Thursday, April 7, 2011

Raymond Rutherford Interview

I'm standing outside of a padded room in the Ripton County Psychiatric Hospital. This area of the hospital makes the Sunnyside Wellness Center look like a day spa. Standing next to me is Dr. J. Emerson, the attending psychiatrist for Raymond Rutherford.

Dr. Emerson: As you can see, Mr. Bellman, Mr. Rutherford is in no condition to be interviewed. He has had a severe psychotic break due to the incident.

Bellman: The "incident" where he killed his entire family and tried to dump them in the lake?

Dr. Emerson: Yes. Just look at him, Mr. Bellman, you can see for yourself.

There is a window on the door and we both look through to see Mr. Rutherford – thirty-two years old, dark brown hair – sitting on the floor in a straightjacket leaning against one of the padded walls. We can hear a little of what he is saying.

Rutherford: ...the lamb lies down, but it never lies down, the lamb lies down but it never lies down...

Dr. Emerson: Do you see now? I've tried sedating him, but the sedation doesn't seem to have much of an effect.

Bellman: I'd still like to try to talk to him, Doctor. If you don't mind.

Dr. Emerson: Very well.

He pulls out a ring of keys from him pocket and carefully chooses one, then unlocks the door to the padded room.

Dr. Emerson: You should stay at least five feet away from him. If he doesn't like you, he tends to attack, even in the straightjacket. I'll be right outside.

Bellman: You don't want to observe?

Dr. Emerson: I'll observe from right here, thank you. Some of the things Mr. Rutherford says...unnerve me.

With that in mind, I slowly walk into the room.

Rutherford: ...the lamb lies down, but it never lies down...

Bellman: Mr. Rutherford? My name is Frank Bellman. I'm writing an article on what happened to you and your family. Can you tell me what happened? The police report says that you shot-

Rutherford: Shot? So quick, so clean an ending? Oh that was right, lad, that was brave. Yours was not an ill for mending, 'twas best to take it to the grave.

Bellman: Mr. Rutherford?

Rutherford: The crawlers cover the floor in the red ochre corridor. For my second sight of people, they've more lifeblood than before.

Bellman: I don't understand.

Rutherford: The eager pack lift up their pitchers – they carry all they lack. The liquid has congealed, which has seeped out through the crack.

Bellman: Mr. Rutherford, do you understand me?

Rutherford: I understand. Right you guessed the rising morrow and scorned to tread the mire you must. Dust's your wages, son of sorrow, but men may come to worse than dust. Men may come to worse than dust.

I knock on the door once and Dr. Emerson opens it to let me out.

Bellman: It's just snippets from songs and poems.

Dr. Emerson: Yes, I know. Sometimes he'll seem lucid, but whenever we try to ask about the incident, he goes back to talking like that.

We both look back through the window. Mr. Rutherford has laid down completely on the floor, still muttering to himself.

Rutherford: ...the lamb lies down, but it never lies down...

Monday, April 4, 2011

Annette Hodge Interview

I'm sitting at a small plastic table within the Sunnyside Wellness Center in P_______, California. Annette Hodge, forty-seven, is sitting across the table. She's wearing a starch white shirt and blue pants – like all the other patients of the Sunnyside Wellness Center.

Baker: Mrs. Hodge, you were admitted to the Sunnyside Wellness Center-

Hodge: Sunnyside up. Always filled with scrambled eggs. Sorry, my little joke.

Baker: That's okay. As I was saying, you were admitted here five years ago.

Hodge: That short? It seems like I've been here forever.

Baker: What brought about your admittance to this place?

Hodge: You know.

Baker: I would like the get the story straight from you, if you don't mind.

Hodge: Oh, I don't mind. I've told it often enough to various psychiatrists and psychologists and every other headshrinker they got here. You want it from the beginning?

Baker: Yes, please.

Hodge: Okay, well. Five years ago, me and my husband and my two boys, Kevin and Jerome...they were good boys, though they liked roughhousing...anyway, my family and me went camping. Up near Y__________. We used to go there every few years. Just camp out for a few days. My husband, Paul, he used to love it. [She takes a long sip of water] Anyway, it was our first night camping in a while. We set up two tents – one for me and Paul and one for the boys. Paul had already gone to sleep and I was driftin' off when I heard this noise. Like a growlin' noise. But not like any animal I'd heard before. Then I hear this scream. You heard of the term bloodcurdling, right? [I nod] Well, it was like all my blood curdled in my body. Because I knew that scream was one of the boys. So I rushed out of the tent, not even bothering to see if my husband had woken up yet and I rushed over to the boys' tent. But I was too late. Their...their throats had been torn out. And as I looked at them and wept, I heard another scream and though oh god oh god Paul. So I rushed over to our tent and there it was.

Baker: What did it look like, Mrs. Hodge?

Hodge: You want to know what it looked like? You're gonna laugh. To me it looked like the Wolf Man. From that old movie. Lon Chaney in all that makeup. But without all that hair on his face – and with these teeth, like razors. He didn't look funny at all, Ms. Baker. He looked...he looked like he could rip my eyes out of my socket before I could move. He looked intelligent. And then I noticed he was standing over my husband's body, one hand holding Paul's throat closed and I knew it had been slashed, just like my boys. But he was holding it closed and my husband managed to utter one word before he died. Just one word. "Hell," he said. Do you get it?

Baker: I'm afraid I don't, Mrs. Hodge.

Hodge: From what I read later on about this creature, his name is the Rake, right?

Baker: It's the only name we have for it.

Hodge: Well, my husband had just completed the name. "Rakehell." You know what a Rakehell is? A lewd or wanton person. It was certainly wanton. Those headshrinkers I saw? They said I just hallucinated the creature, that my grief caused a, what was it, a break with reality. But you know it's real, right?

Baker: Yes, I do.

Hodge: Good. Because it still visits me sometimes. That's why I checked in here. I thought I could get away from it. But I can't. Even with locked doors and barred windows, it still visits me. And it tells me the most horrid things. It whispers, Ms. Baker. Do you understand?

Baker: I'm afraid I don't.

Hodge: Good. Be glad you don't understand. Understanding is hell.