`The essence of Jungian psychology is not simply a commitment to the archetype, but to the sense of the numinous that comes with its proper identification. Both the analyst and the patient need to converge on its meaning and an understanding of what that meaning compels us to do if the therapy is to be successful. ’ Prof David Samuels. Preface to Jung and Contemporary Psychoanalysis. 2004. Columbia University Press, New York.
It started with a dream. Perhaps most things do; an inner wish or phobia hatching out into the night, blooming under the darkness. A false memory, your own or someone else's; a nocturnal invitation into the sub-consciousness? God knows, really. As a psychologist I am inclined to over-interpret, or indeed to over rationalise, but from the onset there was something deeply unsettling about this particular dream, about Max, something so tangible and lucid that it was an affront to my waking self, almost an accusation. And only just a dream, if that makes any sense at all. It was barely contained, too energetic, eager to break free. Although I had never forgotten Max, his sudden intense appearance shocked me. I had not been prepared to meet him that night. Over the long years since his abduction my memories of him, his smell; his taste, the texture of his body had morphed so much into who I was that I rarely acknowledged them. And there had been dreams once, but like all dreams, the image of Max had blurred with time; my recollection of what he looked like had lost focus, bleached slowly of detail until he was a mere V shaped wedge of shoulders and hair against a soft ambient glare, a metaphor of memory, like sunlight seen through deep water.
But that nigh, that night, without warning, I saw Max vividly, utterly in focus; re-imaged with such intensity that I had jumped awake, gasping, like a man drowning. I had been dreaming of college, of a locker room, empty for the most part, but with the benches and lockers littered and messy with gear. The location was ambiguous, it was almost an actual place, my own high school, but like all dreams it was both unknown and remembered. A sporting event, some team fixture long ago, with the tribal occupants on a field somewhere pitching balls and screaming. The locker room was silent, smelling of sweat like a stable, except that is for the soft fuzzy trickle of water; the ambient sound of a shower on tiles. I stood listening, recalling the frisson of adolescence, the deep blood felt lust of watching other youths washing and chatting, tight muscular buttocks and thighs smeared with steam, lazily rotating like stars. I walked towards the sound. The communal showers were empty except for one young man, his back half turned, washing his face and hair in slow rhythmical movements, as if he was massaging himself, distracted, thoughtful. Even then, even as an anagram of Max, with his ink black hair plastered down over his cheek; the half turned torso showing a crescent pectoral and a dunescape of narrowing abdominals, even then I had not recognised him. All I sensed was his essentialised, almost clichéd beauty, his self possession, his hands moving now in great soapy arcs over his groin. Side on, his chiselled body glistened, a perfectly executed relief on the walls of some tomb: the stylised representation of a deity? It was only as he turned to face me that I realised it was Max. He has been looking down at his feet, and a rill of soap like a small wave had bled down his lower stomach, over a boss of public hair and a soft, thick cut cock. He seemed distracted by the movement, as if he feared he was dissolving. Short black hairs hazed his thighs and calves. He lifted his arms to stop the water, looking around as he did so. Water ran over his nose and his bone filled, sculptured face, pearled in his nose and along his mouth. As he shook his mane of hair I had felt the intense, shocking revelation of who he was. When he looked at me I saw the intense surprise on his face, as if he had caught a stranger watching him, but then there was the flare of recognition, the brilliant eyes wide with joy.
His voice had been unmistakable, although I had not heard it for over twenty years. Inarticulate with sheer, inexplicable pain, I had snatched myself up into the waking world, choking on my grief, fighting for air, scrambling out of the bed like a man who sees an assassin between the sheets. Had I called his name? I thought I had - I thought I had screamed it - a tangible shocking name ripped out of me. I sat on the end of the bed with my heart literally thundering in my ears and throat. I was appalled - almost embarrassed - to find amid the shock that I had a hard on, appalled by Max's sheer beauty, slick, almost bestial, impossible to describe. Visibly shaking, I put the bedside light and rubbed my face aggressively.
It was 2.55 am.
After a few moments there came a tentative knock and Alex Whitehead, my resident tenant (usually confined to the attic and his doctoral studies), a Physics genius and indelibly a virgin, put his head around my door as if he expected to see me pinned to the wall with an axe.
`You alright Professor?'
I felt able to speak with relative calm, an assurance that the voice would be mine, calm, slightly clinical, slightly Bostonian still, the syllables starting in the nose.
`I'm fine thank you, Alex.'
He remained looking at me curiously, not entirely convinced I was telling the truth.
`You kindda made a noise?'
I smiled. I was definitely feeling better. Alex came from Iowa, he had a curious habit of ending each statement with a raised accent, begging a question, as if everything he said was tentative and prone to collapsing in an instance. He was a physicist. Perhaps it was a sort of occupational conditioning, Heisenberg by default.
`Really, I'm much better. I obviously had a dream.'
I stood up, my hands fussing over my pyjamas bottoms, hiding a semi erection still. Alex finally retreated without any further exchange, clicked the door too and went back to his lair. For a while I stood indecisively about the bed, as if I suspected it wasn't mine or that someone was hiding in it. I felt suddenly and shockingly close to tears. I had a busy day ahead of me, a whole line of doctoral students, a paper to finish, several clients to see later in the afternoon: at 55 I was beginning to depend on that elusive, secretive power nap, smuggled in somewhere between 3 and 4 pm. Reluctantly I returned to bed, and self consciously, looked about me and then turned off the light. For a while I lay gaunt with tension, my eyes flashing to themselves in the darkness, but gradually I slipped away into a shallow, warm sleep, all REM and memory. Max was sitting on the pan in my bathroom - a place he had never been to - he was naked and lithe, darkened by the sun. He was leaning down to cut his toe nails, front deltoids bunched and veined and his hair trailing over deep blue, gimlet eyes. He looked up as I entered, the room deep in his rich stink. He frowned, perhaps at my audacity, a semi ironic look as if I was trying out some new fetish.
The alarm snapped me awake. I lay for a while, old and grey, like something washed up by the sea, a wreckage of something once human . Eventually, with effort, I swung out of bed and composed my daily professional self.
Max stalked me for three nights, or rather he stalked my dream world: a vivid, eroticised presence that taunted and then abandoned me each morning. In a conventional sense, the dreams were pretty hard to describe, although I tried, with all the cold rationalism of my trade to write them down. In real life, Max had been the most beautiful man I had ever seen, and to judge from the serial chaos he often left in his wake, I had not been alone in my opinion on this. But in my dreams Max was magnified beyond all reason. He was primordial: unique, manifest like a god and each morning I awoke with his image seared into my brain, close to madness. By the second day I was unfocused at work, prone to panic attacks, and inclined to see Max out of the corner of my eye; the boy near the coffee kiosk, someone in a lift, a shape in a passing car. On the third day my secretary - a no nonsense woman from Chicago - took me deftly to one side and suggested I `went home.’
`Because you look like shit, Julian.’
In retrospect I could have dealt with all this, managed it, contained (if not actually analysed) it, had Max remained confined to my sub-conscious, safely if not dangerously inside my head. But on the fourth day, he broke lose and crossed the threshold into the waking world.
