Ok, I have been trying to post without success. Here it is, raw and unedited and early. Can't find a way to exchange edits while on the road, this is so primitive. Thanks to all the great discussion which always fuels me creatively. Sorry to Paul for crappy messaging attempts. Hate it! Well, guys enjoy. I know this is intense, but hope that aids your reading pleasure. R.
Doctor's Notes: BK called from Pittsburgh to cancel the session. He spoke only to my assistant and said he would call later to make another appointment. This marks the first session he's missed and it concerns me that he would do so now during a period of high stress in his life. Later today, I received a telephone call from his mother, Joan Kinney. With her permission, I recorded the call. Permission to talk with his mother exists in the file.
Excerpt from Transcript:
JK: I'm worried about Brian.
Doctor: In what way, Joan?
JK: Something terrible is going on with him.
Doctor: How so?
JK: Well, he's obviously very worried about Molly Taylor. I would say almost obsessively worried. He's not allowed to visit her, so he spends long stretches of time standing outside her door, watching through the glass.
Doctor: Is he working?
JK: Yes, he seems to spend several hours a day at the agency's offices here.
Doctor: Does he appear to be sleeping?
JK: Not from all appearances. He looks exhausted. But it's worse than that.
Doctor: How is it worse?
JK: He's almost trance-like. I don't know if its exhaustion or drugs or what, but he's not Brian. There's none of the swagger, the humor, the confidence. He's stony quiet, and very remote.
Doctor: Is he eating?
JK: I suppose he is. Not a lot.
Doctor: Have you tried to talk to him about what's troubling him?
JK: Of course. He says everything is fine.
Doctor: Does it appear to be a problem with Justin?
JK: No, they seem very loving together. But this Dr. Walker...well, he appears to have interest in Brian. That interest is creating tension. I can see it on Brian's face whenever he's nearby."
Doctor: Jeffrey Walker is in Pittsburgh?
JK: Yes, apparently Brian talked him into coming here to care for Molly.
Doctor: I assume Molly's family requested it?
JK: Jennifer Taylor is convinced Dr. Walker can work miracles with Molly.
Doctor: Has Molly's condition deteriorated?
JK: She's going through a crisis. They told Jennifer this was likely. After the conditioning, Molly was so weak and frail, with all of her immunities deliberately destroyed. Then with the induction, her body started fighting this strange marrow, and she just doesn't have much fight left. They're treating her to avoid rejection of the graft, but she is very ill, yes. There's no denying it. She could die at any time. Or she could recover, begin to mend. She's at a crossroads. Honestly, Doctor, I don't know who to worry about more if Molly doesn't make it. Her mother or Brian. The loss would be devastating to Jennifer, of course, but she's a strong woman. Brian seems so uncharacteristically fragile to me.
Doctor: I guess I didn't realize you were such good friends with Mrs. Taylor, Joan.
JK: (Paused.) I am now. I feel very protective of Jennifer. But it's all because of Brian.
JK: He came to me some time ago and asked me to help Jennifer. He knows I do volunteer work at the hospitals through my church. He asked that I extend that charity to the mother of his...partner.
Doctor: I see. Was that difficult for you?
JK: At first it was. I felt awkward with her. Our sons are intimately involved, in love, and I'm still not quite used to that fact. Although Jennifer is. We've had long talks about it and I feel so much better, thanks to her. She told me so much about their past, how they met, the traumas they've been through. She admitted she detested Brian at different points along the way. She blamed him for causing her son to be gay, a fact she now knows is ridiculous. She blamed him for going to the prom and setting up a scenario in which Justin was gravely injured. Now she knows he did that out of love, and she saw the way he stood by him during his recovery. She knows how damaged Brian was by Justin's leaving him.
Doctor: How does she know that?
JK: She saw him once, in New York.
Doctor: She visited Brian?
