He Treated Me As a Friend
Orion 祁雨琳 190110823
After hearing several knocks at the door, I replied: “Okay, come in, please!”
Then the door opened a little, a young man came in with a sense of uneasiness. After catching a sight of me, the young man seemed to relax, smiled to me, and called out: “Olivia! Is that you?”
“Definitely yes, Brandon!” I replied him with a smile, pointing at the chair opposite me, “Have a seat, please.”
“Thank you, Olivia! I’m so surprised that you are my psychologist, I... I’ve been so nervous about this psychotherapy, you know...I...I...!” Brandon started to stutter. Obviously, he was still nervous.
“Take it easy, Brandon. You are too nervous...Here, take a sip of water, please.” I handed him a cup of water, and he drank it slowly. During that time, I rested my chin on one hand and started to observe him carefully.
In five years, Brandon had become more a handsome young man than that he was in senior high school. He had grown taller, and his beautiful, short, black hair had grown a little bit longer. His face was completely pale; he didn’t look very healthy. His gray eyes made him look blue, with dark circles under his eyes. There was a wound on his forehead; if he hadn’t had that wound, I could say he was still a handsome person, but the wound made him look totally strange. It seemed that everything his mother had told me was true.
After he put the cup back to the table, I started to talk with him “It has been such a long time since we graduated from high school, Brandon.”.
“Yes, we had been desk mates for a whole semester!” he smiled shyly, “Oh, by the way, what did you study in university, Olivia?”
“I studied psychology, and then I became a psychologist.” I smiled, too.
“Oh, forgive me, I’m so stupid...if you didn’t study psychology, why would you be my psychologist, now.” He looked so embarrassed, and his face turned red immediately.
“That’s okay.” I smiled to him, took out a piece of paper, and looked into his gray eyes.
“Let’s start, Brandon.”
“Before we start our psychotherapy, I must say that... I feel quite sad about your father’s death.”
“Oh...” Brandon looked down and avoided eye contact with me, seemingly very depressed.
“Actually, before we met, I had a conversation with your mother. She told me that your father was murdered one week ago.”
“Yes,” the young man said.
“What happened to him? I mean, do you know, who killed him?” I stopped taking notes and looked into his eyes.
“I know, I know!!” Brandon suddenly became emotional, “His new girlfriend, his lover, that damn woman! She killed him and then fled...!!”
“Take it easy, Brandon!” I took his hands and squeezed them slightly, feeling his hands shaking violently, “I know you are upset about it; I know you had a good relationship with your father. But you have to face it, Brandon. Be brave, please.”
“...In fact, this gives me nightmares every night.” After taking a deep breath, Brandon seemed to calm down.
“I feel sorry to hear that.” I let go of his hands.
Then I took out a pile of documents and continued. “Do you know why your father’s... hmm, girlfriend, killed him? I’m a little curious about that.”
“It’s totally ridiculous,” A sneer crossed his face, “She became his girlfriend just for his money. You know, my father divorced with my mother a long time ago. Then that night, when I and my father were walking home, that woman suddenly appeared, took out a sharp knife, and rushed towards us.”
“Then my father, he...he wanted to protect me from her; he rushed in front of me. The knife stabbed into his heart, and blood flowed all over the ground...” Brandon started to sob.
“Be brave, Brandon! Only if I know what happened to you and what you are terrified of, then I can help you with your therapy.”
“Thank you, Olivia, I’ll try,” Brandon took a deep breath again, “I was terribly scared and then lost consciousness. I was taken to the nearest hospital. Then, they told me that a nearby witness had discovered us and called the police. And then, a doctor (maybe a doctor) told me that my father had died...and that woman ran away.”
“Sorry to hear that, my friend. Actually, I have good news to tell you.”
“What?” said Brandon, incredulous.
“Your father’s girlfriend was caught by police and sent to prison this morning; your mother told me about that.”
“...Is it true?!” A gleam flashed in his eyes, “Maybe I will be able to sleep well tonight.”
“Hope my father could know that.”
“Hmm...” I replied him with a smile. I didn’t know what I could say at that time.
