Black Petals Issue #81, Autumn, 2017

Drogol's Institution
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Mars-Chris Friend
Big Bear-Fiction by Paul Strickland
Drogol's Institution-Fiction by Mike Mulvihill
Haunting of Hell House-Fiction by M. L. Fortier
Killing Time-Fiction by Mike Mulvihill
Nowhere Man in a Nowhere Land-Fiction by Roy Dorman
Surviving Montezuma-Chapters 11 & 12-Fiction by Kenneth James Crist
The Box with Pearl Inlay-Fiction by Roy Dorman
What was Lacking?-Fiction by A. M. Stickel, Editor
The Statue-Poem by Janet C. Ro

abandonedasylum.jpg

Drogol’s Institution

 

By Michael Mulvihill

 

A new hire

 

 

Hearing about Drogol’s institution was fascinating. He provided me with in-depth designs and pictures of it, which he would tell me to burn after viewing. I would see pictures of his patients, the surroundings, where he stayed, and the fine piece of land he owned. When I finished looking at these illustrations, he watched me burn them. Herein is everything I learned about his institution.

R.G.

 

Drogol’s psychiatric hospital was situated in the leafy suburbs of Rathgar, Highfield Road to be precise. The sleepy surroundings suited the institution. Doctor Richard Gabriel spent the day preparing for a job there. He was newly qualified and needed money badly. Oppressed by the small box of a flat where he lived, he just wanted a chance to move up society’s ladder. Nervous, he had trained long and hard to qualify for this post. All he wanted to do was simply start working there. But he loathed and feared job interviews. 

Gabriel walked up the outside stairs of the institution and rang the intercom. Midnight was very late for an interview, but, desperation had prepared him to do anything for this job.

Before Gabriel could ring the intercom again, “Hello,” said a soft voice.

“I am here for my appointment with Doctor Drogol.”

“Make your way down to the basement. I am in the second room on the right waiting to see you.”

The front door swished open, and the psychologist went inside as it closed silently behind him. He walked across a floor made of black and white tiles rather like a chess board. Chess was a game he admired for its intellectual appeal, but whose moves he had never mastered. He hoped he was not the pawn of this game.

He walked downstairs to the basement in a silence interrupted only by a distant dripping, thinking, surely the plumbing is better than it sounds.

“Welcome!” the psychologist heard from behind. Did the low voice sound otherworldly—or was it just the late hour that played tricks on his senses? The doctor repressed his misgivings.

“You come highly recommended to our institution.”

He turned around, drawn first to the weird sight of his prospective employer’s long catlike nails gripping his shoulder. Those beautifully manicured black nails on hands unmolested by manual labor were like silky white gloves.

“Come into my office, sir.” Drogol led the way. He glided to and settled into a large, well-padded metal swivel chair and pulled out some blank pages and a pen. “Sit.” He indicated the sturdy oak armchair in front of his desk.

Drogol sat opposite Gabriel, staring at the blank sheets. He exhaled cigar smoke. The interviewee examined Drogol’s dark black eyes which matched his nails. The paleness of his face contrasted with the dark cigar. He cleared his throat and from his pocket drew forth Gabriel’s CV.

“Look at all you’ve accomplished,” Drogol said with admiration, “a PhD in Clinical Psychology…and an impressive psychoanalytical background.”

“Yes, sir, those are my qualifications.”

“Gabriel, are you comfortable reading and being away from people for long hours?”

“Is that what you require of me? I thought a clinical psychologist needed to be around people?”

“Most of our patients won’t need you. I will choose who talks to you. Now let me repeat my question: Are you comfortable being away from people for long hours?"

“Yes, I am,” Gabriel said, to say what needed to be said.

“Excellent! You really are suited for this job.”

Gabriel assented by nodding his head. “Thank you, sir.”

“We have loads of books for you to read. The main thing is not to interfere in how things are done around here. You must, by all means, repress your inquisitive side—my main instruction for utter confidentiality.”

“Complete confidentiality is what you require?”

“Yes, the charming fellows who run the health system in this island demand that we employ a clinical psychologist here.” Drogol laughed hysterically.

