A Descriptively Dangerous Portrait of a Young Woman Caught in the Maze of Institutional Insanity
Dominique Stein is beautiful, young, and Jewish. Her sanity is overly dependent on external cues, chameleon-like. She awakens every morning at 5:59:59. She weighs in at exactly 111, her snug palindrome. These are her "friends". They keep her safe. Then, it all explodes. She desperately searches to find her way back inside that cozy bubble of sanity she had constructed.
Lost, her bearings off and wobbly, her instincts are not functioning. Horrific crimes are committed; not everyone survives. Found not guilty by virtue of temporary insanity, she is sent to a psychiatric prison for women. There she is caught between the kind, serene Freudian analyst, Dr. Haddad, and the head of the institute, the manic, megalomaniacal Dr. du Chevre, who offers her the Faustian contract; be the subject for his secretive, odd research, and he will get her out of prison earlier. Dominique has to navigate her way out of this maze of institutional insanity.
She knew that meeting would never happen. She simply did not love the man.
So. Let's just go home.
She settled into her airplane seat and leaned her head against the small oval window. For the first time that day, Dominique noticed the weather. It was overcast. Thick, deep indigo clouds hovered gloomily. The plane accelerated down the runway. With liftoff, tiny droplets pressed themselves against the plastic windowpane. They moved backward, diagonally, joined inside the plane by their salty sisters—Dominique's tears flowing with them in sad harmony.
Dominique and Suzie were the perfect storm. Two utterly different meteorological systems that were never supposed to meet or even remotely know of each other's existence. Rather like a typhoon developing over the Andaman Sea deciding to lift off the surface of the Earth and lay itself down before the oncoming Chinook roaring out of the Canadian Rockies.
They would never become close. Each one had used the other for reasons that they were entirely unaware of. There was no way that, of all the people in that office, they could have avoided one another. One woman's deep unhealed wound was the other's band aid, and vice versa. They even shared a deep indifference to music, a fact that never came up in the trivialities of their lunchtime conversations. For Dominique, it was jazz. The high-pitched tone of Charlie Parker's saxophone had entered her brain as an infant, when the wiring of experience was still pre-conscious and free-floating neurons awaited their docking onto the mother ship of retained memory. Later, as a young girl, sent to bed, exiled from the world of adults, Dominique's uncomprehending loneliness had been mocked by Bird's flights of saxophone mastery.
For Suzie, it was country and western. Her mother would ramp up the volume, the better not to hear Suzie's screams while she was being sodomized by her stepfather down in the basement.
The queue of human experience, eight billion people long, makes its way across the planet. On one extreme, the unbearably sad story of the first person in that line, the person on this earth who has suffered the most, is incomprehensible. The mind recoils, turns away. To truly comprehend their story would risk hearing the irrevocable "snap" of one's own sanity.
At the exact opposite end of the eight-billion-person line is the happiest, the luckiest person on the Planet Earth. The eyeballs can open and close over and over again to try and take in this polar-opposite reality. Equally, an impossible task.
Lost in the middle, where it swerves from misery into daily unhappiness, is the woman walking away from a proposal of marriage, knowing she will never receive a better offer.
This was now Dominique. She was stunned to find her heart breaking. It felt evacuated, pitted, and hollow. She whispered to Cain, "Please. Get into the car."
Du Chevre began to hit golf balls. To Dominique, he resembled nothing so much as an old, fat cleaning lady who, upon being surprised in the basement by some darting vermin, attacked the poor thing by whacking it upon the head with her broom, and with the animal clearly and irreversibly dead, continued to hit it, again and again and again, driven by a sense of pure primordial fear.