“If you don’t mind, could we talk about some other things?”
“Definitely yes!” Brandon seemed more relaxed after knowing that news.
“Okay...I’m curious that, what kind of person was your father?”
“Oh...” Brandon looked a little confused, “why ask me about him?”
“Just curious,” I replied with a smile.
“Okay, that’s okay.” The young man laughed out, crossed his hands, and put them on the table. Meanwhile, he turned his head to look out of the window.
“Actually, I hadn’t seen my father until I was 16,” he said with a sigh.
“Oh, you don’t know. That’s okay.” Brandon turned his head and then explained.
“Before I was 16 years old, my father worked for the... government since his graduation, hmm, you know,” said Brandon with a shrug. “the work he did was quite secret, maybe it was a top secret or something, I don’t know. The government didn’t allow him to come home.”
“But how did your father and mother meet each other and got married? If your father was not allowed to leave...”
“That’s quite easy,” replied Brandon, “My grandmother one day sent a letter to my father telling him that something bad happened in the family and my father should return home at once...my father was worried and scared by my grandma’s letter, so he resigned immediately and hurried to home straight away.”
“Then what happened?”
“When he got home, frantic with worry; fortunately, nothing bad had happened in the family. Only my grandma and a young woman were waiting for him in.”
“Nothing bad had happened in his family! My grandma told him come to back home only to get him married! With a woman he hadn’t met before!” Brandon suddenly laughed out, “it’s ridiculous, isn’t it?”
“Your father might have been furious over this.”
“I don’t know if he was furious or not at that time,” Brandon stopped laughing, and his face gradually turned a little sad, “all I know is that he had no choice but to accept this arranged marriage; well, old generations...”
“I understand; I’m also Chinese. The old generations in China quite love this stuff...” I thought of my parents, “by the way, how old was your father at that time?”
“He was just 19 at that time, and the young woman was 23 when they married. Oh, the young woman then became my mother.”
“Too young for marriage.”
“Sure!” Brandon looked up to the ceiling, seemed to recall something, “then, just a year later, they had me. My grandma and my mother tried to persuade my father to find a job in their hometown, but my father refused to do so. He went back to the government and continued his top-secret job. After that, my mother lost contact with my father for a long time.”
“Oh, sorry, maybe they did not lose contact completely. My father sent money back to my mother and me every year. Maybe he felt sorry for both his wife and his child, even he didn’t love his wife at all.”
“Did you hate your father?” I looked at him with curiosity.
“When I was little, I hated him very much,” he forced a smile, “There were so many reasons for me to hate him. My mother was so busy working and taking care of me; she often cursed my father while crying.”
“A poor mother.”
“Maybe,” Brandon looked me into my eyes, “when I was a little kid, my mother used to hit me while cursing my father. She sometimes hit me in my face, sometimes hit me with whatever she had at hand.”
“Sorry to hear that...”
“That’s all history now; don’t worry about that! My mother had no choice.”
“Why did she hit you? She should have hated your father, not you.”
“I don’t know. Maybe I looked like my father; whenever she saw me, she would think of him...I don’t know.” Brandon shrugged his shoulders.
“So, since when did she stop hitting you?”
“I remember when I was 15, she stopped doing that. Maybe I was taller and stronger than her, so she didn’t dare to hit me again.”
“I don’t know how to say...” Actually, I was a little sad after hearing what he had said, “Your mother is a poor woman, but she also did such terrible things to you. I don’t know what to say...”
“She is indeed a poor woman. All the bad things she did to me, actually, were based on her resentment of my father. I had forgiven her a long time ago; both of my parents had no choice.” Brandon smiled again.
“But then, both of them made choices, right?”
“Sure, they divorced; I remember, 7 years ago, when I was 16 years old. That might have been the best choice for both of them.”
“Hmm, how did you learn that they had divorced? ”
“I will always remember that afternoon, Olivia,” suddenly, the young man sat upright, and his eyes looked over me into the distance, “I can always recall that afternoon.”
“It was a cloudy Saturday; I didn’t have to go to school that day. While I was reading my favourite novel, my mother asked me to go out to meet someone.”
