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Anthony North

[Fiction] Bed mate

January 15, 2008 | Comment icon 3 comments
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Is the world we see about us real or illusion? Is the world a hard, material fact, or does reality bend to how we want the world to be ? Philosophers and theologians have grappled with this question since history began and never have they provided a satisfactory answer. But in our day to day lives we need not worry about such things. Or should we? When James Berford came to see me I can only describe him as terrified. 'I need help,' he said as he sat in front of the desk. I was immediately on edge as he said this, as his voice had that shaky hysteria of unpredictability. 'Perhaps you'd better tell me the problem,' I said.

'It's that clown. It's evil, pure evil. I know it is. And I'm sure it's going to kill my son.'

I offered as serene a smile as possible, although I must admit my anxiety was rising by the second. 'The clown?' I asked.

'That bloody toy. It's demonic. It is, I'm telling you!'

It took me a long time to settle him down; to get from him the facts in as calm and logical a way as possible. And the facts seemed to be these: Four months ago baby Paul had been born to James and Jenny Berford. And for the first week or so everything had gone exactly as had been expected. But then, as they were passing a toy shop, Jenny Berford had had an impulse to rush into the shop and buy a toy clown as bed mate for her baby.

'And ever since then,' James continued, 'she's changed. She's no longer happy, but goes around in a daze. And the only time she seems right is when she's holding that clown. It's as if she's got a relationship with it. And both me and Paul are ignored.'

The explanation seemed obvious enough to me, but I decided it would be best to see what was going on for myself. Hence, under the pretence of being a friend and business associate I was invited to the house. And whilst I had decided that it was a simple case of post-natal depression with all emotions transferred to an inanimate object, the second I stepped into the house, a deep chill seemed to descend upon me.

This sense of unease infected everything in the Berford household, with even James losing his sense of the terrified and instead becoming almost comatose. Jenny, herself, was clearly depressed. But I also sensed in James that everything was not quite right. Could I have been wrong in my initial hypothesis? Was it a simple case of post-natal depression, or could James, himself, be exhibiting a form of paranoia, perhaps based on the jealousy of his son, his wife no longer giving him the attention he felt he deserved?

I knew from that moment on that it would be a difficult case; but a case I had to get to the bottom of quickly, for it was clear that baby Paul's life could well be in danger.
Conversation during my visit was strained, even melancholy, and the oppressive nature of the house would simply not go away. And when, after asking to see their son, I went upstairs, I can only report that the eerieness of the place intensified.

Baby Paul slept peacefully in his cot, but even this most beautiful sight could not lift the mood, for beside him laid the clown, and I knew how easy it was to be delusive about such things.

The clown was a simple stuffed toy, about two feet long with yellow trousers, red and white stripped shirt, a huge bow-tie and blue jacket. But there was something about the clown's face that stirred in me my appreciation of evil.

I knew it was inanimate, but somehow the hint of animation was upon that face, as if it somehow knew what was going on; perhaps even playing a part.

As I left the house I tried to dismiss this feeling of unease as a by-product of the psychological mess the family was suffering. It was hard enough figuring out whether the problem laid in James or Jenny, without having to add a further, demonic angle to the case. Finally managing to put these fears to the back of my mind, I knew, of course, what I had to do. The lot of a psychotherapist is a heavy one. Anyone can set up as a psychotherapist, for it requires little in the way of training, and absolutely no qualifications. I am not a psychologist or psychiatrist, who are professionally trained. Rather, I am simply a man with an interest in the mind and the nature of evil. Hence, with a baby's life in possible danger, I knew I was out of my league. Drugs and professional help were what James and Jenny Berford required, and I resolved to phone social services the very next morning and hand the case to them.

But if only I had done it straight away, it may not have ended as it did.

The phone rang at two o'clock that morning. Sleepily, I picked it up to be confronted by James Berford's manic voice. 'You've got to come quickly. It's Paul. He's dead!'

I rushed to the Berford household as quickly as I could. As I entered the house, the same eerie feeling gripped me, as if as soon as you passed the threshold, an altered reality came into being. James Berford was sat, stiffly, on the settee, shock having gripped him and unable to communicate. Jenny was not to be seen, so I rushed upstairs and into Baby Paul's room. He laid there peacefully in death, yet the horror of seeing the slight bruising on his neck was too much for me. With a heavy heart, I picked up my mobile, resolved to phone the police. Yet as I went out into the hall, the sound of quiet, but happy whisperings came to my ears.

Is the world we see about us real or illusion? I pushed open the door to the master bedroom, the hall light lancing through the dark to highlight the back of Jenny Berford sat on her bed, talking sweetly to the clown she held in her arms. And I swear to you, the clown's arm was stroking her back.

© Anthony North Comments (3)

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Comment icon #1 Posted by nothingliz 17 years ago
Scary subject, tells alot more about the world we do not seeme to percieve yet is. Maby it's a sign for you to discover your true path in life. What you saw others may not have seen if they were looking at the same thing, at the same time, at the same instance. Evil doesn't show its self to the waking world very often, but those who do see it only see it because they are tuned to it's frequency. But as a psychologist you are more apt to see things that appear illogical, but not every illogical situation offers a logical explanation. Maby you just got lucky. latez, Calista
Comment icon #2 Posted by Chokmah 17 years ago
Hm. Interesting. The vunerability of the mind when confronted with a new - and difficult - priority /and to care for.
Comment icon #3 Posted by theQ 17 years ago
Dig deeper....your problems are in the definitions of your parameters...physical interaction in a physical universe as real...thinking as the illusion because it dont seem to have a affect on the physical universe. Both are as real as the other....thought lies in a different vibrational plane of existence...its just that this body lies in this plane of existence and reacts in this physical universe. Both do interact together now and then. When you dream and something happens where you get hurt you don't wake up with any injuries. In all reality this plane of existence is the short one.

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