Deleted Scene from PERSONAL DEMONS
The first scene here was intended to make the Jeff Howard/Don Tremblay connection stronger, and to set Tremblay up as a stronger villain. When Howard’s role in the book diminished so did Tremblay’s. The second was actually another Yezer vignette, so disappeared when the others did.
The ringing phone pulled Jeff Howard from a deep sleep. “Hello?” The clock read 5:47 am. Forty minutes before he had to be awake anyway. This better be good.
“It’s me.” The excitement in Don Tremblay’s voice was audible. Excitement or nerves. Jeff couldn’t tell exactly which.
“Do you know what time it is, Don?”
“Ask me if I care. Listen, Jeff, I have some news. Some great news. You’re not going to believe it when I tell you.”
“Mmm.” If he got Don off the phone now, he could still go back to sleep. Another couple of minutes and it would be a lost cause. The sweet little brunette from his dream still beckoned.
“Megan Chase had a break-in.” Don paused, triumphant. “At least, she says she had a break-in.”
“There was no evidence.”
Jeff shook his head. “Look, Don, I don’t know why you’re telling me all this, I really don’t, but why don’t we discuss it later?” The brunette was slipping away.
“Don’t be stupid. Megan Chase, publicity whore, claimed someone broke into her house, but aside from some minor scrapes and a broken window there was no evidence. None. I have a friend on the force.” Don’s pride in this fact was evident. “He told me a few of his buddies think she made the whole thing up.”
Jeff sat up, no longer tired. “She made up a break-in?”
“Publicity,” Don said. “Or maybe she’s losing it. All the pressures of fame, you guys almost kicking her out of the practice—”
“And I could have gotten her kicked out, if it weren’t for her big baby blue eyes. Manipulative bitch,” Jeff said.
“Right. But this is the thing. You can’t have a woman suffering from delusions like that working as a therapist. Think about it. Monday she has some kind of fit and puts a client in danger. Then later she has another one at the restaurant, that we witnessed. Plus she made some rather disgusting sexual overtures to me.”
Jeff rolled his eyes. “She must be sick.”
Don’s silence was sour.
“Oh, okay,” Jeff said. “Sorry. But I’m still not seeing where this is headed. The community didn’t care about her illness and they bought her explanation of her attack or whatever it was.”
“But this is concrete! The girl invented a disturbance in her home. Either she’s a totally calculating bitch—which she partly is, but which also means she has a lot to lose—or she’s cracking under the pressure.”
Jeff paused. He could almost see where Don was going, but he couldn’t quite get there. What was the point of telling the Partners about this? They’d just feel sorry for her. Or believe her. They might even ask him to leave. Despite their claims to be as horrified at the indignity of Megan’s little show as he was, they all babied her. Megan Chase walked on water as far as they were concerned. God, how it pissed him off. His qualifications were better, his clients more plentiful. Hell, Therapy Partners had been his idea, and now they all acted like that meant nothing. He’d thought he would be in charge. Instead he was just another partner. It was the same thing that had happened to him all his life, and he was tired of having his ideas taken over by other people.
“Okay,” he said slowly. “I can mention it to the community, but I’m not sure where—”
“Fuck the community,” Don said. “We’re not telling anybody we know about this but Megan Chase herself. Maybe.”
“So what? We tell her, she tells us to screw ourselves.”
Don chuckled. “Or, if she’s really growing disturbed, maybe we just help that along a little bit. How well do you know her schedule?”
Don hung up the phone. Good job, said the voice in his ear. We’ll see how well little Miss Megan copes with what we’ll throw at her.
Don tried to smile. He wiped the sweat from his forehead. “I made the call,” he said. “You promised you’d leave me alone if I made the call.”
It’s not over, though, Don. You owe her one. She shouldn’t have said those things about you last year. You know they would have offered that show to you if she hadn’t taken it. You know Richard thought for sure she’d turn it down but didn’t want to make it look like he assigned his buddy to his boss’s brainchild. Now she’s doing your show. She took your place at Therapy Partners.
Don nodded. “She sure did,” he said out loud. It seemed odd to talk to himself, but then, he wasn’t talking to himself, was he? He knew that voice wasn’t coming from him. He just didn’t know whose voice it was—yet.
And all the while that bitch ex-wife laughs at you and tells you you’re a failure. You can hear it, can’t you Don? Her laughing? All of them laughing—all the kids in school who made fun of your second hand clothes, your homemade shirts?
“I hear them,” he said. He did, too. Their chants of “Dumb Don, dumb Don,” over and over. His ex-wife Janet calling him a failure. “You’ll never be anything without me, you stupid asshole,” she’d sneered before she left the last time.
He tried to cover his ears, but couldn’t. Something held his hand, kept it away from his right ear. Sweat broke out on his head again. His stomach twisted.
You can make them stop laughing, Don. You can make them laugh at her instead. You can show them what a success you really are.
“Okay,” Don cried. “Okay, okay, just make them stop! Please…please…make them stop.”
He’d never held a gun before, but somehow it looked…good. Right, in his hand, the light gleaming dully off the black metal, the weight of it forcing his muscles to work to keep it steady.
“Are you talking to me?” he said, grinning. Hey, who hadn’t wanted to try that line out at some point?
This isn’t the time to be playing games, Don, said the voice. You’ll be close enough that accuracy won’t be such a problem, but if she has those bodyguards with her, you’ll only have one shot.
And it better be a good one, added the other voice. Since the morning new voices had been appearing pretty regularly. Don didn’t like it. He didn’t like any of it. There was still a part of him, deep down, that tried desperately to scream, to make it all stop.
It was no use. At last count there were fourteen separate voices. They’d never leave him in peace.
He adjusted his goggles and earmuffs and raised the gun. Squeeze, don’t tug, one voice said. The voice was loud and clear, even over the earmuffs and the dull sounds of other shots in the range. He couldn’t really hear his own thoughts over them, either. All he could hear was what he started to think of as The Litany.
Megan Chase stole your job.
She was rude to you.
She thinks you’re shit.
You’ll never have what you deserve until she’s gone.
Nobody will know.
She stole your job.
No one will know it was you.
She deserves it.
You’ll never be free until she’s gone.
Over and over again far into the night, early in the morning. The only time they left him alone was at that damned photo shoot, and even then he’d known they were waiting, just waiting to start talking again.
He bit his lip hard enough to draw blood, felt it run in a thin line down his chin. He couldn’t even feel the pain. The voices blotted out everything, shouting, telling him to shoot, picture her face and shoot, just shoot, shoot, shoot—
He squeezed the trigger. The gun bucked upwards in his hand.
A gaping hole erupted in the target’s head.