“The person was your father? “I asked.
“That’s right,” he nodded his head slightly, with a smile on his face, “but at that time, I didn’t know that the person I would meet with was my father. My mother didn’t tell me. I changed into a tracksuit hurriedly, and then went out with her. She then took me to a cafe which I had never been to before. It was a small cafe, with simple but delicate decoration, I liked it...” Brandon suddenly began to talk about his feelings.
“And then, for the first time, I met my father,” a slight frown appeared on his face. I didn’t know why, but I could feel that he was suddenly pensive. “I had imagined many times what my father would look like since my childhood. Unfortunately, he looked nothing like what I had imagined. He had short black hair, which was much more beautiful mine, neatly combed. He had thick eyebrows and long, beautiful eyelashes. He looked much younger than I had imagined, with a pair of big bright gray eyes which seemed half open and half closed. He seemed to be thinking about something at that moment,” Brandon seemed to be unwilling to stop talking, “you know, Olivia, he looked so...so...”
The young man continued describing his father. If my memory serves me right, he continued for almost 20 minutes. It was undeniable that he must have been very excited, for he met his own father for the first time in his life at that time. But there was something that made me feel a little uncomfortable.
“Olivia, Olivia! Are you still listening?” Brandon suddenly stopped his talking and said something to me that frightened me a little.
“Oh, I’m still listening to you, my friend,” I replied with a smile.
“After seeing my father, my mother walked to him and greeted him. My father also stood up and greeted her back. Then she took out a document from her handbag; I knew that was a divorce settlement, I had seen it several days before she took me there. Then both of my parents signed their names on the document, and then, they were not my parents anymore.”
The young man said a lot of things calmly.
“Was your father shocked when he saw you?”
“Maybe, I think...” Brandon leaned forward, his hands clasped tightly, “All I can remember is that after signing and talking with my mother, he came up to me, looking at me for a couple of seconds, and he touched my head gently, but said nothing.”
“Not so bad,” Brandon giggled, “You know, Olivia, I don’t like someone to touch my head. Because I was a little short at that time, if someone touched me on my head, I might feel quite bad. But it was strange that at that time, when he touched my head, I didn’t resist; I didn’t feel bad at all, actually...”
“It made me feel very… comfortable.”
“Maybe because the person who touched your head was your father, so you didn’t feel uncomfortable.” I spoke.
“Maybe...” Brandon’s attention began to wander, “Maybe.”
“Then what happened, my friend?”
“After returning home, my mother asked me to pack my bags before Monday and move in with my father; she told me that she had already bought a train ticket for me. My father was living in a city which was a little far away from my mother’s house, so...”
“Oh, wait a minute. Excuse me for interrupting you,” I was shocked at that moment, “Why did she ask you to move there?”
“She had been tired of supporting me,” He seemed a little depressed, “she had dreamed of sending me to my father for a long time, after they divorced. And then she could start her new life...I can understand.”
“Oh...” I didn’t know what to say.
“After I packed my bags, I mailed them to my father’s house before I set out. My mother had said before that she would not see me off, so I was ready to go to that city by train, on my own.”
“Maybe not a poor kid,” Brandon smiled shyly, “after arriving at the train station on my own, I was surprised to find that my father was waiting for me there. It looked like he would travel with me; he would bring me to his city!”
“Such a nice man.”
“Sure. As soon as we sat down on the train, he began to talk with me, and I could see that he was a little cautious and shy while communicating with me.”
“What did you talk of at that time?”
“He told me some stories about himself. Most of the stories were the ones that I had just told you before. Then I told him some things about myself, and then it felt like I fell asleep while talking with him...I was so tired.”
“Then what happened?”
“When I woke up, we were still on the train. I found a dark red coat covering me. I discovered that the coat was my father’s. I pretended to be still sleeping, squinting at him secretly. He was only in a white shirt with short sleeves, resting his chin on his hand and looking outside the window.”
“Seems that he was also a quiet person.”
