The Girl Who Loved Walt Disney (Part 3)

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Mystery and Crime  |  House: Booksie Classic
Eric having done his research, finally gets to meet Sarah.

Submitted: May 04, 2015

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Submitted: May 04, 2015

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Chapter 3

 

Eric leant against the institute wall wearing his best shirt, jacket and tie. He slumped his head down on his shoulder and closed his eyes for a few seconds. As a doctor he valued sleep to be one of the only luxuries of the day. Whilst studying at the hospital, they were told to bring a sleeping bag with them and pounce on any opportunity to get a quick five minute nap before the next emergency called in. To Eric, every second counted when it came to sleep. Most mornings he would set three alarm clocks, one at 5:00am, one at 5:45am and a final one at 6:30am. It helped him break up the arduous waking up process and make him feel like he was getting longer in bed.

Recently though he had been distracted. Eric had spent the past three days sleeping on the settee in-between watching every single Disney film Hopkin had given him. He ate only microwave meals and got up from the settee only when he had to. He tightly held Sarah’s folder so it wouldn’t fall from his fingers. Eric had compiled a stack of notes on his various theories surrounding Sarah which were buried underneath. For hours he had sat with a pen jotting down comparisons and similarities between Sarah’s behaviour and the various films. He was fascinated by it all. It was unique and unlike anything he had seen before. If he had come across this a few years prior he would have written his dissertation on it.

Although he had not yet met Sarah he knew almost everything about her. Each report was studied almost three times over with Eric taking in everything he read. From the police report to the medical notes, Sarah’s personality shone through better than any dating profile or obituary. She was rich in detail, and Eric couldn’t wait to finally meet her.

‘Eric, over here!’ Hopkin shouted from his door gesturing him to follow.

He jumped out of his daze and stumbled down the hallway.

His office hadn’t changed in the slightest and Eric could have sworn he was wearing the same clothes. The incense was burning away, creating a sickly smell which wasn’t pleasant from the moment he walked in.

‘Coffee?’

‘You know what, I think I might.’ Hopkin turned to his fuelling station and filled up two grubby cups of hot comfort.

‘Please forgive me Eric but you don’t look good!

‘Ha, well I did what you asked!’ he fell in one of Hopkin’s chairs and slid down the back.

‘Every single film?’

Eric smiled ‘Every single film.’ He passed him the cup and they both sipped in unison.

‘What was your favourite one?’

In all the hurry of trying to get through them all, Eric hadn’t really thought about which one was his favourite. It seemed an odd question to ask considering this was all for research and not for enjoyment. Even growing up, he had never really had a favourite film. His friends would spend hours explaining how fantastic Star Wars or Indiana Jones was, but Eric never saw the appeal. For him, a film could be enjoyable but at the end of the day, reality was more important.

‘Probably Pinocchio.’

Hopkin sipped his coffee and remained quiet for several seconds. 

‘Any particular reason why?’

Eric thought back to the afternoon when he had a microwaved dinner and a half can of lager on the table. Pinocchio was one of the only ones he watched without drawing too many comparisons to Sarah. There was something about the story which completely drew him in.

‘It was probably the most rounded one I watched.’

In reality, he was drawn into the exploration of right and wrong. There were times in his life when Eric had the decision to do bad. He remembered the time when he got offered cocaine at a house party which he decided against. His friend who chose to partake was caught on campus and kicked out of medical school the next day. He often thought about what could have happened if things had gone differently. What worried Eric more was the side of him which desperately wanted to join in.

‘Pinocchio is pretty good, mines The Jungle Book.’

‘Why is that then?’

Hopkin shrugged ‘I don’t know, I just like the music.’

They both finished their coffees before Eric put his folder down on the desk.

‘You’ve been busy then?’ Hopkin flicked through the notes Eric had added.

‘It was weird; as soon as I started, I couldn’t stop. There were times when I wanted to go to bed but I wanted to watch just one more film every single time.’

Hopkin chuckled ‘When I first started on this, my wife thought I was cheating on her because she barely saw me. I’ve watched each one of those stupid films about three times over.’

Eric was quite relieved that Hopkin held the same level of dedication as he did. There were times when he was on the settee when he wondered whether he was taking things too seriously. Even the most damaged of patients would usually only take up a few hours of Eric’s precious time. Sarah was a special exception though.

‘Are you ready to meet her then?’

‘I think so.’

‘How are you going to introduce yourself?’

He had thought long and hard about how their first meeting might play out. He had toyed with a number of backstories which involved travelling across the world or pretending to be royalty but overall he wanted to keep things relatable so Sarah would believe him.

 ‘I’ll say I knew her father.’

Hopkin poured himself another cup of coffee. ‘How will that help?’

‘Well . . . Sarah obviously respected her father. In a lot of the films, the hero has direct contact with the family in some way. Once Sarah realises that her father accepted me then she may start to develop a trust.’

‘And then what?’

‘Maybe I can convince Sarah that he wanted me to come rescue her.’

‘He is dead remember.’

‘I know but it’s rather fairy tale don’t you think? A dying father’s last wish was for a young male to rescue his sweet and innocent daughter from the evil clutches of Hopkin’s lair. If that’s not Disney then I don’t know what is.’

They both laughed. ‘You do realise that in order for Sarah to leave here, she must understand that she is living in a delusion and know full well that her father was neglectful. It’s also important that she understands that I’m not some mad man!’

‘That will come with time. For now I just need her trust. Once she is prepared to take new information on board, I’ll gently ease her into reality.’

Hopkin nodded his head. ‘You know, in all the time I’ve spent trying to cure patients at this institute, I’ve learned that trust is more vital than anything else. Once you have trust, everything else just comes naturally. I hope this works Eric.’

‘Well if it doesn’t, I’m sure you’ll find somebody else.’

Hopkin looked confused. ‘What do you mean?’

‘There’s a lot of signatures in the notes? I gathered I’m not the first one who has been brought in?’

He picked up the folder and brought out just a few of the files.

‘No no, we’ve tried getting help before, but they all lacked focus. Sarah is quite a handful but most of them were quick to quit. Let’s just say, you’re the first one who actually watched all the films and made an effort.’

Eric smiled like the teacher’s pet. He enjoyed compliments no matter how small or large. His personal diagnosis would call that low self- esteem but Eric wasn’t trying to impress anyone; this was more for him.

‘So, are you ready to meet her?’

‘More than anything!’

Hopkin nodded his head and went over to his intercom. ‘Iris, can you bring Sarah Fletcher into interview room 2 please?’

Eric scrambled in his pockets and brought out a squashed cupcake wrapped in cling film.

Hopkin halted his stare ‘Are you hungry?’

He laughed ‘It’s for Sarah.’

They both stood up and made their way towards the door.

‘We do feed them you know?’

Eric had baked a batch only the night before whilst he was in-between preparing himself. If Disney films had taught him anything, it was that simple gestures go a long way.

‘It’s a present, to show respect. I don’t know; she might warm to it.’

‘Well if she doesn’t, then I’ll have it, that chocolate looks good!’

They made their way down the corridor as Eric began to adjust his clothes and fiddle with his hair. Familiar patients who he had seen the previous day were mulling around the hallway whilst the staff were keeping a watchful eye. If it were any other time, Eric would begin his diagnoses on everyone he passed, but today was different. Hopkin was right from the start; he had to stay focussed no matter what. Eric didn’t want to fail like the other doctors.

They approached interview room 2. Looking through the glass panel, Eric saw a standard setup which he was used to; a table, two chairs and a tape recorder with a camera fixed in the high corner.

‘I’ll be next door watching everything. If you get into trouble press the panic button underneath the table. I’ve got some extra arms standing by if Sarah starts being violent.’

Eric nodded and breathed heavily. There was a large part of him which was incredibly nervous. He hadn’t felt this way since first starting medical school. There seemed to be so much at stake for this one particular patient. Eric began to feel that all the years of practice and education had finally led up to this one moment. It was now crunch time and Eric knew there was no room for failure.

‘Wish me luck then.’

Hopkin put a hand out and stopped him in his tracks.

‘One more thing.’ He took out a tissue and wiped his nose. His tone had dropped which took Eric a bit by surprise. ‘I know what we’re doing isn’t exactly ethical but nevertheless, you must remember that Sarah is still a patient. Although we’re trying to develop a trust, you cannot allow yourself to get too emotionally involved. We’re here to cure her Eric . . . just remember that.’

He looked into Hopkin’s eyes. He could sense that maybe Hopkin was doubting Eric’s ability to handle a sensitive case. There was no denying that Eric had felt slight upset when reading about Sarah’s past but he always had remained focused on the task at hand. There was never going to be any reason why Eric would let his guard down and he was dammed if Hopkin was going to think otherwise.

‘I understand, don’t worry.’

He nodded and patted him on the shoulder. ‘Good man! I’ll be next door; she’ll be in soon so go in and take your place.’ He scurried off into the next room whilst Eric had a final few seconds to adjust his tie and tuck in a final piece of his shirt. With everything sorted he turned the knob and entered the room.

Once the door had closed, all noise was suddenly silenced. Institutes were renowned for having thick walls and doors so there was more emphasis on privacy. Eric screeched the chair back and took his place whilst being slightly put off by the humming of the main light. He felt under the table for the panic button which was much smaller than he imagined and put his cupcake on the table. The camera was fitted at the far right corner which Eric tried to ignore as best he could. There was something about being watched which he found completely off putting. If he wanted to relax and work closely with Sarah he wanted to imagine it was just the two of them in their own world. That way he wouldn’t be worrying about what to say or how his interview style would be critiqued. For now though, he was happy to pretend the camera wasn’t there. It was much better than the interview rooms at a police station where a full width two way mirror is placed on the wall. Eric often joked with his colleagues that it was like watching a theatre production of mediocre crime drama.

The door on the other side began to move. Eric quickly snapped out of his daydream, sat up straight and put his hands on the table. With a gently push the door swung open. Eric slowly began to look up to see his star project from the scratched up table. She stood with a nurse behind her looking like a lost kitten on a cold night in Chicago. She was just how he imagined. Her long dark hair was pulled over her face, masking her identity and refraining her from making eye contact. She was a petit girl with a thin body which the baggy institute clothes did nothing for. Eric had thought she must have been at least a size 4 which didn’t surprise him as most Disney females kept on the slim side. Her skin was incredibly pale probably from the lack of sun and there were numerous cuts found on her arms. The nurse pushed her gently from behind, gave a brief smile to Eric and quietly closed the door.

This was his moment. Eric stood up from the table, causing the chair to screech. She hadn’t yet lifted her head up and she hadn’t even moved from the spot.

‘Sarah?’

She looked up slowly causing her hair to slip off her face. Her eyes were a rich blue colour like deep pools of water whilst her lip was trembling. Eric had noticed it was cold in the room from the moment he entered. He found an opportunity and decided to pounce on it.

‘Here, please take my jacket, it’s freezing in here.’ He pulled off his sleeves and made his way round the table. She ducked down slightly as he approached her but relaxed once he placed the item round her shoulders. She pulled it round her tighter and clung to it, like a baby holding onto its mother.

‘You can keep that! Please sit down.’

She timidly made her way to the chair and like a mouse, slid down until she was comfortable. Eric took his place opposite and undid his top button. It was important to try and approach this without being too formal. Nevertheless, she hadn’t yet relaxed enough to make eye contact with him.

‘I’ve brought you something. I’m not exactly a great baker but I hope you’ll accept it as a present.’ He pushed the cupcake towards her and tried his best at smiling.

She kept her head down for a few more seconds before looking up at the table and finally towards Eric. Now she had him in full eye contact. Her deep blue pools were drawing him in as she tilted her head back and forth, taking in everything about him without making a sound. He began to feel self- conscious as he knew appearance would play a major part in her first impressions of him. All Disney heroes were handsome in some way shape or form. Eric had agonised over which shirt and tie to wear for his first meeting and now it seemed he was finally doubting his choice. She relaxed her stare and looked at the cupcake before moving back to Eric.

‘Who are you?’ her voice was incredibly gently like a clear note from a flute. Out of all the Disney girls, Belle was the voice it reminded him most of. Even from three words, he could tell she had a beautiful voice.

‘My names Eric, I’ve come to see you.’ He smiled again and hoped she would smile back.

She looked round the room as if she was trying to find something. ‘Are you one of Hopkin’s men?’

‘No no, not at all.’

She fixed her eyes on Eric again. He began to feel like he was now the one who was being interrogated. She drew in closer and whispered in his ear. Her breathe hit him like a warm breeze. ‘How did you get past the guards then?’

He felt a surge of misfortune hit him as she drew back and bit her lip. In all the time he had been planning he had forgotten one crucial element. He was meeting her through traditional institute practice. A nurse had seen him when she dropped Sarah off; there was no way that she would believe he had snuck in on his own accord without Hopkin even knowing. He contemplated hitting the panic button and bailing out early but he wanted to save this. He had to quickly think on his feet and play along to her delusion in proper Disney style.

‘Come closer.’ She leant in as they met half way across the table. His voice dropped to a whisper. ‘They think I’m a guard.’ She moved back and looked into his eyes. ‘But I’m here to rescue you Sarah. Your father sent me.’

