Friday, November 1, 2013

The Housekeeper - Chapter 20 (Part 1 of 3)

The Housekeeper
By Karen Singer

Chapter 20 (Part 1 of 3)

Blessed comfort!  Half awake, half asleep, Roger’s mind could only register how well he had slept all night… and was continuing to… mostly… sleep.  Not tied up in any way.  Laying on the nice soft new carpeting.  His head resting on a pile of surprisingly comfortable sweatshirts, and his body covered by several of his flannel shirts.  Yes, the stupid shoes were still stuck on his now mostly numb feet, but that was such a minor thing compared to everything else that he barely thought about it.  Wonderful, wonderful, comfort.  Wonderful, blessed comfort.  He breathed in deeply and let it out in a silent sigh… and rolled over to another comfortable position so he could go right back to being fully asleep again.  Mmmmm. 
Still mostly asleep, he wasn’t too asleep to not hear the distant ringing of his old alarm clock – in his old bedroom.  But only something small in the back of his mind registered the sound.  He didn’t move… he still had no reason to move.  Unfortunately, his door soon opened and he heard Janice calling him.
“Mr. Brinkley?  Are you awake yet?” she called softly so as not to wake her daughter in the next room.
Roger immediately rolled over.  “Yes,” he replied quickly with no thought at all.  “I’m awake.” 
“Please get your shower and get cleaned up again while Carol is still sleeping,” Janice told him.  “And as you have been, don’t be too long about it so she won’t have to wait for the bathroom when she does get up.  And when you’re finished, please don’t forget to wear those same pretty shoes you have on now.”
Roger was already getting to his feet by the time the words even registered in his brain.  As he stood, the solid grey wall in his mind seemed more ominous than ever.  He automatically headed straight into the bathroom to shave and shower. 
As he shaved, his mind finally tried to return to last night.  That much thinking though, seemed to be a difficult exercise, but eventually he managed to drag up remembrances of wearing her collar again and all the stand up, sit down, do this, do that, exercises she had put him through.  But as good and as well rested as he was this morning, his mind soon stopped thinking about that… or anything else as his body seemed to automatically go through the motions of getting shaved and brushing his teeth. 
Almost blankly, he removed the high heeled shoes and stretched his aching feet, getting the blood flowing in his toes again.  The pain of being able to move his feet once again stimulated his blank mind into a working state.  He remembered a little of what went on last night… but that was all wiped out again as his body automatically stepped into the shower.  A few minutes later, under the strong hot water soaking his body, his brain began functioning again.  This time he was able to hold onto those horrid images from the night before a little longer.  He remembered having to endure the physical motions of her training, but he now realized that he couldn’t yet remember anything else that happened.  And by the time he walked naked back to his room to get dressed, those memories had once again faded to nothingness as his body seemed to act on its own without his brain being much aware of anything. 
Once he was dressed, the very high heels on his feet carried him straight out to the kitchen, where he found his dog bowl filled with his morning cereal.  He barely even paused before kneeling down and lowering his head to begin eating.  The act of eating… especially eating the way he was – like a dog from a bowl on the floor, once again kicked his brain into partial thinking.  And once again, as he ate, he only thought of what had happened last night.  What had happened between the time he stopped remembering and the time he woke up this morning?  He puzzled over that, even as his mouth continued to dive deeply into the bowl and grab what food it could, and chew it.  But his mind still wasn’t functioning well enough to hold onto any of those thoughts for very long.  By the time he finished eating, his mind had shut down once again.