“A psychologist…” He laughed again. “Since when has this been a serious profession?”

If Gabriel was proud he would have left. He replied softly, “Well, it’s recognised as one.”

Drogol laughed louder yet. “Come now, despite what the Americans think, we all know a good psychologist is a master of one thing.”

“And what might that be?”

“Bullshit.”

“Really?”

 “Your role will be official only on paper. As is common in Soviet Union factories, pretend to work and we will pretend to pay you. But, trust me, I will pay you very generously to keep to yourself what goes on here. I know where and how you live. You need the job.”

“I do not mind a job where I am just a puppet.”

“Of course you don’t. Neither do most fools in good positions throughout the world. Why do you think the world is in the mess it is in? So…you won’t cause me any trouble, right?”

“I will present as little problem to you as possible.”

“You will be asked to stay here. This shall be your new home. If it is not good enough for you I will find someone else eager to accept...”

“That’s agreeable to me. Do I have to pay rent or utilities?”

“Of course not, and you will have a free choice of food…and whatever else takes your fancy.”

“As long as I am provided with food and shelter, I have no problem.”

“This shall be arranged. This institution, since we took it over, is state of the art. Doesn’t it feel good to be part of that?”

“Yes,” Gabriel agreed, “it most certainly does.”

“Have you any questions about this institution?”

“I will be employed as a clinical psychologist?”

“Yes,” Drogol confirmed with a smile, “and I am fully prepared to entrust this work to you.”

 

Gabriel could not hide his happiness, having experienced unemployment for the last two years.

“What time is it?”

“Twenty past midnight.”

“Usually the inhabitants roam the institution at this time. They feel an emotional bond with the dark. They find the daylight cruel. You can talk to them, listen to them like a psychotherapist, but only those with whom I allow you to speak. The others are too…delicate to be spoken to, believe me.”

“That is how you expect me to function here?”

“Yes, make the institution appear caring. But never write down exactly what goes on here. I am watching you.”

“I will do as you wish.”

“Transparency is a word that politicians abuse. We both know they are just being ironic. I am Drogol. We do not use that word. What goes on in this institution stays here.”

Drogol got up from his chair. “Come now, Doctor Gabriel.”

 

Drogol discussed many things as they toured the institution. He spoke about an elite club of which he was a member in Europe—“The Hellfire Club”—made up exclusively of wealthy nobles. Drogol told him he was setting up the same kind of club in Dublin.

“Remember that in these times, this job is the best that you can possibly get. It is a truly coveted position, so cherish and do your job professionally. Then no one will interfere with your job security.”

“Thank you so much, Doctor Drogol!”

“Richard Gabriel, I shall show you your living quarters and office.”

“I will have my own room?”

“Yes, you shall have your own room and a separate one for psychotherapy.”

“And what shall the room be like?”

The room he brought Gabriel to was self-contained and much better than the run down hellhole where he had lived since he left college.

“You can stay in here all the time once your work has been done. Your duties and salary are in this envelope. If those are all of your questions I shall leave.”

“Okay.”

“Leave me the keys to your home. I will have your possessions brought here if that is convenient.”

“Here is my key.”

“Thank you so much, Gabriel.”

“No, Doctor Drogol, thank you.”

Before they parted, Drogol informed him that he would soon have his very first client.

“You expect me to do therapy?”

“Just a bit…and kindly address me as Drogol.”

 

It took Gabriel two days to organize his office. More could have been done to make his office suitable, he felt. He wanted to make it a truly comfortable, safe environment for healing. He considered Drogol’s attitude wonderful, although he found it hard to figure out his boss completely. 

Gabriel meditated on the origins of his accent. Drogol’s voice sounded aristocratic and his words well-articulated. He reckoned he must originally be from England, but there were also hints of the Eastern European in his voice. His way of speaking was definitely odd.

“Gabriel,” Drogol said in a very concerned voice, 

“Yes, Drogol.”

“Do you like where your office is situated?”

“I am glad you gave me the basement floor. I find the black and white floor tiles are very soothing; they will aid the therapeutic process.”

