Entry 26: Visiting Tommy Blaine: Wednesday August 3
I went to go see Tommy Blaine today. It is my conclusion that if he is crazy, then I am just as mad. I feel sorry for the man. Because of things he says he’s seen, he’s been confined to this hospital off and on ever since Mischa’s disappearance in the late seventies, and it’s taken its toll. I guess I got off lucky. I just lost my wife in all this madness; he’s lost his freedom. But I fear I may lose mine too if I don’t find out what happened soon. At least now I feel a little closer to the truth. But I’m getting ahead of myself here; I need to back up to this morning.
I called Larter this morning and asked him if I could have the day off. I explained I was having some marital problems and wanted to take a day to try and work things out. He didn’t need to know I was really going to the state hospital, so the marital strife excuse was going to have to work. It’s not like I was lying; my marriage had gone south. He said go ahead and take it off, but he did tell me that Sunday night they were having a baptism service and he needed me to fill up the baptismal pool no later than Saturday afternoon. I told him I’d take care of it.
The drive to the hospital took about thirty minutes. It’s out in the country, bordered on all sides by wide-open fields. It reminded me of some prisons I’d seen, where the area around the place was all open spaces and escapees were easily tracked upon their flight.
I had Roger Blaine’s ID, and lucky for me it wasn’t a picture ID. It was a standard visitor pass, had his name and address and other pieces of info. I had made it a point to memorize everything on the ID just in case I was questioned.
Another thing I did was park as far out in the parking lot as I could, away from the hospital entrance. I took my license and any other forms of my own identification and locked them up in the glove box. Then I walked across the lot to the front entrance. I presented them with the ID and just as I thought they would, they asked me for another form of identification. I complained a little about going back out to the car to get it, seeing I was parked so far away, and finally they let it slide with a few questions like my full name and address, and my relation to the patient. By the time I answered their questions they believed I was Roger Blaine, brother to Tommy.
They led me to a day room, a sort of common area they used for visitation. There were tables and chairs scattered around the room, and in one corner was a television that several patients huddled around. They sat me at a table towards the back of the room and I waited for them to bring Tommy out.
When he came through the door escorted by an orderly, his eyes scanned the room briefly before settling on me. Something in his eyes told me he recognized me, and he sauntered over to where I sat. After he had taken his seat, the orderly left and took up a position by the door.
“You’re not my brother,” Tommy said.
I smiled apologetically. “No, I’m not. But you don’t look too surprised to see me.”
He nodded. “Well, she told me you’d be coming.”
“She? Who told you that?”
He looked at me like I was stupid. “You know who,” he said. “You’ve seen her. She’s shown you things. In fact she’s even kissed you.”
I touched my cheek, remembering not long ago how Mr. Martin had slugged me. On the drive home, I’d felt what I thought to be a breeze graze my cheek, though it had left traces of lipstick on my face.
“I thought it was the breeze.” I replied.
“Her kisses are like that.”
“She told you these things about me?”
“Yes. She tells me a lot of things. And then there’s a lot she can’t tell. I guess that’s where you come in.”
“What do you mean?”
“Once I realized she was dead and her ghost was haunting the Resurrection, I tried to get a job there. This was back around eighty-one, several years after she disappeared. They wouldn’t hire me, said it was a conflict of interest. They hired some old geezer from out of town instead. He didn’t last long though. Died of a stroke they say. So I tried again to get the job. I knew if I could get in the church like that, I could find out what happened to Mischa. I was going to the church then regularly for every service, and sometimes I’d see her sitting in an empty pew or standing in a corner. I made the mistake of telling someone and they thought I was crazy.”
“I don’t think you’re crazy,” I said.
He didn’t seem to hear me, so intent he was on telling his story. “They hired a lady custodian next. She lasted a little longer. By this time, I was trying to convince everyone that Mischa was in the church and that she hadn’t run away. Finally, my family had me put here, said I was a danger to everybody. I admit I did attack a few folks who aggravated me, but I was under heavy duress. After I got here, she started talking to me.”