“He was,” Brandon looked out of the window, too, as if imitating his father, “do you know, Olivia, I had never felt so cared for. My mother disliked me, my teachers and classmates disliked me, thinking that I was odd. But actually, Olivia, I didn’t call him Father, and he didn’t call me son, either. We just called each other’s by our names.”
“Maybe he didn’t totally treat me as a son. He treated me as a friend.”
“By the way, did your father quit doing his work for the government.”
“Yes. He told me that he resigned again, and found a normal job in the city where he was living. Then he met with my mother and me and divorced her.”
“Maybe he was a good father for you.”
“Actually, I didn’t know how a real father should act like, but I felt relaxed while living with him. When he was free, he would send me to school. We went shopping and cooked dinner together, every day. He would give me gifts when my birthdays came. You know, Olivia, even my mother had never given me a birthday gift. And I was so excited that we loved the same kinds of music, the same kinds of games, we even had the same taste of food. Can you understand, Olivia?”
“Maybe that’s because you were father and son.”
“Maybe. My father and I lived together for the next 7 years. During this period, we didn’t talk much; both of us were quiet people. We could be together for two hours without saying a word, just accompanying each other, and we still avoided calling each other Father or son, but just used each other’s names. It sounds like this might have alienated us, but I had never felt so close to another person.”
“Those things made you feel comfortable?”
“Definitely yes,” Brandon bowed his head down, and started to wrung his hands, “I dare say, for the first time in my life, I felt unconditional love.”
Brandon looked up with a bitter smile.
“But I will never feel it again.”
“You will feel love again, maybe from other people.”
“No,” Brandon interrupted me suddenly, “I will never feel it again, never.”
“...Oh, I’m sorry that our time is up, Brandon. I have another patient to meet today, so...” After I said this to Brandon, my cell phone rang.
“That’s Okay, Olivia! Actually, I really appreciate you talking with me for so long today. Thank you, my friend. I may come back tomorrow to continue my treatment.” The young man stood up and shook hands with me.
“You’re welcome. Hope you have a good sleep tonight.”
“I hope so.”
After he opened the door and left, I picked up my cell phone.
“Hello, it’s me, Olivia.”
“Olivia, it’s Lance,” Lance was my assistant, an honest young man, “I have something to tell you, em...”
“I got permission from the local police and went to Mr. Norm’s house to investigate...I found something.”
Norm was Brandon’s father.
“What did you find?”
“Well, firstly, I found a bottle of anesthetic in the living room, just placed on a small table in the room,” Lance paused for few seconds, “I will send a picture to your phone.”
Then a picture came into my WeChat. I magnified the picture and found that this kind of anesthetic could not kill an adult, but only 2 pills could make an adult less mobile for a short time.
“What else did you find, Lance?” I discovered that several pictures were being sent to my WeChat again.
“Olivia, these are the pictures I took from Norm’s house, maybe you can check them carefully after our conversation,” Lance went on with his report, “Secondly, I found something...how to say, strange, in the living room.”
“What do you mean?”
“There was a sofa in the living room. It looked quite new, maybe bought by Norm or Brandon less than a month ago, but...it had some scratches on it.”
“Scratches? They kept a pet in their house?”
“No, according to the police, they had no pets at all!”
“So, the scratches were from a human.”
“That’s right,” Lance sighed at the other side of the phone.
“Oh, I found two empty wine bottles under the sofa.”
“Maybe they loved drinking.”
“Maybe,” Lance continued, “but one of the bottles had been broken, I sent the fragments to the police for analysis and found that one of the fragments was stained with Brandon’s blood.”
I thought of Brandon’s wound on his forehead.
“Did you find any other places which had their blood?”
“Yes. A little blood was also found on the sofa; it was not Brandon’s, but Norm’s, and only a little.”
“Em...anything else?” I tapped my pen on the desk.
“Nothing. If I find something new, I will call you.”
“Thank you very much, Lance.”
After the conversation, I opened up WeChat to scrutinize the pictures which Lance had sent to me. Combined with Brandon’s performance today, I gradually came to the truth.
My phone suddenly rang again. It was Lance.
“Hello, Lance. Anything else?”
