Authors: James Kipling
Detective Wilson left Lydia’s house early in the morning with a promise to come and see her again, as soon as possible. Lydia escorted him to his car and said goodbye with a gentle kiss that warmed her to her toes. Returning back to her now empty home, Lydia wanted nothing more than to lie down and dream about the wonderful night she had had with David, but she knew that to be impossible.
Her next session with Stanley Douglass was scheduled for that very morning and she needed to get ready. Showering and collecting her notes, Lydia prepared herself for the difficult task of facing Stanley Douglass again.
“Hi, Stanley,” she greeted him, once they were seated in Charlie’s office. “You know that I am here to help you to reintegrate into your old life, right?”
Lydia waited for his answer, but the young man continued to look out of the window, never acknowledging her question. “Anyway, in order to do so, I have to say some very hard things to you. I hope, you understand that it is all for your own good.”
Once again, she waited for him to give some indication that he understood her, but Stanley did nothing. So, Lydia took a deep breath and continued. “I noticed that you have forgotten not only what happened to you during the last ten years, but you also don’t remember what your life was like before that.”
Stanley moved uncomfortably in his seat, throwing a glance in her direction and probably asking himself what her intentions were. Lydia was glad to see him finally responding to her words and continued in the same spirit.
“When I showed you your favorite book you did not recognize it, and what is even stranger, you acted as if your teddy bear meant nothing to you.”
“So, you base your conclusions on my reaction to a book and a toy?” the young man asked sarcastically.
“No, I just point out the small things that disturb me. For example, you never asked about your former girlfriend…”
“Sarah,” Stanley said, the hate tangible in his voice.
“Yes, Sarah,” Lydia confirmed. “I went to see her and she told me that you never called or went to see her.”
“It was too long ago…”
“But, if you don’t remember the last ten years, you should be still in love with the girl she was back then.” Lydia pointed out. “What is strange is the fact that you do not even think about her.”
“I have other things to worry about…”
“Stanley from ten years ago would have acted differently.”
“You did not know me back then,” Stanley shouted.
“Other people knew you and I spoke with many of them.”
“What do you want me to say? Ah???? That I have not changed in ten years? That I am the same little boy from before? Is that what you want from me?”
“No, all I want is the truth,” Lydia continued calmly. “I want you to remember what happened and why you disappeared for so long.”
“What if I cannot remember?” he asked, this time more calmly.
“Tell me about your sexual preferences?” she asked him instead.
“Ten years ago you were into girls, now I see you having sex with men. That is a bit strange don’t you think?”
“Where… How…” Stanley stuttered. “Who told you that?”
“No one,” Lydia said and moved forward in her seat. “I saw you having sex in the garden the other day.”
“So what?” he asked, as if challenging her.
“I have nothing against you being gay.” Lydia made sure to say it clearly. “What I am asking is when did your sexual preference change?”
“That is not your business,” Stanley shouted again and stormed out of the room.
Lydia let him go and thought that she might have gone too far. Her decision to confront him full force about what he might have been over the last ten years, instead of taking it easy on him, had been difficult to make. Stanley’s reaction, however, did not surprise her. Lydia had been expecting him to react negatively and withdraw even more. Unfortunately, there was no other way for her to make progress with the case.
“What did you do?” Charles Douglass asked her from the door. “Stanley ran out of the house.”
“I am sorry, but this was necessary,” Lydia said calmly. “Stanley had been refusing to respond to my treatment and I needed to shock him, in order to make him react.”
“Since when is acting aggressively effective, when treating autistic people?” The man asked her angrily. “Your tactics are only making things worse. Since your first session, Stanley has grown colder and is closed inside himself.”
“Mr. Douglass…” Lydia interrupted him.
“I know that it was me who asked you to come and help with our son, but now I begin to understand why you were ostracized from your department at Emory. I am no longer sure that your methods are valid, Doctor Chen.”“Mr. Douglass, you need to let me explain why I am acting this way,” Lydia managed to say.
