A character perspective experiment.
Today during recess I woke up standing over Billy the bully with my hand sticking out like I punched him. The other kids were laughing ‘cause Billy was crying like a girl, and they were saying somebody named Kane did it. My fist was hurting a lot, so I ignored them and brought it to my chest to look closer. My knuckles were red and smeared with blood, but it wasn’t mine. I never hit anybody before, so seeing Billy’s blood on my hand scared me; it’s not something I was used to. It didn’t look like my hand anymore with that red stain, sure didn’t feel like it either. If I was the one that hit Billy, why couldn’t I remember doing it? And why were the other kids calling me Kane when they know my name’s Abel?
Later Sister Carroll called Momma and told her what happened. She left work early to come get me and had a meeting with Principal Fitzgerald. I sat outside his office crying while they talked because I knew what happened wasn’t my fault. Through the closed door Momma mumbled something about how I, “pretend to be Kane” when I’m in trouble, or when I get scared, but I didn’t know what she was talking about. On the drive home she looked worried. “You need to stop with all this ‘Kane’ nonsense,” she said. “You’re too old to have imaginary friends, and shame on you for hitting that poor Billy.”
“But Momma,” I said, “I didn’t do it! And I don’t know who Kane is or why everyone was calling me that. I swear I don’t know what happened. ” She said that Dad wasn’t gonna be happy to hear about the fight. I could see in her eyes that she was even more worried about what he would do. Whenever Dad got really angry, which was a lot of the time, he’d use the belt on me, and it hurt. My skin always turned purple where it struck.
When I got home Dad was waiting on the couch. Empty beer cans were scattered around his feet, and he popped open a fresh one as he stared me down. I never looked him in the eyes, so I glanced down to the worn leather belt folded over his lap. The faded brown material gave off a dull yellow shine from the nearby lamp. “School called,” he said. “Left a message saying you beat up a kid.” I tried to tell him that it wasn’t me, but he only screamed “Shut up!” and said that I was gonna regret it. He yelled at Momma to get out of the room and threw his can after her, but it crashed against the wall. I started crying again and tried to run to my room, but Dad grabbed me by the arm and swung the first of many blows. I only felt the first couple stings of the buckle before my eyes rolled back into my head and I stopped thinking.
I twiddled my thumbs together as I waited in the unfamiliar musty room, and fought to keep my knees from shaking. A scratched oak desk separated my lumpy seat from the empty but intimidating leather chair facing me, and the air carried a chill that echoed an absence of life, almost as if the room had never been used. It felt eerily similar to the one where my social worker used to ask me questions about my home life. Sitting in offices had long since made me nervous. Sitting in a new psychiatrist’s made me even more so.
“Good morning Abel,” greeted a rotund, graying man as he walked into the room. He had a jolly air about him that seemed to lighten up the otherwise depressing mood. “I’m Dr. Morgan Keyes. I’ll be helping you with the, um… issue troubling you. It’s nice to meet you,” he said, extending a chubby palm forward.
“Uh… hi,” I replied, staring into the wrinkles of his knuckles. I didn’t want to touch it.
Dr. Keyes quickly raised and lowered his brow at me before pulling back his hand. He rummaged through a filing cabinet, pulled out a thick folder held together by numerous rubber bands, and took his seat. “Quite a hefty lot here,” he chuckled, removing the bands and opening the folder. “Hmm… your file says I’m not the first psychiatrist you’ve come to for help, and –oh? What’s this note here?” Dr. Keyes briskly read the message left by Dr. David Wilmore, my last shrink who couldn’t handle my “special” case. “Abel, it says your previous doctor refused to continue his sessions with you because you chose to stop taking your medication. Is this true?”
My eyes darted aside to the drab wall where a lonely painting of a creek hung. The blue shade of the water matched that of the doctor’s eyes that I strained to avoid. “Yes, it’s true,” I said now glancing towards my shoes. “Dr. Keyes, I hate taking those meds. That trail mix of antidepressants only leaves me a drooling vegetable that sits in the corner and does nothing. I’m in high school and that’s not the way for a guy like me to live, you know? I want to go out with my friends, and not have to stay cooped up with my mom all day and night. So what if Kane does take over every once in a while? It can’t be worse for me than the drugs, right?”
