- VI. -

 

-1-

 

Catherine’s Journal -- December 14. 1989 -- 2:15 a.m.

 

I need to get some sleep, but I’m too excited. Tonight Diana will bring Dr. Lawton. I don’t know what to expect. I’m scared, excited, worried. Vincent is keeping his feelings to himself, but at least we’re talking again. And he treats me with such tenderness! He’s so careful when he touches Jacob or me; as if afraid we might break.

 

Once again, Vincent and I sleep in each other’s arms. Something happened last night, and I still don’t know what to think about it. I must have been dreaming - about Vincent, of course. When I woke up, my arms were around him and my face was buried in his back. I kept breathing in the smell of him, and his body heat washed over me, and I guess I stopped thinking. The next thing I knew, I held his penis in my hand, through the fabric of his nightclothes. He was erect, I could tell even through the cloth. I listened to his breathing, and I was sure he was asleep. I whispered his name, but he didn’t respond. I released him and started to pull away, but he pulled me back and wrapped my arm around his chest. We fell asleep that way.

 

So I really don’t know: was he sleeping? I know I wasn’t dreaming. It felt so good...

 

 

 

-2-

 

Dr. Sybil Lawton peered around her but couldn’t see much in the gloomy basement. She ducked her head, mindful of the low ceiling and her own nearly six feet of height. ”Diana, what the hell are we doing in your basement?”

 

Diana turned around, holding up a flashlight so that some illumination was cast around the room. “I told you - this is the way to Vincent and Cathy.”

 

“Right.” Sybil readjusted the shoulder strap of her heavy briefcase. Something in a corner caught her eye. “What’s that?” She moved toward the object, the soles of her hiking boots scraping on the dusty concrete floor.

 

“Nothing!” Diana said. She moved to block off Sybil, but she wasn’t quick enough. Sybil set her briefcase on the floor and examined the object. It was a mattress, or rather, what was left of a mattress. “Good God, Diana, what happened to this thing?”

 

“Vincent.” Diana gave up and shone the flashlight full on the shredded ruin. “Remember, I told you he stayed with me for a few days after he’d been hurt.”

 

“And he did this?”

“Yes.” Diana stood staring for a few moments, then nudged Sybil with the flashlight. “Come on, Syb, they’re waiting for us.”

 

Sybil hoisted her briefcase to her shoulder. I’m ready. I think.” She followed Diana through a doorway.

 

 

 

-3-

 

Father gazed at the young woman seated across from him in his study. “Do you have any more questions, Dr. Lawton?”

 

Sybil shook her head. “I don’t think so. You’ve been very thorough. If I need to know anything else, I’ll ask Vincent and Catherine.”

 

Despite his habitual caution, Father had taken an immediate liking to Sybil. She reminded him of a lanky adolescent girl masquerading as an adult woman. She was possessed of a gangly grace that was matched by her Arkansas drawl and ready smile. Her short brown hair and brown eyes and the guileless expression on her lightly freckled face made her appear even younger than her thirty-three years.

 

Appearances can be more than deceiving, he thought. In Sybil’s case, appearances meant nothing. From what she had told him about her background and education and from the questions she had posed, Father recognized a genius disguised as an easygoing young woman.

 

“I do have a question for you.” Father rose. He glanced at Diana, who was seated nearby, then grabbed his cane and leaned on it. “You understand that the circumstances of your being here are most unusual?”

 

“I sure do.”

 

“After what I have told you and the information Diana has given you, do you fully understand the need for secrecy where our community is concerned? Not only for Vincent, and now Catherine, but for all our sakes.”

 

Sybil gave him a direct look. “From everything you and Diana have told me, I can certainly understand the need for confidentiality. I have to admit the circumstances are a little strange, but that’s not important. You can rely on me, professionally and personally, to keep your existence a secret.” She held up both hands. “End of speech.”

 

Father smiled at her. “Thank you.” He turned to Diana. “Vincent and Catherine are waiting in their chamber.” He looked at Sybil and held out his hand. She took his hand, and he studied her for a few moments. “Good luck,” he said.

“Thanks.” She picked up her briefcase and followed Diana.

 

As she and Diana walked, Sybil silently reviewed everything Dr. Wells and Diana had told her about her prospective clients. She was intrigued by Diana’s description of Vincent; in her mind Sybil pictured him as Aslan, the lion from C. S. Lewis’s “The Chronicles of Narnia.” It probably was an inaccurate comparison, though, because Diana had insisted that Vincent was a man.

 

But what kind of man can destroy an entire bed with his own hands? she wondered. And why does she hang on to that tattered mattress anyway? She had a strong need right now to involve herself in an all-consuming case, and this one promised to be fascinating.

 

She shivered as they turned a corner into a sudden draft of cold air. Despite her thick green sweater and sturdy blue jeans she felt a chill, reminding her once again how far beneath the surface of the earth they were.

