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The Boy on the Turtle. Chris. Chapter 10. Tomorrow I Remembered. PART ONE. The Hole

Dimecres 12 Abril 2017

Liz stood facing the window. Silence before the storm, I thought, this was not going to be easy. “I’ll be upfront, Chris. You will be doing all the hard work. You may grow to hate me, but you will thank me for it later.”

What she said didn’t surprise me; I knew that was her style. She turned towards me and gave a half-smile. “You’ll be back at work as soon as you have unlocked the puzzle. You’ll start to feel normal again, but there will be times when you regress. I’m just warning you of that now, so you understand that this will be a long road.”
“Come with me, bring your coat, it’s cold.” It wasn’t a suggestion. I complied. Spring hadn’t yet made its presence known, and there was a piercing cold as we left the peace of William’s rooms and dodged traffic until we reached the safety of the gardens. We walked and talked; mostly general stuff, but some pointed questions, mostly about my parents and grandparents. I told her how I met Jess, and how our romance developed, and how she dragged me out of the pit. We must have done three circuits of the Fitzroy Gardens before Liz announced that we should stop, right at the bronze sculpture of the Boy on the Turtle.

We stood silently for a few minutes. I was mesmerized by the soothing sound of the water from the turtle’s mouth as it trickled to the surface of the pond, the ripples repeating endlessly, but soothingly.
“What’s he thinking?” Liz asked. She waited. “He’s happy, content, innocent,” I replied. “That’s not what I asked,” her tone was measured but insistent. She waited again. “He wants to know where he’s headed. He’s wondering about life, and what will come next. He’s oblivious to his past. He can’t move on.”
I am so stupid, I thought. Every step and every word over the past hour had been directed at me coming to this point. “Liz, I am that boy,” I wept. “I was happy. Dad and I walked and fished and built things. We kicked the footy. We did all the father-son things. We shared the cooking. We shared the housework. He was my father and my mother. And then he was just not there. I don’t know how or why or when. I just woke up one morning at Grandma’s house, in the back bedroom. All my things were there. I had stubble instead of bum fluff, and my clothes were a size bigger.”
“Lacuna amnesia, Chris, associated with a longer term dissociative fugue of some degree.” The terms spilled off Liz’s tongue with authority, but I was more than a little confused.
“Huh? Explain please,” I needed to know what she meant. “Lacuna simply means gap. An event has happened, significantly traumatic enough to your mind that it has been pushed back and forgotten. The fugue bit is a little more complex. I think for that couple of years you were living what might be called a parallel life. For all intents and purposes, you were teen-age Chris, living with your grandparents after the death of your dad. But, it was a life of denial. Your mind would not let you accept the trauma, and the memory was repressed, and you slipped into another life so to speak,
until you woke up a couple of years later as your old self. Rare, but not unheard of.”
“It makes sense, Liz,” my mind was reeling and there were still a thousand unanswered questions.
“The episodes can come and go; usually triggered by something related to the original trauma. That’s what happened to you at the Art Gallery and on the bridge. I suspect, Chris, that they have been occurring more and more over the past year or so, eh?” “I call them my black holes.” Liz was so accurate it scared me. “They have been popping up for months, I had to go on sick leave.”

“When did they start again?” Liz asked, “and what was happening about that time?”
“That’s easy. It was a week or so after the Commissioner was ambushed.”
“Go on,” Liz encouraged me; her left eyebrow raised just a little, enough to tell me she thought she was onto something. “Give me a little background here,” she said. “Jess and I had married and I had begun work as the Chief Commissioner’s Press Secretary. I had known him for years. He offered me the job. I didn’t want to get back into the journalist stuff. We had a great working relationship, he trusted me to get the positive spin out there to the people, and I worked hard for him, and I loved it. We met twice a day. I traveled with him to country stations to meet with police officers. We even spent weekends together with our wives. He was a good listener and he used every bit of feedback to form policy and develop strategies. Then, one day he was gone.”
“Gone? What do you mean? Liz had listened patiently and we were walking again, heading back to her office. “Ambushed and shot. It was payback, supposedly, but no-one was ever charged. The whole thing smacked of cover-ups, but by that stage I was in no state to be putting a positive spin out there to the public. My last job for him was to tell the public the details of his death. He was on the way back from a successful trouble shooting expedition up north. His driver fell asleep at the wheel. The autopsy showed Rohypnol in his system. The car had hit a tree. The Commissioner died from a single gunshot to the head. An execution. No-one has claimed responsibility and the trail went cold very quickly, despite thousands of man-hours of investigations.”
That was the first time in months I had thought about it. It was difficult but it sort of felt good. It’s not a story I had repeated to anyone. Liz must have recognized this because she slipped her hand into mine and gave it a squeeze.
“That was a big achievement,” her tone was assuring. “Now I have some homework for you, Chris. You have to work out what happened at your father’s death. I’m pretty sure that’s what’s at the bottom of your black holes.” I knew she was right, it seems she always is. Liz had already written down a list of things to do. I felt like a little kid with a list of chores, and all I wanted to do was get away and go fishing. Reluctantly, I looked at the list. I laughed, and then cried. Liz was looking deep into my soul. ‘Go fishing’ was first on the list.

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