I had returned from work late, trying the `too exhausted to dream’ routine. I had suffered through two of my worst patients back to back: a man who feared choking so much that he liquefied all his food, and a women who was paranoid that her husband was sleeping with their daughter. On the drive home I had veered over two lanes on the freeway and been blared awake by outraged commuters: I had seen people shot at for less. Later I had cooked an unassuming, tasteless dinner and hit too many gin and tonics - an overt violation of my own drinking rules. As I had retired, Alex Whiteman, the intrepid tenant, returned from some secret convention on Chaos Theory. He looked angular and wet, his metal round glasses fogged up with condensation. I was always intrigued by my feelings of pity for him. They seemed so paternal. We spoke briefly, and then I climbed upstairs with all the caution of a man who fears to sleep. My bedroom was on the first floor of a gaunt, colonial style house, picturesque but impractical; badly lit and draughty, too large, too uncomfortable but too familiar now to abandon. As I clicked on my ceiling light I realised immediately that something was out of place. A glance at the bed confirmed that someone had not only been in my room, but actually inside my bed. The blankets were pulled back, and the pillows piled up against the headboard, roughly aligned with the plasma TV on the wall. There was a long dent in the middle of the bed, as if someone had hunkered down for some time; the TV remote on the bedside table. There was an odd smell as well, sweet, slightly feline: cannabis.
I stood rigidly by the door for what appeared to be hours, trying to accommodate what I saw with various obvious explanations. Should I call the police? Had anything been taken? I had not been alerted earlier by any signs of a break-in? Gradually, reassured that I was alone, I moved cautiously to examine the bedside table, the bed itself, the floor, the bathroom. I found the remains of a roll-up in a saucer left over from this morning. As I removed the pillows, long thick strands of black hair lay on the top of the covers. I put my face to the sheets and picked up a male scent: alkaline, the tang of ammonia like the sea, a tang of semen like iodine. There was another element to it as well, something smoky and slightly scented, like a faint whiff of olive oil. It was Max’s scent. On the floor was a nest of cum soaked tissues. The revelation stung my neck and face cold with fear. I had a bizarre, shocking image of Max threading his ample seed over my bed, marking it as his: re-claiming me. But it was firstly impossible: Max had vanished over twenty years ago, and secondly, even if he was back, why would he do this? I staggered into the bathroom, feeling unwell. Deep amber piss lay in the un-flushed toilet. I pictured Max standing, his back to the door, his buttocks bunched and knuckled, legs slightly apart, thundering his water down into the middle of the pan, hosing this and that, thinking of something else. My obsession with tidiness was both shocked and offended.
Saying his name scared me; the open recognition that something was very wrong.
I made the bed. I changed the sheets. I opened the window. I undressed with the curious, not entirely unpleasant sensation that I was being watched. Before I put the light off, I noticed a DVD on top of the TV cabinet: Black Prison Break. It was a gay porn job, white young offenders carted off and abused behind bars by massive black guys, thick bodied and veined like minotaurs. It was pure filth, vaguely nasty. Part of me was ashamed at owning it. It usually lay buried under PBS documentaries on birdlife or how to make a kitchen cabinet. Someone had put it on, skinned up a spliff, and spent a lazy afternoon stroking off to it. It was exactly what Max would do. Intrigued, I had checked to see which scene had been played last. The disc was still in the player. Furtively, I made sure the volume was down before switching the TV on.
A slight snap of static, a glow, and then a white youth, about 19 or twenty, lean but defined, chained with his hands up, showing off thick, dark haired armpits. His head was being shaved by one guard, while another, stripped naked, was fitting the prisoner with a ball gag. The youth’s legs were spread and his anus had been fitted with a close fitting plug. There seemed to be several wires coming from it, looped up to low hung dog balls, and the tip of his cock. He was sobbing. I turned it off immediately, instinctively, as if I had received an electric shock. Why had it so horrified me? That night I slept badly and unevenly. In the soft, shallow valleys of oblivion I did not so much see Max as sense him, prowling about just outside my line of vision, a predator on the threshold of my senses. At one stage, nudged awake by the alarm, I had sensed someone in bed with me, sniffing my face. I had thrashed towards the light terrified. I knew then, gasping for breath, that I needed help.
After breakfast the following morning I telephoned a colleague of mine, a fellow shrink. It was the equivalent of an unconditional surrender but I was now seriously rattled. I had quizzed Alex over his wholemeal Cheerio’s to see if somehow, in some inexplicable way, he was guilty of last nights intrusion. To my mind it was less plausible to see Alex in my bed with an SM gay dvd than it was to see Max back from the dead, haunting my house and for some inexplicable reason, biding his time before a formal re-introduction. Alex was, unsurprisingly, as white as the driven snow, offended at the suggestion and then sulky over my apology. And he was clearly bemused.
My colleague was a man called David Samuels, an ex-pat British guy who had married a women from New York City. He was indelibly straight but very worldly wise in that vaguely ironic, disinterested way the British used to be before they became Europeans. We met outside a coffee bar two blocks down from College. It was a damp but bright November afternoon, suffused with mild, sad sunlight. The sidewalks were patterned with pressed leaves, flat out like the hands of children. A pretty red haired women took our order, and before I could warn him, or even indicate what this was all about, I had launched into the Max crisis. I started with the dreams. I started telling him about their incredible power, as if Max was real. I told him every last vivid detail - except for some reason I omitted the dvd. By the time I ended with the edited bed and the spliff scene, we had got through two coffees each, and Samuels was eyeing me with something more than his usual professional engagement.
`Jesus!’ he said evenly, as if I had just told him some sort of major scam.
`The fact is, David, I am close to losing it now. Last night was the final straw.’
He nodded, in full agreement. `I don’t doubt it. Did you call the police? Did you get this guy - what’s his name - Alex - to confirm the scene in your bedroom?’
`No. I didn’t call the police. And Alex is just a tenant, I don’t want to involve him in this any more than I have to. I tried to interrogate him at breakfast. You think I hallucinated the break-in?’
Samuels shrugged, a small understatement as if he had not yet given the matter much thought.
`We can’t rule it out, Julian. Clearly the dream has caught you unawares, disturbed your accustomed sense of normality. Getting Alex to confirm what you think you saw would have been useful, that’s all. Next time - if this happens again - try and get someone else to confirm what you’re seeing. As for Max, he was a lover of yours? You’ve never mentioned him to me before?’
`No. No I haven’t. It was along time ago. Max was abducted when he was 19 I think. I met him at a College, he was one of my students.’
I looked to see if Samuels was surprised, shocked, vaguely judgemental but his expression was inscruitable. He had started writing something thing down in a notebook.
`That can’t have been easy - I mean - having an affair with a student - when was this - the early 1980s?’
`Yes, about then.’
Samuels asked me some more questions about Max, how we’d met, how long we had seen each other, how it had ended. I had sounded curiously vague about the details. He had been abducted in 1983 or 4; a few weeks before he left College to go to San Diego. His family were wealthy, financiers from back East. They had been on a family holiday in Italy when Max had disappeared; the bay of Naples, close to the island of Capri. I had been in Boston burying a parent at the time. Decimated by his loss, I had dutifully helped the police with enquiries, conscious all the time that under less opportune circumstances I would probably have been a suspect. My relationship with Max was pretty obvious to most people by then; his father had been outraged. It was as hard to hide Max as it was to disguise his influence on me, his effect on my world: one may as well have tried to hide the sun. There was no ransom note, no body. After a long and acrimonious joint operation by the US and Italian authorities Max has been declared dead in 2000. Max’s father had tried to sue me for some bizarre misconduct but failed.
`I think I do remember something about this, about an abduction?’ said Samuels after a lengthy pause. `Wasn’t his father was half Italian himself, or the mother? Didn’t he kill himself afterwards - the father?‘
`Yes. Yes that’s right!‘
`And that’s why your moved from Hartford?’
`Yes. The publicity for the college was too much. Even registered Democrats were vaguely horrified. The father was Italian. He came from an old Etruscan family. He had left Italy after WWII.’
