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The White Room

"IT'S INTERESTING THAT you always talk about this imaginary show-business career of yours as a failure."

"I rucked up at the end but it wasn't a total failure. There was a period when we were the biggest thing there was."

"So what went wrong."

"I guess we got too crazy."

"Can you be a bit more specific."

Gibson's face creased into a sly grin. "Does it really make that much difference? I mean, it's only a fantasy, right?"

"Why don't you tell me about it anyway?"

"What's the point?"

"Stay with it. The creation of an extremely vivid full-life fantasy such as this can frequently be a way in which we hide a very serious trauma."

Gibson was back in session with Dr. Kooning. Dr. Kooning had started treating him like her star patient. His hours with her had been increased. Instead of an hour a day, Monday through Friday, she'd bumped his hours up to a double deal on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, with the regular single on Tuesdays and Thursdays, a total of eight hours a week on the couch, although Gibson still refused to lie on the couch. Even though Gibson was doing his best to make nice and try to produce what would pass as a plausible recovery, the idea of lying on the couch still gave him the horrors. Eight hours a week of pouring out his soul to Kooning wasn't exactly appealing, either. He would much rather have spent the time talking to John West. Although West was definitely a couple of sandwiches short of a picnic, he had some paranoid conspiracy theories that were world-beaters. He was dropping hints that he was, in fact, a top-rate intelligence operative who, after an attempt at resigning, had been confined in the clinic to be driven demonstrabty mad so no one would believe him if he was ever in a position to tell what he knew. He was also the only person since Gibson's return who unreservedly accepted the story of his adventures in Luxor and the dimensions he'd fled to after the debacle there.

In the last few sessions, Kooning had been concentrating on the fine print of what she assumed was Gibson's elaborate, rock-star fantasy. Her strategy seemed to be that by getting Gibson to examine it in the minutest detail it would begin to reveal itself as not being his past at all but the creation of a very disturbed mind. To give her what she wanted to hear wasn't as simple as it sounded. The details came all too easily, too thick and fast, in fact. It was, after all, as far as he was concerned, the only memory that he had. When Kooning questioned him on a point, he was forced to go deeper and he worried that he was actually convincing her that the fantasy was even more complex than she'd first imagined. She was even thinking aloud about sessions in which he'd be medicated with chemical disinhibitors. As far as Gibson could figure it, a chemical disinhibitor was some sort of fancy designer hallucinogen that would almost certainly turn him into a babbling idiot. He had to do something about that. If it happened, he'd give away so much that Kooning would figure that he was worth a popular book and maybe even a Donahue show, and then he'd never get out of the clinic.

The previous three sessions, two doubles and a single, had been devoted to the early days on the glory road, when each new record sold more than the last one, and he and rest of the Holy Ghosts were gripped by a breathless excitement as everything went right, and the only fear was that they'd wake up and find that it was all a dream. At the start of this one, though, Kooning had switched focus and wanted to hear how it had all gone wrong.

"I'm not sure I'm ready to talk about that yet."

In this instance, the hesitation wasn't for effect. Gibson wasn't sure that he did want to talk about those final days, the nightmare days when he was watching everything fall apart and simultaneously losing his grip on his own sanity. Kooning fixed him with the blank expression that was neither compassion nor reproach but some neutral point between the two. It was a look that was supposed to prove that she cared but she wasn't involved.

"Please try. Perhaps there was one specific event-"

"There wasn't any single incident that did it. It was really a chain reaction of events that made things progressively worse. There'd be stress and then one of us, usually me, would flip out and do something really stupid and then, as a result, the stress would increase and there'd be another freak-out and the downward spiral would go through one more turn."

"What don't you tell me about some of these times that you feel you behaved so stupidly?"


Chapter Seven | Necrom | Chapter Eight