JK: She was in New York with Molly and her class. She was a chaperone. They wanted to take the girls to see "Into the Woods", that Sondheim musical, but were having trouble with tickets. Debbie Novotny called Brian for her. Brian was able to make it happen, and Jennifer asked him to allow her to buy him dinner. He declined, but agreed to meet for tea in the lounge of her hotel in the late afternoon. She said Brian was quite cool at first. Polite, but distant. He asked how Justin was doing as if they were casual friends. She responded fine, and asked how he was doing? She said it was the strangest thing. Brian started to pop off a quick response, just to say something non controversial and expected. But then a look clouded his face and he stared at his cup of tea for a long moment before he spoke.
Doctor: What did he say?
JK: He said, "New York can be a very cold place when you're alone."
JK: It broke my heart to hear that. Jennifer said she reached across the table to touch his hand, but he pulled back, and the mask returned. Molly came in from a field trip she had been on with a some of the girls and one of the moms, and she ran up to her mother, showing her a statue of liberty teddy bear she had purchased. Jennifer said Brian watched her very carefully. Molly said to him, "Are you my mother's boyfriend?"
Doctor: (Laughed.) I'm sure Jennifer loved that.
JK: She was mortified, but Brian laughed and said, "No, Molly, I'm your mother's friend. And your brother's friend, too." Molly said, "You look like the handsome prince in the storybooks. Will you bring me a glass slipper one day?"
Doctor: That must have pleased him.
JK: Brian has always had an affinity with children. I think it's because he doesn't talk down to them. He treats them with respect. Jennifer said he beamed at that and promised Molly that someday he would bring her a glass slipper if she promised to save the last dance for him at the ball.
Doctor: And then?
JK: She said...(Paused, emotion overtaking her momentarily.) Sorry. I...
Doctor: It's alright Joan. Take your time.
JK: I'm fine. Anyway, Molly said, "And then we'll live happily ever after, right?"
Doctor: Oh dear. That must have been hard for Jennifer to tell you under these circumstances.
JK: Yes, but she was very brave. She wanted me to have this insight into my son and I'm so grateful for that fact. Brian responded to Molly, "I'll just be your standby until your real prince comes along. Keep you out of trouble."
Doctor: That's a charming thing to say.
JK: Yes. Molly smiled at him and said, "You'll do just fine until then. You have sad eyes. I want to make you happy." She then hugged him, impulsively, and Jennifer said she saw such an expression of benign affection and sweet acceptance on his face that any doubt that she ever had about Brian just vanished.
Doctor: That little vignette offers some interesting insight into Brian's preoccupation with Molly.
JK: How do you mean?
Doctor: She beguiled him in the way a child can, and at the same time he established himself as her protector. It may have seemed very innocent and meaningless at the time, but when Molly found herself in a grave situation, I'm sure every word of it came back to Brian. And possibly to her.
JK: I haven't thought of it that way.
Doctor: Their bond goes beyond Justin.
JK: Yes, that I do believe. But Dr. Johnson, he's taking it to such an extreme that I'm frightened for him.
JK: We all want Molly to get well. Brian seems to believe he can control that outcome if he does everything right. If she dies, it will be a personal failure on his part. I don't know what he will do. I don't understand why he feels the way he does. He had nothing to do with her becoming ill. He has no way of curing her, either.
Doctor: Logically, we know that to be true, Joan. So does Brian. But emotionally he is in the bargaining stage of grief and fear. He is under the delusion that he can bargain for her survival. Do this, promise that, and all will be well. He's apparently using Jeffrey Walker as his bargaining tool. By delivering Jeffrey to Molly, he is not impotent, he is able to contribute to her treatment.
JK: Well, truthfully, Dr. Walker does seem to make a difference with Molly. The medical team treating her has the highest respect for his abilities and he did write the protocol she is being treated with. He seems to have a strong instinct for this disease. He tweaks some drug level, even alters her nutrition, or provides untraditional remedies like aromatherapy and massage relaxation techniques, and Molly has responded beautifully. He says every patient is different. The basic protocol is the same, but the small tweaks that are geared towards the individual are what increases their comfort and provides the serenity in which they can heal. He is a very big believer in the power of the mind over the body. He treats the whole patient, he says, not just the disease. She prospers under his direct care, because he makes changes and recommendations several times a day. He can't do that remotely.
Doctor: You sound very high on Dr. Walker.