`Yes, yes, that’s right, some fund raiser for Reagan if I remember correctly?’
I felt suddenly unsure of the details, troubled by Samuels recall. I nodded evasively.
`Yes.’ I had closed my eyes tightly, the sun angling down low and glaring off the metal table top. `David I need to get this sorted. It is interfering with my work and my health. I haven’t been in therapy for years - it is about time I did - I am supposed to of course, but I never quite got around to it.’
`You want me to act as your analyst? Are you sure about that?’ He had smiled. It was half a joke. Samuels was a rather fanatical Jungian, inclined to be doctrinaire where other analysts were inclined to be pragmatic and he had been politely rude about my Freudian proclivities.
`Yeah, definitely. I mean it’s not as if we have any disguised sexual imagery for god’s sake; it’s all pretty much in the open! I have never had such explicit dreams in my life!’
`Well I’m your man, then! I’ve never cared for the `umbrella as a metaphor for a penis’ approach anyway, or the sublimated, repressed imagery that implies that seeing a young man defecating implies a confused anal-oral phase!’
A women had looked up from a nearby table, more curious than censorious.
`Quite. And I think the dreams are about something now - immediately - not about something long ago. They are symptomatic of some internal dislocation, something has triggered this response, something I have seen but perhaps not recognised?’
`Hmmm. Very Jungian. And Max - Max seems very archetypal!’ He smiled his ironic, un-American smile. He glanced at his watch. `Listen: drop by tomorrow after your own clinic. If you have time try and look for something obvious: an anniversary, something you may have seen or heard that reactivated these memories - do you have any pictures of him, mementos, gifts?’
`I might have. I tried hard to expunge Max after his disappearance. For a while I couldn’t deal with him not being in the world. He was - he was too - ‘ I stammered, unsure.
`Beautiful?’ Samuels suggested.
I smiled, vaguely embarrassed. I had been about to use the word `irreplaceable‘. I nodded. `Yes. If the intrusion into my bedroom was an hallucination, I have never experienced anything like that, ever; in my entire life!’
I gestured to the waitress.
`When did you last smoke weed?’ Samuels asked suddenly. The English expression momentarily threw me.
`Oh, not for years - and I was never much of a pot smoker. Max did occasionally, but not often: I am sure of that. Or at least not that I remember. The odd thing is that, when I come to think about this, I remember so little!’
`Perhaps we are dealing with some repressed memories after all!’ Samuels patted my arm reassuring and we parted quickly, like men who have struck a deal. I felt relieved, reassured, more centred. Talking with Samuels had reassured me and given me new found courage. Clearly I was exhausted, and my imagination - usually so pedestrian in its way - was suddenly working overtime, fuelled by anxiety and what: remorse? Fear? A sense of loss? I watched Samuels walk into the distance but suddenly became aware that I was being watched from behind. I turned around decisively and looked about me. The sidewalk was deserted now, the café chairs and tables empty, scattered amid the trees and looking slightly forlorn in the fading light. Again there came a brush stroke of movement just off centre. Someone - a man - was standing against a fire hydrant, lighting a cigarette. I glared at him, although it was hard to see any detail. He wore some sort of dark reefer coat, the collar up. He had black shoulder length hair, but uneven and long at the front. A wave of panic tightened my chest but he seemed too slight for Max; too indistinct. I breathed through my nose, and grinding my teeth, I walked towards him. As I got closer I realised he was also too young - probably mid twenties - dark, like Max, but obviously, obviously not Max. I felt both angry and distressed at my stupidity. What in god's name was wrong with me! The youth, watching me carefully, drew hard on his cigarette. The end glowed suddenly, he inhaled, his face relaxing on the hit, and then he snaked a coil of smoke from his lips and nose. I felt a stab of lust in my groin and stomach. Whoever he was he was attractive - `cute' - as my students would say, an oddly understated, overworked word. He looked at me directly as he fitted the filter tip back between his lips. He had long white, elegant hands, and the inside of his left index finger was stained yellow.
`You ok?' he asked on the exhale. The voice was young - younger than he in fact looked - and slightly accented.
`Yes, yes. I thought you were someone else, sorry -' I had stopped some way from him. Several cars passed by to our left: I wondered how this would look to people on the freeway, a curious, indistinct liaison of some sort: a frisson of sex, a deal?
`Yeah?' His tone was curious. His skin was very pale; on someone less handsome it would have made them look ill, almost corpse like.
`I'm sorry?' The impertinence of his question surprised me.
`Who did you think I was?' he dropped the half smoked cigarette onto the sidewalk and left it there, smouldering on the wet, leaf patterned tarmac. My mind was working on his accent like a computer program, matching, comparing, discarding.
`A friend of mine, someone I haven't seen for ages. Sorry. My mistake.' I turned round and walked away with fake purpose, curious why I had answered him or indeed apologised. When I crossed the intersection, I glanced back furtively, expecting to find the street empty, but the young man was still regarding with me a sort of animal like curiosity. I felt sick with anxiety.
From the moment I physically `experienced' the intrusion into my bedroom, from the moment I actively sought out Samuels, I chose to give myself over to Max like someone abandoning themselves to an addiction or an obsession. I spent almost all my spare time on it, like a huge puzzle pr bizarre hobby. And from the onset, it seemed to be quite obvious that the puzzle had two quite different, but not necessarily separate explanations. The first - and by far the most obvious - was that, for whatever reason, after years of careful management and suppression, my memories of Max, my grief at his loss, had exploded from my subconscious mind out into the open - like seeping gas quietly and insidiously builds to an explosion. But, as Samuels had asked, why now? What had provided the spark? This brought me to the second explanation, by far less plausible, but hinted at by the sheer realism of my dreams and the break-in: that Max was in fact alive and somehow back in the US and - for whatever reason - was really stalking me. However unlikely, it was undoubtedly the case that no body had ever been found, and that the investigation into his abduction had been formerly closed without any major leads whatsoever. I was prepared to accept the fact that someone had been into my bedroom, someone had actually, physically used my bathroom and watched my porn! I knew it was not an hallucination.
I tried to theorise some sort of connection between the dream and the break-in. It was just possible that I had somehow seen Max since his return - perhaps unknowingly - and despite not recognising him, his actual presence had triggered these sudden vivid recollections: Max would be in his late thirties now: the images that haunted me were Max when we were lovers, Max as he had been. I tried to think what he would look like now? How, where, and when I would have casually brushed past him? It was almost impossible to think I would not register his presence? Almost sense him? Yet I had, in my own professional life, seen this sort of subliminal process at work in countless cases. A chance unknown meeting with an ex, a stray email contact, even a name heard after long years of careful silence: un-noticed but half heard, and all enough to suddenly overwhelm a life time of evasion. Both explanations - touching on each other as they did - required quite separate forms of enquiry.
As far as the psychological aspect of the problem went, I immersed myself into the familiar routine of narrating as much as I could about Max while sitting in the rather donnish consulting room at Samuels' house. He worked out from a long gallery cluttered with books and deep worn leather chesterfield sofas, and to my surprise, he smoked a pipe during our weekly meetings. After our first session, Samuels asked me to bring something I still had of Max's: anything, as if he was a medium and needed to make some sort of physical connection. It was not an easy request to satisfy. So thoroughly had I purged Max from my life that there seemed to be no trace of him at all. Eventually however, while sorting through file boxes in the attic, I came across a series of photographs we had taken together while on vacation in Vermont one Fall, the year before he had left for his fatal trip to Italy. Their discovery was unsettlingly: they had been hidden with great effort behind a series of framed postcards of Hartford College, and the only reason I found them was that a strip of print stuck out of the edge of one of the cards. Prizing the glass off and lifting the back of the frame was almost like an exhumation: Max was squatting, bare-chested, removing a hook from the mouth of a broad, glistening catfish: he looked quite tribal, with mud on the side of his up turned cheek and on his left shoulder. The fish itself struck me as vaguely erotic or obscene: scaled and slick, its white underbelly muscled and strong, and its gaping mouth and gills like a broad piss-eye. Something about Max's pose implied he was consciously making a connection with the length of the fish and his own genitalia, which given his pose, was tantalising snug and bulbous in his jeans. Before I put the photograph into my pocket I noticed that for some reason, the top of the print had been burned slightly.
