Degree of Delight

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‘Our sky-clouds of doubt and worry always being worse than the realities of everyday life, my patient Luke must confront the pointlessness of worrying. It cannot possibly achieve anything positive.’ Doctor Earnshaw stopped writing and put down his pen, then leaned back on his chair and sighed. His clinic notes were becoming more poetic. Eloquent. Flowery. He really must re-think his profession, as he didn’t seem all that suited to the scientific life.
From the brown leather armchair, aged and cracked from the bodies of hundreds of previous patients, Luke Jones, postured and leaned.

He began to speak.

‘So this is the freedom I was willing to kill for. This is it? Betrayal on top of betrayal, and all leading to cold and bloody, congealed murder.’
Puzzled, the doctor watched his patient. Had this man read the poetical notes? He wouldn’t put a bit of mind-reading past him, as Luke was one of the world’s terrifying missing links between humanity and the Gods. Intelligent, charming and both sharp and cold as steel.

Luke Jones spoke further.

‘The liberty to choose is frequently too much liberty, with too much choice and too much pointless and needless responsibility.’

Struck from his poetic thoughts, Doctor Earnshaw realised he had to earn his salary, and probed further.

‘I’m not sure what you mean. Are you saying that each of your 19 victims was guilty of negativity and betrayal of you? Even those who were unknown to you, and when you were unknown to them? Even those too young to have any personal responsibility?’

‘Doctor, doctor, doctor… you should know better than to ask such a thing.’
Luke Jones rose from his seat and walked over to the consulting room’s large sash window. The curtains were open, and the window glass was too. Outside was the rest of the world – a world that would be permanently sealed off from Luke, if Doctor Earnshaw’s report did what it should.

Come on David; we’re going to get through this, he told himself. Luke Jones is nothing special and is not insane. He’s just a cold-blooded criminal.
Dr Earnshaw walked joined his client by the window, and they watched in silence for a few seconds.

The rain fell. It spattered against the window with dull irregular thuds. Icy and harsh, the droplets were expanding.

‘Let’s sit down, Luke.’

Luke shrugged. ‘You can appraise me just as well standing up.’ Then he shuffled a little, fell against the doctor slightly, then moved back to his chair and sat.

‘We’re here for the same reason, Luke. We all want what’s best for your victims and to try and help you. And that’s always going to involve knowing the truth.’

Luke’s legs twitched.

‘So, let’s begin again at the beginning. What happened on the night of the 17th of March?’

Luke’s left shoulder drooped a little, and his right shoulder raised.

‘OK, then if you don’t want to talk about that one, what about the events of January 12th 2010? With the lovely young lady who I believe is still in a coma?’

Luke’s head retracted into his wonky shoulders even further.

‘Or the young gentleman who ended up in the mortuary the week prior. With your DNA profile discovered in skin cells underneath his fingernails.’

Luke Jones held out his hands, seemingly in supplication.

‘But doc, it wasn’t me,’ he wailed, and then fell onto the floor in a fit of cackling.

It was rare for Dr David Earnshaw to feel such contempt and simultaneous fear of a client. Usually, his innate professionalism would kick in at the moment he felt the least amount of disgust for a patient.

But Dr Earnshaw knew that Luke was on remand and awaiting a verdict on his mental state. That was why this middle-aged psychiatrist was watching, listening and attempting to converse with cocky twenty-two-year-old Luke Jones, who was to stand trial on seven serious cases – of murder, of abuse, arson and torture.

Dr Earnshaw had met a great many dangerous men and women – psychopaths, sociopaths, psychotics and the plain evil – but couldn’t put his finger on why Luke’s presence had such an effect on his mental state.

The wind whooshed around the window panes, blowing the rain harder onto the glass. David looked at his wall clock and realised the meeting would be over shortly and would have to leave the jail’s suite of consulting rooms, and drive back home in this weather. How he disliked rain clouds.
Hail clouds were even worse, and he dreaded his journey home.

‘I miss her,’ said Luke, pushing his voice into the doctor’s thoughts.

‘Miss who?’

‘Your daughter, of course. She was a great lay.’

David took a deep breath and stood up from his desk.

‘Luke. Enough. If you don’t help me, I can’t help you. You insult my family, that’s not going to get me on your side. OK?’

‘OK,’ said Luke.

He smirked at Dr Earnshaw. It was only when the smile stopped that the doctor realised the reason behind it. In Luke’s hands was the cigarette box he’d stolen from his doctor’s pocket. And David knew the contents of that packet. Six or seven filter tips, a small, black lighter, and a slim yellow box of matches.

‘No, Luke, don’t…’ he began, but Luke Jones was too far gone to hear.

Precisely one hour later, the entire administration block had been evacuated. The fire had been contained, but was fierce and burned even brighter when assisted by the contents of Dr Earnshaw’s brandy decanter. Of course, the fire extinguisher was no longer a defier of the flames. Luke Jones had used it as a weapon of war against not only his psychiatrist but against the three guards outside on the corridor who now lay stunned on the cold, tiled floor. He accessed a fire axe and several items used for restraint (including leg irons, handcuffs and what he thought might have been a cattle prod). Luke Jones broke through four sets of locked doors, working his way into the outside world.

Nothing could stop him as he left through a fire exit.

Nothing, apart from the hailstones that hammered down on his barely-clad body. They didn’t stop. But they did slow enough to allow the jail’s security to have congregated around each entrance. Each of them was clad in multiple layers of protective clothing: necessary against the dagger-sharp hailstones.

Dr Earnshaw heard rather than watched Luke’s arrest, for once gratified by the presence of the appalling weather. He considered his professional diagnosis. No way was he going to make life easier for this man in a mental institution where he’d be protected, treated and encouraged to grow as a human being. No. This man was bad, not mad, and David Earnshaw had every intention of helping the powers-that-be to lock him up in the harshest prison possible, and for the longest time possible.

Thank goodness for the weather, he thought, as he stood outside the foyer, allowing the hailstones to wash his body clean.

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