“Abel,” he said, taking off his glasses, “As you already know, Kane is the manifestation of all the anger and resentment you harbor towards your father.” I flinched at the word. Any mention of Dad, whose current whereabouts remained unknown, instantly brought back memories of his violent behavior. “Because Kane was created as a way for you to deal with your abusive childhood, the only way to fully integrate your mind and be rid of Kane is to get past the years of trauma. Dissociative Identity Disorder is not something that can simply be cured with a positive attitude. It will take much time, and unfortunately, a daily medication regimen.”
My jaw clenched, and I scratched my knuckles as I thought about what to say. I knew mentioning my recent black outs from transitioning wouldn’t help sway Dr. Keyes’ opinion, so I continued to sit quietly.
Dr. Keyes let out a short sigh, folded his hands, and said, “I’m going to tell it to you straight, Abel. You can try all you want to live a normal life without your medication or therapy, but in the end it will do you no good. You cannot control when Kane takes over your mind, and judging by that black eye, you know the consequences of his recklessness fall upon you in the end. Without psychological or medical help, your health and wellbeing are at his mercy, not yours.”
I lifted my gaze, and for the first time peered directly into the doctor’s eyes. Cold and blue, just like Dad’s, I thought. My eyes skimmed the edge of Dr. Keyes’ desk, and went up past his balding head towards the cobwebbed ceiling panels. I was looking for something to say; something to convince him I could handle Kane on my own and be okay. All I saw was dust slowly drifting down. “So how many pills will I have to start taking again?” I asked.
I woke up this morning with a pounding migraine and my head against a steering wheel. A burnt, cherry taste lingered in the sticky dryness of my mouth that I figured was either from a combination of candy and weed, or some type of cheap alcohol. The sunlight pouring in from the shattered windshield brought a wave of pain to my skull that overpowered those of the many scrapes and bruises I could feel on my face, and arms and legs. Small shards of broken glass glimmered on my bloodied knuckles, and the pain radiated through my fingers as I released the wheel. All this damage could only have been Kane’s fault.
Two weeks ago I got off my meds for the first time since I was in my teens, but this time I’d done so with Dr. Keyes’ reluctant blessing. Through the years I’ve been under his care, my transitions into Kane have become less frequent than ever before. Yet despite his warning that it wouldn’t do me any good, and that it could possibly hinder the progress I’d made, he said I could try it for a few weeks to test for any further improvements. Since then I’ve found myself in strip clubs, alleys behind local bars, and even in random dumpsters without any recollection of how I got there. I never told Dr. Keyes.
Normally I don’t venture near such places, but Kane on the other hand can’t seem to stay away. He indulges in every temptation without remorse, be it alcohol, drugs, or picking fights with random people. Kane’s no stranger to taking what he wants either, and he’s especially fond of stealing bikes and even cars. Hell, the last time I found myself in an unfamiliar vehicle, Kane had driven it into a forest ravine, leaving me to alone to deal with the charges. He was never one to return stolen items in usable condition.
Upon lifting my throbbing head and seeing the outside world, I realized I was on campus at my university. A crowd of faculty and students encircled the scene, staring with wide eyes and gaping mouths. I couldn’t tell if they were more frightened at the sight of the totaled pick up truck, or that I was still alive despite not having worn a seat belt. Looking around, I recognized the building that Kane crashed into was the financial aid department; the last place I remember being before I transitioned. My advisor rudely told me they lost my aid application, and that there was nothing he could do to help me. Guess I know why Kane chose this building as his target.
I did my best to keep a straight face and look as if nothing was wrong, like it was all an accident. I called and motioned to the crowd that I was fine, but it did little to help the situation. A grisly security guard clicked on his walkie-talkie for assistance, while a professor and some students called for an ambulance. Suddenly the car door opened, and standing there was Adam, my boyfriend; his bright blue eyes worried, yet shining in the sun like two cool, peaceful lakes. The security guard yelled at him to stay away, but was ignored. As the guard approached, Adam said he knew what happened and that everything was under control. I could tell by his stern tone and distraught face that he knew it wasn’t.
“Abel, are you okay? Babe, what happened?” he asked, kneeling closer. Adam slung my arm over his shoulder in an attempt to help me out of the truck, but I continued to sit there hopeless, defeated.