The other photos were of me, sitting on a broad colonial veranda reading something. In some ways these were more disturbing than the picture of Max, since for a while I did not recognise myself at all, and had no particular recollection of them being taken let alone where. It didn't look like Vermont. There was too much warmth and heat in the light. In a small patch of skyline there was a hint of sea, somewhere vaguely tropical. Reluctantly I took them all with me to Samuels, and when I handed them over to him I noticed that my hand had been trembling slightly.
These sessions, conventional as they were, proved useful. The process of telling, re-telling, remembering, whatever it was exactly I did, kept Max at bay for a time. Initially I spared Samuels the explicit details because I was myself embarrassed by the sheer physicality of my relationship with Max, and also because I feared he would disapprove of the graphic and almost limitless lust we had for each other and which the dreams narrated. When we had finally had sex Max was just eighteen, but the intensity of those brief years was in itself bizarre, `inappropriate' to many (that most damning middle class word!) and completely beyond my control. Samuels was, however, deeply professional - he seemed not so much indifferent to the minutia of having sex with Max, but to tacitly demand it; as if he was genuinely curious. And often, if I paused on some particular incident, the curve of Max's inside thigh, the deep smooth rind of his perineum, the dark tight ring of his anus, Samuels would re-materialise from behind a thick bank of peat smelling fug and say `Well, go on!` and I would find myself sometimes excited - almost aroused at his interest.
Over a number of sessions I described Max's arrival at college, the sheer reign of lust and fear that had immediately overwhelmed me when I had found him, sitting in my seminar that first morning; un-announced, a brilliant white shirt casually half undone, hair massed up and still wet from some rushed shower. Max's sculptured, bone filled face and neck had seemed almost luminous, softly greased as if he had just been made or born that very moment. I explained how I had gone to extraordinary lengths to avoid him, his smell, the way he ignored my own physical boundaries, the way he put his hand up to answer a question, the soft, wet pout of his mouth when he was writing something. I described the sheer absurdity of a grown man stammering and blushing when, without warning, Max had appeared in my office one day to discuss his work. He was like a fallen angel or a devil, someone who either did not know his power or simply didn't care. After he had left, I had spent the entire evening finding out more about him, where he had lived, who his friends were, even the brand of his clothes. But most off al I have panicked. Samuels had been amused and had looked at the photo of Max with the fish as if he could sympathise.
`You were sport for the gods!' he had mused.
`Yes. The irony of the whole relationship was that, to my peers at least, I had the power and prestige and could be accused of influencing, even abusing Max: in fact it was the other way around - Max chose me and once he had sunk his teeth into me, I was pretty well fucked.'
`Quite' said Samuels, lighting up again and pluming smoke like an old steam train.
`What I will never understand is how someone so young could be so profoundly sexual.' I had mused, gathering myself together as the end of the session loomed. Samuels seemed to have some difficulties getting the pipe to light.
`Really? Why is that surprising? A seventeen year old boy turns up, conscious of his beauty and the power of his body, probably well into his cock and the sheer gravitation field of his sex. He meets a handsome, fit male tutor; I see it all the time, Julian. In this metro sexual age, young men can tease as effectively - perhaps more effectively - than any girl! Perhaps, even to a dull heterosexual like myself, there is something ultimately erotic about a beautiful boy.'
`But he didn't just tease, that's the point - `
As regards the other puzzle - the possibility that Max was alive and well and indelibly back, I made a few tacit inquiries with the police. The Hartford precinct that had dealt with the case before handing it to the FBI (which in turn had then handed it on to several international agencies) was adamant that nothing new had been reported. They were curious but sceptical as to why I had called. No interest had been shown in reviving a cold case, no fresh clues, nothing. Disappointed but oddly relieved, I was then tempted to contact his mother - who lived now in upstate New York, but despite dialling her number several times I always lost my nerve and put the phone down before it even went to the call tone. Max had been an only child, hence the enormity of the loss, and then the loss of the husband! I could hardly expect a polite or forthcoming conversation. On a slightly different tack, I checked with the administrators of my current institution to see if any new mature students had registered for my classes. Had I taken on any new patients recently? It was a frustrating, bewildering journey. Then one evening I discovered that I was not the only one who had been making enquiries. On perhaps the forth or fifth session with Samuels, it transpired that he too had been `in the archives' as he put it.
`Yes, I mean despite the fact that there have been no more apparitions, we should not rule out the fact that you are in fact not hallucinating!'
We had moved from the study to the hall, and I was hauling on a thick coat. I was glad that Samuels was open to this possibility. I agreed readily.
`I know, I know. I have even considered the possibility that this is some sort of revenge thing - I mean - someone who blames me for Max's abduction and the death of his father, an old friend, even the mother!'
Samuels helped me on with a sleeve.
`But why would someone start to persecute you now, Julian, after all these years? And the dreams started before the actual experience of the break-in. Incidentally, I have been meaning to ask you something.'
We were at the door. It was snowing outside, softly, almost absent mindedly.
`You've often mentioned the fact that Max was abducted, and you've often discussed the fact that there was no ransom, no demand? I told you some time ago I remembered the case? I think I was wrong. I think I had confused Max with someone else?‘
`Really?‘ I thought it an odd point to make.
`Regarding Max, the police file reports he simply disappeared.'
`Disappeared?' I had sounded surprised, as if the word was new to me.
`Yes, I mean it's a sort of incidental detail, but the investigation proceeded on the grounds that Max had not been taken against his will, but had suffered some sort of accident.'
Something in Samuels tone irritated me, as if he knew a great more than he was telling me. It was an old trick, to hold some incidental revelation until the patient least expected it.
`That can't be right - the papers were full of it, there was endless speculation that it was linked to his father's business interests?'
`Well I had a brief visit to several papers, I even searched for the word `abduct' - it was never used. And you’re sure about the father?‘
I had stood on the top step blinking as the small snow flakes hit my eyebrows and face.
`Sure about what?‘ '
But Samuels had shrugged, bemused, indifferent, and politely closed the door.
After a few moments of rather pointlessly staring in front of me, like a door to door sales man spurned mid sentence, I turned and drove home through thick, now serious looking snow. I tried to see myself in Samuels position, executing not so much a sort of cheap trick with words than a studied form of intervention aimed to startle and shock the patient and disturb some well ordered, well constructed account of a truth and see it - momentarily - as something fake; contrived? Was the difference between the word abducted and disappeared so great? Did it have any real bearing on the issue? Why was I so irritated by Samuels’ rather excessive pedantry? Why was I angry? And the point about the father?
