I don't own The Mentalist.
My sister-in-law fiddles with the tuning on the radio until soft rock music fills the car so the occupants have an excuse not to make conversation. I sit in the back seat leaning against the door as my brother Stephen concentrates on the road and Charlotte looks out the window monitoring the street signs so she can be a "good" navigator. I periodically give directions, because if it weren't for me it would take about two hours to get to my house instead of twenty minutes. It's been a few days since (what my doctor has deemed) my suicide attempt and I'm feeling the same. The cold vice of depression has me in its grasp never loosening its hold. I stare out the window and I feel nothing, not even the warmth of the afternoon sun. I don't see why my decision to take my own life is seen as "suicide" given my circumstances. I am a rational human being who feels that I have accomplished all that I can and want so why is it so bad that I want to end it all? Why can't the choice be mine?
We make the final right turn up the narrow road and pull into the driveway. As I climb out of the vehicle my body goes on autopilot, my joints move mechanically. I tell myself it is because I made little use of them while in the hospital. Mentally I am paralyzed, afraid that if I think too deeply about recent events my sanity will completely escape, never to be found.
"Patrick, are you sure you don't want me to grab a few of your belongings while you wait out here? It's okay if you forget a few things, we can always buy them in San Diego." Charlotte talks to me like I'm a child learning English for the first time by putting emphasis on each and every syllable. It annoys me to no end but I tell myself that she only behaves this way due to her extreme discomfort with the situation.
Being present at a former crime scene.
"Don't worry about it, I'll only be a few minutes. You can relax in the living room or grab a bite to eat in the kitchen if you're hungry. There's some deli meat and cheese in the refrigerator for a sandwich." I nod to reassure them. They look wary and follow me into the house anyway but remain on the first floor as I travel up the stairs.
I enter that dreaded master bedroom of mine, grab a suitcase from the closet and begin to stuff it with clothing – mostly suits, vests, and undergarments. A few books are thrown in for good measure, in case boredom strikes on the long drive out of the city. I try to think of anything to avoid looking at that evil smile on the wall. As I exit, my hands flounder with a set of keys that I insert in the lock, listening for the double click so I know it is secure. The rest of the house be damned, but I can't have anyone enter this room during my absence. It shall be dealt with later when I have all my bearings.
Although, just being present in the room is giving me the sense that I will hyperventilate at any moment. These new feelings scare me because I've always been in control of my surroundings and myself. For once Stephen and Charlotte are right, I need to get away. I check the door one last time to make sure it's locked. Conspiratorial whispering downstairs catches my attention, as if Stephen and Charlotte are self-conscious of what they are saying. They abruptly stop the conversation as the floorboards creak beneath my feet.
I compose myself as I rejoin them at the bottom of the stairs.
"I'm done here and since I don't see either of you ripping through my kitchen for something to eat I assume we're ready to go?" Without waiting for an answer, I'm half way out the door.
We've been driving for about twenty-four minutes now and the car is absolutely silent. Stephen didn't even bother turning on the radio, not that I care much for his taste in music. Something's amiss and I intend to find out. I cannot believe that my instincts did not kick in sooner, but painkillers tend to have that numbing effect, that make you blind to certain parts of your environment. I look at Charlotte in the side view mirror and find it odd that she does not act like her usual chatty self, instead her fidgety fingers repeatedly tuck hair behind her ear. Even though traffic is moving well and no one is cutting him off, my brother tightens his grip on the steering wheel.
"So, how has work been for you Steve?" I decide to pry into him using a non-threatening approach. I make eye contact with Stephen in the rear view mirror. Presently he seems to be the best bet to pull information from.
"Nothing much new in home security, although the company's been downsizing since sales have been low. It's a good thing my job's not at risk because they need people to install…"
Stephen went straight to college once he got around to finishing high school. It took him awhile to find his niche in computer technology. But when he did everyone was happy he was making himself useful. A step up from drinking and doing weed in his friend's basement. I make an audible sigh and try to look disinterested in his tirade about work, losing eye contact to fiddle with the buttons on my vest instead. He raises his eyebrows once he notices my lack of attention.
"Patrick, is something wrong?"
"Now why would you think anything is wrong?" Rhetorical questions are the best at breeding unusual answers and right now I'm anticipating Stephen's. He pauses making his hesitation apparent.
"Maybe because you tried to kill yourself not too long ago? Maybe because your family is gone and no longer with you?" He softens his voice offering me sympathy.
"Honey, please. We don't need to go into this right now." I glance at Charlotte who chides him, obviously upset. Her brow is furrowed and gives her husband a knowing look as if they've discussed this issue at length.
But it is exactly what I need to spur me on. "Interesting choice of words. My family is no longer with me." I roll the words off my tongue like they are candies. "Although, I think of both you and Charlotte as my family so are you guys implying that you're no longer with me?"
"Stop playing games. That's not what I meant and you know it." The timbre of Stephen's voice rises with every sentence.
"Hey, no need to get defensive bro. It was a simple question that you seem to be very riled up about."
"I can't help but feel insulted by your insinuations. I swear to God – if mom were here she would see right through your bullshit and put you in your place." Hardening his demeanour his crystalline eyes flash.
"Mom has nothing to do with this and by bringing her up it shows that you're desperate to change the subject. Answer me. Where are we going?" We come off the ramp but the car's speed barely slows down.
"Why should I tell you huh? You're acting like the biggest prick in the world."
My hair stands straight on the back of my neck, a sure sign that there's trouble ahead.
"Stephen! What the hell are you doing? We decided before that the issue would be discussed calmly once we've reached there."
I'm getting evermore agitated that no one is coming out with it. With my head cloudy lately I haven't been my usual self so my skills naturally are not up to par. The view out the window is distracting because of the familiar scenery whipping by and panic strikes. I'm fairly calm and collected but a sinking feeling hits in the pit of my stomach. I recognize these buildings.
The hospital goes by in a blur.
Then we pass the university campus further down.
That could only mean…at the end of the street…the psychiatric hospital!
"You people could have at least the decency to tell me!" I scream and since we are only minutes away I try the doors but they're locked. Stephen realizes the gig is up and plows down the street.
Even though I know it's futile, I pound on the windows with my fists trying to break the glass. We've already pulled up the driveway to the sixties style building. A huge cement eyesore amidst the well-manicured landscape. Stephen and Charlotte quickly escape the car as soon as it's in park. And just like clockwork my door is opened by two orderlies who quickly try to sedate my wild thrashing and kicking.
My family has betrayed me by arranging all of this ahead of time. Committing me so they may absolve themselves from taking care of the widower brother. Am I really that far gone that they would completely turn their backs on me? Even sympathetic Charlotte who regards me with pity every time she's in my presence?
My body feels like it's swimming in air and my legs are made of jelly. Resisting my own passivity does nothing to help me stand, to walk, to run. They cart me off through a maze of corridors, the walls bleached with white. I see patients peer at me curiously. I have become an exhibit, a freakshow.
Maybe Stephen does know me afterall. He knew I would never voluntarily commit myself to an institution. Predicting how I would react, he refused to say anything ahead of time. He drove me all this way in silence and prepared to ensure the butterfly net goes over my head.
Please review so I can decide whether I should continue this story or not!