“Is it just a voice, or do you see her?”
“Oh I see her,” he smiled. “And she’s always just as young and beautiful as she was when I last held her.”
I could see him trying to fight a tear, so I tried to get him to think of something else other than how he missed her. “Do you think she tried to show things to those other custodians? I mean, I can’t help but wonder, why me? I never knew her. I’m not even from around here.”
“She tried to communicate to them, but they weren’t very open to such things. She came to me first, but I couldn’t really help her. Stuck in here, there’s not a lot I can do. The few times I’ve been out, I’ve tried to find out things and it’s just landed me right back in here. No one trusts you when you’re certifiable crazy”.
“Well I may not be certifiable, but sometimes I feel like I’ve gone crazy.”
“She told me your wife left.”
This should have surprised me, but I just nodded. “Yes, Donna thought I was having an affair with a young girl.”
“Well maybe when this is over, you can try and get her back.”
“Do you think it will ever be over?”
“Well, she’s not going to leave either of us alone until it is. And it’s gotten much worse lately. It’s been quiet the past six years or so. Every now and then she’d come to me. She wasn’t talking. I’d just see her or feel her presence. But about a month and a half ago, she started showing up more frequently, almost urgently, trying to tell me things and show me stuff. I managed to get out a couple weeks back and I went back to the church. She led me to the old playground. I think there was something there she wanted to show me. But you were there. You and some other guy. So I took off. They locked me back up before I could return to the playground again.”
“I remember that. Matt and I thought we were being watched, then we heard someone take off through the woods. So that was you?”
“Well, I think I know what she wanted to show you. My dog Penny found a duffel bag in some bushes and thorns. I think it may have been buried, but she dug it up. In the bag was what I believe to be her dress, a sweater, and some other clothing items.”
He nodded. “How do you know they are hers?”
“Well the sweater had initials marked on the collar. But the dress I’ve seen her wearing before. Or her ghost anyway.”
“Where do you see her?”
“Upstairs in the hallway. Running down the hall chased by…wait a minute.”
“I recognized you the moment I saw you come through the door. I have seen you before.”
“Oh yeah?” he asked curiously.
“Yes, you are the one who chases her ghost down the hall every time I see her.”
He nodded as if he understood. But I sure as hell didn’t.
“How can that be?” I asked. “You are locked up in here. And you aren’t a ghost. Yet I have seen you as one, laughing and chasing her down the hall to hide out in one of the closets.”
“What you see there is a different kind of ghost.”
“What do you mean?”
“Some ghosts are the manifestations of a particular person. You see a solitary figure; it may speak to you, lead you somewhere, show you something. Much the way Mischa does with me. And I imagine with you, too. But some ghosts are nothing more than memories engraved in a location. They could be special memories or traumatic experiences and for whatever reason they leave their imprint on the place where they occurred.”
“I think I follow you.”
“Imagine it like this. What you are seeing in the hallway is like a movie reel playing over and over. It never changes and it always ends the same way, right?”
“Well yes. Each time it has led me to the closet where I find the anklet.”
“Yes, it’s an anklet with the initials MM engraved in it.”
“Yes, at first I thought it was Mischa’s. But now I’m not so sure.”
“That’s not her initials. Were those the initials marked on the sweater, too?”
“Then the sweater’s not hers.”
“Then who is MM?”
“I don’t know. Doesn’t ring a bell.”
“Did you recall anyone referring to her as Mischa Martin? I know now her real last name was Boudreaux, but is there a possibility someone thought it was Martin and bought her a gift? Or maybe she herself had wished Mr. Martin would adopt her, and so she had taken on the name herself and had an anklet engraved with those initials on it?”
“I guess it is possible.”
“But if MM isn’t her, I wonder who it could be. The one responsible for her disappearance maybe?”
“It could be. Maybe she’s trying to identify her killer. But if that’s the case, being the initials are on an anklet and sweater, then that means the killer is a girl.”