When I got home I grunted a greeting to Whitehouse, who was as ever making some sort of peanut butter sandwich, but I was upset and so quickly retired to my study. For his part Alex seemed unusually attentive, as if he was suddenly vaguely normal, or even worse, curious as to my behaviour. At one stage I even thought he planned to start a conversation! I took it as a bad omen and was rather curt. Once in the locked privacy of my room I poured over the photos I had retrieved from the attic, minus Max and the fish, of course. Samuels had kept that one, pawed it several times, and then left it face up on his desk as if Max was some sort of deity on a tarot card. In my haste to leave I had forgotten to ask for it back. The remaining pictures were all of me, presumably taken by Max. I looked at myself, at the veranda, and tried very hard to recall where it was: why did they mean nothing to me? Wasn’t it odd that there was no photograph of us together? Or had I found them all too difficult to keep? Momentarily inspired, I went to my bureau and found my passport but it was too recent to show any foreign destinations that corresponded with the year of the photos: 1983, 1984? California? New Mexico? The light was wrong - definitely wrong for the East coast. Again, like a man driven by a habit, I found myself looking up Max’s mother’s phone number in an old pocket book. Images crammed into my head; Max, slick, oiled, stinking of sex, the youth on the pavement by the café, and finally the look on Samuels’ face when he had disputed the word abduction: an expression that I had not liked at all. I logged onto my computer and searched some on-line newspapers, bookmarked from earlier, moody musings: Samuels was right: the word abduction did not appear anywhere at all. Max had simply gone missing. And as I prepared to go to bed I suddenly, bizarrely thought that Max’s surname was evidently not Italian at all: it was Lennox. Max Lennox. Is that what Samuels had been getting at? Why had Max seemingly kept another name?
Irritated, anxious, and increasingly intrigued, I lay awake for hours, uncomfortable, the pillows wrong, the sheets prickly. I heard Alex prowl up to his eyrie, talking to himself like the preternatural mad professor he was. Then, at one stage I thought my heart sounded odd, too heavy, too loud, pounding relentlessly in my ear. At 3 am, bored with myself, I drained a tumbler of brandy with the deceptive ease of a man who thinks he will never have a drink problem. Finally, towards dawn, I managed to slip away into a series of short lucid dreams, viscous pools of brilliance; bejewelled and textured with light. I was floating face down in a shallow sea, white sanded and torpid. Max was swimming towards me, sleek, naked, the soft down of his thighs and buttocks silvered with beads of air. For a moment I mistook his shape for some sort of pelagic life form, predatory and yet graceful, curious as to who I was and what I was doing in it’s domain. Under water, smudged by the crenulated wedges of sunlight rippling above him, Max looked especially ghostly, his body richly drawn in detail, a blue-grey line of beauty. And predictably, as I had swam down towards Max he morphed into a dolphin, playful, excited, luring me away into the deep. The metamorphosis startled me awake, only to fall into another dream sequence. In this Max was standing over me, definitively post-fuck, his body drizzled with sweat.
`Did you know that dolphins are sacred to the God Apollo?‘ he told me, as if he was dreaming my dreams with me. With his right thumb he ran a rill of sweat from his abdominals. I was leaning up on my arms, exhausted, used utterly, a deep glow behind my balls and my ass ring gummy with his seed. I could still feel the width and length of his cock in me, the ghost of it, deep in my guts like a spear. There was blood on my cheek from a deep scratch. I could taste Max on my tongue and lips, and still feel the heavy weight of his buttocks across the bridge of my nose as he had sat relentlessly on my face, wedging his smell down onto my face, demanding submission.
`I did, actually. I think I told you that?’ I said, still panting. My voice sounded puzzled.
He smiled, not unkindly. He had his head cocked to one side, as if he was listening to something, waiting. His hair, dried by the sun, snaked about the neck and over his cheeks and forehead. He was contemplating my body as if I was a challenge. He was thinking of some new obscenity. I had seen the look before.
`Hey?’ his voice was cunning. `Do you like Capri? Do you want to go on playing Tiberius?’
He knelt down between my legs smiling and seeking out my anus wedged several fingers up into me. I thought of the fish in the photo, curiously aware in the dream that I was dreaming. I awoke to find I had ejaculated over my stomach.
Over breakfast I was half dead, light headed, with a strange ringing in my left ear. Moreover, Alex seemed oddly persistent about something. As he was leaving he finally coughed up the statement, rather dog like, that someone had called around for me last night while I had been at Samuels. I had been about to rebuke him for such careless negligence, but then appreciated that I was responsible for this: I had clearly mistaken his sense of mission with a worrying inclination to have some small talk.
`Who was it, Alex?‘
`I had never seen him. He was young, quite attractive -‘ he made the words accusatory. I ignored the tone,
`Was he a patient?’
`No. He said he had something important to tell you. He’ll call again this evening, around eight pm?’
I tried to hide a frown, a stab of panic. With a certain callous enjoyment I bundled Alex out of the apartment and into the blinding white snow scape. Then, with sudden decision, I called Max’s mother. I had worked out various possible reactions to such a sudden and unannounced intrusion, and the worse case scenario seemed to be that she would simply hang up. And even if she did that, somehow she might give me some clue, some hint as to whether Max was alive. If Max was indeed back in the land of the living it was inconceivable to me that he would not have approached his mother for some sort of help. After several pathetic attempts I succeeded in placing the call. I waited for her to pick up, my mouth dry and my throat bizarrely knotted as if I literally had some sort of physical object stuck in it. Just on the point of giving up, a chilly rather frail voice answered. The intonation was precise, suspicious, the tone reflexive and questioning.
For one moment I seriously thought I would be unable to speak.
`Mrs Lennox. I am sorry to trouble you - please hear me out - it’s Professor Grey?’
There was a gaunt silence, pregnant with possibilities, rejections, accusations, anger but then to my surprise the voice, relaxing slightly, said simply
`Professor Grey, Julian Grey - ‘ my voice sounded stupidly equivocal, as if I was actually unsure who I was. I went to add `Max’s Julian? ‘ but thought better of it.
Static ebbed and flowed through my ear. I could hear a clock ticking with solidly upper class precision and Mrs Lennox’s shallow breathing: I had an image of a wealthy matriarch standing in some chilly, poorly lit hallway, some bone cold mansion surrounding by dripping pines.
`Of Hartford? Hartford College?’
`Yes, yes, that’s right!’ But the tone was wrong. Perhaps she had forgotten her grief - her inexorable anger; momentarily surprised by the audacity of my call and any minute with astounding outrage, her anger would catch up with her?
`Good gracious me, what a surprise - it must be over twenty years! My oh my, what can I do for you?’
I was gripping the handset so hard I could hear the plastic snapping and creaking. I had almost closed me eyes.
`It’s about Max, Mrs Lennox. I want to talk to you about Max - ‘
There was a slight noise on the other end of the line, a catch in the throat, as if she has been taken aback. I breathed carefully through my nose. The silence literally burned into the side of my head.
`Oh Professor Grey, you must have heard by now - I mean - ‘ her voice seemed strained, panicked. `I don’t understand - has no one told you? He disappeared on a trip to Naples, many years ago - I mean. Oh I am so sorry. I thought the college would have said something!’
I went to speak but found that my voice had failed.
There are moments in everyone’s life where something happens that is so bizarre, so utterly unreal, that the basic mechanisms of commonsense collapse. As a psychologist I was to some extent more familiar with these moments than most people, but usually as a third person, a casual voyeur: the dreams and the break-in had shaken me but nothing could compare to the effect that Mrs Lennox’s tone had on my sense of everyday rationality: had she wilfully forgotten my relationship with her son, the arguments when Max had come out to her, the anger and bullying of her husband, and then the terrible aftermath of Max’s vanishing act - the law suit, the attempt to drive me from my job? Had she been ill? A series of plausible rationalisations flitted through my head: dementia? Amnesia? A sophisticated form of spite?
`Professor Grey - did you not know this? Would you like to speak with my husband?’
