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Stories from the Verse
Garden of Versers
Chapter 48: Hastings 149
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After lunch Doctor Conway returned. Lauren was not eager to continue their conversation, so she stared out the window and pretended she had not heard him enter. She was stalling for time, trying to think of what to say, what to do, how to extract herself from the situation. Lord, she thought, what am I doing here?
“Lauren?” the doctor began.
She grunted in response.
“Lauren, we still need to talk about last night.”
“I’m not sure what I can say. You think I’m paranoid and delusional because one of your staff tried to rape me and I stopped him.”
“When you put it that way, it does sound ridiculous. However, I thought you were paranoid and delusional before you claimed he tried to rape you. Your claim merely fits the pattern.”
She turned toward him.
“What pattern is that?”
The doctor shifted, and flipped back a few pages in his notebook.
“The night you arrived, you were asleep in the lobby and when someone attempted to awaken you, you thought you were being attacked and injured several people before you were subdued.”
Yes, there was that.
“Since you have been here, you have refused to give a satisfactory account of yourself. You keep insisting that you come from several imaginary places called Stratford, Somerdale, Franklinville, and the like. You also don’t trust us enough to tell us your actual date of birth. Either you’re afraid to let us know who you really are, or you actually believe this fictitious account you’ve invented about yourself. I’m inclined to think it’s a bit of both.”
She nodded. Seen from his perspective, she really was crazy. Of course, the truth would sound even more crazy. She had already hinted at it, and gotten what she might have guessed would be the expected response: he did not believe her.
“So last night when the orderly disturbed your sleep, you believed you were being attacked, and you injured him. It seems that it’s dangerous to wake you up.” He smiled. She remembered telling a vampire once, long ago, that it would be dangerous to awaken her if she were sleeping, because she might hurt someone before she knew who they were. She had not, as far as she recalled, done so, but for that last time when she versed in here in that weird half-awake half-dreaming state. That was unusual, but it wasn’t something she could explain to his satisfaction.
“You can see the pattern,” he said.
“Two events do not make a pattern,” she replied, “and although I will admit that I was disoriented and overreacted the night I arrived, you have to admit that it is at least possible that I actually was being threatened with rape last night, and that I responded in a reasonable manner to that threat. I’ll point out that when the other staff members burst into the room I was sitting calmly on my bed, not continuing the attack.
“Besides, doctor, someone somewhere said ‘just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t out to get you.’ Paranoid and delusional women get raped, perhaps more frequently than most. Men discount their accounts, but then, it is often the case that men challenge the claims of women who have been raped.”
“They’re not always true.”
“I’m sure they’re not. I’m sure that sometimes some women have used the threat of a rape claim to blackmail a man. There probably are also cases in which a woman overreacted to a man’s well-intentioned advances. You can find all kinds of alternative explanations for such claims. Some of them--and maybe most of them--are true.”
“Do you really think that?”
“That most women who claim to have been raped are telling the truth, and not for example trying to build a case under the Philman Act?”
Ouch. Lauren did not have any idea what the Philman Act might be, but realized that there were cultural issues involved here of which she is unaware. However, she did have a response.
“I do think that,” she said, “but I might not be completely objective at the moment, since I find myself a victim of an attempted rape who is not believed.”
The doctor nodded.
“So my concern is that if someone awakens you in the middle of the night, you might harm them, and so I should put you in restraints for the protection of the staff; and your concern is that you don’t trust the staff, and you believe one of them attempted to rape you last night, and that restraints would make it impossible for you to defend yourself if you were attacked again.”
“I see your problem,” she said. “You apparently see mine, but you don’t seem to be giving it much credibility. Let’s just say that I do and will strenuously object to being put in restraints. I suggest you not try it.” She tried not to sound threatening.
“I understand. Well, I guess that’s as far as we’re going to get today. I will talk with you again tomorrow.”
He took his chair and left the room.
There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with twelve other sequential chapters of this novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #284: Versers React. Given a moment, this link should take you directly to the section relevant to this chapter. It may contain spoilers of upcoming chapters.
As to the old stories that have long been here: