THEORY OF THE CASE - CHAPTER ONE
"May I come in?" Dorian asked, peaking his head through the cracked door.
"Ah, yes! Come in, won't you doctor?" Warden called from behind his cluttered desk. Loose papers and dirtied whiskey glasses laid strewn across the room.
The psychiatrist walked in slowly, trying his best not to step on any of the crumpled papers. Saving them from further wrinkling was a mere formality. "Ah, do me a favor and shut the door too, would you? Never know what kind of prying ears may pass by," Warden chuckled, though the joke had an undertone of seriousness.
Dorian closed the door, nearly stepping on what looked to be an important legal docket lying on the ground with no folder or binding to protect it. The psychiatrist had to do his best to swallow any judgement at the sight of the room's chaotic clutter.
"I beg you to forgive the mess, Dr. Vinnit. I am flooded with paperwork concerning the lawsuit. Legal ramifications must take precedence over cleanliness of one's workspace. Surely you must understand?" the Warden asked Dorian Vinnit as he claimed the seat opposite the Warden. He simply nodded his head in affirmation, then placed his briefcase neatly in his lap.
"You must forgive me for neglecting to check in with you, Dr. Vinnit. The state of things have been maddening lately. But please do tell me, how has your first week at Seoborn been?" The Warden asked the question with a grin. A man who looked as if he had something to hide behind simple smiles, as most men who smile so wide often do.
Dorian had spent the last ten years of his life psychoanalyzing the human mind and its predisposed inclination to malevolent patterns. Because of this, he knew better than most that it's men like this—men who exercise power over hundreds of helpless individuals—that are the men to be feared most.
"I've found my arrival to be rather..." Dr. Vinnit began, pausing in the middle of the sentence to gather his thoughts. He meditated upon which adjective properly described his first week at Seoborn Mental Institute accurately, as if the every word he revealed must serve its proper purpose. "Unsatisfying," he finished, prefacing it with a drawn out sigh.
Such a word caught the Warden off guard. His eyes quit their fidgeting and locked onto the psychiatrist with intense curiosity, and his expression took on a whimsical twist. To say working in his psychiatric ward was disappointing was like Satan telling God he was bored with his position in hell. Such slander carried serious implications.
"Do elaborate, Dr. Vinnit. How is it that your first week has failed to amuse you?"
"I think you know, Warden Miles. It's the reason I've called for this meeting. It is under public record that my predecessor, Dr. Jagen, was, like myself, a practicioner of Vayben's Theory," Vinnit replied in an accusatory tone.
"I run a mental assylum for the clinically insane, Dr. Vinnit. Your academic jargon flies over my cookoo nest brain," Warden Miles joked half-hararzeldy. The humor did little to faze Dr. Vinnit's stone-cold expression.
"Then let me explain it to you better, Warden Miles, even though I shouldn't be the one to have to explain to you how Dr. Jagen has been operating with your patients all these years. To suggest you don't know what Vayben's Theory is would be suggesting you haven't been performing your duties as the Warden to the best of your ability," Dr. Vinnit said with little remorse left in his voice. The insult poured out of him as if he was was a trained professional at shaming his superiors, a habit that could be the reason for his recent transfer to Seoborn Mental Institute.
"How dare you bring allegations to—"
"Settle down, Mr. Miles. I have not come here of my own accord. If I could function in this position without having to disclose to you my progress with patients I'll be forthcoming and honest to admit that I would. But if the state of North Carolina mandates that a psychiatrist such as myself must yield to under-educated men of your authoritative profession, so be it. I can see that you are rather busy with the recent news of your divorce, so I will keep this meeting brief."
At this point in the conversation the Warden's face had reached a shade of red so crimson that he looked the part of an overly ripe tomato under the summer sun. But mention of his divorce was enough to turn the tinge of red from one of anger to one of humiliation.
Warden Miles nearly choked on his spit in haste to reply. "Who told you about—"
"Nobody, but I am trained first and foremost to read humans. No man of your status can keep their job with their office in such utter disarray. Sometimes the spaces we inhabit are symbolic of our internal emotional status. My overeducated guess is that your office is in shambles because your life is in shambles, and my common sense tells me it has to do with the missing wedding band you were wearing during my first interview but no longer possess."
The Warden's face simmered in a matter of seconds from red to its original color. Without another word spoken, he grabbed a nearby decanter of whiskey and poured it into two dirtied glasses, sliding one to the edge of the desk for Dorian to grab.
"I don't drink while I'm on the job," Vinnit said, dismissing the offer that seemed to be more a bribe than a curtesy.
"You'll drink that if you want to know where the journals are," the Warden replied. His total demeanor shifted from an embarassed imbecile to a smooth criminal faster than it took him to knock back the whiskey.
He's been playing me for a fool this whole time, Vinnit cursed inwardly. The doctor held back all signs of agitation with the circumstances as he gripped the glass and sloshed back the drink. Not even the faintest cringe surfaced to his face as the liquid ruminescent of rubbing alcohol instantly muddled his clear thoughts.
The Warden and Vinnit set their glasses back down on the table simultanteously. "You are more clever than I initially took you for doctor. That is my mistake, one I won't make again. Shambles is a bit of an overexageration for how my life is currently going, but I am rather impressed how quickly you put it together. Now, you know just as well as I do that I cannot release those journals to you in good conscience, doctor. Vayben's Theory has been banned nationwide. Utterly rejected by the psychiatric community. Deemed an archaic and redundant way of handling patients, and those aren't my words either. Dozens of peer-reviewed medical journals are of the same accord," Warden Miles started, refilling his glass for a second round.
"Then tell me, what do you know of Vayben's Theory?" Dr. Vinnit asked matter-of-factly, an obvious point to prove already loaded in his mind.
"I'll do you one better!" Warden Miles chuckled, shifting unfomfortably in his seat. "I'll tell you what Henry Marbek said of Vayben's Theory." The response was accompanied by a pretentious smile, as if he had just made some game-winning move in a chess match.
"Marbek's Theory has done a severe disservice to the current state of psychiatry and you know it," Vinnit responed, not yielding to the Warden's petty comment. "His philosophies of psychology were backed by the leftist party who thought it was the classification of a disorder that somehow made the patient incurable. A philosophy of such sensitive thinking could have only taken root in a culture such as ours." This was the first sign Dr. Vinnit had shown so far of his stance on things. He was normally a man who kept himself composed and held his cards close to his chest, but Warden Miles was a man who took pride in drawing people out.
"While that may be true doctor, Marbek's Theory has usurped Vayden's and the American Psychiatric Association, whose decrees I am bound to by law, has deemed Vayden's methodology as archaic and antiquated. And so Dr. Jagen's journals will remain under my lock and key until the APA specifies otherwise," Warden Miles finished the comment by throwing back another shot of whiskey, as if the action itself was the dismissive order for Vinnit to leave.
"Do you know why I transferred to your institution, Warden Miles?" Vinnit asked, preparing to play the final ace he'd been hiding up his sleeve.
Miles simply shrugged, his hand gripped tightly on the decanter. A man who refused to tolerate this conversation if it must be done sober.
"Vayben's color coded diagnosis spectrum was brilliant for multiple reasons, but mostly because it was universal," Dr. Vinnit began, looking intently into his bosses eyes. He couldn't afford to have his words fail him now. "People think Marbek hated Vayben's ideologies, but it was quite the opposite! Marbek praised Vayben for his schema of diagnoses while establishing objective neutrality. The colored journals implimented in Vaybenian psychiatry allowed for the elimiantion of bias in my field. It was nearly foolproof."
"What is your point, Dr. Vinnit? I'm rather busy, as you've made apparent to point out to me the state of my life's disarray," Warden Miles scowled. At first this conversation was a fun game for him, but Dr. Vinnit had overstayed his visit and the Warden was growing tired of volleying words.
"What I'm saying is this," Dr. Vinnit said, slowly reaching to unclasp the briefcase on his lap. "Every patient in this asylum was assigned a color by my predecessor, Dr. Jagen. Each patient had a corresponding journal whose cover and binding reflected that color. Dr. Jagen transcribed all his notes from meetings within these journals."
Dr. Vinnit slowly opened the briefcase so its contents were exposed to only himself. Only one item sat within the briefcase's hull, and that item was of extreme importance.
Warden Miles shifted in his chair again, this time out of curiosity. Curiosity of what lie within the briefcase. Curiosity that beckoned him forward.
"Are you aware of what the colors stand for, Warden Miles?" Dr. Vinnit asked, still staring down into his briefcase.
Suddenly the game was back on, and Warden Miles couldn't help but jump back in. "Yes, yes, of course I do. I listened to Dr. Jagen's weekly debriefings. Seoborn has mostly reds and greys and whites. Red is for those in the red-zone or—"
"Rocket Fuel would be the correct term," Vinnit corrects. It irked him to no end that a man in such central authority was so mentally inadequate. Ignorant to how his subservient psychiatrists operated. Vinnit continued, not wanting to hear the Warden butcher the other two colors, "Grey is assigned to those who are Swayers, whose current condition could go either way. And whites are for those whose psychotherapy has restored them to functionable sanity. They are called the Redeemed. Dr. Jagen has become a modern day legend in our field, having recessitated nearly a hundred patients in his career and guided them all back to white. He is the very reason why I accepted this job, Warden Miles. But not for reasons anyone knows besides me. I came here because this arrived in my mail a month ago," Vinnit said, grabbing the item in his briefcase with the utmost care and exposing it to the light of day.
"Dr. Jagen sent it to my estate the same day he mysteriously died," Vinnit said, holding the object up where Warden Miles had no choice but to view it in full.
It was a small black book, with even darker words inscribed on the front. Morally Irredeemable.
"So tell me, Warden Miles. What exactly are you hiding here at Seoborn that I haven't been able to find?" Dr. Vinnit asked, the purpose for his office visit finally revealed.
About the author
I am a 22-year-old recent graduate from Mars Hill University. I have a double major in Criminal Justice and Religion & Philosophy. I also played collegiate lacrosse! In my free time you can find me writing fiction and hiking with my dog.