The word husband stabbed me, almost literally. I found I was unable to get my breath and warm water started to collect at the back of my throat. A second husband, remarried after the loss of Max’s father?
`Hold, it Professor, wait a moment - Max’s father is here - let me fetch him. I am so, so sorry to have to tell you this after so long!’ he voice became less distinct, to one side, calling back to someone. I looked at the phone in my hand as if it was some strange, alien artefact. I heard her say in a stage whisper `Malcolm darling, come here - no, come here: it’s a Professor Grey, the man who taught Max at Hartford? He doesn’t seem to know about Max! Could you talk to him?’ Her voice became clearly, more distinct. `Professor Grey, my husband will speak with you -
Before Max’s father could speak to me I had disconnected the phone and stood, mouth slack, my mind completely blank as if I had suffered a stroke. I was too bewildered to panic, too exhausted. For a minute I existed without identity, without a history in a world that seemed now to exist without rules or basic chronology. And then as if coming up for air, I thought one simple, elegant thought: I had gone mad. Insanity was the only explanation for what was happening to me. For how otherwise could established events, long over and secured in my memory, suddenly and so spectacularly re-arrange themselves? Or simply cease to be? It was as if I had stumbled into some sort of parallel universe. Nothing made sense anymore! I staggered back downstairs to the kitchen and sat looking at the room as if it was fake, a sort of facsimile of my life, an elaborate hoax. Then, without warning, I was hit by a terrible, visceral panic attack. Gasping for breath I sat down and closed my eyes tightly, trying to meditate, trying to calm myself. The crisis passed - leaving me drenched with sweat. Calmer, more centred, I eventually made myself some decaffeinated coffee and cleared the kitchen table completely. It was made from white glass, stylish in that late 1990s way glass things had once been. I took a white board marker from my briefcase and started to draw on the milky surface. I started to draw carefully and slowly, wide sweeping mandalas, Jungian street maps of my inner turmoil.
Firstly I drew what had happened to me, Max; our meeting in Hartford; the crisis with his family, his disappearance, the law suit with his father; his father’s subsequent suicide, and then my departure from College. I left a wide blank space and then, on the far left of the table, I started to draw the recent events: the first dream, Max resplendent, the incident in the bedroom, the dvd of the abused youth tormented by the guard, my decision to seek out Samuels; I even put in poor Alex Whitehouse as a sort of rococo curl, a reluctant witness.
After my improvised work of art, I checked my notes, written after the first visitations and the first vivid dreamscapes. Then in the middle of the table I wrote out a series of questions. Who is the father? Was Max abducted? Id his mother know me? The activity calmed me. I felt I was engaging my rationality at last and that I could analyse and contain what was happening to me: that somehow I could put this external manifestation back into the box of my sub consciousness. And then suddenly I noticed a curious anomaly. In the first dream, when Max was alone in the shower, he had called me the wrong name. I stared at my notes in disbelief. Samuels had not commented on this, although I had given him copies of my dream diary. Turning in the shower, his wet muscled body side onto me, Max had called me Daniel. Why had I not noticed that before? Why hadn’t my analyst? Or at least why had he not brought the matter to my attention? Who was Daniel?
Suddenly the door bell rang. It seemed incredibly loud, and so precarious was the state of my nerves that I swung around spilling my drink. The sound came again, a single elongated ring deafening in its intensity. For a while I felt like a criminal, someone hunted, caught in the middle of an atrocious act. Then I walked quietly into the hallway and towards the front door. It was solid oak, with a small spyglass in the middle panel. A high frosted fanlight let in natural light, but otherwise I crept up towards it without risk of being observed. I pressed my right eye to the peep hole and looked out, a brilliant white fisheye of snow and sky, and curved up on one side was a figure, a young man, gloved and coated, seemingly looking at his feet. I recognised him immediately as the youth near the café, the one I had spied after my first meeting with Samuels. Was this the guy who had called last night? Why hadn’t he waited until this evening, or had Alex got the time wrong? 8 am not 8 pm? I scrutinised the distorted figure. When he looked up I almost flinched away. His grey-blue eyes were very close, made pale and liquid by the snow light. He looked blankly at the door and half turned to leave. His black hair lay across his cheek and forehead, the white skin pinched with cold. He was even more attractive close up, and much more Max like than I had first thought; almost a sibling? Could it be Max, in some way? Would I recognise him after all this time? But how could he have not aged? And how was he almost in fact younger than when we first met? I looked closer. Through the open collar of his coat I noticed a broad, masculine neck, the Adams apple incised between two delicious tendons, like a fist of bone. He was more muscled than I had first thought on as well, the reefer coat had been misleading. The youth turned, still loitering, checked his watch and then he lit up a cigarette.
I have always found youths smoking a massive turn on. The reasons seemed obscure, bizarre, like any fetish. In part it was the oral element obviously, seeing them insert the butts into their mouths, seeing them draw and take the hit, then cloud out the smoke. Perhaps it was more destructive and nihilistic; the sight of a fit youth poisoning their bodies, abusing themselves, drugging themselves. Or was it merely my fetid recollections of Max after a night of continuous abuse, inhaling a massive spliff; his eyes glassy, his thick veined cock across his stomach and his abs still smeared with a snail trail of spent seed? I watched as the youth smoked, bizarrely tempted to masturbate, but just then, as before, he threw the half finished cigarette away. He looked again at the door, glanced up at the house, and then he turned and walked out of my field of vision. I waited, my pulse pounding in my throat and ears and after about five minutes, I opened the door and looked out. The light was blinding, revelatory: in the deep clean snow were a series of footprints, peppered about the doorstep, as if some form of predator had paced and snarled at my door. The cigarette butt was still smouldering.
I closed the door carefully and returned to the kitchen. The table, covered in my artful graffiti looked exotic, dramatic but disturbing, like the scene of a crime. Suddenly I felt a deep stab of intense suspicion aimed at Samuels, something pointed but yet at the same time indistinct. For a moment my conviction that he was at the centre of some elaborate conspiracy gave me immense satisfaction. But I had approached him after the dreams started, after the break-in, and in some senses he was an unlikely guy for me too seek out as an analyst - he could not have anticipated it before hand? My paranoia collapsed as quickly as it had formed, like some dark twister, snaking through my mind, shattering my sanity, and then dissipating, dropping things at random. I picked up a marker and added `smoking youth’ towards the left of my drawing. I walked back into the hall and called Samuels’ office. He was with a client, so I left an urgent message with his secretary. Then I went upstairs to my study and went through some old appointment diaries, finding a series of addresses for old colleagues in Hartford. Without the least hesitation I rang the first reliable contact I came across. I was informed that he had left years ago. The second one I was told had died. Finally I made contact with a woman called Lisa Gordon. Actually she had been a good friend to me in my faculty days, and had been helpful in avoiding any conflict of interests between myself and Max when it came to grading his work: a difficult job, and one that involved her in a lot of extra work. I was put through from the main switch board to her secretary. When I asked for Lisa by name, with all the professional assurance I could muster, I was passed straight on without any further questioning.
`Professor Gordon speaking.’
`Lisa, it’s Julian Grey - ‘
There was the slightest pause, a moment of hesitation like a TV screen flickers or a radio crackles. `Julian Grey?’ The voice was pregnant with expectation, tense: I could tell that I was still anonymous.
`Yes, yes Lisa - I’m sorry about the long silence -’
`Julian!’ something had clicked, a recognition, a synaptic response over decades of time.
`Julian! My god! How good to hear from you! Where are you?’
I babbled out the name of my institution, as if I had literally left Hartford a few days ago: great banks of undisclosed time hung between us like fog.