JK: I'm amazed and impressed with his medical skills and his bedside manner. (Paused.) I despise him for what he's doing to my son.
Doctor: That's very strong, Joan. Tell me what you mean.
JK: I'm not a fool. It's obvious to me that Walker is in love with Brian, or at least infatuated. He has no respect at all for Justin's relationship with my son, in fact he acts as if it doesn't exist. Brian's waited for Justin to come back, is absolutely smitten with him, and now Walker is interfering. It maddens me.
Doctor: Do you think Brian is responding to Dr. Walker's interest?
JK: There's something going on there that I can't figure out. Brian's affection for Justin has never been more obvious. And yet he has this sad resignation about Walker, as if he's doomed to be with him in some way.
Doctor: Why do you say that?
JK: I watch them all. Walker treats Brian with a kind of entitlement. As if he's staked his claim, and Brian has no choice in the matter. Brian is a very fiery man. He doesn't take to being ordered around, that's one reason he kept quitting athletic teams, despite being an excellent athlete. He would get crossways with the coaches. That rebellious temperament also got him in Dutch with his father. He wouldn't back down, even when he knew he was going to take a punch. But with Walker, he seems defeated.
Doctor: Where is Justin in all this?
JK: He seems as affectionate with Brian as ever. Concerned, protective. He respects Walker for all he's done for Molly, but it's clear he's jealous and suspicious, and I think for good reason.
Doctor: Joan, what do you think is happening with Brian and Dr. Walker?
JK: I'm not sure. I thought maybe they were having an affair, but if they are, it's the most joyless affair in the world. What would be the point of that? When you said that about bargaining, I wondered if Brian promised something to Walker to incent him to come to Pittsburgh.
Doctor: Promised him what?
JK: (Paused.) I don't know. That he would sleep with him, maybe? But Brian has been around, apparently. I don't think sleeping with someone would have such a strong impact on him unless it's some kind of guilty reaction due to Justin.
Doctor: Describe the impact as you see it, Joan.
JK: I've never seen Brian like this. He's obsessed with watching Molly, as if she might slip away if he turns his back. He seems exhausted and yet agitated at the same time. His emotions are on the surface and yet he expresses none of them. He seems to be sleepwalking much of the time. Justin can get a reaction out of him, but otherwise, he's quite remote. If I didn't know better, I'd wonder if he was on drugs.
Doctor: What do you think is Brian's history with drugs?
JK: I'm not na´ve. I know he's experimented, when he was younger. He smoked marijuana, I found some in his room once. I assume he's done other things. But he was never going to let drugs get in the way of his achievements. He was too driven for success to do that. And he wouldn't want drugs to get in the way of his vigil over Molly. That would be regarded by Brian as a self-indulgence.
Doctor: I see. And have you asked him about his relationship with Dr. Walker?
JK: I tried.
Doctor: What happened?
JK: He just glared at me and told me he was a friend from New York. When I tried to ask Jennifer if she thought Dr. Walker may be a problem between Justin and Brian, she defended him. You see, she's in a terrible position. She wants Justin to be happy, is even accepting of Brian as his partner, but she has a more immediate crisis. Her daughter's life. And rightly or wrongly, she believes Dr. Walker can save her life. She would give up anything for that, even Justin's love interest.
Doctor: And how do you feel about that, Joan?
JK: I want Molly to survive, too. But Brian is MY child. My baby, my youngest. It doesn't matter that he's grown up, now. He's still vulnerable. I want him to find the happiness that has eluded him his whole life. I'm not willing to sacrifice his soul to anyone. Not for any reason. And that's how he appears to me, as if his very soul is in jeopardy.
Doctor: Because he's bargained it in return for Jeffrey Walker's treating Molly?
JK: Perhaps. I know it sounds diabolical...but...
Doctor: It sounds diabolical, yes. But Brian is not emotionally equipped to handle a manipulation of that magnitude, Joan. Perhaps he would be if not for the overlay of his strong feelings towards Molly. But even then, I wonder. He's only now acknowledged the fact he has a variety of feelings that he's battled his whole life to repress. He's not on solid enough ground to be able to accurately deploy those feelings. Especially not in the wake of a person with such a massive and remarkably deviant ability to control. If in fact, your beliefs about Jeffrey Walker are correct.