“Anything that facilitates your work is welcome.”

“I need a cabinet to store the patient files. Otherwise, they are very cumbersome.”

“I have five steel cabinets coming for you.”

“Drogol, about the furniture...”

“Yes?”

“For clinical work I need a comfortable chair, and a sofa like Freud might have used for my patients.”

Drogol did not even need to think about this request. “Those items are famous. I will get an image of them.” 

“Good! This will help the patients to focus less on me and more on their inner world, once they agree to work with me.”

“Now I must continue my work, but is there anything else you need?”

“No.”

“I have one demand.”

“Yes?”

“At midnight you will have your first patient. I know this is short notice, but please do not let me down. Is this okay?”

“Why so late?”

“That person will tell you then.” 

“I am sure he has a good reason.”

Drogol did not respond.

 

Before his first client came, Gabriel read through the stories of the patients there, finding a normal dose of paranoid ideations. The reports were typical of schizophrenic conditions naturally heightened in these times. No wonder the patients wanted to stay in bed and be consciously removed from their fragmenting world. Reading these reports, he felt that the patients sought the safety of darkness for empathy. 

Many things were missing from these clinical stories, so the patients were a blank slate. A genuine interest in them would have deciphered what was oppressing their souls, causing them to release the energies of sickness into their psyche. Not everyone was schizoid or psychotic; some were just phobic and too nervous to exit the institution.

He wondered what these patients would tell him if they came out of their shells. A morbid fantasy steadily grew inside of him, inspired by the actual sight of coffins entering the institution. Following the arrival of coffins, he was alarmed enough to approach the receptionist for an explanation.

“Have any of the patients died?”

“No,” the receptionist said, “but nearly every patient likes to sleep in a coffin.”

“But why?”

“It feels therapeutic to them. And we like to be as supportive to our clients as possible.”

“Who thought of this intervention?”

“Intervention? The patients requested it.”

 After leaving the receptionist Gabriel fell asleep. He dreamed he held a torch. He walked past an elderly man with a grey beard, dressed like a doctor. Gabriel nodded at him. He kept wondering if he would discover bodies that had undergone decomposition. 

 Surely, in all of this unnatural darkness he would find something hideous, something forbidden. So, when he entered the dark rooms where the patients slept, Gabriel was overcome with an overriding desire to see what lay within the coffins. 

 He attempted to perceive if the patients were in the depths of slumber. He heard the most pitiful cries—the kind of whimpering one would expect from a lost child. It felt wrong to be here, as if everything Gabriel stood for had completely deserted him.

He was insatiably curious about the shadowy, demonic madman he became inside of his dreams. What did this unwholesome desire to know such dark things mean? This was a solemn place where patients rested and recovered. But a voice kept calling him, and it was the voice of the doctor that he had met in the corridor. 

“Go, Richard,” he said.

“Where?” Gabriel replied 

“You know where,” he said.

“There is nothing for me to see in those coffins.”

“You mean you are afraid of what you might find?”

“Here there are just sick souls, bereaved and heartbroken by what this life has shown them.”

“What if they are no longer people, but something else?”

“They are alive to me and in a state of desperate unrest.”

“Open the coffins. See what their aversion to daylight really is. See how alive they are.”

“No!”

“Why?”

“My presence will re-traumatize them.”

“And what if they are dead but appear alive?

“They have never physically harmed me.”

“What makes you immune?”

“You are just a filthy old man with ghoulish fantasies.”

“You deny that these people who sleep in coffins are dead?”

“These demands only lead to the fetishizing of the dead, or maybe even feeding on them. God knows what macabre and morbid darkness such suggestions as yours can bring into my psyche if I take you seriously.”

“And you do not mind if you are helping the dead?”

“If my work gives rest to people’s minds I do not mind who I help.”

Gabriel did not recall anything else from this dream. When he woke up he shook his head. He thought of all the hours spent writing papers in the quiet cafes of Dublin. He was always prepared to treat the psyche in a holistic sense. He felt at peace with death and dying. He remembered seeing the body of a hard drug user dragged by rescuers from the river, his remains eaten to pieces. He thought about the look of that dead, rigid corpse. 