 

“We’re here.” Diana stopped beside an entryway carved out of the rough tunnel wall. She looked at Sybil. “Are you ready?”

 

“Yes.” Sybil nodded. “Let’s do it.”

 

 

 

-4-

 

Catherine and Vincent waited in their chamber. At the sound of Diana’s voice, Vincent jumped from his chair and stood facing a bookshelf, his back to the door. Catherine sat on the bed, holding Jake. She watched Vincent but said nothing. “Come in,” she called after a few seconds.

 

Diana entered, followed by a tall woman carrying a large briefcase. “Vincent, Catherine, this is Dr. Sybil Lawton.”

 

Catherine held out one hand, which was swallowed in the doctor’s warm, strong grip. “It’s nice to meet you, Dr. Lawton. Thank you for coming.”

 

“Nice to meet you, too. Please call me Sybil.” The doctor stared at Vincent’s back, a small frown between her eyebrows. She started to speak but stopped, instead turning her attention to the baby. “Your little boy is just beautiful.”

 

“Thank you.”

 

“Is someone going to watch him for you this evening?” Sybil asked.

 

“Diana’s going to take care of him,” Catherine replied.

Sybil set her briefcase on the floor and moved closer to Vincent, stopping a few feet behind him. “I feel pretty silly talking to your back, Vincent, but I will if I have to.”

 

“I don’t wish to frighten you.” Vincent’s head was bowed, his words muffled.

 

Catherine and Diana exchanged a look as they watched Sybil’s body language shift into dramatic high gear. The lanky doctor crossed her arms over her chest, looked at the ceiling and tapped one forefinger on her chin.

 

“Let me see, let me see. What have I seen lately that really frightened me? Hmmm. I did visit one of my special patients at the VA hospital yesterday. He’s missing both legs and his left arm, not to mention various other bits and pieces of his body.”

 

“What happened to him?” Vincent lifted his head; his voice grew clearer.

 

“He was in Vietnam. He fell on a landmine. The man’s got no legs, no penis, no testicles, one arm and only one eye that works worth a damn. He’s not a pretty sight, but he’s a hell of a nice guy. Now.” She touched one finger to Vincent’s shoulder. “What do you have to show me that could possibly be worse than that?”

 

Vincent turned around.

 

Sybil didn’t move, except to raise her right eyebrow. She felt saliva accumulate in her mouth and swallowed gingerly, for fear she would make an awful sound.

 

The sound didn’t come, and the two of them stood and looked at each other for a few silent moments. Sybil tried to stare without seeming to stare. Incredible. My God, what a  story we have here. What a story!

 

She narrowed her eyes and hoped he bought her world weary, seen-it-all-twice expression. “Well, do I pass?”

 

Vincent blinked. “Pass?”

 

“Inspection. Do we work together, the three of us, or should I just leave the way I came?”

 

Vincent shook his head. “I’m sorry. I don’t mean to be rude, Dr. Lawton.”

 

“Sybil.”

 

“Sybil. I’m simply uncomfortable with the idea of...all this.” He glanced at Catherine and Diana, then back to Sybil.

 

Sybil gave him an incredulous look. “Oh, please. I make you uncomfortable?” She stared at him until he surrendered to a reluctant smile.

“It’s not you,” he said.

 

“Fine. Then why don’t you give me a chance? I’m good at what I do, I’m relatively harmless, and I’d really like to work with you both.”

 

Vincent nodded. “Very well.”

 

“All right!” Sybil rubbed her hands together and looked at Diana. “Diana, can you give us, oh, say an hour and a half? That should be about right.”

 

“Sure,” Diana said, taking the baby from Catherine. Sybil watched her friend exchange a look with Catherine (and ignore Vincent all together) before leaving the chamber.

 

“Are you ready?” Sybil asked, turning first to Vincent, then to Catherine.

 

“Yes,” Vincent said.

 

“We’re ready,” Catherine said.

 

“O.K. Let’s get this show on the road.”

 

Ten minutes later, Sybil sat at the table and Catherine and Vincent were seated on the edge of the bed. A small cassette tape recorder whirred on the table next to Sybil’s pen and legal pad, and a portable compact disc player emitted the soft sounds of a Brandenburg concerto. As the doctor explained while setting up, she always taped sessions and she always used classical music as part of therapy.

 

“Are you both comfortable where you are?” Sybil asked.

 

“Yes,” Vincent replied. He looked at Catherine, who nodded in agreement.

 

“O.K., folks, here’s what I know. You…” she pointed to Vincent “have always lived here, for obvious reasons. “You…” to Catherine “are supposed to be dead, but lo and behold, you’re not. Now, just to put your mind at rest, everything Diana and Dr. Wells have told me, and anything that happens in here, between us, will be kept in the strictest confidence.”

