Monday 23 March 2015
Ordinarily since her committal, Camille West had chosen to sit outside the asylum’s conservatory rather than in the common room, but today she was holed up inside, a sudden storm making it impossible to venture outdoors. Her head throbbing from the electroshock treatment that the abominable Dr. Hudson had inflicted upon her, Camille could barely sit upright. Her eyes watering from the pain in her head, she had managed to hold back the first few urges she had to vomit, but was unsuccessful to do so when Nurse Quipp ushered her into the noisy common room. Quipp chided her before rounding up a metal pail and thrusting it in Camille’s direction with the instruction to use it if she felt like evacuating her gut.
‘You look like shit.’
Camille registered the female voice as originating from somewhere behind her.
‘I feel even worse,’ Camille replied.
A young woman sauntered into Camille’s view, and sat herself opposite.
‘Shock therapy.’ The woman pointed at Camille’s temples, reddened with burns caused by the treatment. ‘It’s a bitch. You’ll have a headache for a few days. If you’re lucky, they won’t give you another session until that’s healed. If you’ve managed to piss someone off, like Dr. Hudson, or that bitch of a head nurse, Quipp, you’ll be dragged off again later today. A little advice from someone who knows . . . as much as you want to, don’t fight it. It only makes it worse. I’m Theodora Northcliffe, by the way. Most people just call me Dora though.’
‘Camille West. Nice to meet you, Theodora.’ She offered her hand to the young woman. Dora glanced around the room before accepting and shaking Camille’s hand.
‘Be careful whose hand you try to shake around here, Camille. Some of these people are crazy!’
Theodora’s comment made Camille chuckle. It was the only time she’d come anywhere near to laughing since she’d been committed. ‘Thanks. I needed that laugh.’
‘So . . . you mind me asking what you’re in here for?’ Theodora leaned closer to her new friend. ‘You don’t have to say if you don’t want to.’
‘My husband committed me,’ Camille replied.
‘Asshole! What’d you do? Burn his dinner?’
‘I found out that he was having an affair with one of our neighbours. Still is having that affair. He didn’t like the fact that I confronted him about it, that I hired someone to follow him and get me evidence of the affair, and he thinks he can get away with locking me in here while he continues his affair and attempts to run for Congress.’
‘Big asshole,’ Theodora raised her voice and gained the attention of several of the orderlies in the room. ‘Sorry, boys. Slipped out.’
‘You want to know what’s worse than all of that?’ Camille asked the young woman. Theodora nodded eagerly.
‘What? Tell me.’
‘The good doctor, Hudson, is also having an affair with the same woman that my husband is. Oliver, my husband, and Hudson are college friends. Oliver conspired with Hudson to have me locked away in here. It’s a fraternity conspiracy.’ Camille gently massaged her temples, unsure if it was the explanation of her committal or the treatment that was causing her head to ache more.
‘Shit! You couldn’t read about this happening. So, what are you going to do about this?’
‘Nothing. There’s nothing that I can do. I tried to influence Hudson, and all that got me was shock treatment.’
Theodora screwed up her face. ‘What do you mean influence him? Are you saying you offered him a bribe? Because honey, he’s not into money. I think everyone here’s tried that with Hudson. No, there are a couple of orderlies who will do stuff for money, but not Hudson. He’s a tight ass.’
Camille explained the photographs that she had of Hudson, Cassandra Paulson, and Oliver.
‘Your copies of the photographs are safe?’
‘Yes, they are. If anything happens to me, they’ll become available for public scrutiny.’
Theodora laughed and slapped her thigh. It amused her greatly to consider that Doctor Aloysius Hudson might be held over a very large barrel with respect to his despicable behaviour.
‘I might be able to help you out here, Camille,’ Theodora whispered.
‘Why would you do that? You don’t even know me.’
‘That’s true, but I do know Dr. Hudson very well, and it would please me greatly to know that someone was able to cut his balls off, so to speak.’
The two women huddled in subdued conversation so as to not draw attention to themselves. They conspired and planned the downfall of both Oliver West and Aloysius Hudson in minute detail, right under the noses of asylum staff.
* * * * *
Nurse Quipp personally escorted Camille back to her room after the unappetising dinner that the patients were forced to consume. She dragged Camille along and shoved her into the room.
‘You know, dear, you’d do well to stay away from that little bitch you were consorting with earlier. Dora isn’t what she pretends to be.’
‘And what is it that you think she pretends to be, Nurse Quipp?’ asked Camille, ready to stand up for her new friend.
‘She’s not all sweetness and light, dear. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever come across a baby killer who is anything other than a demented monster. And believe you me, Dora Northcliffe is one of the worst, most demented monsters I’ve ever had the displeasure to deal with in twenty years of nursing. I’d watch myself if I were you. Wouldn’t want you to get tarnished with that crazy brush.’
Quipp gave Camille no time to reply, slamming and locking the door with a great deal of force.
Camille was unsure of what time she heard the door of her room being unlocked but she thought she’d been asleep for hours. She looked towards the door, fearing what might be about to happen or who she might see.
‘Psssst, Camille? Are you awake?’ Theodora’s now familiar voice whispered through the dark.
‘I am now! How did you get out?’
‘This is Byron, the orderly I told you about earlier. Byron can help you out with whatever needs you might have.’
A tall, imposing figure slowly walked into Camille’s room and stood by her bed. Torchlight in her eyes prevented Camille from seeing the orderly clearly. It was only when he perched himself on the side of her bed that she was able to see his features.
‘Dora’s told me all about you, Camille. I think you and I need to have a little chat . . . ’
. . . To be continued . . .