“Olivia! I found a surveillance camera in the living room, with the police’s help. I think it was supposed to be a security camera, but it happened to record a piece of video several days before Norm died...hmm, how to say...ah! I will send the video to your WeChat, and you can watch for yourself! Oh my God...”
“Ha?” Just as I was about to ask something more, he hung up and sent a video to me.
Then, I turned on the video and watched it. I found my reasoning correct, and all Brandon’s actions made sense.
“People are really strange creatures.”
“Hi, Olivia. Happy to see you again.” The young man came to my office again, only one day after his last therapy session. Although he said that he was happy to see me, his tired face showed that he was not in good condition.
“Happy to see you, Brandon. Did you have a good sleep last night?”
“Maybe not...the nightmare still came to me last night. And... I’ve had a headache today.”
It was a sign of memory recovery. I looked him into his eyes.
“You probably didn’t sleep well, poor guy. By the way, can I ask you a question?”
“Your father was killed on last Thursday, right?”
“Er...yes, but why do you ask me that?” Brandon seemed a little confused.
“Okay, young man, what did you do 5 days before his death?”
“What did you and your father do on Saturday? Or should I say, that Saturday night?”
“We drank a little wine, and...nothing.”
“Only drank wine?”
“I remember I was drunk, and I don’t remember what happened next...Ah...!” Brandon suddenly gave a painful cry and held his head tightly. “This headache...Er...”
“What happened at that time?” I stood up, pacing towards him and staring coldly.
“My father... he told me that he had a girlfriend... he told me that she was a beautiful woman...I was afraid, Olivia, you know? AFRAID!!!” Brandon suddenly cried out, raising his head slowly and stared at me. “He said he would marry that woman... why... why would he do this??! How dare he?!?! If he got married again, what about me? WHAT ABOUT MEEE?!!!”
I looked at him silently, without saying a word.
“Olivia, he... he looked glad at that time... but I was not glad... you know, if he got married, he would abandon me!! Why did he do that when I was just feeling what was love?! How could this happen?? He betrayed me...he betrayed me!!!”
Tears flooded out of his eyes.
“Then you did what?”
“I... I put the anesthetic secretly into the wine that he was drinking... when it took effect... I ...I pushed him on the sofa...!! AHHHHHHHHHH!!!”
He began to shout hysterically, still holding his head.
“It seems that your memory has recovered, with my help.”
“Then tell me, please, what happened on Thursday...on earth?”
“I... I remember!! I... I prepared a knife beforehand...when Norm and that woman were walking to OUR house... I stopped them, took out the knife, and... killed them... ha ha ha ha...” He suddenly began to laugh.
“Olivia...” He tried to get up, but his legs were so weak that he suddenly knelt on the ground, then he grasped the corner of my coat, “Olivia...why did you make me remind of this...why?!”
“Because I’m a police woman.”
“...Ha?” He seemed totally shocked and let go of my coat.
“How to say, I’m a psychologist, working for the police. My job, this time, is to make you remember your crime. By the way, we have the surveillance video that you killed your father and that woman.”
He looked at me in disbelief.
“Lance, come in and take him to the prison.” Besides being my assistant, Lance was also a police officer, of course.
Then several policemen, including Lance, came in and grabbed Brandon’s arms.
“No... No!!!!! Olivia, please...HELP MEEE!!! I... I don’t want to DIE!!! I haven’t got his forgiveness yet!!!!”
“If you did something wrong, then you take the blame. No one will help or forgive you.”
“Please.. .please forgive me... Norm!!! I killed you... It was me that killed you!!! I was to blame!!! I should be the one to die!!! Not you!!!!! Oh, I’m going to meet you...!!! Norm...he...he treated me as a friend...but I... I!!!!!!”
He struggled and shouted until the policemen took him out. Then a woman slithered in. It was Brandon’s mother.
“Madam...did he admit his crime...?” She looked very nervous.
“Sure, he was just taken by my colleagues. Please don’t be afraid.”
“What will happen to him?”
“Should be the death penalty, I think.”
Brandon’s mother suddenly relaxed and looked cheerful.
“I know he is an odd fellow, just like his father. Now he is going to die! That’s great! I will start my new life again!”