“Did she have any female enemies that you know of? Maybe someone who had a crush on you?”
He laughed. “Oh, nobody had a crush on me. Except Mischa.”
“No girls who had disagreements with her?”
“Not that I’m aware of. Everybody liked her. She was a nice girl. Good student. Faithful churchgoer, a friend to everybody, even to the kids everybody else thought was weird.”
“Yes, there was this guy, a bad boy really, you know the type, always getting in trouble. He was the nephew to the pastor I think. He came here from New York to live. I heard he’d gotten into trouble up there.”
“What kind of trouble?”
“He killed some cats in the neighborhood.”
“Yeah, the rumor was he drowned them in a little kiddy pool, about twenty or more cats and kittens. So his parents sent him here to live with his uncle.”
“What was his name?”
“I can’t remember. I didn’t pay him much mind. Nobody did. Well except Mischa. She felt sorry for him because everybody avoided him.”
“Were they friends?”
“Was there something else there besides that?”
He stopped and looked at me, the first time I’d seen a flash of anger in his eyes since our conversation. And then it was gone. “I thought there might have been, but I asked her about it and she said they were friends. She said I was just jealous.”
Briefly a thought occurred to me. Was he jealous enough to hurt someone? Jealous enough to hurt Mischa? I decided to go for the big question I’d been wanting to ask, but I slid my chair back a little first just in case it got ugly.
“Was she pregnant?” I asked.
Again, he looked at me and I could see something akin to anger just under the surface. “No, she wasn’t pregnant. One of the rumors was she had gotten pregnant and ran away to have an abortion, but I never believed it. Her own Sunday school teacher started that one. And if there is truth to the rumor, if she did run away, why didn’t she come back after the abortion or birth or whatever was done with the baby?”
“Maybe she was ashamed of it. Maybe it was because the baby wasn’t yours, maybe…”
This time the anger came out and he slammed his fist on the table. “Mischa loved me!!! If she was having a baby, it would have been mine!”
I backed away from the table. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to imply…”
He jumped up. “You think she was sleeping around with everyone?! She was an honest girl, a good girl. She wasn’t a tramp!!” He reached across the table and grabbed my collar. “I thought you was here to help. She said you were a friend. That we could trust you.”
“You can trust me,” I tried to reassure him. “I am here to help.”
“No you aren’t,” he snarled. “You are just like the rest. Poor little tramp got pregnant and ran away. Couldn’t face her family or her boyfriend, so she took off.”
“I don’t think she ran away.”
“Damn straight she didn’t! Somebody killed her and now she won’t rest until she drives us all mad!”
A voice interrupted us. “Is everything alright over here?”
I looked up. The orderly was standing over us, and Tommy’s hands were clenched up in my collar. Tommy let me go and sat back down.
“Yes there’s a problem,” he said. “This man isn’t my brother. Take me back to my room.”
The orderly looked at me. “You’ll have to leave now, sir.”
I nodded and got up.
Tommy glared at me. “Cover not thou my blood,” he said.
I knew those words. They had been written on the office wall in our cottage. “What does that mean?” I asked him.
He shook his head. “Don’t come back here again. You can’t help us.”
“Why can’t I?”
“You have no faith.”
I didn’t say anything. He was right. I had never been a big church person, or into bible stuff. But I was in a state of surprise how the conversation had deteriorated so fast. The mention of Mischa’s possible pregnancy with another guy’s child and bam! Tommy had gone ballistic. And now, here he was calmly telling me to get lost because I lacked faith or something.
I turned around and left the dayroom. I didn’t look back. I could feel Tommy watching me. I almost got the feeling he was disappointed, and I knew I wouldn’t get anything else out of him. I was on my own once more. And Mischa was still something of a mystery…
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“Resurrection Diaries” by Paul D Aronson.
Original text copyright 2007.
10th Anniversary Edition 2017. All Rights Reserved.