed help.