Janice had watched Roger come into the room.  He didn’t say good morning or anything.  But then she never asked him to do anything like that.  But he did go straight to his corner to begin eating like he should.  A moment later, Carol came in, still wearing her nightgown and a robe, and took her mind completely off of Roger as the two of them hugged before sitting down at the breakfast table together.  As she usually did, she kept an occasional eye on Roger as he ate by himself in his corner.  But most of her attention was usually on her daughter. 
Before she and Carl were finished eating, she saw Roger’s head come up out of his dog bowl.  He had finished eating.  The milk that she had poured over his cereal was now all over his face.  “Mr. Brinkley,” she said, “please go wash up.  Then I’m going to need you to make sure that your chain and any ropes or other bindings in your bedroom are completely hidden out of sight this morning.  There will be men coming from the rental company to pick up the bedroom furniture.  Then later this morning, the new furniture is being delivered.”  She was a little concerned by the lack of reaction on his face, but at least he immediately got up and left to do as he was told.  She put him out of her mind and went back to chatting with Carol.
Carol soon left to go get her shower and to get dressed.  But Janice was surprised when she came back just a few minutes later.  “Momma?”
“Yes dear?”
“Momma, he’s taking another shower.”
Janice blinked.  “He is?”
“You can hear the water running from outside the bathroom.”
Concerned, Janice headed straight for the bathroom.  She could indeed hear the shower running as she opened the door without knocking or announcing herself.  She saw his shaving supplies out on the bathroom counter and he was indeed taking a shower.  “Mr. Brinkley,” she called out.  “Didn’t you take a shower earlier?” she asked.
Roger had heard Janice entering the bathroom, but it was only information that his brain had processed… and done nothing with.  However, her question once again kicked his brain into functioning.  Had he taken a shower earlier?  He was shocked and somewhat embarrassed to realize that he had.  “Um… yes, I did,” he replied.  “I guess I forgot that I had taken one.  Sorry, I wasn’t thinking.  I’ll be right out.”
Janice stared at his shaving supplies out on the counter as she heard him turning the water off.  Had he shaved again as well?  “Kindly hurry up getting dressed again, Mr. Brinkley,” she said as she walked out the door.  But now her mind was worried.  Doing the training twice in a row last night may have affected him worse than she thought it might.  With most men, it would definitely do that.  But Roger’s mind was stronger than most men.  She needed to have a very serious talk with him later this afternoon.  And she would prefer it if his mind was functioning properly! 
Roger was fully dressed, including the high heels that had been on his feet for most of the last few days.  His eyes searched his bedroom for anything else that might have to be moved.  The act of putting the chain and the ropes into his bedroom closet where they couldn’t be seen had kept his brain functioning again, but again he couldn’t remember what had happened during that “blank” time.  Now as he stood searching the room for anything else, he tried again to face the memories of her training from last night.  This time, he was able to remember her reinforcing the horrible grey wall and all the other indignities he was forced to live.  But again he realized that there was still something missing, because the next thing his brain was capable of remembering, was waking up this morning and not being bound in any way at all. 
But puzzling over the missing pieces, was still beyond the capabilities of his tortured mind.  He stood there trying to  think about it for a few minutes… until without realizing it, his brain went blank once again, and he just stood there in his room – not thinking at all.
It was the doorbell that jogged his brain back into a semi-working state.  Janice had said that there were men coming to pick up the rental furniture.  His brain was functioning enough to realize that he was still wearing the stupid high heel shoes.  It was also functioning enough to realize that he would rather not be embarrassed by being seen in them.  With little time for better options, he quickly decided that remaining in his room where he wouldn’t be seen was the best thing he could do.  He quickly closed his bedroom door.  Then he stood in the middle of his room as he listened to the sounds of what was happening outside of his room.
His mind was working, but not well enough. 