“The doctors were right,” I said, trying to hold back the tears and maintain what little composure and dignity Kane hadn’t already taken from me. I probably could have avoided this mess if only I had told Dr. Keyes what had been happening instead of running from the truth. I realized things weren’t going to get better soon –or ever. Small drops trickled down my face, and left grey specs amidst the red stains sporadically covering my shirt. “Nothing’s ever gonna change, Adam. I’m crazy. I’m fucking crazy.”
Abel Hawkins’ name was finally called out from those of other distressed students waiting in his university’s financial aid office. Like many of them that day, Abel arrived to inquire with an adviser about a phone call he received claiming the absence of his financial aid packet, something very necessary for him to continue pursuing his bachelor’s degree in modern literature.
“…So what you’re saying is, because you lost my application, I won’t be able to get money for next year? But I’m supposed to graduate then! I don’t even have a job to support myself now, how do you expect me to find one and still manage to do well in my classes?” Abel’s leg shook faster as his concern grew, and his eyes nervously scanned the walls of the musty office. From time to time, they would skim across the colorful bowl of candy sitting on the desk.
“I’m sorry Abel,” replied Mr. Thomas Barlow, Abel’s portly adviser, “But there is nothing I can do to help you at this time. Like I said, there are other students who have applications that need reviewing, and they are the top priority.”
“You can’t be serious –what am I supposed to do?” asked Abel, his eyes widening with worry. Losing control of his breath, Abel began to hyperventilate as an anxiety attack overcame him. Suddenly his reddened face faded to a pale complexion, and Mr. Barlow watched in silence as Abel’s eyes rolled back, making him look like a victim of demonic possession. Abel’s head lulled forward as if his neck had lost its strength, and he sat there frozen with his face aimed to the ground for a few seconds before coming up again. A darker, angrier glint shined in his eyes.
Mr. Barlow stared, frightened. “Are… are you alright Abel?” He softened his tone and said, “Now I know this is an unfortunate situation, but there are ways to help. Maybe look into third party scholarships or grants-”
“Oh shut the hell up you stupid dick,” said Abel, leaning back into his chair with a new cockiness. He ran his fingers through his brown hair, and glared at Mr. Barlow with a look of contempt.
“Excuse me?” asked Mr. Barlow, astonished at Abel’s sudden audacity. “Now Abel, there is no need for that language!”
“Abel? You’ve got it wrong pudgy,” he smirked, “the name’s Kane. Abel couldn’t handle the shit pile you just dropped on his sad little head, so he had to run off. He sends his love though.”
“What are you talking about? Mr. Hawkins, I don’t have time to deal with any foolishness so either cut it out or leave.”
“Does it look like I’m playing with you lard ass?” Kane stood up and brought his face forward only centimeters from Mr. Barlow’s nose. The advisor slowly leaned back in his chair, intimidated by the gesture. “Now if you’ll excuse me,” said Kane, staring directly into Mr. Barlow’s pupils, “It’s been fun, but I have better shit to waste my time with.” Kane swiped a shining red lollipop from the bowl before knocking Abel’s file and other papers off the desk. Mr. Barlow threatened to call security as he bent over to clean up the mess, when Kane noticed the glimmer of car keys in an open drawer. He quickly pocketed them and walked out of the room with a satisfied grin. Sticking the candy into his mouth, he yelled back, “Oops!”
Outside the building, Kane stomped past a guitar-slinging student puffing on what smelled like a marijuana cigarette, and shouldered him hard. “Watch where you’re going asshole,” mumbled the smoker. Kane stopped in his tracks and slowly turned around to face him.
“Oh sorry, bro,” said Kane, feigning a lazy stoner accent. “Bad day, yuh know? But hey, bro, mind if I bum a hit?” Without waiting for a reply Kane snatched the joint from his lips and ruthlessly decked the guy in the face. The punch sent him toppling to the ground, and the sharp snap of wood rang louder than the sound of his body hitting the concrete. “Fucking hippie,” spat Kane as he tossed his lollipop and replaced it with the joint. He took a long drag before returning to his path. A light jingle chimed as Kane pulled out Mr. Barlow’s car keys, and a devilish smile cut across his face as he walked towards the lone truck waiting in the employee parking lot.