Eric breathed deep and hoped for the best. She sat back in her chair and remained still. He was tempted to continue talking but he knew that it was better interview practice to allow her to react naturally to the information. She began to breathe heavily with her eyes darting across the room like she had been before. Eric thought she was trying to digest what she had heard but she didn’t seem to be settling down. She looked around all the room until she fixed on the cupcake for several seconds. Suddenly her head jolted up at Eric with pure disgust and she leapt up from her chair.

‘You don’t know my father!! Hopkin sent you didn’t he?’ she threw the cake causing chocolate to splatter across his shirt. She scrambled around the room before picking up the chair and hurling it towards him. Eric ducked out the way and slammed his finger on the panic button.

‘Sarah I’m here to help!’ she was screaming and crying at the top of her lungs completely contrasting the elegant voice he had heard before.

‘You’re not trying to help me!!’

Several staff ran into the room and grabbed Sarah whilst trying to usher her out of the room. Her cries were so loud that Eric had to cover his ears as he lay on the floor waiting for her to leave. Even as the thick door slammed shut, he could still hear her being dragged away down the corridor whilst continually screaming. He lay on the floor for a few more moments taking in everything that had just happened. Why had she suddenly turned on him? There was definitely something which had triggered her anger but up until then everything had gone pretty well. Eric looked to his side and saw the crumpled up cupcake on the floor. He gave a big sigh and placed his hands round his face. He remembered the significance of the apple in Snow White. It was one of the most famous scenes ever to come out of Disney. How had he not thought about it? Sarah thought the cupcake was poisoned; there was no doubt about it.

Eric stood up and brushed the chocolate from his shirt. He sunk his head in disappointment as he picked up the chair and put it back in its place.

Hopkin came into the room. ‘I think I know what went wrong.’

‘I know, I know the cupcake. She thought it was poisoned just like Snow White’s apple. She must think I’m working for you.’

Hopkin took a seat on the opposite side and rubbed his forehead.

‘You know, up until that point, she was doing fine. I don’t think we’re completely dead in the water.’

Eric laughed ‘Even after getting a chair thrown at me? I don’t think Sarah believes I’m here to rescue her in the slightest.’

Hopkin thought hard whilst Eric took his seat and picked bits of cake out his hair.

‘Eric, have you noticed a pattern between the heroes and heroines in the films?’

‘Only that most of them are nothing alike.’

‘Yes but most of them also go through a period of hating one another. Belle didn’t like the beast at all when they first met and Jasmin hated Aladdin when he became a prince. You see what I’m saying?’

‘Sarah just needs time?’

‘Exactly!’

Eric sighed. ‘But that doesn’t help the fact that Sarah thinks I’m working directly for you. We need to convince her that I knew her father. Without that, I don’t think we’ve got a chance.’

Hopkin nodded. ‘I know.’ He planted his head on the table and began to rub his eyes. Eric hadn’t thought about how long Hopkin had been up for.

‘I mean, do you have any personal possessions belonging to him that I could say he gave to me?’

‘No, everything was taken away by the police, anything else is probably left in the house.’

Eric looked up as he got an idea. Hopkin followed and he knew immediately what he was thinking.

Hopkin shook his head ‘No, no, you can’t go there.’

Eric stood up ‘Why not? I find something that belongs to her father, bring it back and say he gave it to me, what’s the problem?’

‘Look, you don’t want to go there. Some things are better left as they are Eric.’

He began to get impatient. Up until this point, Hopkin had been supportive but now he just seemed uninterested.

‘Is it occupied or something?’

Hopkin laughed ‘Surprisingly no, not many people want to live a suicide house that made the headlines.’

‘Then what’s the issue?’

Hopkin stood and made his way towards Eric. His dad used the same body language when he placed his hand on his shoulder and sent him off to school every morning. Hopkin wasn’t trying to be professional anymore, this was something more personal.

 ‘You can go to the house if you want and hey, you’ll probably find one of his belongings. But that doesn’t mean it’ll make anything easier Eric. You’ve read the notes; you’ve seen what he did to her. How’s it going to feel when you’re under the same roof? Will Sarah still be just another patient?’ He made his way towards the door before looking back a final time. ‘Don’t forget what I said Eric.’

He left him in the cold room alone. There was nothing stopping him from going to the house. He knew the address from the file and without any occupier, it was going to be easier than he thought. There was something about Hopkin’s tone which worried him though. He had gathered that Hopkin had already been to the house and seen what damage was left behind. Was it so horrifying? Would this change the way Eric approached the case? Without trying to think about it too much, Eric had already made up his mind. He would visit the house later that night. 


© Copyright 2020 ajrobinson1. All rights reserved.

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