Janice led the workers down the hallway and was surprised to find Roger’s bedroom door closed. “The first bed and dresser is in here,” she said to the men as she opened the door.  She saw Roger standing in the middle of the room.  She was surprised to see the look of surprise on his face… as if he hadn’t expected the men to need to come in there.  In a way, she was somewhat glad to see that look on his face. With those shoes that he was prominently wearing, he had to feel some kind embarrassment over them.  But the fact that he was trying to hide out in the room suggested that he wasn’t functioning well enough to realize that half of the furniture the men were after was in this room.
“Mr. Brinkley, the men are here for the furniture.  Kindly wait out in the living room while they’re here.” 
Roger’s mind was only working well enough to realize what a blunder he had made, and to feel the embarrassment of the looks the workers were giving him.  As his body immediately pushed past the men, he couldn’t help but wonder why he hadn’t realized that the men needed to get into his room.  What was wrong with him?
Janice watched as Roger headed for the living room… the shoes on his feet making a very distinctive sound the minute he hit the hardwood floors of the hallway.  She stared after him for a moment before she noticed the surprised looks on the two men’s faces as they watched him leave.  She moved aside to let the men into the room to grab the furniture.  “Gentlemen…” she said to get their attention off of Roger and back on what they were supposed to be doing.  “This bed and this dresser have to go.”  She was glad to see her words bringing them back to reality.  She briefly wondered what was going through their minds about Roger, but she quickly decided that it didn’t matter and that she really didn’t care.
Roger’s brain was now working well enough again that he decided to wait while sitting in a chair that would affectively hide his feet from sight… as long as the workers didn’t come all the way into the area where he was sitting.  He was still very embarrassed to be seen like he was… wearing the stupid heels.  Why hadn’t he realized that they would have to come into the room to get the furniture?  Why hadn’t he thought about that?  He wondered about that the entire time the men were there… and fortunately, before long, they were gone and their truck was leaving the driveway.  What was wrong with him today?  But as he sat there waiting and wondering, his mind went mostly blank again.  And it stayed blank until Janice walked up in front of him with an odd look on her face.
Janice studied Roger’s face as she stood in front of him.  “Mr. Brinkley,” she said, “how much is thirty-three plus forty-eight?”
Roger’s head immediately went spinning.  Thirty-three plus forty-eight?  But instead of processing the problem as it should, all his brain did was to mentally repeat the two numbers over and over again without doing anything else with them.
Janice watched his face as it registered his confusion.  “Never mind, Mr. Brinkley.”  She decided to ask a much easier question.  “How much is eleven plus ten?”
Again Roger’s brain took the two numbers and mentally repeated them over and over again.  But something in there finally started to click and he attempted to process the information.  And from somewhere an answer appeared.  “Twenty-two,” he replied.  And immediately he realized that wasn’t right.  “No, that’s not right!” he said quickly.  His brain reprocessed the question.  “Twenty one,” he corrected himself.  Why had he made a stupid error like that?
Janice pursed her lips.  This wasn’t a good sign.  It wasn’t nearly as bad as it could be, but even still, it wasn’t good at all.  She had no doubt that he would recover fully, especially since his mind was so strong.  But she had gone a bit too far last night with his training, and now only time and rest would allow his mind to fully recover… as much as the conditioning she had instilled in him would allow.  She had made a small mistake.  It was a mistake she had first learned about with her husband – her first victim.  As strong as his mind was, that didn’t mean that it also wasn’t fragile.
“Mr. Brinkley,” she said.  “Please lie down on the couch and make yourself comfortable.  And I want you to fall asleep until I wake you up.”  It was all she could do for now.  She needed his brain to get all the rest it could… and hopefully, recover quickly from what she had inadvertently done to it.
Lay down on the couch and go to sleep?  Roger pondered that, even as his body reacted automatically to her words and moved to the couch.  But laying down and taking a little nap sounded like a great way to spend the day… at least as much of the day as she would allow him to relax.  He had no doubt that later she would find some little task to torture him with.  And maybe later his brain would function a bit better so he could remember what had happened before he went to bed last night.  But right now, going to sleep on the nice comfortable couch sounded like heaven… even as his badly functioning brain conjured up happy memories of many past naps on the couch.  Those were his last thoughts as his body, just as Janice had told him to do, fell asleep.
 “Momma… what’s wrong?” Carol asked.
Janice pursed her lips.  “I fear I went a bit too far with him last night,” she replied.  “Now I hope his mind is indeed as strong as I thought it was.  Otherwise, he’s not going to fully recover the way I want him too.”
“So what do we do?” Carol asked.
Janice tried to smile.  “We let him sleep… and we wait.”

1 comment:

sarah penguin said...

Uh-oh, poor thing.