 

“How much did Diana and Father tell you about Vincent’s and my relationship?” Catherine asked.

 

“What you might call the basics.” Sybil shrugged. “You fell in love, you lived apart, you had a child, you were separated by death, and then you were thrown together by an act of God or fate or whatever. And, Vincent, she said you were plagued by memories and missing memories.”

 

“That is correct,” Vincent said.

 

“Well,” Sybil said, “I’m not here to psychoanalyze you. You tell me what you need, and we’ll work from there.” She looked at the two expectant faces before her. “Any questions?”

 

“Can you tell us something about yourself?” Catherine asked.

 

She’s stalling...interesting. “Sure,” Sybil said. “I’m a psychiatrist in private practice. I work primarily with trauma victims: rape victims, victims of violent crime, veterans. I’m thirty-three years old. I graduated magna cum laude from the Yale School of Medicine. I’m originally from Little Rock, Arkansas, but now I live in Manhattan with my husband, Donald.” She hesitated, then continued. “Don is in the Navy. We’re expecting our first child in five months, and in the meantime I’m trying to keep busy.” She sat up very straight. “Anything else?” She watched as Catherine and Vincent exchanged a look, then shook their heads. “O.K.” She leaned back in her chair and crossed her legs. “Now what can I do for you?”

 

Catherine spoke first. “Vincent has some memories…”

 

“Wait.” Sybil held up one finger. “I need each of you to speak for yourself.” She looked at Vincent. “Tell me about your memories.”

 

She watched as Vincent struggled to meet her eyes. “I have troubling memories of something that happened to me when I was a very young man.”

 

Sybil waited.

 

“There was a girl named Lisa...1 loved her. In a moment of passion, I lost control of myself and I...I hurt her.” Vincent stared at his hands, which were lying palm up on his lap.

 

“What happened?”

 

“I was holding her. I…” He stopped.

 

Sybil rose from her chair. “Let me see your hands,” she instructed Vincent. He held out his hands and she examined them. “You can tell a lot about a person from his hands.” She ran a careful finger across the tips of his sharp nails.

 

“What do you see?” Vincent asked.

 

Sybil pursed her lips before speaking. “You live with some enormous contradictions and conflicts. These are hands that can kill as well as heal and hold and love.”

 

“Yes,” Vincent whispered.

“And have you reconciled these contradictions?”

 

“Not entirely.”

 

Sybil released his hands and turned to Catherine. “Your turn, my dear.”

 

Catherine held out her hands.

 

Sybil examined Catherine’s tiny hands for a few seconds, then nodded and smiled. “Very nice.”

 

“What is it?” Catherine asked.

 

“You have a mother’s warm, comforting hands.” She gave Catherine’s hands a light squeeze, then released her and returned to her chair. To Vincent, she said, “You want to deal with these bad memories. Is there anything else?”

 

“There is something.” Vincent shifted uncomfortably.  “Something that happened between Catherine and me...something I cannot remember.”

 

“What is it?”

 

“The first time we made love...the night our son was conceived.”

 

“Do you want to remember?”

 

“I need to remember.”

 

“Why?”

 

“Because,” Vincent hesitated. “I need to know what happened. I need to prove to myself  that I can…” He stopped again and stared at his hands.

 

Sybil studied them both: Vincent’s agonized expression, Catherine’s face filled with longing and sympathy. “Catherine, has Vincent ever hurt you while making love?”

 

“No!” Catherine’s eyes widened. “No, of course not.”

 

“How many times have you made love?”

 

Catherine lowered her eyes. “Once.”

 

Sybil looked at Vincent. “And you can’t remember.”

 

He shook his head.

Sybil felt a sudden ache of sympathy. “I don’t want to cause you any more pain, and I realize this is a difficult subject, but I need to understand. Vincent, you can’t remember the one time you and Catherine made love. I’m guessing that you’re afraid to make love to her now because of what happened when you were much younger. Do you think that reclaiming your memory of the night your son was conceived will help?”

 

“I don’t know,” he said. “I hope so.”

 

Sybil tapped a finger against her chin. “I feel like something’s missing. There’s something you’re not telling me.” She folded her arms across her chest and stared at the floor. “Tell me, Catherine, do you have any qualms about making love with this man? Any doubts, fears?”

 

“None.”

 

“Vincent,” Sybil said, “do you feel sorry for yourself?”

 

He gave the doctor a puzzled look. “No. Why?”

 

“You don’t pity yourself because of the way you look, because of the violent side of your nature, because you’re forced to live down here?” She was still staring at the floor.

 

“I accepted myself as I am long ago.”

 

The doctor leaned forward and met Vincent’s eyes. “Have you accepted the fact that you deserve to be loved and to have a family? And that you have every right to enjoy a full sexual relationship with the woman you love?”

