Imaginary Friends – Chapter 6
Ten-year-old Paige Holley has made a new imaginary friend. A talking cricket named Chuck.
Chapter Six – More Therapy
Mr. Holley is cleaning leaves out of the gutter when he hears a rumbling below. Before he can react, the ladder gives out from underneath him and he’s plummeting backwards toward the ground.
Detectives Faulk & Schette are two towns over in a psychiatric ward standing over a bleary-eyed teenager in bed staring dead ahead as his doctor checks his charts.
“Has Mr. Sullivan improved at all, doctor?” Det. Schette asks.
The doctor shakes his head. “If anything, he’s regressed. He turns eighteen in a month, which means he’ll likely just be tossed into the local penitentiary to waste away. The state refuses to pay for his medical bills anymore.”
“Jesus,” Det. Faulk mutters.
“Mind if I ask him some questions, doc?” Det. Schette presses.
The doctor shrugs. “You can try. But he hasn’t spoken in years.”
Det. Schette kneels next to the hospital bed. “Jeffrey, I want you to tell me about Chuck.”
Jeffrey Sullivan blinks, then whispers, “Chuck.”
The doctor’s eyebrows raise as the whisper grows progressively into a shout. Before long Jeffrey is thrashing about the bed repeatedly hollering “CHUCK!” as Det. Faulk & Schette are ushered into the hallway.
“Believe me now?” Det. Schette asks smugly.
“That that Holley girl is being haunted by some immortal talking cricket who drives children to murder?”
The two shuffle down the hall towards the exit, as Det. Schette kicks the linoleum floor. “Well when you say it like that.”
“Why did you push your father’s ladder over, Paige?”
Child psychologist Dr. Norma Petty is once again meeting with ten-year-old Paige Holley.
“I keep telling you, it wasn’t me. It was Chuck.”
“The ladder was right outside your bedroom window, Paige,” Mr. Holley sternly remands, his arm in a sling.
“Now honey, we’re not mad. We’re just concerned,” Mrs. Holley assures her daughter.
“No, we’re mad,” Mr. Holley corrects his wife, holding up his broken arm. “I’m mad!”
“Should they be here,” Paige asks. Dr. Petty nods.
“We’re just worried, Paige,” Mrs. Holley continues. “You’ve been behaving erratically since your birthday. Fainting. Talking to your….friend, Chuck.”
“He’s not my friend anymore. That’s why he did this, because he’s mad at me.”
“Now this is interesting,” Dr. Petty interjects. “You’re no longer friends with your imaginary acquaintance, so he lashes out by hurting someone close to you.”
“Oh, this is bullsh–“
“Honey!” Mrs. Holley cuts off her husband.
Paige is close to tears. “He hurt Mrs. Miller and Ms. Osborne because he thought they were against me. Now he thinks I’m against him, so he hurt someone I love and I don’t know what he’s going to do next!”
After the meeting Dr. Petty takes Mr. & Mrs. Holley aside. “I’m afraid the delusions are worse than I thought. We’re going to have to up her dosage before she becomes more dangerous.”
Outside the offices, the Holleys are intercepted by Det. Faulk & Schette.
“Mr. & Mrs. Holley, we’d like to speak with your daughter about Chuck.”
“Oh, for the love of–” Mr. Holley removes his sling out of frustration and throws it to the ground. “This is getting ridiculo–“
A nearby car backfires and everybody gets low. While on the ground, Det. Schette whispers to Paige, “I believe you.”
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