`What can I do for you! It’s literally astounding to hear from you after all this time!’ And then, like an echo, she seemed to sense the tone of my voice, or to measure the enormity of the years that lay between us. `Is everything alright?’
`Yes, yes - well, no actually. Things are a bit crazy here. This is profoundly selfish of me, calling you after all this time, but I need your help. It’s about Max?’
There was another nanosecond of silence, a blankness. `Max?’
`Yeah - Max Lennox - the student who I had the affair with - I mean’ I rubbed my eyes, wincing at the word, `I mean a relationship with -’
`Really? You had a relationship with a student? Good god - I had no idea - I don’t think I knew? Did I?’ There was a tone of intrigue, or perhaps of embarrassment in her voice, as if she had forgotten something vital. I stood leaning into the door frame looking at the phone. This was almost as bad as talking to Mrs Lennox. I felt as if all the air had been sucked out of my lungs. Light headed, I felt another sickening lurch of panic.
`Lisa, you have to remember this: you were instrumental in helping me deal with it at the Faculty level - and when he disappeared.’
`Disappeared? Good god - look - Julian, I can’t recall any of this and I have to go teach now, leave me a number and I can call you back as soon as I’ve finished?‘
Would she? The sudden doubt was almost too much to bear. `Lisa, listen, can you do me a favour - can you access the records for Max Lennox. He graduated in 1983 or 4. Can you check what his records say?’
`Yeah, sure - I guess.’ Her voice was uncertain. The data would be confidential, she might be worried about accessing it. Or was she conscious of something else? As with Samuels, there came a sudden, shocking fear of a conspiracy, of something utterly sinister.
`Ok, nothing confidential: just dates when he graduated. Can you confirm he took my classes?’
`Sure, I can do that!’ her voice was relaxed now, but curious. `Ok, look I had better go - be good to chat after all this time - you can tell me why you took off like that, I mean - so suddenly, without any explanation!’
I couldn’t speak. My mouth had sealed up. I prised my lips open like a diabetic. `Ok, I’ll explain, promise. Call me when you can Lisa, I’d really appreciate it!’ I clicked the phone off.
I looked again at the table top and then I walked up the stairs back to the attic, littered with accumulated rubbish. I was looking for anything now, any possible clue that I was sane, that my memories were real. I started to look in the same place where I had found the photographs, like an archaeologist returns to a rich seam, the site of earlier finds. Nothing came to light. My collection of memorabilia and junk seemed so random, of no intrinsic value. Then suddenly I came across a small collection of expired passports, held together by one large elastic band, their corners cut. Instinctively I snapped them open and found the one valid for the early 1980s, the period that had somehow become unhinged from my own experiences! I flicked through the embossed, stamped pages - and there, to my horror, was a visa to Italy. It was stamped and signed, and re-signed on exiting Rome in August 1983. So I had been there. The photographs - saturated in lurid Mediterranean light - were taken of me in Europe, during the exact time that Max vanished! But I had no recollection of them at all. I recalled the dream - Max naked on the beach - the reference to Capri. The passport in my hand had to be of someone else! I flicked through to the photograph: and again, to my horror, a young, beefier version of myself glowered out at me. Again a sudden, intense sensation of vertigo - the room and ground snatched away from me. What did this mean? What could it all mean?
I sat upstairs holding the passport for about an hour, maybe longer. The central heating had long gone off, and despite the intense sunlight, the winter snow chilled the floors. I felt the cold seeping into my bones. I heard the phone ring several times, but it was someone else’s, ringing in another time. Eventually at some nameless hour I answered it. It was Samuels.
`Julian - I’ve been trying to return your calls all day! Are you alright?’
`No, no - listen - we have to meet tonight.’
`Of course, I can come around now if you want - I’ve just got to write up some case notes - say an hour?’
I thought of the table downstairs, the elaborate diagram like the pictorial representation of an open heart bypass procedure: my heart.
`Yes, ok - that would be really helpful - something terrible has happened!’
`Oh god - are you safe? Are you sure you don’t want me to come immediately?’
`No - no - an hour would be fine.’ I could hear a slight bleep on the line, a call waiting.
`Right, Julian - I’ll see you in an hour.’ Samuels rang off and immediately my phone rang again. It was Lisa.
`Julian, I’ve been trying to get hold of you for an hour!’
My relief washed over me. I started babbling some response, and then a mood of anxiety set in as I noticed her tone. `Listen, Julian: we don’t actually have much on this Max guy, I mean partly because the records were all hardcopy then and they are stored now in the central archives. I can tell you that Max did one of your classes - Introduction to Modern Psychology I - and did rather badly in it! He left before graduation, along with another student also in your class. I think they went to California and took their credits with them.’
`Ok -’ The information was utterly inane. `Lisa, can you remember the case of Max’s disappearance, in Italy, and the death of his father?’
Again a gaunt silence hissed in my ear. `I’m sorry, Julian, I can’t really. He is an attractive looking kid - you had an affair with him?’
`Yes.’ but a voice inside my head simply said, quietly and deliberately, `did I?’
`Gosh. Ok. That’s all I can find on him, sorry - you want to get back in touch or something?’
I felt sick with despair. `No, well not exactly. Lisa, the family - the father tried to sue me over Max’s disappearance in Italy, can you remember - that was why I had to leave - the College wanted me to go! Max’s father was Italian.’ My voice was sliding all over the place as if I was close to tears.
`Julian -’ the tone in Lisa’s voice had changed very slightly again. It was guarded now, cautious, as if she had suddenly realised she was talking to a mad man. `Julian, you left without any explanation - the College authorities were as mystified as your friends were. If Max was the reason you left, no one knew at the time. And I certainly can’t recall any law suit. And Lennox is not an Italian name, is it - I mean - it’s a Scottish Catholic name, although I guess there might be an Italian connection?’
`Oh my god!’ I had not intended to say that - I had not intended to say anything.
`Lisa - what was the name of the boy who left with Max? Who dropped out of my class at the same time?
`Could you find it for me?’
There was another pause and then a sound of papers. `Yeah, sure - hold it’ She must have had the file on her lap, or across her desk. `Yeah - Daniel Ciano. A Daniel Ciano?’
Cold fingers of panic curled around my throat and chest. The name stirred up something, something shocking. The name dislodged some deep secret. I had an intense vision of a youth shaved and oiled, bound, packed in a crate. His anus had been plugged and a tight ball gag fitted to his mouth. He had been branded with a serial mark on his cheek. I suddenly and without warning screamed.
Confidential Report by Professor David Samuels
Prepared for the PD office.
I enclose my summary of the events leading to the arrest of Professor Julian Grey and the subsequent recovery of several bodies from the basement of a former house in Hartford, Connecticut. The property was owned by Grey from 1979 until 1984. As you will no doubt be aware, it has been recently confirmed that one of the bodies is definitely that of a Daniel Ciano, a 21 year old student who was reported missing in 1983 and declared officially dead in 1999. As yet there is no evidence that any of the remains are those of Max Lennox, 23, who was reported missing on a trip to Naples, Italy in 1983 and has never been found. Professor Grey taught both of these students. He has wavered his rights to doctor-client confidentiality, and also refused to take the fifth in subsequent discussions with the police team and his attorney. He confessed everything to me and indeed led the forensic team to the site of the graves.
I have been asked, to provide data for the inquiry and I do so with the full co-operation of the patient. Some of the details of our sessions - five in all, if I include the one held in his house on the day that he recovered his memory - I have withheld, although they are written up in the case notes and these could well be ruled as evidence. This remains a shocking case of selective amnesia following a traumatic incident with some possible elements of schizophrenia. I have to add that, in twenty years of my professional life, I have never quite come across anything quite so extraordinary, or indeed as disturbing as this particular case. Julian Grey is - was - a colleague of mine for ten years and was an outstanding therapist and theorist. His fall leaves me quite shattered.