“Charlie,” Vivian Douglass entered the room and tried to calm her husband. “Doctor Chen is just trying to help us and although I do not approve of her methods, I will give her the chance to explain.”
“Thank you, Mrs. Douglass,” Lydia smiled at the older woman. “I will not lie to you by telling you that this case is easy. But I am very concerned about Stanley’s behavior. He doesn't recognize any of the objects from his past and he still refuses to tell us where he had been all this time. What is more, Stanley has changed in more ways you could even imagine, to the point that he changed his sexual preferences.”
“What?” both parents asked as one.
“Stanley is gay now,” Lydia clarified. “And we all know that he was in love with Sarah before he disappeared. It is not something usual to see such change in sexuality with normal people, but with autistic people it is unheard.”
“We would accept our son whatever his sexual preferences could be,” Charlie said firmly.
“It is not his sexuality that concerns me, it is its change that makes me question things.”
“Enough,” Vivian Douglass shouted. “I don’t want to hear anything negative about my boy anymore. Doctor Chen, thank you for your help, but for now on, we would be taking care of our son. We no longer need your help.”
Lydia tried to make them change their mind, but both parents were clear on what they wanted. Lydia understood their reaction. They loved and wanted to protect their son, and it was natural for the parents to take a wrong decision, because of their feelings.
She protested, tried to explain her reasons, but every time she said something against their son, both Mr. and Mrs. Douglass started to defend him. “Okay,” she accepted that she was defeated. “I will go now, but please, if there is something strange about Stanley, call me. I will always help you.”
“I don’t think we will need your help again, Doctor Chen,” Mr. Douglass said and escorted her to the door.
Don’t think about that
, Charlie told himself. He should stash those thoughts in the deepest corners of his mind and forget them. Lock them up until he brought himself to drown in those memories again. That is what he should do, always.
Charlie wondered how this journey would go. A feeling of the unknown scared him. A nagging feeling crept into his mind. Charlie didn’t know what the feeling was, but an uncertainty was obvious in his demeanor. Charlie was transparent. One could look at him and decipher his emotions. Transition affected him. Charlie longed control. Control over his unpredictable and abnormally complicated life.
Charlie remembered how his wife had burst into their house, with an excited and flushed face. He remembered how Vivian had told him about Stanley’s return. Every point Charlie had put forward to avoid believing her, Vivian had put two points forward as to why he should believe their son had come back.
Charlie was reserved. After Stanley’s death, he had locked himself in and indulged in small things to keep him distracted. It worked; he barely thought of him much. Charlie couldn’t completely erase him from his life though. Someone close to you can’t just be forgotten when you want them to be. That’s the worst part.
Love again, his friends had been repeating to him. It wasn’t that easy.
Charlie spent a lot of time deliberating why he had refused to believe at first. He had wondered how this sudden appearance after ten years could change their lives, as Vivian put it, would change him. All his friends had told him that he deserved a break, and this would be a ‘breath of fresh air’ for him. They certainly do hope that Charlie would shake out of his responsibilities and thoroughly enjoy the rest of his life.
Pleasure was an exquisite luxury to him. One that came at a price. Charlie just hoped he would manage to enjoy this while he could. It was a pretty straightforward situation. His life was finally back home and he was going to do everything in his power to keep him there.
Charlie guessed that in time he would see what he had truly got himself into.
Slowly, he took his phone out, clicking in a number he had memorized. Three rings, and then a male voice came from the other end.
“Charlie.” Stanley’s voice came from the other end.
“Dad, you mean.” Charlie said, rubbing his temples.
“What do you want?” He hissed. “I’m busy.”
“We have sent Doctor Chen away…” he started, but Stanley cut him off.
“Oh, so you finally chose your son over that horrible doctor. Forgot about what you promised me, haven’t you?” he said with bitterness in his voice.
“Stanley Douglass. You will not talk to me like this,” Charlie said sternly.
Stanley was still his child, after all. After his disappearance, he had taken to blaming himself for it.