JK: What do I do? Should I confront Dr. Walker? I know if I make him mad and he leaves, Jennifer will be devastated. And what if that does result in Molly's decline? I'm so confused!
Doctor: Joan, you have done an amazing turn around with Brian since we last talked. You've accepted him as a person, despite his homosexuality, even made a real attempt to understand his relationship with Justin. You always cared about him, but now you've allowed yourself to express that care.
JK: You helped me. You opened my eyes. And his. We've had some important talks, thanks to your guidance. I am deeply grateful for what you've done for Brian, Dr. Johnson.
Doctor: Don't be. My work has just started with your son, and now we have this issue that concerns me greatly. Brian cancelled our session. This is not a time for him to do that. I'm alarmed by the things you have told me, the things you've described. I need to make some calls, do a little research. I'll get back to you. In the mean time, do this. I'm calling a friend of mine in Pittsburgh. He's an internist. I want Brian to go in for a check up. Is there anyway you can make that happen? I'll tell him if you can get him on the phone. I want some bloodwork done on him. A urinalysis. What do you think the chances are that he'll go?
JK: Frankly, slim. But sometimes I can be very persuasive with Brian. I'll drive him myself if need be.
Doctor: Do what you can, Joan, but don't let Dr. Walker know what's going on, okay?
Doctor: Just don't. It's better that way. If Brian tells him, nothing you can do. But suggest to him that Lydia thinks he should not. And try, try to get him to go. Leave me your phone number and I'll call you with the doctor's name and an appointment time.
JK: Doctor, is Brian in trouble?
Doctor: Yes, Joan, I'm afraid so.
JK: (Sighed.) No, I thought so, too. I'm grateful for the confirmation that I'm not just being an overprotective mother.
Doctor: Joan, you are being a very loving mother and that's what he needs right now. A loving mother with a bit of a whip in one hand to make him help himself.
JK: (Laughed.) I can be that mother too.
Doctor: Please stay in touch with me. And if you can convince Brian to call, do so. He needs me right now, whether he can see that or not.
JK: I will.
End of excerpt.
I am very concerned about BK's current emotional well being. His missing the session, followed by his mother's concerned phone call, underlines my fears. JK impressed me with how far she has come towards BK since our original meeting. I'm doubly satisfied with that, because he desperately needs her now. BK is a strong, controlling individual with a narcissistic edge and a tendency towards self destruction. His defense has always been to cover his emotions with layers of impenetrable ennui. Now that those layers are being eroded with therapy, he's vulnerable. That vulnerability is enhanced by his reunion with his partner, JT, and his obsession with "saving" JT's sister, Molly, from leukemia. Part of his desire to save Molly is to entrench himself with JT, about whom he still harbors some insecurity. How could JT ever abandon him again if he saved his sister's life? Part of it may stem from this meeting he had with Molly in NYC while he was still wounded by JT's absence. He seemed to reach a child-like pact with her, and even if she doesn't remember it, he must. Finally, I am gravely concerned about the amount and type of influence Jeffrey Walker may be wielding with BK. If my concerns are legitimate, BK is dealing with an individual suffering from an extreme case of narcissism, enhanced with a potentially psychopathic need for control at any cost. If Walker has this personality disorder and decided BK is his target, he will stop at nothing to achieve his goal. The fact that his "prize" is coerced is meaningless to him, it would merely solidify that Walker had been the superior gamesman. What devices Walker may be using to impose this coercion also concerns me. The BK described by his mother is not the BK I have seen in these sessions. He is either on the verge of emotional collapse, or he is under the influence of medication. Perhaps both. I can't make that judgment in isolation. I want BK to undergo a physical workup to see if he's taking drugs, and what drugs he is taking. If he's not using, then my concern about an emotional collapse becomes more vivid. Either way, he is in a box he cannot escape on his own. The question is, who can assist him in finding his way out and how? Time is of the essence.
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July 25, 2004