Some time after Christmas I was approached by one of my senior colleagues who asked me if I would act as his therapist. He stated that he was distressed by a series of dreams about a supposed former lover - identified at the outset as Max Lennox. These dreams were intense, and seemed to take on actual physical manifestations in the real world, involving an actual break-in into his bedroom, and several appearances of a young man at his house. Grey was quite convinced that this someone was Max Lennox - although the affair ended, obviously, with Max’s disappearance in Italy in 1983. In several subsequent conversations, Grey remained convinced that Max had literally returned to the US and was stalking him. He insisted on this despite a series of quite remarkable inconsistencies, the main one being that had the youth indeed been Max, he would have been substantially older than described by Grey and others. Julian allegedly had an affair when he was 33 and Max 23, starting in 1983 until Max’s disappearance. Yet the youth he consistently claimed to have seen was between 23-26 years old.
Grey is an internationally recognised consultant-psychologist, and before we began our sessions, he handed over to me a series of dream diaries and a provisional diagnosis he had made himself of his possible psychosis. The manifestation of Max in his dreams were hypersexual and involved sexual and SM acts between Julian and Max. Grey is a homosexual perfectly open and at ease with his sexual orientation, and he was perfectly clear as to the erotic significance the dreams held out to him. He stated that on several occasions he awoke to find he had ejaculated during the night or that on awaking he felt the need to masturbate. Moreover Grey was disturbed by the significance of the dreams given that Max had disappeared, and the fact that for over twenty years he had never dreamed of Max or even recalled him.
In all the dreams that Grey recorded, there was no mention of Daniel Ciano, although in the very first one I noted an incident in which Max called Julian by the wrong name: `Daniel’ - an incident that Grey seemed not to have noticed in his own notes. There were other inconsistencies in dates and places, (Max was 20 when they met, not 19) and other significant lapses in Grey’s memory. At the first session Grey referred to Max’s `abduction’ and not disappearance. A later investigation into Max’s trip to Naples implied that he had drowned while swimming near Capri. He was a good swimmer, but the weather had turned suddenly and he had not returned to his parents villa. More revealingly was Grey’s belief that Max’s father was Italian, and after an unsuccessful attempt to sue Grey, that Mr Lennox had killed himself. Here - in an act I can only describe as wilful congruence, I added to Grey’s confusion by stating that I had heard something of the story myself. I had - but the suicidal father I had read about had been Philip Ciano, the father of Daniel - not Max. My memory had been at fault, because Ciano had been a much more prominent story at the time, given Philip’s business links and his fund raising for the Republican Party. Yet once I had discovered my error, Grey’s ready concurrence with my version of events immediately implied to me that he had compounded the identity of the two young men into one, or that he was subliminally disguising a relationship between the two boys, or between them and himself that he was otherwise consciously avoiding.
Subsequent investigations confirmed that Max and Daniel had both been contemporaries at Hartford, although Max was older and appears - inconclusively - given the state of Hartford’s records - to have been repeating some of his credit bearing units for the third (?) time. It also appears to be the case that they were lovers. Both had attended Grey’s introductory course on Psychology, although Grey never recounted meeting Daniel in any dream or in any conversation. He did recall Max, obviously, and in extraordinary detail and he had a series of photos of Max that he handed over to me at our first session. Max was without doubt a youth of exceptional beauty. He was black haired, blue eyed, well defined and around six foot four inches tall. From subsequent testimonials he was extremely confident in his own homosexuality, pleasant but slightly arrogant, and some thing of a flirt - especially with Julian. In none of the photographs did Julian and Max appear together, although they clearly were photographed separately at the same location: on a veranda at villa on Capri. Indeed Julian had never taken any pictures or photos of Max at all. He had stolen those taken by Daniel.
By the third session, it was clear to me that Grey’s narratives of a passionate, bestial affair with Max were fake, that they had been in part constructed by the dreams and not vice versa. Grey’s particular psychosis has inverted the usual reference between dreams and reality, and powerfully so. He had wanted to be Max’s lover and he had subsequently become it in his fantasy, a fantasy in turn authenticated by dreams. In reality, Grey never progressed in his relationship with Max beyond one of an obsessive voyeur, stalking him, watching him, even collecting some of his clothes from the gym. Grey certainly never made any lasting impression on the family, although they knew of him and he interviewed the mother over Max‘s decision to go to San Diego. Grey had never been `driven’ out of Hartford but had suddenly and mysteriously left several months after Philip Ciano vanished. From a professional point of view, Grey; jealous of Daniel, had merely substituted himself for Daniel in his dreams of Max. Yet the level of sexual violence in the dreams was itself disturbing. The dreams were heavy with fantasies in which young men were shaved, oiled, and surgically modified by older men or crated and shipped to `camps.’ Moreover in one dream, vividly recounted by Grey, Max refers to Grey as Tiberius - making not only a connection with Capri, where the Emperor of course lived, but with Suetonius’ account of Tiberius’ indulgence with young men and boys.
As we neared Easter, I was clear in my own mind that Julian had been deeply and profoundly jealous of Daniel and deeply in love or lust with Max. It was also clear to me that Grey knew details of Daniel’s disappearance although they had been disguised as part of Max’s.
Grey now confesses to having stalked, trapped and tortured Daniel once Max was away: he used a cage to keep the young man in hiding only removing him to rape and abuse him. Other young men had suffered the same fate, but over significant lapses of time. He claims to have done it out of rage. When Daniel died, Grey hid him in a large basement with a loose casement floor. By Easter it also became clear to me - as it increasingly became clear to Julian - that he had travelled to Italy around the time of Max’s disastrous holiday on Capri in 1983, probably just after the murder of Max’s boyfriend . It is not clear what he intended to do. Although he was clearly at Max’s villa (viz the photo on the veranda) the family had returned to the US. Grey’s claims to have been in Hartford supervising the internment of his mother were wrong: the date for this was November of the previous year - 1982. It remains to be seen how his visit relates to Max’s particular tragedy, but all the evidence still points to the fact that Max died from an unfortunate accident. Perhaps Julian had gone to confront Max with the murder of Daniel or to murder him as well? Perhaps he had hoped to groom Max for eventual destruction? We shall never know. All I can conclude is that the dreams led Julian to expose himself in ways as honest and as determined as any man I know. The day he telephoned me to come to his house, the complex illusion sustained by the dream and his own narrative had completely collapsed. He confessed to killing Daniel immediately. It was an extraordinary case of successful self therapy!
There are, however, aspects to this case that do not fit well into the canon of psychotherapy. Alex Whitehead, a tenant of Grey’s, has given clear testimony to the fact that an attractive young man called to see the Professor the night before Grey finally remembered his heinous crimes. The description of the youth sounded very much like Max, and indeed when shown a photograph of Max (taken allegedly by Grey but taken by Daniel) Alex Whiteman showed no hesitation in identifying them as the same person. He was quite adamant on this point. There are also several eye witness reports of a young man calling on the house the same day that fit’s the same description. Cigarette butts were retrieved of Italian make and not easily supplied locally, and there is compelling evidence that someone did indeed break-in to Julian‘s bedroom and leave an SM dvd playing. Without a doubt this is the same guy that Grey claims to have seen near the café after our first meeting; but who it could be we shall never know. I confess to being completely at a loss. Whoever he was or is, he compelled Julian to push on with his own investigations to the point at which he uncovered his own guilt.
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