The Abused is a psychological thriller about nine addicts who go to rehab only to have one of them start murdering the others. The novel is set to release in Fall 2016.
Reader discretion is advised. Some of this content may be profane and not appropriate for readers under the age if 18.
Stanley Lentwood stared down at the rose garden. He noticed the crazy lawyer Finley Sullivan was walking all around the hedges in a nervous pace. Stanley wondered if Finley’s drug use had damaged his brain. Just then a knock came to the door.
Robert Scoffer opened the door with his usual bravado and strolled into the room with his cool confidence. Stanley turned and took a seat in front of the sofa. Robert just dropped down to the sofa. He appeared bored and put out that he had to do therapy.
“So you going to give me some of that God crap?” asked Robert. “Pray for me … all that?”
Stanley looked at Robert puzzled by his sudden comment. “Why would I do that?”
“Eh, I went to this therapist once with Lynn—”
“The woman you conned.”
“Yeah, that cunt—”
Robert shrugged in a way that it was almost like a jerked tick of sorts. Stanley made note of the odd body language.
“So what happened – in therapy I mean?”
Robert’s eyes glassed over in a way that he was reflective about it for only a moment and then his “act” returned. “The counselor, some Hispanic dude, had us praying and shit. How stupid.”
“You think prayer is stupid?”
“Yeah, well, we were there as a couple to get advice and help and this dude has us praying, hugging each other. It was useless.”
“But you weren’t a couple. You were married to …” Stanley eyes drifted to the file, “Shell. You had a wife. Why were you doing couples counseling with your mistress?”
“She didn’t know that.”
“She was my mistress.”
“So you admit you were lying to her. Because …” his eyes went to the file again “you told the court and authorities she was, ‘Just a crazy, emotionally unstable bitch who you rejected and she was spurned and pissed.’ But if you went to couple’s counseling you must have been a couple, right? She was obviously under the impression you were a couple.”
Robert stared at Stanley and didn’t say anything.
Stanley shifted forward and stared right into Robert’s eyes. “Do you know the difference between your fantasy worlds and reality, Mr. Scoffer?”
Robert got agitated, “Yes.”
“Okay, so then why did you lie about Lynn?”
Robert brushed his hand off toward Stanley. “She was a bitch. She abused me.”
Stanley had to suppress a smile. Robert was an atypical sociopath, and he was maintaining his narcissism pretty well. They had all agreed in staff meeting not to let Robert work with a woman, especially after his manipulative attempts with Sandra, who would have none of it. No, Stanley and Craig both agreed Robert needed a male perspective.
“Let me ask you something, Mr. Scoffer.”
Robert flatly stared at him.
“Do you understand cause and effect? Our actions have repercussions. When we do things to other people … when we hurt them by using them for our selfishness, we have to face the consequences. So tell me, how did Lynn abuse you?”
Robert looked confused.
“You said she abused you. Please explain,” prodded Stanley.
“She yelled and ranted and raved and called me names.”
“Hmm… and she just did that? No reason? No provocation?”
“Are you sure?”
Robert again looked confused.
“Could it be that you were lying to her and manipulating her. That maybe she got angry because you were messing with her mind, heart and body. Again, do you understand cause and effect? When did you start doing drugs?”
“So, Mr. Scoffer when we’re young men we learn cause and effect between the ages of 18 to 25. If you were doing drugs in this period of time you altered your brain. You never learned cause and effect when most men learn these things. You acted on Lynn and she reacted to you. Since your actions were corrupted by your lies and manipulations then her responses were based on those manipulations. A purely honest action would get a purely honest response. A purely corrupt action will get a purely corrupt response.”
“So, let me ask you again. Why did you go to couples counseling with a woman you professed to never have slept with? You told the court she was crazy. You were never involved with her. Yet you went to a counselor, a marriage and family therapist, with her. Can you explain that?”
“Um, well, we worked together. I was trying to smooth out the working relationship.”
“Oh, so you’re going to sit here in rehab and keep lying – to me.”
Robert stared at Stanley with a look of contempt. Stanley understood this man’s pathology. He saw men like Robert come and go. They would go back out and the lies would continue in their lives until finally something really bad happened. This justice usually came in the form of jail time, which so far Robert was skirting. Men like Robert would never change their ways until something catastrophic happened, and sometimes that tragedy involved one of their marks seeking revenge that would either put Robert in a hospital or on a cold, hard slab in the morgue. Thing is, no one would be surprised or cry for him. Most people would simply shrug and think he simply got what he deserved.
Stanley wrote some notes in Robert’s file and then looked back up. He was stern and looked Robert right into his pretty-boy blue eyes. “You are here to reform your ways. I am not a mark. I’m here to help you kick your addictions and learn what it means to be a man. I’m not your judge or jury. So lying to me is useless. Of course, I understand you’re a pathological liar so separating fiction from fact may be very difficult. But let’s try some very basic approaches. Just say yes or no. Did you or did you not have an affair with Lynn?”
Robert continued to blankly stare and then said, “Yes.”
“Good. Now did you or did you not lie about it to the authorities and your family and friends?”
“Yes or no.”
“Well…” Stanley could see Robert wasn’t going to easily give this one up.
“Yes or no.”
Stanley then sat up straight and became stern. “Mr. Scoffer we are going to sit in here day after day until you easily and efficiently say yes to the truth. So you go back to your room and use your time to consider and sort fiction from fact. Because in here, I am not your mark or your ‘come-up’. I am your therapist. I have one goal: to get you to reform your ways and clean up your life.”
Stanley got up and walked around his desk back to his executive chair. Robert didn’t move. He didn’t seem to know how to respond.
“Go,” dismissed Stanley.
Robert scowled at him and then finally relented. He slammed the door behind him. Stanley never flinched. He was accustomed to men like Robert – men who didn’t have the slightest clue what it meant to even be men. Men like Robert who deep down inside were weak, cowardly and insecure, and used people to prop up their egos. Robert was an addict and conman without heart or sympathy for those he used and abused. His narcissism prevented him from seeing how his actions affected others. All he could understand was what he wanted for himself. Women like Lynn were what they called on the streets his “come-up” and he would never be able to relate to the hurt he caused her and others in his life. The fact his wife knew these situations and continued to stay in the marriage made her not only his enabler but also his accomplice. Yes, Robert’s rehabilitation was going to be tough.