“Oh, sure thing, Dad,” Stanley said sarcastically.
“Are you coming or what?” A male voice came from the other end.
“Who is that, Stanley?” Charlie said, his instincts taking over instantaneously.
“No one you need to know about.” He hissed. In a muffled noise, Charlie could hear him say “I’m coming! Relax, will you?”
“Stanley, what is going on?” Charlie repeated.
“None of your business, dad.”
“Stanley, I’m your father. You have to keep me informed.” Charlie tried again, all his strength evaporating.
Stanley sighed, irritated. “You can't control me anymore, Dad. End of discussion.”
“It will be the end of the discussion when I tell you it is,” Charlie said, keeping his voice composed and controlled, even though it was on the verge of cracking.
“Bye, Dad. Enjoy your evening.” Stanley hung up the phone.
Charlie looked at the phone screen. A tear threatened to escape, but he blinked it away. Like always, Charlie didn’t cry. He just drowned in anger and regret.
What was he supposed to do now? It felt like he was losing his son again. Stanley had just returned home and Charlie wanted their family to be whole again. He could not forget the happy times they had all together ten years ago and if letting Stanley do this would bring them back, so be it.
Ten years ago…
The red rays of the setting sun bathed the car in red dust through the wet windows, creating an atmosphere of warmth and softness. Tim was enjoying the heat on his face and slowly awakening from his dream.
In the front seats, Stanley was driving towards the low sun, while Sarah was talking to him, or at least that was how he left them before falling asleep. Now, the music was nothing more than a deep hum and instead of speaking, there were whispers exchanged between them. The moment he realized what was going on, Tim wished he was still asleep, as he saw Sarah reaching over and kissing Stanley’s throat, with tongue and everything, while he was still driving.
She was earnestly marking his neck, sucking happily on the spot where his jaw meets his neck and nipping at the sensitive pulse point. The barely there “Sarah, I’m driving!” was lacking any conviction, especially if you looked at his hand resting on her knee and the way the her body leaned into hers.
“For God’s sake,” Tim thought.
“They can’t keep their freaking hands off each other even when driving.”
He pushed herself up in the back seat, without being noticed by them and considered his next move. His tolerance had its limits and truth be told he was more than a little jealous of the tenderness they shared.
However, although Tim tried not to be disturbed by the make out session going on in the front seats, when Stanley let his head fall back, shutting his eyes and moaning in pleasure, he decided that enough was enough.
Tim cleared her throat and said “Stanley, could you please keep your eyes on the road. I still have things to live for.” Sarah’s lips sprang from his skin as if it were on fire, while Stanley grabbed the wheel with two hands. “And Sarah,” Tim added for good measure, “if you could refrain from physically attacking him while I’m conscious or, you know, while he is driving, I will very much appreciate the effort.” Their combined tortured looks were the only answer to Tim’s sarcastic comments, but that was enough for him to feel a bit better about himself.
It was almost two weeks after graduating and Stanley was driving Sarah to see her old aunt. Tim they had invited to come along, only because he had shown at Stanley’s door right when they were leaving. Tim had accepted the offer, so that he could prevent them from being too close to each other. The truth was that Tim was jealous, jealous of Stanley doing so well at school, having a loving family and now even having a beautiful girlfriend.
“It was a mistake coming with you,” Tim said to them after a while. “I should have stayed behind.”
“No, it is not a mistake,” Stanley disagreed with him. “We are glad to have you with us, right Sarah?”
“Yes,” the girl said shyly, never being very fond of the grumpy boy, sitting in the back of the car.
“I don’t understand?” Tim continued. “I thought that you want to have some time alone?”
“Don’t worry,” Stanley smiled at him in the back mirror. “We will have all the time in the world for that.”
Tim saw Sarah smiling at him and proceeded to look out of the window, thinking that things had just gotten interesting. His autistic friend had fallen in love, that was for sure. But, Tim was determined to show him that she was not for him. He needed his best friend only for himself and no matter what Tim was determined to have him back.