Callie just lay there on the couch in Dr. Visner’s office, silent for several minutes.
“Well?” he asked. “Don’t you want to tell me something?”
“I feel stuck,” she said. “I have no idea what to talk about.”
“You’re afraid to tell me what’s really bothering you,” he said.
“Yeah,” she said with a nervous giggle.
She was wringing her hands, distracted by her thoughts about those two cops who’d been snooping around The Gold Star over the past week, trying to find the stripper Wayne had left with the night he was killed by the clawed beast. Kluh used her power to deflect the cops from questioning Callie, but she knew the demoness was bringing them closer to her. Kluh was saving a confrontation with the cops for another time…but when, and for what purpose?
“Well, let’s recap what you told me last week, then you can pick up from there,” the psychotherapist said, looking down at his notes. “Your parents divorced, your father–whom you deeply missed–showed no interest in your life, but died in a car accident about a year later. Your mom met a man named Mortimer Brahms, they got married, but he replaced his interest in her with one in you. Then he began sexually abusing you, gaslighting you into thinking you liked the sex.”
“Yes,” she said, choking back sobs.
“You missed your father, wishing Mort would fill in the gap your father had left, and Mort took advantage of your yearning for a father…”
“And he filled in gaps of a different kind,” she sobbed.
“Did you ever try to stop him in some way, apart from running away from home, as you told me last time?”
“Y-yeah,” she said, wincing from what she was about to say. “It started with fantasies of transforming, during one of his rapes, into a powerful beast, like the Hulk, then killing him. Then, a few years after my Mom’s marriage to Mort, she sank into a depression. It seemed to be because he liked me better than her. That made me want to have that Hulk-like power all the more, to get revenge on Mort for hurting her.”
“I see,” Visner said, jotting down what she said on his notepad.
“It was around then that I began overeating, too. I wanted to get fat, not just to stop him from raping and sodomizing me–you know, by making myself unattractive to him; but also so he’d stop preferring me to Mom, so he’d go back to her. It didn’t work, though. Now I was getting bullied at school for being fat, and the rapes continued.”
“And what about your mother’s depression?” Visner asked.
“It got worse. She killed herself by ODing on pills.”
“Oh, Callie. I’m so sorry.” He mirrored her sad eyes with his own.
She was sobbing louder now. “She gave me no protection before, because I wasn’t supposed to tell her what I was doing with Mort. He said telling her would make her jealous and increase her depression. Still, she should have figured out for herself what was going on–why didn’t she?”
“I’m sure he was keeping it from her, too. After all, he was keeping himself from getting into trouble by manipulating you into being quiet about the rapes, even making you think you wanted the sex.”
“Yes,” she sobbed. “And with Mom dead, I really had no one to protect me from him. I grew to have such a hatred for Mort, even though he was still tricking me into thinking I liked the sex. I didn’t think of it as rape at the time; I’d just thought he was throwing my mom over for me, breaking her heart and driving her to suicide.”
“But the rapes continued. What did you do to stop them?”
“I wanted so badly to communicate with my parents that I gained hope in believing in communicating with the spirit world. I tried it with a medium–you know, in a séance, but I got no connection with either of my parents.”
“So, what did you do?”
“I tried doing it myself. All alone. More intensely. I bought some books on the subject, and began deep, intense meditations, trying desperately to contact spirits. Finally, after a heavy two hours of concentration one Saturday afternoon when Mort wasn’t at home, I contacted my mom Chloe,…or so I thought.”
“If it wasn’t her ghost, who was it?” Visner asked.
“She called herself ‘Kluh.’ I thought I’d heard “Chloe,’ but it didn’t take me too long to realize this wasn’t my mom’s ghost.”
“When did this happen? I mean, the first contact with this spirit.”
“A few months ago. She promised me she’d come out during one of Mort’s rapes and kill him. He had to be lured into the sex in order for her to kill him. She insisted on that.”
“Who was this ‘Claw’?” Visner looked at her with squinted eyes.
“‘Kluh’,” Callie said. “She says she’s a Polynesian goddess, but I think she’s lying. I think she’s a demon.”
“Does she still contact you?” He was jotting everything down almost frantically to keep up.
“Yes, I feel her in me now, influencing me. Merging with my mind, even.”
“How do you spell her name, or, how do you think it’s spelled?”
“It feels like it’s spelled K-L-U-H.”
“Interesting,” he said, writing it out and thinking, ‘Hulk’ spelled backwards. “You said Kluh would come out and kill Mort. Did she?”
Callie shook at those last few words. Her eyes widened.
“Did she come out?”
“Did she take over?”
“Yes,” Callie sighed. “My mind went totally blank after that.”
“Since you’ve left Mort, has he tried to find you?”
“Do you think Kluh killed him?”
“N-no. Not directly.”
“But he is dead? Someone, or something, killed him?”
The therapist remembered some news stories he’d read about a clawed, hairy beast rampaging through the streets of Toronto one night the previous week. I’ll bet she has delusions that she’s that beast, he thought. I forget the name of the man in Hamilton who was killed by an animal about a month ago. Callie’s from Hamilton. I’ll have to look up that story again. “Who, or what was the killer? Do you know?”
She hesitated again.
He seemed to feel someone telling him, Don’t push this any further. It’ll only agitate her. If she’s at all connected to these murders, it’s best she get treatment, not jail time. She’s probably just deluded that she’s the killer, as you suspect. Really: how could she be connected with some wild animal? You’re a man of science; are we supposed to believe she’s some kind of Dr. Jekyll and Ms. Hyde?
“I…I…” Tears ran down her cheeks.
“That’s OK, Callie,” he said. “You don’t have to answer. I can see that talking about this has been difficult for you. Our time’s almost up, anyway.”
She let out a huge sigh.
“Even if you did tell me, and it was something incriminating, you’d be protected by doctor-patient confidentiality,” he went on. “Physician-patient privilege, that kind of thing. Furthermore, I’ve come to care about you to the point of not wanting you, in your traumatized state, to be further harmed by having the police interfere with your situation.” Her transference was tingling big time during our first session, he thought. Now my countertransference is. Such pain in her. Such a beauty, too.
Good work, Doctor, Kluh whispered in his mind. After all, you ARE a psychotherapist, not a detective. Leave the investigation to the cops. She probably has dissociative identity disorder, or something. Focus on treating her symptoms. She is beautiful, isn’t she? Besides, maybe those men…deserved to die. Remember your youth, in Thailand, Doctor? You weren’t so innocent back in those days, either.