 

Through many morbid experiences Gabriel had felt obliged to be open about the possibility of exploring places that go beyond the living. He returned to his work space and opened the packet of charcoal he kept beside the Bible. He knew it was right to bless this place. But, if he was not a priest, would his blessing count?

 At midnight he answered a knock on his door. Before him stood the man whose file he held, Shane.

“Do be seated.”

“Okay,” his client replied dully.

“Shane?”

“Yes.”

“Can I ask you some questions?”

“Yes.”

“What brings you here?”

“I come here for help.”

“And what is your daily life like?”

Shane, looking confused, shrugged.

“Do you sleep?”

“I used to sleep like Rip Van Winkle.”

“Rip Van Winkle slept for years.”

“I would gladly do so.”

“Is something keeping you from feeling secure?”

“Yes.”

“What?”

“I get terrible convulsions and hideous compulsions.”

“And what are they?”

“It does not matter. I am very sick at the thought of just seeing the light of day.”

“What do you do to pass the time?”

“I punish myself.”

“Punish yourself?”

“Yes.”

“How?”

“If you saw me naked you would know. I bleed and bruise myself.”

“Is it repulsive to you when you bleed yourself like that?”

“Yes. No. It is strange. I get hungry.”

“You get hungry?”

“When I see blood, even my own, I get hungry. Also, I believe the blood in my body really is not my own.”

“What happens to you when you feel this type of hunger?”

“It just emerges in me.”

“What emerges? Desire?”

“You could call it desire or call it hunger; both feel the same to me.”

“And what does that desire do for you?”

“It releases emotions.”

“It releases emotions?”

The patient reached into his jacket pockets and removed a key ring, a silver knife, and a cigarette lighter.

“Look,” he said, towering over Gabriel.

 Shane looked aggressive and aroused. He grabbed a tissue off Gabriel’s desk, and raised it over him, observing it like it was a copy of a speech he was about to recite. 

“Therapy does not release anything!” he shouted. 

“Tissue absorbs everything, wipes it all up.”

He looked at the bookshelf full of psychotherapeutic and psychological works which Gabriel had displayed there. His face contorted. 

Gabriel did not believe he wished to smash the bookcase to pieces, but he was not prepared for the swift shift in the tone of Shane’s voice from aggressive to gentle as he politely begged, “Please, may I look at just one book?”

Shane got a book from the shelf. With his free hand he opened the blade of his Swiss army knife. 

“What do you make of this?”

The psychologist did not answer.

Gabriel noticed that Shane’s teeth looked unnaturally sharp. The inside of his mouth began to bleed. It looked like wine was pouring out of his mouth.

“All paper does,” Shane said, as he bled on the pages of the book, “is absorb things that flow. There is no such thing as knowledge that gives true power.” 

Shane stared, transfixed, at his own blood. He slashed the left side of his face, placed his hand on the blood, and massaged it into his right breast.

Unable to move, Gabriel watched his face as Shane did this. As if struggling to keep his teeth in his mouth, Shane closed his eyes and savored every single rub. 

 Gabriel, who believed Shane was gaining erotogenic pleasure, found it perverse and strange.

“That’s better,” Shane said as he bled and rubbed. “Oh, bite me,” Shane said.

This was unsettling enough, and then Shane began licking his blood. “I am not human,” he said.

“What?”

“I am supernatural, dear doctor. The blood I am licking was originally the blood of others. I live off blood.” He continued drinking his own blood. “No,” he said when he had finished, “I have no idea how I came to this institution, nor how I was made into this creature of abnormal disposition.”

“Okay,” said Gabriel as calmly as he could, “I do believe your hour is up.”

“So, must I leave?”

“Yes, yes, please do.”

Disturbed by this patient, the doctor walked around the institution for a full hour. After intense deliberation, he decided to see if Drogol was still awake. He saw a light in Drogol’s office; throwing caution to the wind, he knocked twice at his door.

“May I come in?” he asked.