 

Vincent started to speak, then stopped. He turned to Catherine, whose eyes brimmed with tears.

 

“Ah-ha!” Sybil relaxed in her chair. “You two don’t have a sexual problem. What you have is a problem with trust.”

 

“But we do trust each other,” Vincent said.

 

“The way I see it, you don’t trust Catherine or yourself.”

 

“What can we do?” Catherine asked. “Can you help us?”

 

“Absolutely,” Sybil replied. “We’ll begin right now. Catherine, I want you to sit beside me.” Catherine complied with her request. “Vincent, I want you to relax as much as possible. Close your eyes and try to forget everything around you. Listen to the music and to my voice.”

 

Sybil kept a careful eye on Vincent as he followed her instructions, then she leaned over to whisper to Catherine: “You obviously know him better than I do. Tell me if you see something that I might miss. Especially if he’s becoming uncomfortable.” Catherine nodded her understanding.

 

Sybil addressed Vincent. “Vincent, I want you to relax and listen to the music and to my voice. Forget your surroundings, forget your fears. Close your eyes and let your thoughts go. I want you to remember how you feel right before you fall asleep at night. Then remember how you feel as you wake up in the morning. Try to combine those feelings - yes, that’s it, just relax into the feeling. Relax...just relax. Listen to the music and my voice and relax...”

 

 

 

-5-

 

Briefcase in hand, Sybil met Diana outside the chamber. “Have you been waiting long?”

 

“Just got here,” Diana replied.

 

“Where’s the baby?”

 

“With a woman named Olivia. She’s going to bring him back in a few minutes.” She studied Sybil’s face. “How did it go?”

 

Sybil slowed nodded her head. “It went well. Better than I expected. We didn’t get any farther than the preliminary trance stage, but to tell the truth it usually takes a couple of sessions before I get that far with new clients. I told them I’d come back tomorrow night. Is that a problem for you?”

 

Diana shook her head. “No. But how’s your sense of direction?”

 

“Pretty good. I could probably find my way here after a few more times with you. That would be easier on you, wouldn’t it?”

 

Diana shook her head. “How does she do it?”

 

“Sometimes you strong, silent types are the easiest ones to read. You’re in love with him, aren’t you?”

 

“Yes.”

 

“My God, Diana...what a mess.”

 

Diana sighed. “You’re telling me. Come on, let’s go. You look exhausted.”

 

“I am.” Sybil positioned the briefcase strap over her shoulder. “Lead on.”

-6-

 

Catherine sat on the bed and gazed down at Vincent. He was lying on his back, looking more relaxed and peaceful than she had ever seen him. She smoothed his hair away from his face, and he smiled. “Catherine.”

 

“I’m here.”

 

“How is Jacob?”

 

“He’s fine. Olivia just brought him back. Didn’t you hear her?”

 

“No.” He slowly turned his head from one side to the other. “I heard nothing.”

 

“He’s asleep in his bed. Just like you.”

 

“I’m not asleep.”

 

“You will be soon.” She leaned forward, intending to remove his shoes, but found herself encircled in his arms.

 

“Don’t go,” he whispered. He pulled her closer and rested his head on her lap. “You feel so good, Catherine. So warm...” His voice drifted into silence.

 

She held him and listened as his breathing grew slow and steady. “Vincent,” she whispered. She kissed his forehead then pulled away to lie beside him, holding him close until she too fell asleep.

 

 

 

-7-

 

Dr. Sybil Lawton’s notes -- December 14, 1989

 

My first session with Vincent and Catherine went well. We agreed to meet tomorrow evening. Their initial reticence was short lived but understandable, especially in Vincent’s case. He doesn’t strike me as the kind of man who easily reveals himself.

 

And that poses a question I’m unable to answer: is he a man? He and Catherine have produced a child who looks perfectly normal. However, I understand from Vincent’s father whom everyone simply calls Father - that the baby’s blood type is unique. I would like blood samples from each family member, but I don’t want to offend them. Maybe later.

 

Vincent responded well to trance induction. He went into trance quickly and came out with no hesitation or problem. I am concerned, however, about his reaction to trance-induced memories involving violence or extremely strong emotions.   I’m depending on my skill, Catherine’s assistance and Vincent’s innate decency and kindness to keep things under control. I hope I can help them. They appear to care about each other a great deal. Catherine is a tiny slip of a woman, but she possesses an inner strength I can only begin to imagine. Vincent is equally strong, but he is handicapped by his self-doubt.

 

Note: Any and all information regarding this case will never be shown to anyone other than Catherine and Vincent. When we’re finished - with a happy ending, I hope - I will give them all my notes and tapes. Seems appropriate and certainly safer than keeping them myself.

 

 Chapter 7