“What is bothering you?” Drogol asked, looking concerned.

“I am here for professional reasons.”

“Is there anything I can help you with?”

“I realize I am dealing with very sick people. My mind is baffled, and it will take time for me to come to terms with what I see.”

“This is why they are here,” Drogol said, smiling.

“But I have one question to ask you, Drogol.”

“Please,” said Drogol, appearing to be very open to his new employee, “Ask.”

“Well, you do realize Shane believes himself no longer human?”

“Not human,” Drogol said.

“Yes.”

“But,” Drogol said, shaking his head, “you know that he is delusional.”

“Of course.”

“Why does he have this belief? And why does he drink his blood and say he drinks the blood of others?”

“It is nothing new for him. His mother often found him trying to drink his own blood.”

“Did you ask his mother on admittance if he ever tried to do this before?”

“She said her son has had a lifelong fascination with the macabre. It is a psychotic delusion. These are psychotic patients we have in our care.”

“That is all it is?”

“Of course! Good heavens, man, you must keep your clinical hat on at all times.”

“This is just so very peculiar to me.”

“You have seen Shane in action? He is very charismatic. The other patients have really taken to him.”

“Do the rest of them think they are vampires?”

“Yes,” Drogol said mildly.

“Vampires?” Gabriel repeated.

“Yes, just like psychotic patients who adopted ‘lycanthropy’ as a symptom in the Middle Ages with lupine savagery and believed they were actual werewolves, ours believe they are the living dead. I never agree with psychotics. I just give them, within reason, what they want. Have you any more questions?”

“I certainly do. I can see that Shane is clearly a danger to himself, but is he a danger to others?”

“How do you mean?”

“I have seen how aroused he gets at the sight of his own blood.”

“Shane only hurts himself. If he says otherwise he is just living in his own world.”

“Are you sure?”

“We have done background checks. Psychiatric symptoms can be contagious to those who are not previously mentally ill. Our work in mental health has a high degree of burnout. Maybe, eventually, you will also want to sleep in a coffin. Believe me, coffins are excellent for helping you forget about all this nonsense.”

“Have you any other advice?”

“Keep your office free of any hint of red. Our patients might start doing really crazy things and it will be truly exhausting trying to sedate them.”

 

The End

 

 

Michael Mulvihill, info@rathgartherapy.com, of Rathgar, Dublin, Ireland, wrote BP #81’s “Drogol’s Institute” & “Killing Time” (+ BP #80’s “Rise”; BP #79’s “Drogol the Nosophorous and the Calf of Man”; BP #78’s “Self-Immolation,” BP #77’s “Lupine Savagery”; BP #76’s “The Watchers”; BP #68’s“The Toasters’ Tragedy” and “Ziggy’s Afterlife Analysis”; “Homeless” & “Why the Hell Siberia?” for BP #67; was featured author for BP #65’s “Ethagorian Evidence (Parts 1 & 2)” & “Uninsured Assurance”; VAMPIRE HORDE, Ch.1…for BP #63; BP #61’s poems, A Love Story Beautiful, Capitalism’s Modern Architecture of Love, Red Brick, The Securocrats, and Toxic Addiction; the poems, “Fatigued,” “O Mother,” & “Spike-Inverted Hearts” for BP #58; “The Cleaner and the Collector” & all 6 BP #56 poems; BP #50’s “The Soul Scrubber” and as featured vampire poet with A Vampire’s Dilemma: Love, Becoming a Vampire, Vampire Insomnia, and Vampiric War in The Kodori Valley; wrote BP #49’s poems—I, the Vampire, The Reluctant Vampire of Tbilisi, Vampire Observations, and Vampire Psychoanalysis). The 30ish author published a short story, “Ethagoria Nebsonia,” in BP in ‘98 and had a poem, “The Bombing,” in The Kingdom News about a domestic tragedy in Ireland. He has two 2007 poetry books out with Exposure Publishing: Searching for Love Central and The Genesis and Anatomy of Love, and has written the horror novels, DIABOLIS OF DUBLIN & SIBERIAN HELLHOLE.

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